Five years ago, Dave Gustav would have never guessed that he would be the co-founder of Bowery Boogie, a hyperlocal entertainment, lifestyle, and local news site that is focused primarily on the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan. Since then, he’s helped the blog grow from a simple Blogger site to the largest site dedicated to news and lifestyle of the neighborhood. Along the way he’s been invited to review concerts, plays, restaurant openings, and has even ended up in the background of a scene in HBO’s How to Make it in America.
Dave is one of the panelists at our upcoming bitly breakfast, where he’ll talk more about the opportunities he’s had working on Bowery Boogie and share advice with other bloggers interested building their community.
We had the chance to chat with Dave about Bowery Boogie, the value of starting a blog, and some of his favorite places on the Lower East Side.
How did Bowery Boogie get started?
I came in a few months after it started. The other cofounder, Elie Perler, lived on the Lower East Side. He was reading local news blogs and didn’t see coverage of his block or things happening along his commute to work, so he started a Blogger account. I grew up with Elie; we’ve known each other since we were 15 years old.
At some point a month or two into it, a story he wrote got linked to from The New York Times City Room blog. Elie had showed [the blog] to me, and when The New York Times linked to it, I said “hey man, we gotta step this thing up! We can’t have The New York Times linking to some basic thing. We have to actually build a site for this and turn it into something since there’s interest in it.”
What are some of your main responsibilities as co-founder of Bowery Boogie?
I handle most of the stuff that’s not editorial. Elie is editor in chief so he’s the one who oversees day-to-day content production.
I’m more involved with long-term strategy, branding, strategic partnerships, technology, and advertising. I’m kind of the product guy in the partnership. I also write articles, and provide a second pair of eyes with editing and proofreading.
How has the blog grown?
We still cover the bulk of the same content we started with which can be very focused, like if a traffic light is out on a street or a new pothole appears, but we’ve been expanding coverage in the past couple years to a wider area. For the past year or two, we’ve been doing more entertainment and lifestyle content. We used to mainly cover news and local politics.
Bowery Boogie is hyperlocal, do you think it’s important for a blog to have a targeted topic?
What it boils down to is a lot of the blogs we enjoy reading are ones that have personality and are also focused on a specific neighborhood. There are plenty of hyperlocal initiatives written by people covering news in a traditional media sense and a lot of that falls flat for me.
For us, its been important to have an identity. If you read the site long enough, you get a sense of who we are. We write about what we enjoy which ranges from the community news to a funny Beavis and Butthead clip on YouTube.
If you’re starting a blog, you definitely want to make sure you’re covering the core news stories, but you also want to cover things that interest you so you have fun doing it at the same time.
What is something exciting that has happened to you as a result of being part of Bowery Boogie?
We were invited to cover last year’s CBGB festival. Elie and I just happened to be 10 feet away from a stabbing that took place. I took out my iPhone and started taking some pictures as it was going down and that coverage is what blew everything up [for Bowery Boogie] last year. It ended up on NY1 on TV, in The New York Post and four or five other newspapers picked [the story] up since we had the exclusive photos and info.
Writing a blog gives you a lot of experience in things you never would’ve gotten into. You learn so much and you apply it to everything else that you do.
For anyone looking to make a career change or try something and see if they like it, a blog is an awesome way to test the waters. Five years ago, I never would’ve thought I’d be negotiating advertising deals and working out co-sponsorships because I helped start a blog.
Do you have a favorite place on the Lower East Side?
That’s a tough one. Meaning that it’s hard to narrow it down. The Lower East Side has such a rich history, people who come down here should appreciate it and not just see it as a nightlife hotspot. It has that tendency to become that weekend drinking location everybody flocks to, kinda like New Orleans in a sense, but there is a community and heritage and history behind it. With that said, 169 Bar and Welcome to the Johnson’s are great. Sadly, some of our favorites like Motor City and Max Fish are leaving. The Coleman Skate Park is also pretty great.
You can check out Dave’s bundle of links he created just for our bitly breakfast here.
Interested in hearing more from Dave? Come join us on May 31 at bitly HQ for a breakfast and panel discussion on what your blog can do for you. Featuring Jamila Rowser of Girl Gone Geek, Dave Gustav of Bowery Boogie, Hide Harashima of Dumbo NYC and Brandon Gorrell of Thought Catalog. Space is limited, so register here!3 days ago