Today, Squidoo hit 100,000 lenses. In a few hours, we'll hit 50,000 unique lensmasters as well. That's as good an excuse as any to talk about what we've learned.
In no particular order:
- It takes longer than you think it will. Daily traffic is 10 times higher than it was a year ago. That's a huge number. Seduced by the legendary stories of overnight web successes, we thought it would happen in a month. Patience is a virtue.
- People learn by example. As the lenses getting built get better, it inspires others to do better stuff too. Highlighting great work is a critical step for any community.
- Bad actors are everywhere. And most of them will go away if we focus on eliminating anonymity.
- Google matters. Yahoo and Ask too. Not manipulative SEO, but honest pages that benefit users if they get found.
- The community is smart. Really smart. They run large parts of the site, and they do it beautifully.
- You don't need VC money if you plan around it. The emphasis is on the second part of that sentence. Other than attending a small trade show, we didn't spend a penny on outbound marketing, nor did we flog it far and wide.
- You don't need many people, but is sure helps if you hire people who are brilliant, honest and passionate.
- Temptation is everywhere. Temptation to artificially boost traffic or revenue or some other metric. It might work in the short run, but when you're done, you don't have much to show for it.
- Bizdev is dramatically overrated, either that or we're bad at it. The growth of Squidoo has come from individuals (99%) not corporate partners.
- What you start with is wrong. At least what we started with was. Fortunately, we planned on being wrong, and have revamped most aspects of what we built. Tomorrow I'll be posting on our new ad approach.
If you want to see what's working, here are three things to try:
- Do a Google search on "laptop bags"
- Visit How to Start a Chess Club.
- Visit this lens about scary movies.
- Visit this group about Harry Potter.