If you’re an NYC resident, you know Dumbo. The Brooklyn neighborhood, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is well-known for its rich history, booming real estate and a surplus of shops and restaurants. If you’re interested in finding out what’s going on in Dumbo, you read DumboNYC, a hyperlocal blog that highlights all this plus the interesting people who live and work in Dumbo.
Hide Harashima is the man behind the blog. Hide’s a longtime lover of the area since he first started traveling there to visit friends in the early 2000s. When he became a permanent resident in 2006, he saw the opportunity to help spread the word about the cool place he lived.
Hide’s one of the panelists at our upcoming bitly breakfast, where he’ll talk more about the opportunities he’s had as a result of being the voice of DumboNYC and give his advice to other bloggers looking to build their community.
We had the chance to chat with Hide about his love for his neighborhood, how DumboNYC has grown and how he manages his blog alongside his business career.
How did DumboNYC get started?
About ten years ago, I had friends in Dumbo that I used to go visit. At the time, Dumbo didn’t have any presence online with social media or blogs or anywhere, so most people in New York didn’t really know what it was.
When I moved to Dumbo in 2006, I still didn’t see much online about all the different things happening. I was doing work for one of the galleries in Dumbo, so I put together a simple Wordpress site so I could tell my friends about what was going on here. Soon after I started posting about Dumbo, I started getting emails about different events and meeting people at different venues who I kept in touched with. They all gave me more information about Dumbo and it snowballed from there.
What are some of your responsibilities managing DumboNYC?
I update once or twice a day. I curate some of the more interesting news items from people who email me tips or information about something that may interest the residents or people live or work here in Dumbo.
I’m the sole content creator, so maintaining it is quite a bit of work. It’s a labor of love though.
What are some exciting things that have happened to you since starting DumboNYC?
When I started the site, I was the CIO at a corporate company located in Philadelphia. About 80 percent of my time was spent commuting to to other cities, so during my commute I would post information about Dumbo. I saw media companies were gaining momentum in New York City and in Dumbo specifically. I saw more entrepreneurs moving in to grow their business and got to know a lot of the companies who were making cool products or services. I wanted to jump back into the startup world and through my network on the site I met the guy who turned out to be my cofounder for my new business.
What’s your business? How do you manage to balance your blog with a full-time job?
I’m the founder of an analytics startup company. A lot of bloggers out there do it because they have the passion for a particular topic, mine just happens to be the neighborhood I live in. The way I balance it is that I make time for it - I’ll cue up posts at night or on the weekends and I’ll spend the extra time in the evening to go through the tips I’m getting from people in the neighborhood.
I get around 300-500 emails a week and that’s not junk mail - they’re real emails from people around New York looking for exposure or coming to visit Dumbo and are curious about what places to go to. I’ll respond to about 40-50 a day and that’s a lot of work.
Why did you decide to write about Dumbo?
For me, it was easy to write about Dumbo because I loved where I lived. If you’re writing something that interests you, it’s easy to start something and continue with it. A lot of blogs you see out there start and stop, which could be because of time constraints or they’re disinterested in their topic. What it really comes down to is your experience and passions about that particular topic. The community grows as a result. You find other people who are interested in that topic and they contribute and it grows from there.
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Get out there and just do it. Don’t worry about your voice or if you’re not a writer, just get something out there. You develop your writing voice and your blogging skills. That eventually happens as you go along, but everyone starts from the same place.
The blog, for me, is where to post some information about a community, but if you grow in terms of readership and the community you’re starting, there are other channels that will come too. You’ll be able to engage further past your blog and that’s an important piece - it doesn’t just stop at your blog, there’s a lot of other chances to talk and to interact with people.
Interested in hearing more from Hide? 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!6 months ago