Thursday's class with William Jacobson talking about his blog, Legal Insurrection, made me realize the commitment it takes to run a successful blog—finding ways around web controls, deciding on advertising, consistency in blogging, monitoring comments, linking to others, updating the site format, etcetera, etcetera. Although the popularity of his blog may only be a fraction of what blogs like The Drudge Report, Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com and others have, he is still successful at bringing in revenue and maintaining a solid reader base.
Jacobson took our class through the process of how his blog progressed, which inspired me to investigate just how Perez Hilton has evolved and become one of the most established go-to celebrity news sites garnering nearly 300 million hits a month.
It turns out, that the blog, which launched in 2004, was originally named PageSixSixSix.com. The mind behind Perez Hilton, Mario Lavandeira, began using Blogger just as Jacobson did. (I wonder if Perez faced the same problems with Google controls as Jacobson experienced.) The content of the archived blog is celebrity gossip, just like PerezHilton.com, and it appears to be just as critical, subjective and outrageously opinionated as it is today—characteristics that have made his blogging so viral. He takes what major celebrity/entertainment news sites report on and twist them into a perspective that is either comical, emphasizes the severity of an issue or brings awareness to the issue.
Another web archive from a little over a year after the original site began, resembles the most recent PerezHilton blog. By this time, he had changed the host site for the blog and there is still no advertising on the site, which is something that he heavily relies on for revenue today. From the start though, he has embedded links to names, photo reels, other blogs, and tags to articles—something that Jacobson says is key to getting hits on your site.
As an independent blogger, Perez Hilton has been recognized by major entertainment news conglomerates. He has really established himself in the entertainment business, even creating his won record label. He creates a community on his blog among the viewers by allowing them to contribute to song "cover contests," comment on posts, and be active members on the site. What I question, though, is, because he has been become so recognized and invested in mainstream institutions, is he still acting as an independent?