I started CT with Paul Gleason and Melissa Brooks in November 2011. It was an experiment for a creative outlet. We had no budget other than the operating costs for hosting and domain registration that I paid. We also had no revenue to start. The rough kickstarter to the idea was that we were hoping to turn people onto deeper critical thinking in pop culture.
We brainstormed names, but ultimately I suggested Cultural Transmogrifier because of my love of Calvin & Hobbes. For those that don’t remember, the Transmogrifier was the cardboard box that Calvin would go into to transform into different creatures – most memorably a small tiger. It worked for us as we wanted to transmogrify pop culture.
We had our struggles as any start-up does. We were entering a saturated marketplace. The only options of revenue for a site like CT is display advertising and Amazon Associates for product links. We never made it into the black financially, but that was alright with me – it was part of the challenge. Another challenge was finding writers, communicating with them, and keeping them enthused and excited about the site without being able to pay them. Additionally, Paul left CT in July 2012 for personal reasons, and Melissa left in December 2012 for a full-time job.
I personally learned that a site like this needs to be full-time, which is ultimately the reason this hiatus was imminent. It’s my opinion that unless we are able to give the readers consistent high quality content to read, we aren’t offering a full service. I no longer found it acceptable to continue the site without fresh content daily. In our varied attempts to cover news relevant to our audience, we found some good success, but our staff – because of being employed full time elsewhere – was never able to publish the requisite 10-15 news articles a day that develops an audience and in my opinion would have qualified us as a news source.
It essentially boils down to the fact that in order for CT to fully meet my expectations and develop an audience – it needs more time and effort than collectively be given at this time.
With that said, I do not consider CT going on hiatus to be a failure in any sense of the word. We were fortunate to have had articles from over 24 talented writers, myself included. We’ve had editors work for us every day behind the scenes. Running the site has been a fantastic learning experience and gave everyone an additional outlet to be published. We interviewed Matthew Lillard, Tim Heidecker, Martin Eden, The Deafening Colors and Shevy Smith. We reviewed 110 films, 71 television episodes, and 10 books. We published 116 unique and original features and 196 news stories.
We managed our traffic extensively through social media. We utilized StumbleUpon, Facebook, Reddit, Zergnet, Google+ and Twitter. Our site was completely reliant on viral traffic through sharing our articles on social media. It was our sole means to build an audience. The stats below support the fact that with a small (and part-time operated) staff, we managed to exceed our own expectations. In the end, there is so much that I’ll be able to look back at CT and think proudly of. It was a group effort from the very start and allowed me to meet and make a lot of new friends. I am extremely proud to have been the publisher, managing director and co-founder.
If you were a reader, I thank you for doing so. I hope you enjoyed reading our content. Personally, I plan to continue writing as an extension of the CT legacy here on this site. I am hoping that some of our writers from CT will consider contributing here as well.
As a final note on the success of CT, I present a short look at the stats from our 16 months of publishing. Thank you again to everyone involved!
538 articles published
30,695 hits on our busiest day
515,000+ site pageviews, 52,000+ mobile pageviews
31,000+ monthly pageview average
327,000+ unique visitors