In 2002 I began to send tips to my friends, as and when I spotted a good deal, and jokingly used the subject line ‘Martin’s Money Tips’. It went to about 40 people and it was only done when I discovered some info I couldn’t use in my then Sunday Express column, or on Open House with Gloria Hunniford.
A couple of months later I was at a party and people I’d never met before were thanking me for the emails. It turned out my friends were forwarding it to their friends (this was before most people had heard of the word ‘viral’).
To make it easier, I set up an email list built around a basic homepage so anyone could get the info.
The email grew quickly and soon hit 1,000 recipients. I decided the site had potential to help me promote my journalism work, so I paid a web designer in Uzbekistan £100 to design a more professional version. This was launched on 22 February 2003, which I count as the moment this site was born.
Fast forward to yesterday when…
The 10,000,000th email address was opted into the weekly email list. Quite simply a staggering number. I can quite genuinely tell you I never thought it’d get this big, in fact this is a quote from my 1,000,000 receiving the email blog in 2007:
“As I mentioned to the MSG on Saturday, I actually felt a little depressed, I’m now not sure what the target should be. I’m very numbers driven, as I’ve discussed in a past blog. I am obsessed by looking at the email list graph. Now I don’t really know what to do. The next obvious target is 10,000,000 yet actually I believe that’s beyond the capacity of any website, as it’s simply too high a proportion of web adults. So what do I base it on next? Without a number to go for I’m slightly lost –- stupid really as I should be over the moon, but being the slightly nerdy chap I am, I don’t know where to go next. Suggestions welcome.”
NB. For those wondering, the MSG was the ‘Money Saving Girlfriend’ – who I now refer to (in blogs – not in person) as Mrs MSE – and of course this was long before Baby MSE came along.
I still write the email personally most weeks (it says when it’s not me) and I go through every word, though now I’ve a big and talented editorial team working with me and doing the research, writing the guides, and making creative decisions. But they’ll tell you I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to the email, quite pedantic, change a lot (too much in their eyes) and am an all over email diva.
Yet I hope that’s paid fruition, the progression has been truly remarkable…
The growth stats
For my fellow stats nerds here’s the progress chart for the weekly email (it includes links to the waybackmachine. However sometimes images go missing from old versions of the site, so to help improve that, I may have linked to version of the site that are a few days off).
- August 2002… Home Page. I launched the site as a personal home page… See what it looked like.
- 22 February 2003… The Site’s Birth. I had the site developed into the first version of what it is today… See what it looked like.
- 25 April 2003… 10,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 11 January 2004… 50,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 30 July 2004… 100,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 28 April 2005… 250,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 3 March 2006… 500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 24 February 2007… 1,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 20 April 2008… 2,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 19 September 2008… 2,500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
- 20 August 2010… 5,000,000 on the email list See what it looked like.
As I’ve explained in past blogs 10 million email addresses doesn’t equate to 10 million people. Some are duplicates and some are duds. We send to around 7.7 million live emails a week. I just use the total figure as it’s the most consistent for long term progression and I didn’t have other measures in the earlier days, so the next target is perhaps to be sending to 10 million live addresses. Even so this is quite a momentous day for the site.
I’d like to thank all the amazing advocates there are for the site out there. I constantly meet people who tell me they go on about MSE (and sometimes bore their friends to death) and recommend the email and the site. The team and I really appreciate that. It’s one thing to be passionate about your work, it’s a true accolade when many others share it. So thank you x 10,000,000.