Five years ago, I was living in Las Vegas when I decided to make a different kind of gamble: I moved to New York City and started a content marketing company with two of my friends, now co-founders. It’s been an amazing—and humbling—journey. Despite the inevitable bumps in the road, today we’re working with hundreds of the most innovative companies in the world, including nearly 20 percent of the Fortune 500.
Why am I taking this trip down memory lane? Last week we hit another important milestone on our journey: We learned that we ranked #100 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies.
On a personal level, it’s incredibly satisfying that the nearly 100 employees at Contently will have a tangible reminder that their hard work is paying off. Whether it’s our head of HR who has consistently recruited top talent, our youngest intern who grew to become one of our top account managers, or our developers who bring amazing innovation to the Contently platform, everyone should be reminded that their contributions are what got us here. The top 500 companies on Inc.‘s list collectively created 57,822 jobs, and it feels good to know that Contently will be contributing even more to that number in the coming years.
For our company, and the content marketing movement more broadly, the recognition from Inc. is one more piece of evidence that shows just how impactful original storytelling can be when embraced by brands. When we started Contently, there was a lot of skepticism—the term “content marketing” was barely a twinkle in the marketing industry’s eye, and the hot trend was for content farms to exploit writers who were creating content for SEO robots. Luckily, there were a few eager employees, one brave investor, and a handful of ambitious brands that took a chance on us.
In 2011, we launched The Content Strategist to practice what we preached; we wanted to show that we could build the best marketing industry publication using Contently’s technology and network of freelance writers, designers, videographers. Fast forward to 2015. What has TCS become? A best-in-class trade publication and our most effective sales and marketing tool, with an audience of more than 250,000 monthly readers. It’s full of insightful writing, clever videos, infographics, e-books, cartoons, and longform articles, and it has consistently driven incredible return on investment.
TCS is editorially independent but also serves as a lead generator that has helped our company grow to more than $7.5 million in revenue in 2014. To put that number in context, our business grew over the last three years by 3,391 percent—a figure that surprised just about everyone, apart from our business intelligence team.
This year’s Inc. 5000 list was very competitive, with a median growth rate of 1,772 percent, and we’re extremely proud to be included. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’re proud to be able to tell the people who bet on us that their bet is paying off.