Mashable is a news blog created by Pete Cashmore in 2005 and is now one of the top blogs in the world. His success story can become a lesson for all bloggers who are eager to learn how to make money blogging online. It is one of the blogs I visit to get blog layout ideas and news on new blog improvements. Although his blog is a WordPress blog and mine is based on Joomla, the thought process behind blogging is the same: content is king, good layout will keep readers from leaving and social media buttons will increase the loyalty of your visitors. Today I thought about looking how Mashable looked like in 2005 when Pete published his first posts and how his WordPress blog was developed during the last 5 years.
I used the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for tracking down the old versions of Mashable blog. This blog flashback of Mashable starts on July 30, 2005. Pete Cashmore had written his first 17 posts by then and the blog layout screamed that the blog was just starting out. No ads other than a top Google Ad banner, no footer section, no logo, no links and just 3 RSS readers in the front page. The categories included all sort of things like “Pointless Fluff” which I guess was dropped out.
6 months later, Pete’s blog had its own logo (although not the “M” letter), top banner was deleted, an “about” section had been added to the right column along with contact and LinkedIn details. What’s interesting is the amount of posts added during those 6 months and it is a good answer when bloggers wonder just how many posts they should publish in their blogs on a daily basis. Given that more than 400 articles were published in Mashable blog, Pete’s suggestion would be to add about 2 to 3 posts in your blog each day. Another big change to Mashable by that time was link exchanging. Notice how many links are added in the right section of the blog. A sign that link exchange did work back then, if you wanted your blog to get heard of.
By July 2006 Pete had changed his blog’s layout. The two column right section was replaced by one column, a very common layout of even today’s blogs. The latest logo was replaced by a puzzle piece, there are links now on top and footer area and Mashable now uses Feedburner service for RSS. On the other hand the categories list had been removed and a top menu of just 2 tabs had been added. Later that year, at Christmas time, Pete had included a MySpace button in the footer of Mashable, there were 7 tabs at the top menu, including Facebook and Youtube channel, the second column at the right area of the blog had returned featuring his first advertisements and there was a Social Networking competition running at Mashable. The last post in the front page calling people to vote for their favorite niche social network was commented 1272 times! The blog’s traffic must have already been through the roof! Unfortunately the traffic stats of sitemeter included in Mashable wasn’t allowed public access.
During 2007 Mashable blog’s moto appeared for the first time, “Social Networking News”, although it has changed to Social Media News nowadays. The footer area is being crowded by more links and information, while there are 213 pages of posts according to the front page at mid-July 2007. If you check out the blog 6 months later, the pages have increased to 471! Since there are about 15 posts in each page, we are talking about more than 3500 new posts in 6 months, increasing the number of daily posts to 20! If you check out the front page on December 11, 2010, there are 16 posts added that day just at the front page! By that time though, Pete wasn’t alone any more in Mashable. There are quite a few authors contributing with their articles to Mashable, increasing the blog’s value.
In April 2008 content is still going strong, with more than 900 pages of posts. Mashable’s community has been increasing according to the social media widgets and we have trouble finding an article of Pete in the front page, a sign that the blog is now in full operation without the need of its creator. Since then there isn’t any record in the Wayback Machine.
What I have learnt watching how Mashable evolved through the time? Add valuable content in your blog daily and socialize online. If you want to know how to make money blogging, a good advice is to look how successful blogs looked in the past and follow their progress through time. It’s what I often do to find out what is more important, content or looks. And the answer is pretty obvious I think.