h1Broke-Ass is more of a lifestyle than a monetary situation.
Stuart Schuffman, Broke-Ass Stuart
With the national unemployment rate nearing 10 percent this month, the debt-ceiling drama unfolding, and "cheap-chic" now firmly in our cultural lexicon, the market for living large on less is huge – even among people who make more than six figures a year. Just ask Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart. The potty-mouth arbiter of awesome (and a member of the SAY Media Voices program) just landed his first TV show which premiered in June called Young Broke & Beautiful. A travel writer with a gift for finding dirt-cheap excitement, his book Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco (and later in New York) was the inspiration for his blog, which pays homage to the message: what makes life interesting is not the things you own, but the things you do.
We caught up with Stuart and asked him about the secret to building a passionate following, the surprising truth about marketing to wealthy cheapskates, and about his favorite free thing to do in New York.
You've been called a cult hero and "the pimp daddy of budget travel." What are some of your best tips for building a passionate community of followers?
Yeah, I've certainly been called worse things in my life. I think the way I've been able to build such a great fan base is that I'm not full of shit. I believe the things that I say and I try to support things that are good and responsible. Also, my message resonates with a lot of people: you don't have to have a lot of money to have a rich life. I know it sounds anti-American, but it's the truth.
What are the keys to living a happy life when you're "Young, Broke and Beautiful?"
No matter how much or how little you make, your life is wonderful. I'm not talking about some self-help b.s. I mean that the world is full of adventure and mystery and you don't have to be rich to explore those things. For me at least, the key to having a happy life is having new experiences that continue to open my mind and my heart. I guess you'd call it a lust for life. The doctors call it ADHD.
What are some of your most popular posts or topics for your audience?
A lot of our DIY posts do well as do our Sex and Dating posts. I guess people like to do things themselves and get laid. Ain't nothing wrong with that. Also, I find posts that are snarky and funny tend to do well too. People like dirty words.
What should advertisers know about your audience? Any surprises?
Actually yes, there are some total surprises. Despite that the name is "Broke-Ass" it's more of a lifestyle than it is a monetary situation. According to Quantcast, 40% of my readers make over $100,000 a year. Yeah, really! It blows me away too. Now I just wish they'd share some of that money with me because being a Broke-Ass is my monetary situation as well as my lifestyle….ugh….
What's your favorite free thing to do in New York?
I love to wander around and read the historical plaques that dot the city. I'm really nerdy like that. I wanna go on an urban hike someday soon where I walk from the very top of Manhattan to the very bottom. My friend Sanna said she did it in eight hours. I bet I can do it in seven hours and 58 minutes.
How do ads fit into your site and do you ever get feedback from your readers about them? What works – and what doesn't?
We've done all kinds of advertising on my site. We've had sponsored posts, banner ads, daily deals etc. You name it, and I’m down to try it. My readers know that ads keep a site running. Plus most of the people who advertise on BrokeAssStuart.com do so because they like the voice and what we stand for. They like that it's snarky and confident and ball busting. They like that the perspective is defined but not zealous. Look, what we do is allow people to better enjoy their lives. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
Which local markets are you most excited about?
I'm in the Bay and the New York City, so I'm obviously excited about those. I say I'm Bi-Coastal curious. But pretty soon I’m trying to expand to more cities, and judging by where it seems high concentrations of my fans are, the next locations are probably LA and Seattle. Maybe Chicago too. Shit, I kinda wanna be everywhere. Can I sleep on your couch?
What's your best advice for marketers and advertisers?
Advertise on my site. While the rest of the country looks to San Francisco and New York to see what's on the horizon, the people of those cities look to BrokeAssStuart.com.
What's your best advice for new publishers/bloggers getting started?
Keep creating content, even if you think no one is reading. Get on twitter. Start a facebook fan page. Make yourself a brand. Writing as we know it is almost a thing of the past. If you want to be successful, you have to be more than just a writer. Also, I give this advice to everyone: work your ass off and be nice to everyone. That's what I’ve done.
You started with zines and books and then a blog and now you're on TV. What’s next in your platform?
Porno flicks. No, not really. My next move is expanding my online presence. We're currently redoing the website, and once that’s done, We’re gonna expand. Hopefully we’ll be coming to your city soon. Hide your daughters and your sons. Or at least the good booze.
Are you still broke - or do you just play that guy on TV?
Woefully so. The only difference for me is that I'm not waiting tables this year like I did for the past ten. Next year, who knows what I'll be doing. Maybe I will go into porn after all.