123

From blog to brand: Jamie Frater (Listverse)

  • Blog to brand
  • January 21, 2014
  • StopPress Team
From blog to brand: Jamie Frater (Listverse)

Listverse

Rather than creating a location-specific niche, Wellingtonian Jamie Frater created Listverse on the premise that online consumers love top ten lists. But the problem with this approach was that top ten lists are as readily available as pictures of Miley Cyrus twerking.

So, in an effort to establish a real point of difference, Frater drew on his interest in obscure trivia to create original top ten lists that weren't available elsewhere. This strategy when combined with a commitment to sharp, well-written content allowed the website to grow into a juggernaut that enjoys millions of views every month.    

A concept that originally started as a personal hobby has now turned into an online brand that was listed as one of Time Magazine's top 25 blogs in 2011, has spawned three books and today provides supplementary income to several freelance writers and and editors. So, without further ado, here are Frater's thoughts on his online journey.

How did you start your website?​

I started Listverse along with five other websites while I was working as a freelance software engineer in London. I had enjoyed reading the Book of Lists as a kid and I figured it would be a good way for me to write about some of the stuff I loved: oddities, science, food, etc. Within the first month we hit the front page of Digg and the traffic sky rocketed. It was up up up from there.

How has it changed since the early days?

In the early days I ran Listverse alone—writing all the content, doing all the web design, SEO, and marketing. Since then we have seven freelance employees who do most of the work for me and hundreds of freelance writers whom we pay $100 US per list for content. My job now is completely behind the scenes managing business relationships and making decisions on strategy and growth. This involves a lot of international travel—something which would not have been impossible at the start of Listverse but now fits perfectly into our business structure.

How do you go about financing your site?

The site is purely financed through advertising revenue and book royalties (we have three books on the market plus a fourth due out this year). We have always been financed through advertising and have not had to personally invest since the first year.

How do you attract ad revenue to your site?

We don’t seek out advertisers—they approach us. This means we don’t need a sales team. We use a number of advertising networks and they have staff who seek out opportunities for us.  

What type of advertising works best for a website?

Every website is different. If you are selling products then you would probably do well with CPA (cost per action) ads whereby you earn revenue when your readers click to an advertiser’s site and purchase something. This does not work at all well for us because we are primarily a content-for-free site. We find CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPC (cost per click) advertising works best for us. CPC is usually better for smaller sites but it actually works really well on Listverse because the majority of our readers are people who like to read and learn and are consequently more likely to read text ads (CPC is often a mix of text only and graphic ads) and follow them. My advice to someone starting out would be to go with CPC (someone like Google) while you are small, then start introducing some extra CPM ads when your numbers are bigger.

Has anyone ever offered to buy your site? Would you mind sharing some stories. What is the most you've ever been offered?

Rather than tell you stories about people offering to buy Listverse (which I have always declined) I would rather share an interesting idea I came across in a book recently. A majority of people running online businesses work on their business with the intention of growing it and then selling at ridiculously huge profits. The idea of getting a huge lump sum payment is something we all love to think about, but study after study has shown that if you are able to delay gratification, the rewards in the end are more likely to be greater. If you sell your website for five million dollars and retire, you need to invest that money in order to continue living a comfortable life. But the reality is that most investment opportunities can never give you returns on five million that would equal the income you can derive from your online business. This is the philosophy I follow. Consequently, Listverse is not for sale. It is a business I intend to nurture and grow until I am too old to be of any use to it any longer and then I will pass it to a more capable member of my family.

What advice would you give to newbies wanting to make it in the online industry?

The best advice I can give to newbies wanting to start out in the online industry is: don’t ... unless you are willing to work from the break of dawn to the setting of the sun every day for as long as it takes. Every person I know who has failed when making an attempt to an online business has failed for that reason alone. If you are not willing to put in the house, you will not succeed. Working from home or running an online business is no different to a mortar and bricks business: it takes hard work, passion, and dedication.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Sponsored content

Both sides now: a look at the tension between clients and agencies

Client-agency partnerships are often love/hate relationships that leave both sides delighted and frustrated all at the same time. Insight Creative’s CEO, Steven Giannoulis, shares his experience on both sides and dishes up advice on working better together.

Rub of the green: our picks for future New Zealand weed brands

  • Advertising
  • June 18, 2018
  • Idealog
Rub of the green: our picks for future New Zealand weed brands

Marijuana has been legalised or decriminalised in a number of countries and states and a whole heap of entrepreneurs and savvy marketers have jumped on the hashwagon. In fact, some commodity traders have called marijuana ‘the next coffee’, such is its potential as a consumer good. In New Zealand, it may not be too long before the same thing happens, with those wacky-backy-loving liberals from Labour close to letting medical marijuana through in some form and a number of local go-getters are ready to light the fuse and fly high. It seems like a slippery, smoky, skankin’ slope to a free-market free-for-all (and, according to Family First, the inevitable downfall of society). So, given this likely shift, here are some brands that might soon exist.

Read more
topics
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...

Kiwi Cultural Code #1: earned success

  • Voices
  • June 18, 2018
  • Claire Tutill
Kiwi Cultural Code #1: earned success

Kiwis have traditionally shied away from celebrating their successes. But the tides are turning and we’re getting more comfortable fronting up to our wins, but only as long as it’s done with humility and backed up with proof. TRA marketing manager Claire Tutill takes a look at awards for awards sake.

Read more
voices
Sponsored content

What will digital marketing look like In 2025?

What will be the most in-demand marketing capabilities and technologies by 2025? And what metrics do marketing leaders believe they are most likely to be measured on by the middle of the next decade?

GDPR 101: Why New Zealand companies should care

  • Media
  • June 14, 2018
  • Sarah Pollok
GDPR 101: Why New Zealand companies should care

With great data, comes great responsibility, or in the case of the GDPR, great regulations. Sarah Pollock tales a look at GDPR, what it means for New Zealand companies and hears advice from Marketing Association CEO Tony Mitchell.

Read more
Sponsored content

KBR's Grant Hyland on communication, collaboration and the customer-first approach

KBR has announced a new exclusive partnership with an Aussie mobile marketing company Geronimo. We talked to managing director Grant Hyland to get the inside skinny on the deal, what it means for KBR's capabilities and what's next on the ambitious company's agenda.

news

Measuring up: how out-of-home is getting to know its audience

When NZ Marketing checked in with New Zealand's out of home industry in its 2017 Media issue, it posited that perhaps the biggest challenge was audience measurement, with little progress having been made in introducing an industry-wide standard to measuring viewership, as Australia did in 2018. How has this changed? Graham Medcalf finds out.

Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit