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Bootstrapping a $10M Creative Marketplace: Envato Founder Couple Collis and Cyan Ta’eed (Part 4)

Posted on Sunday, Nov 18th 2012

Sramana: The way you have grown this business is very interesting. Talk to me about content marketing. What kind of proactive content marketing did you do?

Collis Ta’eed: Every blog starts at the same place, which is absolutely nowhere. You have no visitors, traffic, or interest. For me the biggest challenge is that you are just getting your first visitors. I would go out and comment on other blogs and comment in forums to try and get people to visit my blog. When it came time to launch a new blog, we would harness traffic from the first blog to promote the second.

The second site we launched, which was based on Photoshop files, was vaulted into existence when it was featured on Digg during its second week of existence. That was a potent source of traffic back in the day. We have concentrated a lot of social media ever since. To do well in social media you have to build up a genuine profile. You have to get on sites and interact on sites as a real contributing user. You need to establish a network and feed in content. We did a lot of that.

We joined Twitter fairly early on. We built up profiles for the company as well as ourselves. I tried to think of Twitter using a 90/10 rule, meaning 10% might be something involving Envato and 90% of the time I wanted to be engaging followers with engaging content based on the topic itself. For a bootstrapped company that does not have money to spend on marketing, the important thing is to understand your customers. You need to know what they find useful.

When I look at our marketplaces, I look at the files we have which are handy to web designers. When I got excited about a particular file and I promoted that particular file, I noticed that the conversion was much higher. That was because we were speaking to genuine customer demand. I have always found it more difficult to do that in areas where I am not a subject matter expert. That is why I think it is important to go toward a customer demand that you inherently get. It is easier than trying to learn it.

Sramana: Where is your revenue at today?

Collis Ta’eed: It is in excess of $10 million. There is a file sold every 10 seconds in the marketplace. It is a bit mind-boggling.

Sramana: Is that $10 million figure before or after author commissions?

Collis Ta’eed: That is after author commissions. The authors in our marketplaces do surprisingly well. The top authors have takeover earnings in excess of $70,000 a month. We have had four people who have sold over one million dollars each. There are a lot of people who use it for extra income. I noticed one individual who came from a very low-income country, and he posted about his ability to earn enough money to cover his weekly expenses and food. I looked at his earnings and thought that they were meager for our standards, but based on where he lives it is very important to him to have a marketplace like this for him to be able to live.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping a $10M Creative Marketplace: Envato Founder Couple Collis and Cyan Ta'eed
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