I’m not a huge fan of thundering hard rock but I am definitely a huge fan of thundering website traffic. Chris Gonda is an old friend from university and also a successful internet marketing entrepreneur. Chris has created a powerful web presence with his online magazine PureGrainAudio.com. Like many in the online world, he started out with a limited viewership of friends and family only to work up to a whopping 30,000 visitors a month. We interviewed Chris to get insights (and advice!) on what a successful web domain is all about.
First off, you manage a team of 25 people at PureGrainAudio while still maintaining a full time job. How do you do it?
Time management is honestly a difficult characteristic to develop and maintain. On any given day I would love to succumb to the comfort of my couch and avoid all things computer. That said I have learned to push my limits even further through a combination of baby steps and rewards. If I work for an hour straight I force myself to do just an extra 15 minutes. These quarter hours will quickly add up while sometimes that extra push turns into a full extra (or more) hour in and of itself. Rewarding yourself is a good practice as well. Work hard for a couple hours, then take a break and do something else you enjoy. Then get back to the work and feel somewhat refreshed. As with all things in life it comes down to balance… and one must learn how to juggle. End of story.
What do you believe were critical milestones in your journey to 30,000 monthly visitors?
Other than 10,000 and 20,000 visitors? Just joking. In all honesty I don’t see milestones per se. I believe that in running your own company and looking at the big picture a milestone is just another day. Sure we might have clawed our way to 30 k visitors a month, but what about tomorrow and what about 50k? I mean as with any other person it is nice to sit back and smile upon your accomplishments, but it is far more fruitful to constantly be outdoing oneself. I actually use www.Alexa.com as an unofficial marker of our success. I won’t get into the details of that site, but I use it as a tool to push myself. Every week when I see that number climb closer towards 1 I get both excited and driven. Conversely if it should ever go in the opposite direction I am equally motivated.
Does branding play a role in your business model?
Absolutely. And for varying reasons. Oftentimes people are visual… ever hear of visual learners? That said it is way easier for some to recognize a logo than it is to remember a name. In any case the imagery goes hand in hand and allows for people to equate one with another. Moreover, it seems like business development in general has changed over the past few years in that companies now need not generate revenue per se, but instead a massive following. How better to do this than by having them associate with your branding. Though it may be somewhat rarer, look at a site like Twitter which offer something other sites already do, but brand it effectively creating a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars all while generating zero revenue. The power of branding and viral growth is astonishing.
What does visitor loyalty mean to you – and what are your recommendations to obtaining it?
Visitor loyalty is someone who returns to your site again and again. Maybe even someone who becomes an advocate for what you do and spreads the gospel unto others. We actually run about a dozen various contests a month and when we see the entry numbers grow we know word is spreading. More importantly, when I get a reply from a winner or runner up complete with comments about “how sick our site is” or “how they are on it all the time” I feel blessed. That is visitor loyalty. As for obtaining it… content… unique content… and lots of it. Let’s face it, for every article we post there are a handful of other sites posting similar articles on similar bands. At the end of the day what may separate us from them is quality, consistency and quantity. I always to post as much unique content as often as possible. Don’t slack and don’t settle.
You are based in Toronto, but how diverse is your traffic/readership?
Though we are based in Toronto, only about 25-30% of our traffic comes from Canada. We deliver about 50-60% from the US and the rest from other parts of the world. I could bore you with demographics, but I shall instead say that it is not always easy to garner a presence abroad. I guess this somewhat ties back into the 3rd question concerning branding. We have seen our US traffic pie slice shrink as of late due to an increase in international traffic. We have not done anything special but I do believe that our name is starting to “get out there” more.