Bryan Goldberg's Bustle Has 1 Million Monthly Readers 3 Months After Its Launch

Bustle bryan goldbergTwitter via @bgoldbergBryan Goldberg and the Bustle team.

Bryan Goldberg now openly admits that he
blew his startup’s launchwith a
snarky blog post on PandoDailyin August.

Despite his public fumble, which provoked articles titled, “What Was This Bro Thinking,” and “Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Gaffe Makes Laughing Stock Of Launch,” early traction signs for his women-focused site look good.

Yesterday at Henry Blodget and Sarah Lacy’s PandoMonthly interview, Business Insider sneakily glanced over Goldberg’s shoulder and saw Bustle’s Chartbeat numbers.

Chartbeat shows publishers how many people are on their site at any given moment, much like Google’s real-time Analytics.

At 8 p.m., Bustle was tracking about 450 people on its site. When we asked Goldberg about it, he shared a few more details.

On Oct. 7, two months after the “Bustle gaffe,” the site was pulling in about 760,000 uniques per month and 1.2 million page views.

(Apologies for the fuzzy screengrab. The original screenshot is here.)

Bustle traffic october 2013Quantcast via Bustle/TwitterBustle traffic from early October 2013

Now Bustle’s numbers are even higher. With its staff up to 16 people, including the recently-poached founding editor of Huffington Post Women, Margaret Wheeler Johnson, the site is now pulling in nearly 1 million monthly uniques and 2 to 3 million page views. There are 11 editors and four tech people on the payroll, plus some freelancers, for a six-figure burn rate.

The burn rate sounds high, but it also covers benefits and salaries that are “a lot more than $US30K a year,” according to Goldberg.

Here’s the traffic chart this month:

How good is that traffic?

To compare apples and oranges, you can look at PandoDaily, where Bustle first made its “launch gaffe.” Bustle has already almost surpassed it in both uniques and page views. Its weekly traffic already looks higher.

Here’s PandoDaily’s traffic. PandoDaily’s staff is about the same size as Bustle’s but reaches an entirely different audience (older male executives versus young female professionals). It raised about $US4 million two years ago; Bustle raised $US6.5 million pre-launch.

Pandodaily traffic november 2013QuantcastPandoDaily’s traffic from November 2013

Where’s Bustle’s traffic coming from?

Some of it is paid. Goldberg says he allocates a few hundred dollars per week to Facebook advertising.

“That [Facebook advertising] is the only money we spend on anything other than salaries and general corporate expenses,” Goldberg says.

The rest of the readers are finding Bustle almost evenly through direct visits, search engines, and social networks. Referrals from other sites is a smaller chunk of traffic. Goldberg says he’s become very pro-Pinterest after examining its referral power. That’s why his team often puts together visual stories like this one on marshmallow peeps in Halloween costumes.

Here’s the Bustle traffic chart as of today:

Diversity of traffic is extremely important for a content startup. If you look at a company like Upworthy, which boasts 50 million monthly uniques, the vast majority of the traffic comes from one source: Facebook. Other sites that have relied on one source only, particularly Facebook, have been burned badly over time. Examples range from Viddy, to Branchout, to Path, to Zynga.
“Even though the ~million uniques is a great early milestone, the thing that has me really excited is the [diversity of traffic],” says Goldberg. “The distribution of sources is almost perfectly even, which shows that Bustle is finding readers a lot of different ways. Having done this for a second time, I cannot overstate how important that is to me.”

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