Today we continue our semi-regular series of interviews with WordPress Multisite owners.
The following interview is with Mark de Scande, who runs BlogLines.co.za with his wife Charissa. BlogLines is a freemium-style site (free blogs with paid upgrade options).
He is based in South Africa.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself before you got into running your site? What is your background in?
I was in the car audio trade years back. I was fitting sounds system, and so then I started selling car audio online. All was good until I got hit by a scam and got taken for R 30K (South Africa Rand).
Then I started to play with WordPress and started selling paint ball equipment online. Then I opened a shop in Port Elizabeth but closed it down about three years later. At that time I started my BlogLines site.
When did you start the site?
Why did you start the site?
Needed to make money from Google Adsense (ha-ha).
Do you have other sites?
Lots. :) About 90 customer sites.
RUNNING THE SITE:
Do you run the site alone?
Yes (with my wife), but i have the power of WPMU DEV. :) love you guys.
How much time do you spend on it (per day/week)?
I am always on there. That is how I make money — keeping tabs on things.
How do you control splogs? / How much time spent? / Are they hard to spot?
Splogs? I love them as they make me money. I use ProSites to limit the number of posts. Then they have to upgrade, and yes they do.
I was wasting my time killing them, but now I know to work with them to make me money.
How do you deal with people posting unwanted content?
I only remove content if I get an email asking me, but if there is porn, they get banned for life.
Ever had issues?
Yes, some fat ass attorneys wanted to take me to court for their customer’s content. I just removed it, and the problem was solved.
What plugins would you not want to do without?
That is easy ProSites. :)
I use about 40 plugins – 25 from WPMU DEV.
How did you first attract people to the site when it was new?
Goolge Webmaster tools (it showed me where to look for more traffic), and I used some JUNK link software. I also used Google Adwords. Don’t waste your money, just keep working on your site. :)
How do you attract people to the site now?
I don’t. They just come as we have so much stuff listed on Google. It is easy. Just post something on BlogLines.co.za, and go google it. You will see it popping up on Google page 1. :)
And guess what — our Page Rank is only 3 with Google, but I guess content is KING.
What do you find works best for attracting new members?
Just post on your Facebook. It always works :)
How many sites do you have on your install?
I have 79,355 sites and 76,388 users.
How many new sites do you typically see per day/week?
About 100 + per day
Have you seen the number of new members increase over the years per
day/week? If so, what would you attribute this to?
Yes, from 1 to 10 new sites and now about 100 + per day – not all paying, but here and there you get guys payinf $30 for their new sites per year.
Can you give us an idea about how much the site makes?
We also do websites for customers for $339, so about $50 per day. It is still a lot of money in South Africa. :)
Where do you find your customers for websites?
Through Facebook and friends of friends (99% of the site we do are customers of customers).
So at least indirectly you get your website customers through running BlogLines?
So the sites you build for customers – are they separate from BlogLines, or do you just put them on the site and use domain mapping?
They are part of BlogLines, and then I use domain mapping.
What are some things you like best about running the site?
Love WordPress and love playing with new stuff from WPMU DEV.
What are some things you like least about running the site?
There is not a thing. I love it all. It is just hard work.
What advice would you give to someone that is thinking of starting a multisite? (Maybe the three most important things you would want to tell them.)
1) Dedicate Server
2) WPMU DEV
3) NEVER GIVE UP
Interested in other interviews? Try the one with Harmony Coburn.
NOTE: If you run a successful Multisite install, or you know someone who does who might be interested in participating in an interview, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interviews are conducted by email, so you can do them at your convenience.