Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shin Sushi

On Friday February 28th, I went to meet Julie Anderson at Shin Sushi (803 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL) to discuss the Orlando Sentinel's new "HypeOrlando Blogs." This can be found on the Sentinel website on the "Home" tab at the top of the page. Several months ago, Terry and I bumped into Julie and her husband Lars at an outdoor cafe in Winter Park. Over drinks, Julie first described the "Hype" concept. A newspaper in Chicago first developed the idea where a large group of bloggers all contribute to the same blog site. None of the contributors is paid, so the newspaper online site gets plenty of creative content for free.

In return, "Hype" contributors would get, a daily newsletter from an experienced blogger on how to build audience (Search engine optimization, optimizing Facebook, writing headlines that make people click, etc.) Offline blogger community meetups.  Free platform and technical setup. Ongoing technical support. Monthly incentives and contests for writing and audience-building.

I got to the Sushi restaurant a bit early since I had just done an interview with Seth Kubersky a few blocks away for a write up in the Orlando Weekly. The head waiter at Shin Sushi told me I would have to wait an hour before I could get inside. I had hoped to sketch the interior and fill the sketch with patrons as they arrived for the lunch hour. Oh, well, it was a nice day outside, so I sat across the street and sketched the barren exterior. As I was finishing my sketch, I saw Julie approach the restaurant and go inside. I packed up the supplies and rushed across the street. The restaurant was bustling now. I ordered some sushi combo which turned out to be much more food than expected.

HypeOrlando in it's first weeks had about 30 contributors. Julie hopes to push those numbers up into the hundreds. My impression is that "Hype" is a great opportunity for beginning bloggers. All the layouts for the blogs are identical making it hard to tell one blog from another. The one established "Hype" blogger that I recognized was  Kristen Manieri who runs Great Dates Orlando. Over lunch, Julie pushed for the idea of having me channel all my future content over to the "HypeOrlando" site. This seemed like an extreme notion which would likely result in my loosing many readers in the transition. I can't imagine giving up a site that I've built up over 5 years. Kristen still maintains her original site while occasionally contributing to "Hype". The fact that I post creative content every day means that I would have to write a new article any time I wanted to contribute to "Hype." I would have to add an 8th day to my work week! I asked about just posting an article on "Hype" that already ran or simultaneously ran on Analog Artist Digital World. Julie said that the Google search engine would label any re-purposed article as spam thus all content would have to be new.

I fired of a long list of concerns. I didn't like having to give up a large header on the new site. Apparently the "Chicago Now"  site learned that letting contributors create their own headers resulted in some very bad and amateurish designs. The "Hype" site limits each contributor to a one inch square avatar. It results in trying to create a recognizable brand on the size of a postage stamp. I was also concerned that there is no right click copyright protections making it easy for Sentinel Surfers to copy any sketches I post to the site. This is an ongoing concern since even the Downtown Arts District and the City of Winter Park do not realize that it is wrong to copy and republish work without permission. The Internet is a lawless Wild West for theft and ripping. The fact that City organizations have no clue about copyright makes it appear that Orlando is a second rate city. Terry seems to feel there is no advantage to posting on "Hype". Even the name seems to imply vacuous content with little substance. I'm still weighing the options. I might even cut back submissions to Analog Artist Digital World to 6 days a week and submit one article a week to "Hype". I've been making adjustments to try and allow for more family time and contributing free content to "Hype" could be a step backwards. I was surprised and pleased that Julie paid for lunch.

Let me know what you think. Should I stay the course and keep AADW a daily, or should I also contribute to the "Hype"? Leave me a message below. One last note. Something I ate at Shin Sushi didn't agree with me and I had the runs all afternoon. Not a good sign.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can related as I have many of the same issue you have. I was on the fence about joining Hype. I didn't want to move my content and start over. I decided to go with something new and take the craft beer focus of my blog over to Hype. So I started writing for them as Orlando Lady Crafters.

I'm still not sure if this is right for me? I"ve created more work, by adding another blog and more social media to keep up. I do find the daily emails a useful tool for both of my blogs, so that's why I stick around. Also my current blog Exploring Orlando is on Blogger and I thought going with Hype would be a nice way to learn about Wordpress. I'm going to give it a go for a while and see if I can get my flow going and hopefully not get burned out.