September 12, 2009
Ben Huh discusses the beginnings of the Cheezburger Network, the principles and ideas behind the network, some lessons learned, and how those things can inform you when planning a business venture.
WordCamp Los Angeles 2009 6
Ben Huh 3
Business 69 optimization 22 retention 1 simplicity 1 WordPress.com VIP 12
Thanks for this! Good ideas that make sense. Love the low budget testing philosophy.
Informative video. Eagerly awaiting a WordCamp in India.
Love this vid! So many times I try to talk others in to using WordPress as a CMS, or for their blog, and they are saying. “It’s free? How good could it possibly be? It can’t possibly meet my needs!” Right! This is proof positive how well WordPress works! Of course, they would never figure you could make money posting pictures of cats!
I really liked Ben Huh’s WordCamp 2009 presentation.
Here are a few of the things I got out of it…
* Ben Huh has a degree in Journalism.
* Ben’s Cheezburger network runs ~26 websites, and is adding approximately one new website every week.
* The websites serve around 8 million pagesviews per day. This is around 4 billion pageviews every 4 months.
* The majority of the websites run WordPress. Ben claims not to have developed any custom plugins for his sites (but does employ 6 full-time software developers).
* This demonstrates that WordPress does scale well, as long as you use a caching plugin. Note that Ben also uses Amazon S3 (distributed storage) and Amazon EC2 (servers in the cloud).
* icanhascheezburger.com used to be hosted on a $6/month shared host. They got to over 1 million images in a single folder before they noticed and moved servers.
* Ben has never spent a dime on marketing – if your fans love you, they will tell their friends.
* Ben says “do not ever feel compelled to lower your quality standard”. He tells moderators “if you don’t see good content, don’t post anything”.
* Part of Ben’s recipe for success is the MPH mthodology – make people happy.
* Ben says “human nature tends to admire complexity, but reward simplicity”. Complexity has an inverse effect on your ability to scale your business. As your business becomes more complex, it becomes harder to scale.
* In keeping with the “simplicity” philosophy, Ben’s websites use world’s most basic image manipulation software when adding captions to photos. If the text is too long, it just runs off the edge. Ben chooses to focus on high value activities that are the core of his business, rather than write the code that would scale the font or wrap the text.
* While Ben would love for all his visitors to be registered, he knows that if he forced users to register, most of them would not come back. You do not need to register to submit a photo on his websites.
* Ben won’t say how much money his business makes, but he says “you need to reach about half a million pages a day before you can think about hiring someone else”.
* Ben makes two technology recommendations: Aviary, a web based alternative to PhotoShop, and JS-Kit, which handles voting on his websites (also says to check out PollDaddy).
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