The Road to the first 100K
For every site owner, you set goals for yourself long before the site launches. Maybe it’s things you’d like to do in general. Maybe you hope to make a set amount of income by a certain point in time. Or maybe you hope to hit traffic goals each month as the site’s popularity increases. For everyone it’s entirely different.
No matter what your goals are, there are certain times when you can finally exhale and say “I’ve made it”. The so called “Milestones”, like when a site goes live, or gets out of it’s “testing” phase and opens its doors to the public.
This story is different. This is a story about the long and tedious task of hitting your first 100K in unique visitors – a pivotal point in any sites history, be it present and future. Before we begin with the story of Devlounge’s journey to 100k, it’s important to understand what it’s like to manage a large-scale site, especially if you’ve never managed any kind of site other than a portfolio or a blog. Bigger sites are very different.
On a standard personal blog or portfolio, bringing in 100 unique visitors a day would be considered fairly decent, because there is not much backbone behind simple blogs and portfolios. When I used to run a blog on Astereo, I’d be happy to see 60 uniques each day. I thought it was great, but I had never experienced the traffic patterns that were eventually to come with a site like Devlounge.
9 Months in the Making
Oddly enough, despite what the above header might suggest, reaching 100,000 uniques is not like giving birth to a baby at the end of 9 long months. But in our case, that’s how much time it took for Devlounge to mature from a “baby” to where it is today. Every site reaches certain traffic milestones at different points. Some quicker, and some slower, but if the site is good enough, it will happen.
Devlounge reached 100K will little advertising, something I’ve promised to step up for 2007 to get us our next 100K in [hopefully] half the time. Instead, most of our traffic came form word of mouth, kind people linking us, and returnees coming back day in and day out to see what was new. Throughout the 9 months it took us to get here, I watched traffic patterns carefully, noticing where and when people were coming, and what they were doing once they got here.
Traffic Patterns and Patience Pays Off
So many people have such little patience that they lose fate that their own site(s) will be able to hit such goals as 100K. It’s important to never lose sight of these things, because you can reach them, but it might just take some time. We never found ourselves on the digg homepage, or in magazines. But patience paid off.
Looking at our traffic logs, if you had asked me back in April 2006 if Devlounge would ever hit 100,000 unique visitors, I probably would have laughed and said, “Not for a long [explicit] time.” In the two and half days of February that have gone by so far, DL has passed the traffic for that whole launch month of April ’06. Talk about a turn around. If I didn’t have patience and didn’t give DL a chance to succeed, I probably would have sold it off back in May. Instead, a hung in their and let things play out first.
Once you get there, then what
After passing that first 100K mark, the next 100K is much easier to get to, and it just gets easier and easier after that to hit new traffic goals. Just imagine 100,000 people from all around the world knowing the name of your site, and telling their friends, who tell their friends, and in turn, your stats show improvements, in half the time as the first time around.
So in the end, don’t let distractions and impatience get in your way. Give you site or startup a chance to grow, because for most of us, it doesn’t happen overnight. But when it does happen, it’ll give you a feeling inside of nailing one of your goals you set a long time ago, and it’s a good one.