When I bought Designer News from LayerVault, it was a trust fund baby. Aside from a bit of revenue from the job board, it was burning cash and subsidized by LayerVault’s investors.
When LayerVault shut down, I bought Designer News and gave it a dose of reality. I ripped the rainbow lollipop out of its hands, replaced its ringlets with a military buzz cut, and forced it to get a job. I wanted to turn Designer News into an independent business whose only stakeholder was its community.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past six months. We’ve built a solid team, with Maxwell Lind running community and day-to-day operations, Jody Heavener pumping out code and improvements, and Farzad Ban making things look beautiful.
We’ve launched a complete redesign, hosted a huge meetup, done a ton of great AMA’s, and made hundreds of small improvements throughout the site. Although there’s a lot more to improve on (cough lame Medium posts and listicle spam), we’re feeling really good about our progress so far.
Some stats since we took over:
- Registered Users: ⬆️ 36%
- Monthly Traffic: ⬆️ 100%
- Story Upvotes: ⬆️ 100%
- Job Posts: ⬆️ 200%
So far, we’ve been successful in getting Designer News to stand on its own two feet financially. When I bought the site, it was burning thousands of dollars each month. Today, thanks to the support of some great companies advertising, sponsoring posts, and sharing jobs on the job board, we’ve been able to get Designer News to support our team and pay the bills. It’s a big milestone and we’re feeling great about it.
That said, advertising and sponsorships are totally unpredictable. We’re finding it really challenging to land longterm advertisers, and some months we’re still dipping into the red. As a result, we’re still heavily reliant on venture backed startups for most of our advertising revenue and we’re concerned that this could be unsustainable longterm.
Since taking the reigns, we’ve been brainstorming different ways to become less reliant on startup money. One idea we came back to over and over again was thinking about Designer News like an old school newspaper: the day's news with secondary services that support the community while generating revenue for the site.
People used to use the newspaper to do all sorts of stuff. Need a job? Check the job listings. Need to buy a used car? Check the classifieds.
Well, today I’m excited to announce our own version of the classifieds: The Designer News Market. It’s a place for the world’s best designers to buy and sell their best creations to other designers. Whether it's icons, themes, UI kits—you name it, you can sell it in the Market.
Over the past few months, we’ve reached out to hundreds of top designers from the DN community to get their goods on the market, but it’s open to anyone. If you have something amazing to sell, send Max an email and we’ll take a look at getting it live in the market.
We’re just getting started, and we’re excited to see how the Market evolves. We’d love to hear any feedback you guys have about what sorts of items you’d like to see less or more of, what’s missing, or any other feedback. Feel free to email or tweet at me anytime.
We think that the market is going to be a great way for Designer News to become even more independent while benefitting the community and helping independent designers make some extra cash. Best of all, it’s by the community, for the community, and will shield the site if startups fall on hard times.
Go check it out here: http://designernews.co/market. Let us know what you think!