Building a Digital Boutique

David Carr on the independent website The Awl, which has established itself as one of the most notable examples of a genre described as a digital boutique:

The very idea of a little digital boutique flies in the face of all manner of conventional wisdom, chief of which is that scale is all that matters in an era of commoditized advertising sales. The Awl is attempting to tunnel under those efforts by building a low-cost site that delivers a certain kind of content for a certain kind of audience. And the owners don’t have to get rich — The Awl has no investors — they just have to eat.

“I’m surprised that there aren’t a lot of independent, owner-operated editorial Web sites out there,” Mr. Sicha said.

There are a lot of independent, owner-operated editorial Web sites, but the very characteristics of these sites – niche topics, smaller audiences, limited resources that have to be used for writing before promotion, and emphasis on information as craft instead of audience-baiting commodity – make them less known than the big traffic sites and networks. But they do exist, and they represent some of the most eclectic, interesting, and cutting-edge examples of what can be done with the Web.

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