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How Anthill turned a $900 blog into one of Australia’s Top 50 Business & Finance Sites [VIDEO]


Late last week, I asked Anthill’s Lachy Wharton to create a screencast designed to showcase the benefits of attending Anthill’s upcoming Online Marketing by Design workshops. What he created, I found… well… remarkable.

Sure, it includes all the predictable information used to promote an event (presented with an appropriately ‘anthillian’ hint of ‘sales pitch’ self-mockery). It’s also very raw, developed as a ‘first draft’. But it articulates a great many of the philosophies that we have applied (and championed) over the past 12-months, since taking the big leap into digital publishing.

After a quick crew huddle, we felt it worth publishing, despite its ‘unrefined’ state (skip to video).

Anthill’s $900 website.

As the headline to this broader post suggests, Anthill’s first concerted foray into digital publishing involved the production of a $900 wordpress blog in February 2009.

That’s a company secret that I still find hard to share.

However, what we soon discovered is that the creation of a platform is the easy bit.

What’s hard is the creation of a ‘community’, coupled with a clear monetisation strategy. Like most would-be web-entrepreneurs, we discovered very early on that the ‘Fields of Dreams’ approach to web development is, unsurprisingly, flawed (i.e. ‘if you build it, they will not come’).

If building a profitable (or even sustainable) website were that easy, every web developer would be too busy swimming in their personal Jacuzzis of cash to apply their web-developing expertise to the many projects of small business owners and marketing professionals.

What we discovered is that ‘technology’ is malleable.

What can’t be messed with are a set of overarching ‘philosophies’.

So, what were the results of our online endeavours?

Nielsen Online Ratings Top 50 Business & Finance (Nov 2009)

Within only 10 months (February to November 2009), Anthill Online had scored itself a position on Nielsen Online Rating’s Top 50 Business & Finance sites index (right). It was also identified by the Audit Bureaux of Australia as one of the most ‘engaged’ sites within its portfolio of media sites.

What you might notice from this screencast is that Anthill is nestled four spaces above News Ltd and Ninemsn’s joint business channel. (We’re sure that the development of this site involved more than $900 of the duo’s massive shared resources. ;-))

Nielsen ranks websites according to the number of Australian Unique Browsers (i.e. unique visitors) that visit a website daily, averaged over a 30 day period. This seems an apt measure, as media sites can easily ‘game’ their page impressions by adding ‘auto-refresh codes’ (a topic for another day).

Anthill’s philosophies for online marketing [VIDEO]

For the video below, Lachy has distilled into a short presentation many of the overarching philosophies (and some of the strategies) that brought us this growth.

We have edited the video considerably to keep the content close to the 10 minute mark. Some sections you may wish to pause, rewind and read again. It moves fast in some places, slow in others and, once again, it is very, very raw. (You might need your spectacles.) But to get the full story, you know what to do. (Register for the masterclass.)