5 questions for Sasha Pasulka

Evil Beet Gossip founder and head writer Sasha Pasulka represents a growing number of micropublishing moguls who are boldly reshaping media in their own image. A longtime overachiever, Pasulka is driven by a desire to have her voice heard (and one “heart-wrenching break-up.”) As a result, in less than three years, celebrity gossip site Evil Beet has carved out an audience of roughly 3 million devoted readers, and Pasulka now aims to repeat that success with Zelda Lily — a new blog venture focused on women’s and feminist issues. As a member of the new media establishment, we wanted to get Pasulka’s take on the state of career blogging, advertiser relationships, and the new media landscape.

As a consumer and independent publisher, how does an advertiser get on your good side and bad side? (Technically, that’s four questions, but just go with it.)
As a grammar freak, it makes me crazy when I see expensive ad campaigns that are grammatically incorrect — missing a hyphen or misusing ellipses. In Seattle, McDonald’s has been running a campaign for their sweet tea using billboards that say “It’s Puppy-Hugging-Kitten Sweet.” Every time I drive past one of those ads I smile. I appreciate that they got the hyphens correct.
In this economy, you get on my good side by offering me money to place an ad. Seriously, though, I appreciate when advertisers and PR firms take the time to know me personally and send me targeted stories and pitches. I resent it when agencies hammer me or my staff with daily pitches that don’t at all fit into the content of my Web sites.
At the risk of totally jinxing yourself, tell us what’s in store for your media network, and you in general.
I’d eventually like to launch blogs on other topics — perhaps in the political and technology spheres, although with specific niche bents. I’m sure I’ll eventually write a book, although I have no idea when or what it’ll be about. I have this sense that when the book’s ready to be written, it’ll pop into my head, fully-formed and ready to be transcribed. I’m just waiting patiently until that happens.

What are your thoughts on the state of media, career blogging, and where they’re headed?
Blogging has allowed talented writers who would be smothered by the editorial constraints of mainstream media to blossom and find a broader audience. I love that there’s a place for that today, and I love that I get to be a part of it. It’s something for which I’m immensely grateful.

I don’t, however, think newspapers and magazines are necessarily a thing of yesteryear. They have the connections and the finances and the staff to pursue stories that an independent blogger like myself could never chase. I think, deep down, the public knows that and will continue to be willing to fund it. And as far as magazines go, the market for shiny pictures isn’t going anywhere.

As media continues to segment, its cycles accelerate, and its participants proliferate, who do think will be the big winner and losers?
Right now, the CPMs we’re seeing on services like Google Ads have been slashed, and many of the second- and third-tier online advertising middle-men, specifically those that do contextual advertising, have little or no ad inventory. I don’t think that’s going to change. There are too many Webs sites with unfocused content or inconsistent audiences — advertisers are realizing that it’s not worth their investment to buy those contextual ads, and rightly so.

I think the big winners, from an advertising perspective, are going to be the agencies that can track down blogs and Web sites with targeted and loyal demographics and match them with the appropriate advertisers. It depends on how well the agency understands the market and the audience. Most understand neither.  

What advice do you give precocious young writers?
Pick a niche. Personal blogs that cover anything their writer finds interesting that day do not — except in very rare cases — build audiences. And network within your given niche. Exchange information and exchange links. The bigger bloggers are going to ignore you at first — that’s fine. Start small and work your way up. One day you might find that you have considerably more traffic than the people who ignored your emails for the first year, and then you can smile when they email you begging for a link. Or maybe that’s just me.

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