Entrepreneur Stories and Featured Entrepreneurs

From Startup to Top Ten Sports Site

Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures

It's the ultimate entrepreneur fantasy. Start a website with 3 high school buddies and turn it into one of the Top 10 online sports websites in under 2 years. Here's how BleacherReport did it and what you can learn from them.

BleacherReport.com is one of those start-up success stories that make you think that if they can do it, so can you.

Founded in 2007 by 4 high school friends, BleacherReport is now one of the top 10 online sports websites with over 9 million unique visitors per month. They have content syndication partnerships with CBS, USA Today, the LA Times, and other notable media properties.

BleacherReport is unique from other popular sports and news sites in that 100% of their content is created by amateur writers for free. They have no paid journalists and don't pay authors to submit content on their site. Rather, their hook to get authors is the promise to help aspiring writers and hardcore sports fans get increased exposure and build their credibility as writers. User generated content has become a popular means of creating new and meaningful content that provides a unique perspective from their professional counterparts.

What's most impressive about BleacherReport, is their growth rate. In less than 2 years, they have risen to the top of the ranks of online sports news and reporting through a combination of sound business practices. Their first key driver of success was being able to recruit and incentivize amateur writers to write articles covering sports news and topics for a website with out having to pay them. This just goes to show that many people care more about exposure than pay and BleacherReport has delivered on their promise to give their writers greater exposure than they could get elsewhere. They strategically partnered with universities and colleges to offer a journalism internship to have journalism majors write sports news and articles and in return, students and interns get great exposure, experience, and recognition.

While there are hundreds of other user-generated sport content websites out there, BleacherReport stands out against them all thanks in part to partnerships with CBS, the LA Times, and other large regional and national media outlets. These sites garner millions of unique visitors each week that they are sending to BleacherReport. All of those eye balls and traffic to BleacherReport means solid advertising revenue for BleacherReport. The other attribute that helps them stand out among other user generated sports sites are the editors and copywriters they employ to review and edit submitted articles. While the content is generated by amateur writers and avid sports fans, editors and copywriters are able to tweak articles to give them that professional edge with out changing the unique opinion or perspective of the author.

You might be asking why media powerhouses such as the USA Today, LA Times, and CBSSports would need or want to partner with BleacherReport to syndicate content and news on sports. After all these companies employ professional writers to cover the news and write in-depth articles to cover the sports. One primary reason is the amount of unique articles BleacherReport is able to generate each week on. They get enough submissions that they can syndicate a large amount of content on a single team, such as the LA Lakers. While the LA Times can dedicate resources to covering general sports, they cannot dedicate a journalist to cover the LA Lakers exclusively and still provide the same in-depth opinion and analysis that the consortium of writers at BleacherReport provides.

BleacherReport is a success story that any entrepreneur can learn from. Follow your passion, but deliver the goods and know who your audience is and how you need to incentivize them to help you deliver the goods.

James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.

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