2011 Article on Keith Wilkins

Published in: Econtent Magazine - November 2011 edition
By: Janet Spavlik

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At Examiner.com, writers apply to contribute regularly on a topic of their choosing from an extensive list provided by Examiner, which ranges from werewolves, southern nightlife, and drinking games to success coaching, women's college basketball, and single dads. They can write on a national or local level (Examiner has more than 240 editions for a variety of cities across the country), and each Examiner receives his or her own page on the site.

According to Keith Wilkins, who celebrated his 1-year anniversary as the St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Examiner in May, he is paid byExaminer based on a variety of factors, including per article, the number of readers who subscribe to his column, how many "hits" his column gets, and how long each reader stays on an article. He also is eligible to receive bonuses, such as if an advertiser sponsors his column.

While he won't divulge what he makes from his column, Wilkins, who is the No. 1 most read Examiner columnist in the Tampa Bay market(beating out nearly 200 other Examiner columnists), says that in addition to some side projects and jobs, his Examiner music column is his full-time job.

Wilkins, a former contract songwriter and political columnist, started the column because "I was frustrated with the fact that the Tampa Bay music scene had not been receiving any decent or reliable media coverage in the past 15 years," he says, noting that his success with it was"fairly instant." "I was fortunate and very surprised.  ... Within the first six months of my writing the column, I rocketed up the rankings," he continues. In addition to earning enough money to consider Examiner a full-time job, Wilkins says the column also has opened "tons of doors" for him. For instance, he has been asked to make guest appearances around the Tampa Bay area, as a guest speaker at a music seminar and as a guest announcer at concerts and events. He's also done voice-over work on a local internet radio station, written for music magazines, and been approached to write and host a local TV show that is already in the works.

Wilkins owes his success to a basic principle of Business 101: He saw a need, and he filled it. "A huge reason for my column's popularity and success is due to the fact that I am the only full-time music columnist in the Tampa Bay area at the time," he says. "This area has lacked full-time, dedicated media coverage of the music scene for years."

Wilkins also believes that his past experience in the music business brings credibility to his column. "A lot of columnists who write about a particular subject don't even have any personal experience in the subject they write about. I do," he says. 

Examiner celebrated its 3-year anniversary in April, boasting 70,000 contributors, 3,000 published articles per day, and a 900% increase in the number of visitors since its inception. Demand Media reported its second quarter 2011 financial results in August, which included a 32% revenue increase to $79.5 million compared to the previous year's second quarter.