Last year, MindBodyGreen hit the exponential growth curve of the long tail.
Founded in an apartment in Dumbo five years ago, the lifestyle and wellness blog was seeing about 2 million monthly unique visitors when 2013 began. By the end of the year, it was up to 15 million.
The site also went from a staff of six in early 2013 to 20 now. About a third of MindBodyGreen’s staff is devoted to editorial work. Earlier this year the company raised nearly $2 million in funding.
Here are some example posts to give you a sense of what we’re talking about:
- A 23 year-old Brooklyn woman writes about living trash free for two years.
- How to make the vegan “crack sauce” used in Calexico taco spots around New York, including Brooklyn Bridge Park.
- Life lessons from 40-year-old Jason Wachob, the site’s CEO and cofounder.
We spoke to Wachob about why he thinks the site has taken off recently, and how he and his team make the whole business work.
The 6-foot-7 Wachob was a varsity basketball player at Columbia University, but ended his career in need of back surgery. Rather than go that route, he managed to cure his problem with yoga.
After experiencing that, he teamed up with some other likeminded people to begin advancing the message of wellness as an all-around approach to health.
“We wanted to create a platform where we didn’t just preach to the choir, but we built a bigger church,” Wachob said. He described the site’s growth as primarily organic, overwhelmingly via social, especially Facebook.
MindBodyGreen has not invested in a marketing campaign to drive visits, Wachob said; he believes the company has tapped into a larger undercurrent of thinking about fitness and health. “I used to see health as a more external thing,” he told us. “It was all weight loss and vanity.” MindBodyGreen, however, is more focused on real nutrition, fitness, strength, balance and well-being, he said.
Much of the writing on MindBodyGreen comes from contributors worldwide. The site has 2,500 contributors. Contributors are not compensated.
Of its editorial content, it’s about 80 percent community and 20 percent staff, Wachob estimated. However, it all gets edited and posts get rejected from the site, in order to maintain quality.
Like most content businesses today (ours included), MindBodyGreen’s revenue model is not strictly from monetizing the editorial side. There are two additional revenue streams the site is now building up.
- One is online video education. Users can pay for access to thirteen courses hosted on the site now. Wachob said that number will double in 2015.
- There’s also an annual event, Revitalize, which is also broadcast free via Livestream.
Behind the scenes, MindBodyGreen has been using its own content management system since the early days. Wachob says they probably didn’t really need it then; now, though, he says he’s glad they have it. It gives them flexibility to layer newer features, like the video courses, onto existing content, which, he said, has made the whole package work better for them.
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