Pete Cashmore launched Mashable.com at age 19 and grew it to two million readers within 18 months. In the first year, he worked 20 hour-long days writing articles about technology – with no advertisers. In 2012, Mashable was valued at $200 million.
Mashable.com had the advantage of being an early adopter in a rapidly growing industry that was becoming of mainstream interest. But what really stood out was how frequently Pete blogged from the very start. A look through their archivesshows that in the early days Pete would write between 1-5 blog posts per day, usually averaging two or three a day.
In an interview with Inc.com, Pete explained that his persistence was fueled by an obsession over seeing his numbers increase, and a lack of desire to go to university or be employed.
“I would look at the stats everyday and say, “Have I beaten yesterday?” And almost every day I would have beaten yesterday in terms of the number of people who were reading the site. So, that kind of kept me going.” – Pete Cashmore
Within two years, Mashable established itself as the leading blog in technology and digital media and had built an audience of over two million monthly readers. Today, Mashable attracts 10x the amount of traffic it did back then, so how did they bridge the gap from 2m visitors to 22m visitors?
Mashable hired 43 editorial staff members, increasing their editorial output from 1-5 articles to 7-15 articles per day. They also shifted their focus towards infographics for a few years (they’ve posted over 900 of them), and started ‘utilising‘ their domain’s strength a little bit more.
While controversial (but not unusual), Mashable.com have been able to exponentially grow their traffic by ranking for the names of the brands that they write about. With over 35,000 indexed category pages, Mashable generates millions of visits from people searching in Google for brands like ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘Gmail’. In fact, the keyword ‘Facebook’ is the highest traffic-driving keyword to Mashable.com.
So what can we learn from Mashable.com’s growth?
To me, the key lessons here are persistance, frequency, and timing. If Pete launched Mashable.com today rather than in 2005, I doubt it’d be anywhere near as successful, his timing was great. But lots of other tech blogs were also launched in or before 2005 – that’s where frequency and persistance set Mashable apart.