OMG! From Zero to Multi-Millionaire: The Art and Profit of Blogging by Perez Hilton

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OMG! From Zero to Multi-Millionaire: The Art and Profit of Blogging by Perez Hilton

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The website, www.perezhilton.com, launched in 2004 and has become one of the most powerful and influential blogs on the Internet. With a quirky and wickedly funny writing approach to celebrity gossip, a seemingly unknown blogger is now a household name and is illustrating the amazing power of social media. Now, Perez Hilton is well on his way to meeting his goal of becoming the “Gay Latino Oprah,” showing, as he says, “anything is possible.” (Wired Magazine, 2008, http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-09/mf_perez?currentPage=all)

Objective Achieved: Have Fun, Become a Celebrity, and Help Others

  • Perez Hilton was recently offered $20 million for his blog. Currently, the offer is under consideration. If accepted, this deal would match a similar deal in 2008 for another website, HotorNot.com, in which the same media company was involved. (The Guardian, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/20/perez-hilton-sell-website)
  • Home page ads on Hilton’s blog command up to $54,000 per day. He has a host of advertising opportunities, including display, video, mobile opportunities, skins, and custom executions. For someone who claims they don’t care about money, social media sure has earned Perez more than he might have ever imagined.
  • The site averages 260 million page views per month, according to Quantcast.
  • Keeping it sticky: Readers linger for up to 45 minutes on his site versus other sites that retain visitors for only 15 minutes.
  • 2007-2010 #1 Web Celeb, Forbes Magazine. For three years now, Perez has topped the list as the most powerful Web-created celebrity.
  • Named 1 of 15 most influential Hispanic celebrities, People en Español Magazine.
  • Close to 14 million people follow his blog on a daily basis (as of right now) with the numbers continuing to rise.
  • New singers, bands, and comedians have received a lot of help thanks to postings by Perez. Just ask his “wifey” Lady Gaga, Eric Hutchinson, and La Coacha to name a few.

Where

Why it Succeeded 

  • He writes about celebrities, which people enjoy reading about, but he does so by saying what others are afraid to say (but are all thinking).
  • Frequent and constant website updates drive traffic to return more than once or twice a day, from readers eager to see what else he has to say. On certain occasions, Hilton has updated his blog 40 times in a single day!
  • Perez has a keen understanding of his target market, which consists of mostly female fans who find his “Diva” reactions to celebrities humorous and endearing. He utilized Friendster to find his fan base and had 20,000 page views within months of launching his blog.
  • Even bad press by the media only further fuels the interest in what he has to say.
  • Perez encourages readers to send in gossip and responses to his daily posts, encouraging interaction and a social network, dialogue that is almost as fun as his posts, and loyalty to his blog and brand.

Budget 

Perez Hilton will tell you that he has paid for his empire with his own blood, sweat and tears since he created the whole concept himself and keeps his budget low by working only with his sister and family on the blog. The site was set up for free using Blogger software. His only costs may have been the number of purchases he made at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf restaurant on Sunset and Fairfax in Los Angeles from where he initially worked, using the establishment’s Wi-Fi Internet connection. He now runs the blog from his condominium.

Lessons Learned: Digital Influence Takes Brains and Ambition, Not Money

  • Throwing money at a marketing campaign isn’t necessary. The formula for social media marketing is creativity, determination, and content that people enjoy reading.
  • You can create a brand from scratch using social media. Perez Hilton went from a face in the crowd to a powerful influencer over celebrities, the media, advertisers, and even record companies.
  • Be quirky, controversial (sometimes!), and memorable. It will help you standout and be found.
  • Be funny. While a majority of Perez Hilton’s humor can be either self-deprecating or considered “mean” by some, he has built an empire on the ability to laugh at one’s self and the whole notion of what it means to be a celebrity.
  • Use other sites to promote your blog. Linkbaiting works!
  • Be ambitious. Hard work and determination are two of the best ingredients for working in the Web world.
  • Do your homework and understand how to use digital space before you get started.
  • Use social media for multiple revenue streams. Perez makes money on advertising, sponsorship deals, and appearances. He also is making money by monetizing on Twitter by talking about products, companies, and brands.

The Perez Team

  • His family. His sister and mother are both heavily involved. His dog, Teddy Hilton, participates as well but serves more as a mascot than an actual member of the production staff.
  • Perez Hilton uses Twistage (http://www.perezhilton.com/tv) to incorporate videos into his blog so that he can add multimedia and sell advertising.
  • Perez has recently hired other people to help with publicity, business management, and other technical aspects of his blog. However, he remains a “homegrown” empire.

In His Own Words

In describing himself: "Perez is the outsider—the gay, the Latino, the interloper," he says of his persona. "And Hilton is the mainstream—Hollywood, pop culture. So I'm this outsider commenting on this wacky world of celebrity who managed to become an insider but is still, in many ways, the ultimate outsider." (Wired Magazine, 2008, http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-09/mf_perez?currentPage=all)

In describing his take on fame:
"It definitely is affecting me for sure," Hilton said of his sudden fame. "But I don't care! I have a business manager.  I let him handle the finances and all that stuff. I'm too busy working to be worried about any of those things. Plus, I still don't do it for the money." – Interview with the Associated Press, 2009, http://thecelebritycafe.com/features/27149.html

In describing his purpose: "My position is that if you are a politician or a celebrity, you're making a choice to live your life in the public arena. And when you're a public figure, you need to be prepared for the public's talking about you. ... In my own subservient way, whether people agree with me or not, I'm trying to make the world a better place." -- ChicagoTribune, 2006

On his philosophy:  “A lot of bloggers…start to blog for fun. And for some lucky bloggers, it kind of turns into a way that they can make money. On the flip side, there's also people that will start blogs with the sole intention of making money. And some of the people in this New York Times article that ran this past weekend, that passed away, they fell into that other category where they were working for other people -- so they were bloggers for hire. And I think that could maybe add a little extra layer of stress. You know, I feel really lucky that I'm my own boss, and I work so hard because I want to work so hard. All I'm concerned about…is having a good time and entertaining my readers."—CNN’s American Morning, 2009

Media Acclaim and Disdain

There are those in the media who love Perez……

“One day he was a struggling actor, paying bills with non-glamorous day jobs (publications manager for a gay organization; publicist for trade shows; a reporter for Star magazine, which fired him). The next, he was an orange-haired pop culture phenom: a blogger whose infantile but easily digestible style of scrawling crude commentary on celebrity pictures has helped him triple his traffic in the last year alone, earn enough income to employ his family members, and, most crucially for the Perez Hilton brand, score his own television show on VH1.”—The New York Times, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/fashion/29perez.html?_r=1&ref=style

The LA Timescalls Perez, "like US Weekly, the Star, the Enquirer and Life & Style all rolled into one sweet yet snarky, sagacious yet salacious gay man."—Perez Hilton bio (http://perezhilton.com/?page_id=38)


“The former drama student from Miami is worth millions...and is just breaking into the music industry – with a little help from Spice Girls’ creator Simon Fuller.”—The Mirror.co.uk, 2010


“In 2004 he started a gossip blog about celebrities, perezhilton.com....It is now one of the top 1,000 sites in the world.”—The Guardian, 2010

And, then, there are those who misunderstand him:

“The meteoric rise of Perez Hilton is a direct sign of what’s wrong with social media and web 2.0. Web 2.0 can be used for good, or for very bad. Perez Hilton is a hateful person with an agenda. He says horrible things and uses social media as a platform to distribute his agenda no differently than a terrorist. What’s worse is millions of people follow him. For him, its not ‘all in fun,’ its hate.”—Robert Siciliano, Boston Information Security Examiner, 2009 (http://www.examiner.com/x-6458-Boston-Information-Security-Examiner~y2009m4d24-Perez-Hilton-is-socialmedia-swill)

“Within months, tabloid TV show ‘The Insider’ dubbed it ‘Hollywood's most-hated website.’ This led to a huge boost in Web traffic.—Los Angeles Times, 2008, http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/13/business/fi-howimadeit13

But Hilton is okay with the haters. After all, in order to dish it out, you’ve got to be able to take it.

Overall Visibility Strategy: Online and Offline Pop Culture Channels

Perez Hilton is everywhere and understands the importance of mixing online and offline strategies. Here is just a sample of where you can find him:

  • What Perez Sez: Television show on VH1.
  • ABC Radio syndicated show.
  • He wrote a book entitled, Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide on Keeping Up With the Hiltons, which was published in 2009 as was Perez Hilton’s True Bloggywood Stories.
  • Hot Topic clothing and accessories line along with his own brand of merchandise.
  • Appearances at multiple celebrity events, beauty pageants, and awards shows.
  • Concerts and club appearances. His birthday parties are now the talk of the town and he cleverly finds a horde of sponsors that willingly pay for the entire event in exchange for putting their name and products all over his parties.
  • Record label and record producer under the label, Perezious Music, introducing acts such as Slimmy, Travis Garland, and Semi Precious Weapons.

About Perez Hilton

Born Mario Lavandeira and a Cuban native of Florida, he left his days at Star Magazine behind him in New York City, moving to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an actor. Not finding much success in the acting world, he found another approach to fame that only the new Digital Age could create. His alter ego was born in 2004 with the birth of Perez Hilton, a tongue-in-cheek take on Paris Hilton, one of the first celebrities that he began to poke fun at and follow on his blog. To Perez, she represented everything he wanted to say about celebrities in terms of calling them out on their celebrity behavior in a way that readers enjoyed secretly laughing along with his taunts.

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