Why You Should Incorporate Local Content Onto Your Blog (And How You Can!)

I know I’ve mentioned several times before that I’ve been blogging for ten years. I started my first blog, Everything Happens For a Reason in July 2009 and then shut it down in January 2015. I walked away from the blogging world completely, until May 2016.

Many of you reading my blog here, may or may not know that I also run another blog, called Fabulous In Fayette, which is a local blog about my city and state. The tagline I created for Fabulous In Fayette is “Celebrating the fabulous city of Lexington, the great state of Kentucky, and Southern living.” My blog, Fabulous In Fayette is strictly about my city and state. It isn’t a personal lifestyle blog like many others out there or like this blog, Grits and Glam. Fabulous In Fayette is celebrating all that Lexington and Kentucky, as well as the surrounding states have to offer. I heavily focus on food, bourbon, events, local businesses, things to do, and state pride.

Lexington is city that has many accolades and has many reasons why people from all over the country and world come to visit. Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World, the Best Place in America to Grab a Drink, and the Birthplace of Bourbon. No really, we are responsible for 95% of the world’s bourbon in the world. Yes, in the WORLD! Southern Living named it one of the “Top 5 Places to Live,” and USA TODAY named it “Top 10 Bucket List Destination.” Those are just a few of the ways it has been nationally recognized.

If you ever thought about localizing your blog, then you should! If you want to incorporate local content and don’t know where to start, I’m here to help you with these tips on “How to Localize Your Blog” or “How to Incorporate Local Content Onto Your Existing Blog.”

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First Things First: A Little Background on my City of Lexington, Kentucky:

Some people assume that I live in a small town, but actually Lexington is a mid-sized city. Lexington has a population of 321,959 with a metro of 512,650 (It’s the 61st biggest city in the United States). It’s a beautiful Southern city with the friendliest people and the most amazing cuisine. There’s a reason why it was named one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live.”

In Kentucky, there is a HUGE Shop Local and Kentucky Proud movement. Lexington is known for its cuisine. Throughout the year, you’ll find endless events, experiences and ways to enjoy the diverse, ever-changing food scene that continues to shape my beloved city. There are countless annual food festivals and monthly dinner series to weeklong celebrations of burger and pizzas, as well as beers and restaurants. We, Lexingtonians, love our local food. Many of our restaurants are farm-to-table and source all of their ingredients locally. Our Farmer’s Market is consistently ranked one of the best in the state, and in years past has ranked nationally. Not only that, Lexington has more than 30 food trucks in the city.

“Kentucky Proud stands for foods, nursery items, crafts, agritourism sites, farmers’ markets, state parks, and many other products and destinations with roots in Kentucky soil. Kentucky Proud foods are raised, grown, or processed in Kentucky by Kentuckians. You can serve Kentucky Proud foods to your family with the confidence that they came from your friends and neighbors just down the road — not from thousands of miles away.”

If you haven’t ate in one of Lexington’s local restaurants than you are truly missing out. Our cuisine is top notch and some of the best out there. I mean, hello, the South is known for its food. Lexington was even on Zagat’s list for “30 Most Exciting Foodie City” and Top Chef: Season 16 decided to film here. You can’t top that. Top Chef producer, Diana A. Schmedeman said that her team tries to pick locations that vary by size and culture, as well as cities that are generating national buzz. Judges Tom Colicchio and Graham Elliot both visited Louisville separately last year and were impressed with the talent. Obviously, Kentucky is perfect.

Top Chef: Kentucky premieres on Bravo on Thursday, December 6 at 9pm EST. You’ll be able to see Kentucky culinary scenes in Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland. I actually got to be in the audience when they filmed the episode at Rupp Arena!

Remember how I said we are the birthplace of bourbon? In Lexington, every bar is a bourbon bar. Well, there are fourteen world-famous bourbon distilleries just 45 miles from the center of downtown Lexington. There are 7.5 million bourbon barrels currently aging in Kentucky, which means we have significantly more bourbon barrels than people!

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Why You Should Localize Your Blog?

Some people may think that no one will care about their city because they don’t live in a major city like New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles. I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true. While I can’t speak for every city out there, because every city is unique with its culture and people and mindset of how they do things. Some cities are more hip than others and embrace social media whereas others may not be up on the trends in terms of this kind of marketing. However, I’d like to think every city would love to have publicity on their city, because that increases tourism.

Your city doesn’t need to be well known or have many accolades. If you love your city and state, then write about it. People can tell when you are passionate. It’s infectious!

The topics are also never-ending. You will never run out of ideas to write about.

Why You Should Incorporate Local Content Onto Your Existing Blog (And How You Can Do So!) Click To Tweet

My hope with my hyperlocal blog was to inspire others, no matter where they may live, to get out and explore their city and to try new foods and experience different things. Also, I wanted to encourage people to stop staying in their comfort zone and get out there and live life!

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Localizing Your Blog Allows You To Work With Local Businesses On Sponsored Content

By promoting local businesses on my own accord, it’s allowed me to partner and work with many local businesses because my work is seen and shared on social media. I’m extremely passionate about shopping local and eating local, so that whole mindset has gotten the attention of other local business owners, because I share and celebrate what I love. I love sharing with others what I love about my city and state, whether it’s the food, place, event, or activity. I heavily focus on food and bourbon, so I get invited and get to collaborate with restaurants and private foodie events on a pretty regular basis.

I’ve worked with Kentucky Tourism on their Better in the Bluegrass campaign earlier this year. There are nine state parks participating in the Culinary Trail and each park will feature unique, signature dishes of that area, which include, an appetizer, entree, sides, a dessert, and beverage. The launch of this campaign was in early May 2018 at Lake Cumberland in Jamestown, Kentucky. Lake Cumberland is one of the top vacation destinations in the eastern United States and is considered the nation’s number one house boating destination. Lake Cumberland is also one of the ten largest man-made lakes in the country.

I’ve also worked with other tourism departments within the state, such as an overnight trip that I did with Shelby County back this summer.

Having a local blog can help establish you as a local expert! Click To Tweet

I’ve even appeared on one of the local news stations in a live segment representing a brand by demonstrating a recipe. At the end of the segment, I got to discuss my blog and blog’s mission which was huge for me considering I was able to reach a new audience – those watching the morning news.

Having a Blog About Kentucky Has Let Me Branched Out to Work With Other States

Even though my blog is centered primarily on Lexington and Kentucky, I’ve also had opportunities to branch out and work with businesses in Ohio. I’ve worked with USA Today’s Food and Wine Experience two years in a row; in 2017 I went to it in Louisville, Kentucky and last year I went to it in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both times I got to meet Graham Eliiot from Top Chef!

 

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Establish Yourself as a Local Expert

When naming my blog, I wanted something easy to remember. Since I’m a fan of alliteration, I decided to pair a word with Fayette, which is the county that Lexington is located in. Enter: Fabulous In Fayette. People may not know my name is Whitney, but they do know me as Fabulous In Fayette, which is good enough for me! I’ve been recognized out while in Lexington, because of my blog and Instagram.

Because of my social media presence, I’m had people from other states (as well as other locals) contact me through email and through twitter about their upcoming trips. They wanted my suggestions on what to do, where to go, what I thought of their itinerary, etc.

It makes me feel good that not only am I able to reach a local audience, but an audience from other states that are traveling to my fabulous city. Over the weekend, I was taking pictures of my food and a couple from out of state asked me if I wrote a column. I mentioned that I had a blog all about Lexington and Kentucky and handed them a business card, which brings me to my next point.

 

Business Cards are a Must!

If your blog is hyperlocal or even just a smidgen, you 1000% need business cards. I don’t care if so-and-so expert says they are outdated. Throw that piece of advice away like they are telling you they are doing with your business cards.

Remember how people always say, “Think of who you are writing for? Who’s your target audience?” The thing about a hyperlocal blog: EVERYONE IS A POTENTIAL READER! This is just for the simple fact that they live in your city. Also, the businesses that you patron could possibly be future collaborations. You never know who you might meet or run into that could eventually develop into a partnership. There’s nothing like face-to-face networking.

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picture by Sarah Caton

Don’t Worry If It Has Been Done Before

So many “gurus” say to do your research to make sure it hasn’t been done before or see if it is a saturated market. Can you cue the eye roll? That is some really horrendous advice. No one would ever start anything or ever be successful, because someone before them has already done it.

Let’s get this straight. YOU are YOU. YOU are unique. Even though there may be hundreds of other bloggers in your city doing the same thing, you all are different. You all bring a different voice to the table. Your photographic style will be different. The way you tell a story? Different. Even though we all are different, developing your OWN voice will help you stand out, regardless if there are countless others doing the very same thing.

Reach Out to Local Bloggers

I’m sure we all have heard the saying, “Community Over Competition.” You are better off living by that motto and developing relationships with fellow bloggers in your city. There have been many times when a group of bloggers, including myself, worked on campaigns and have partnered with local businesses to get the word out about their business.

Live by the motto: Community Over Competition. Reach out to other local bloggers and build meaningful relationships! Click To Tweet

Since many of us are friends, we go out to eat with one another on a semi-regular basis. We’ve even organized fancy meet-ups ourselves where we all can get together to enjoy each other’s company and to continue building our relationships with one another (See: Most Epic Blogger Brunch at The Barn at SpringhouseWreath Making Workshop at The Barn at Springhouse, and Sip + Brunch With Local Kentucky Bloggers). We even have one planned for this weekend!

SEO is Extremely Important When It Comes to Localizing Your Site

When you search in Google for “Lexington Kentucky Blogger,” my blog, Fabulous In Fayette is the first hit on the first page. If you search “Kentucky Blogger” or “Lexington Blogger,” my blog is on the first page and one of the first five results that pops up. I use all the tricks I know to optimize my site by using SEO, so that it is found in Google. This has paid off, because I get contacted by brands on a regular basis, if not a weekly basis.

Tip: If you want to search for your posts using key words, be sure to use incognito mode on your browser – this is extremely important and absolute must!

SEO is extremely important no matter what, but it's especially important when wanting to have a hyperlocal blog or wanting to incorporate local content onto your blog Click To Tweet

Last year I was contacted by The Cooking Channel to be a judge on one of their shows (it was just for an episode!). Sadly, it didn’t work out, but nevertheless they found me through my blog and contacted me. I was also contacted by a producer for a TV show on Bravo that wanted to know more information about the area, because they were possibly considering filming a season of one of their shows here in Lexington. Again, they found me through my blog on Google.

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Making the Most Out of Instagram

Using Instagram is a great way to get your content out to a new audience. Not everyone is a blogger and may read blogs, so it’s important to have a presence on Instagram. A blog and Instagram account work better when they are in conjunction with one another.

I’ve discovered many new local restaurants, local businesses, and other bloggers/Instagrammers just by being active. Local businesses have also reached out to me via Instagram versus my blog (With that said, the majority of my collaborations I do are from where I was emailed by the brand).

When you use Instagram, there are many important things that you must do:

  • Don’t buy followers: This shouldn’t even have to be said, but don’t do it. It’s just sketchy and not to mention that people KNOW when you do. People will not want to associate with you. You may think you are fooling everyone, but you aren’t. No matter if you have slow growth, it’s better to be authentic and true to yourself than trying to inflate your numbers (That’s committing fraud, by the way, especially if you are working with brands!)
  • Have your location in your profile: If you want people to know where you are from, this is simply the best way and easiest way to let future followers know!
  • Geotag your photos: Whenever you post your photo to your feed, be sure you add the location to the photo. By doing this, whoever clicks on that location can see all of the photos that have been geotagged with that same location. This can allow people to see your photo and in return follow you.
  • Tag relevant businesses: If you are eating at a local restaurant, tag them! If you got a cute dress from a local boutique, tag them! Also, be sure to tag any tourism accounts as well (Like in my case; #visitlex and #travelky). This can also get you reposted, which can possibly get you more followers from your area.
  • Use hashtags: You can use up to 30 hashtags, so use them wisely (Be sure to check out my tips above!)
  • Do stories: I love watching stories and seeing what people are doing. This is also a fun way to connect with your followers, so they can get a small glimpse at your life. I do admit I usually don’t talk in my stories, but instead I show people what I’m doing or use boomerangs. Whenever I use stories, I make sure to use hashtags and a location tag.

Tip: If you are worried about posting stories and people not knowing you are home, you can video your stories and save them to your phone. Once you are home, you can upload them to your account and no one is none the wiser.

 

Use Relevant Hashtags

Luckily for Lexington, we really didn’t have to create a hashtag to use on social media.

Back in 2013, The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a genius campaign. They launched a YouTube video that featured “Daniel Boone,” which was played by actor George Dixon. Within the video, there were also many Lexingtonians urging city residents to share what’s great about the city. The goal was to encourage visitors to Lexington to sample more varied venues in the city and provide them with a more authentic experience. From this video, #sharethelex was born, and it is one of the well known hashtags that Lexingtonians use to share the ins and outs of the city. This is the hashtag that you want to use and follow to get eyes on your account, as well as connect with other local businesses and other Lexingtonians.

Other popular hashtags that are used are: #visitlex, #lexingtonky, #travelky, #tasteky, and #betterinthebluegrass.

Hashtags that YOU can try:

Since the majority of you probably don’t live in Lexington, I would check out local businesses and even local bloggers on Instagram and notice what hashtags they are using. If you are unsure of if there are bloggers in your city, which I’m 100% there are (bloggers are everywhere, no matter the size of the city), you can check out #YOURSTATEblogger.

You can also try a hashtag that is a combination of your city and state, such as; #YOURCITYSTATEABBREVIATION or #YOURCITYYOURSTATE (For example, #lexingtonky or #lexingtonkentucky).

Another great place to check if there are any known hashtags are through the tourism department of your city and/or state. Many tourism departments (if not all) have a social media presence, so it will specify whether they do on their accounts or on their website or both.

 

Having an Instagram Account is Simply Not Enough

Whether someone wants to be a local blogger or not, I’ve noticed a trend of people focusing on their Instagram and letting their blogs go to the wayside. I just want to shake those people and say, “STOP!” That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. That is an incredibly careless thing to do, because with your blog you own your content. Instagram could be gone tomorrow, and then what would you have? Nothing. Having a blog is also important, because Instagram doesn’t have SEO the same way a blog does. If you optimize your site and blog posts with SEO, they will likely be found on Google (or even Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, if you choose to post them there). With an Instagram picture, once it’s posted, it will immediately get buried amongst other pictures posted to the same hashtags. Instagram pictures have a severely limited shelf life. Blog posts are what you want to focus on first and foremost, and then social media secondary.

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The Bottom Line:

A hyperlocal blog may not be as profitable as a blog that is strictly about fashion or home decor or DIY or money, but it shouldn’t be about the money (in fact, I wrote a whole post on why you shouldn’t start a blog for money). I love where I live and I love supporting local businesses. It’s what I’m passionate about.

Traffic may be diminished in comparison to another niche because the focus is so narrow, but you might be surprised with how many people are reading it and where they are located.

One of the most important things I can tell you is to whether your blog is hyperlocal or you are wanting to create locally based content: Be a customer first. You don’t want to look like you are constantly asking for a freebie (I’m not saying that anyone in particular does that, but you don’t want to be perceived like that to others). I am always frequenting my favorite local businesses, writing about them on my blog, and sharing photos and videos on my Instagram. By being a supporter of local businesses and me making that point known, it’s allowed other businesses to find me (and it’s also allowed me to find out about places that I didn’t know about).

With Fabulous In Fayette, I only share things I love. It’s a place of positivity. You won’t find a negative thing written on my blog (If I wanted to be negative, I’d start a Yelp account, but honestly 90-95% of the time, I have amazing experiences at all the businesses and restaurants I go to in Lexington. I’d have nothing negative to say in the first place). 

Having a local blog or writing locally oriented content on your blog will cause you to grow as a person and to seek out new experiences and to try new things. It will force you to step out of your comfort zone, instead of playing it safe. Having a local blog and content is a great way to become a tourist in your own city. You’d be shocked on how many people never ever venture out in their city and they’ve lived there their entire lives. Don’t be that person! While starting an entire blog dedicated to your city may not be for you, but I encourage you to start incorporating some local content onto your blog. You may be surprised with what you discover!

 

Do you include local content on your blog?

Any other questions about starting a hyperlocal blog or including local content onto your existing blog?

Whitney S.

I’m Whitney, the founder of Grits and Glam. I’m a Southern girl at heart and I love all things that encompass the South – the lifestyle, the food, the fashion. Grits and Glam combines my love of all of those things and gives a place to showcase what’s dear to my heart. I’m also the founder of Fabulous In Fayette, which is my other blog. Fabulous In Fayette celebrates the fabulous city of Lexington, the great state of Kentucky. It strictly focuses on my city and state. It’s the ultimate guide if you are traveling there and want to experience the city from a local’s perspective.

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