Approximately six months ago, I talked about where LiveJournal stood in the great scheme of things. I pointed out that despite having a better story in many ways than the biggest weblog sites out there, we were still not getting the serious media attention we'd need to be considered on par with other sites. Well, we have started to get not only attention, but respect and a little love from the press. Over time, the stories about us have started becoming less tabloid and more substantial. This will only get better after Wednesday, as we are a solid contender for no less than two Webby Peoples Voice Awards. Watch the webcast at the Webbies website this Wednesday the 18th at around 7 pm PST and root for LiveJournal. Will we win an award? Will we win two? I don't know, but we were in the lead last time they showed the votes. Brad and I are getting interviewed, so you should be able to see us at least once during the webcast, most likely around 7:00, and possibly once more if we win. Are we terrified? You bet!
In six months, LiveJournal has grown sixfold, from 42,000 accounts to over 250,000 accounts as of today. We're easily one of the fastest growing sites on the Internet. Six months ago, we were a little over half the size of Blogger, but today, we are larger, better staffed, and more viable in the long term. Still, there are several key areas LiveJournal needs to focus on.
Funding LiveJournal - Currently, LiveJournal has three fulltime paid staff members, who make about 1/10th of what they would make if they worked a regular job in the computer industry. Hell, they make less than if they worked at McDonalds. This has got to change. Six months back, LiveJournal was supported by about 2.6% of our users who chose to get paid accounts. Today, that figure has dropped to about 1.5%. We need to raise this percentage again. I am making it my personal goal to get 3% of our users to have paid accounts by the end of the year. This money will not only allow us to build a better, faster infrastructure for LiveJournal, but it will allow living wages for all of our staff members and help us to bring on additional staff members to boot. How are we going to practically double our number of paid accounts? We will improve LiveJournal's site design to make memberships easier than ever to get. We will also periodically contact people who have signed up for our mailing list, letting them know about what LiveJournal is doing, what cool features are under development, and getting our message across to more of the people who use LiveJournal. We will also give paid members all sorts of new features, making membership with LiveJournal even more of a deal than ever before!
Scaling LiveJournal's Departments - As LiveJournal expands, our departments willl also need to expand and restructure. We need to reorganize departments as we go along so that there are more team leaders responsible for clearly defined tasks and empowered with the ability to recruit, train, and oversee other volunteers.
Encouraging People to Volunteer - As LiveJournal grows, we need to offer volunteers more of an incentive for doing what they do to help the site. We should gradually implement incentive plans as a way of saying thanks for all their hard work. Obviously, one of those incentives will be hiring more volunteers as we go forward. LiveJournal is a meritocracy where we reward those who show initiative. Six months ago today, Dormando made his first post to lj_dev, the development community for LiveJournal. Now he is responsible for overseeing our network and is a paid staffmember. Trust me... there are still lots of ways volunteers can still make a big difference. If you're dedicated, talented, and show lots of initiative, you can become part of the future of LiveJournal.
Reaching Out - LiveJournal needs to do a better job of contacting those who can help us and building solid relationships. Business is fundamentally built upon relationships, after all. We need to seek out the opportunities out there, find problems that need a solution, and see if LiveJournal can provide those solutions.
One thing that a lot of these goals all have in common is that they require coordination and management. As the "all things business" manager, that is something that I should help with. Unfortunately, that is also something that I haven't had a lot of spare time to do, since much of my time is spoken for. I have a day job, a wife, and I try to have some semblance of a life. Well, in order to make things work out without ditching the wife and while still having some semblance of a life, I'm ditching the day job instead. Yep... after this Friday, in one of the most godawful depressing economies I have ever seen, I am walking away from a $125,000 a year job to join the ranks of the unemployed. I think it's a good decision, frankly. I know that my ability to get paid a living wage again will have a lot to do with how successful LiveJournal becomes before my savings run out, so I should have a fair amount of motivation to succeed, right?! We'll see. Either way, it should be fun.
Hope to "see" all of you at the Webbies! -