How to build a social entertainment website

Reddit has an interesting ask me anything thread running at the moment: I run and it pays my rent in San Francisco. AMA. Someone asked how the owner built up traffic and established the advertising, prompting a candid reply…

How to build a social entertainment website:

  1. Build site
  2. fake lots of user activity
  3. steal a tiny bit of content from all around the internet
  4. reddit ads ($20)
  5. stumbleupon ads ($5)
  6. put easily shareable links on each story side note: I put facebook “like” buttons on each story when they unveiled their opengraph stuff and facebook referrers skyrocketed, so that was awesome.

For advertisers, I literally email them out of the blue. I had a seed seller in the UK for awhile that didn’t pan out, so he quit. I’ve had lots of humor sites advertise, some hydroponics stuff, and while prop 19 was under the media’s eye, adsense was giving me TONS of high CPC ads. I made $3k during that time period in one month. It was nice.

I use Google Doubleclick for Publishers to manage ads, I use freshbooks (the free plan) to charge advertisers with my paypal and google checkout accounts. One time someone wired me money from the UK.

Asked to elaborate on step two, he says:

there’s no secret. just made lots of fake user accounts, posted lots of stories, made all the vote numbers crazy, generally made it look as if there were a ton of users already using the site.

it made people assume that was true, so it didn’t look barren and empty.

(via I run and it pays my rent in San Francisco. AMA. –