The Secret to a Successful Modern Media Brand

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Strangers are just friends waiting to happen. - PostSecret

They say time flies when you’re having fun which must be true, since it’s hard to believe we're already celebrating the first anniversary of one of our media properties: xoJane. A lot has happened since the launch of Jane Pratt’s online home for independent, opinionated, and passionate women, but one of the many things we're excited about is the way in which xoJane fostered a loyal community of engaged readers in such a short amount of time. It's a model for how to build a successful modern media brand.

xoJane set out to be unlike anything else online or in print. The goal was to appeal to advertisers, who are connecting with this audience in new and innovative ways, but also to give women a place where they can be themselves. Jane tapped talented writers with strong, authentic voices. SAY brought the site a sleek, user-friendly design and great technology to manage the site. Finally, all that was left was for the editors to start creating riveting content.

And oh, did they. Signature stories like I'll Try Anything Once, It Happened to Me, and xoJane Makeunders as well controversial pieces such as My Rapist Friended Me on Facebook (And All I Got Was This Lousy Article), and Health Class Taught Me How to Have an Eating Disorder, captivated readers from day one and immediately helped xoJane become one of the fastest growing women’s lifestyle sites.

"It’s the most interesting hybrid of media that I’ve done before," says Jane. She carefully hired a group of women (and a few token males) that she refers to as “a cast of characters.” Much like a reality show, these characters represent angles and personalities to whom the readers relate, but who also evoke strong emotions and reactions, which, of course, was Jane’s goal all along. “I like sparking people. From day one, I wanted to have stuff that people would really love, really hate, and really want to comment on.” She pauses and smiles. “That’s passion.”

Jane and SAY are counting on that passion from editors and readers to make the upcoming xoJane UK a huge hit when it launches this summer. What's next? Jane wants to get readers even more involved than they already are. Though they already spend an average of five minutes on the site, “We’re working on developing ways to make it easier for the community to contribute their own content,” she says.

It was an amazing first year. A huge hit in the U.S, xoJane has as many as 700,000 unique users and 3.5 million page views a month, and was named one the “Top 10 Women’s Lifestyle Sites” by Forbes.com just two months after its launch. It’s going to be hard to top all of that in its second year, but if anyone can do it, Jane can.