Mongabay just hit 1 billion lifetime pageviews. It took almost 23 years. Here’s my key takeaway from the journey.
One billion pageviews is a small number compared with platforms like YouTube and Facebook or mainstream news outlets like The New York Times, but for a niche provider of environmental news like Mongabay, the interest in our content has far surpassed my wildest dreams.
When I started Mongabay, there wasn’t a business model.
In fact, there was no “business” at all: The sole purpose of Mongabay was to be a source of information on tropical rainforests. Mongabay was a labor of love that I sank time and money into without any expectation of ever seeing any money. I relied on a “real job”–and thrifty living–to pay the bills.
But as Mongabay grew in popularity, I saw opportunities to expand its scope and impact, while also creating the potential to earn an income through advertising and selling my photos.
That approach however had to evolve as the market changed and my level of ambition for the website grew.
Today Mongabay’s model is completely different: it is a non-profit organization that relies on grants and reader support. Advertising revenue is negligible. Mongabay also employs more than 70 staff in over 20 countries and last year worked with about 800 contributing journalists. It’s a far cry from when it was just me in my apartment.
But while Mongabay’s business model has changed over time, our core business has not: Our primary focus remains producing high quality original content and making it accessible to as many people as we can. It’s a simple approach, but success requires the ability to adapt in response to change.
For example, in the late 1990s Mongabay’s content was nearly entirely text-based. In the early 2000s, as bandwidth improved, photos got more emphasis. Then came social media platforms, video, and podcasts, each of which have evolved substantially over very short-time frames. What’s next? Maybe it will be immersive environments like augmented reality or virtual reality platforms–e.g. the metaverse.
But no matter the platform or format, we’ll continue to embrace the core idea that high quality original content can draw an audience.
For us, this matters because we believe that addressing critical environmental challenges requires access to more actionable information, communicated in a timely manner across multiple languages and platforms to reach the audiences that shape policy and influence global trends supportive of a sustainable future.
Thanks to everyone who got us to our first billion website pageviews. If you’d like to help us get to our next billion, check out Mongabay’s website. We’re also on social media.