In the space of little more than one short year, Cointelegraph has risen to become one of the leading names – and major brands – in cryptocurrency media. How did it happen?
In an industry where sudden changes are part of everyday business, the cryptocurrency community witnesses names and faces come and go almost constantly. While brand identity is never formed overnight, this is an area where all can be lost in a matter of days or even hours.
Being first and foremost a community-based resource, Cointelegraph has sought to counter this trend. As we’ve grown, the support of community members, businesses and experts has allowed us to expand dramatically across the globe, while still maintaining the inimitable style that characterized even our earliest stories.
Want to know more about the operations of Cointelegraph ‘under the hood,’ its ethos and future? Check out our interview with CEO Victoria Vaughan below. Victoria discusses the ins and outs of growing Cointelegraph, and also has some hints and tips for young startups and entrepreneurs looking to make the most of the uniquely dynamic world of cryptocurrency.
Cointelegraph: Could you give us some background information on how Cointelegraph was started?
Victoria Vaughan: Cointelegraph was started just over a year ago when the cryptocurrency market was much smaller but several competitors were already there (CoinDesk and CCN). However, we could see clearly that the market would be growing and there was still space for newcomers.
CT: What in your opinion has allowed CT to become one of the key players in today’s crypto-media industry?
VV: There are several major issues which made CT a successful media outlet. It’s always very important to bring something valuable to people and to have a special something which makes you stand out from your competitors.
In the case of CT, there were three success factors, in my opinion:
- First of all our authentic concept of illustrating all our content assets like articles, interviews, experts, etc. We built illustrations into our marketing strategy and they are an indispensable part of our brand identity. We believe that content is more easily received when it is supported by images. This, in my view, is a focal point that creates extra value for our readers.
- Second most importantly about CT is that we are very community-oriented. Right from the start we were building on our network of community experts and we are proud to say that it’s now pretty comprehensive. Our experts are highly knowledgeable and respected people in the field. They are the best support that we have, willing to share their valuable knowledge and experience to keep our content at the forefront of industry development.
- Lastly but nonetheless most importantly: we love what we do. Most of us would do it even if it would give us less money. Some of us hang out in the office over the weekend, because this is not just work for most of us; this is a way of life. And I feel that our readers feel the love and passion that we put into our work.
CT: During its lifetime Cointelegraph has had a tendency to grow pretty steadily. How did you go about achieving that and respond to market conditions?
VV: It’s a known fact that in order to grow, you should never stop. Even if you feel comfortable and think that everything is perfect — still you need to move forward. If you don’t, your competitor will. That’s what we did — we improved our site, we hired new authors, found new experts and partners.
CT: What hints then could you give young startups about the best ways of monetizing media?
VV: This is a very interesting question. We at Cointelegraph started from banner placements but now we have a fully-fledged media group as well as a great marketing communications agency.
The secret is that you should always try to look outside the box. Don’t just stay within your comfort zone. When we looked at the crypto market, we saw that there were plenty of small and middle-sized sites managed by one or two enthusiasts for whom the sales process is a real challenge.
On the other hand, there were a number of businesses interested in advertising on various resources. At that time, businesses had to communicate with all these sites one by one and order adverts. We realized that we could become a perfect mediator between businesses and sites. We were good at sales, we had clients, so we just started offering our sales services to the owners of sites. This way we significantly expanded our advertising capabilities and now we have the biggest media group in the industry, which includes more than 10 different resources.
We managed to utilize full marketing potential of the websites in our media group to significantly grow cumulative revenue and vastly expand our reach. We are very humble and try to speak modestly about ourselves, but it is fair to say that we are the biggest marketing powerhouse in the crypto world.
CT: What do you think about the market as it is now, and where do you see the new opportunities developing?
VV: I see that interest in cryptocurrency is continuing to grow. More and more people are getting interested. I believe that Bitcoin will continue its mass adoption and in about a year will be significantly more integrated into the global financial system. Therefore, now is a perfect moment to enter the market.
There are still plenty of opportunities out there. If talking specifically about media — at the moment just few major regions are covered (USA, parts of Europe). There are no strong local media resources at the moment and we are going to change that. For the following year, CT has a strategic aim to cover all major regions with a local version of CT that will focus on the local crypto news as well as cover local developing stories.
CT: How are you going to set about doing that?
VV: We decided that the best way to do so is to find passionate local enthusiasts and entrepreneurs willing to invest their time and energy in developing local crypto media. Our strategy is built upon the franchise scheme, where we give the local entrepreneur the right to use CT’s brand and editorial materials, as well as sales and marketing support, in order for them to grow the local crypto-community.
This niche is not occupied yet and now is the time to change that.
CT: How do the franchise programs work in practice?
VV: We provide our partners with a ready-to-use publishing platform and website. Our franchisees will translate all CT news into their local language, as well as cover local stories. Of course, we expect our partners to adopt our culture of high quality editorial products and imagery. We also expect them to put all their passion into this product, while we will provide all the necessary support that they might need — technical, marketing and editorial. As financial motivation, our franchisees keep up to 80% of advertising revenue from their site.
CT: What kind of return on investment would site holders be looking at?
VV: Average time of ROI is 24 months in the USA, Canada and Europe, 18 months in Russia, India, China and Brazil, and 12 months elsewhere.
CT: How’s the program been going so far? Have you seen any real successes already?
VV: Yes, we have already launched CT in Italy, UK, Greece, South Africa, Czech Republic and Slovenia. We are currently in negotiations with some other key markets, but are constantly looking for passionate and qualified local enthusiasts who can make CT’s local franchise a success story. So, if you are looking for new business opportunities, this may be just what you have been waiting for. I’d even urge getting in touch today to find out if your country is in our franchise pipeline.
CT: If you could sum up achieving success in one line, what would it be?
VV: The secret is easy — set ambitious goals and put your heart into it to make it happen.