How I Started an Influential Entertainment Blog: A Farewell Story
All good things must come to an end. And it’s finally time to say goodbye to CantStopHipHop.
Before I get into why the site is ending, I want to let you in on the fascinating story of how the site started, who made it possible, and how it changed my life.
It all started on Christmas Day of 2011 in my grandparents house, 1000 miles away from home.
I remember it vividly; I was the first to wake in the house and instead of going to sit by the tree and wait to open gifts, I opened my laptop.
I was already into hip-hop music and had been uploading music onto YouTube for the past month or so, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to drive people from these YouTube videos to a website where they can download the song in full quality.
It was the perfect plan and nobody else was doing it at scale (yet).
So, I did it. I registered the domain name CantStopHipHop.com that very morning, still before anybody in the house woke up.
In its first year, CSHH grew at a rapid pace. I’m talking over 75,000 unique visitors consistently for most of 2012 & 2013. It was crazy to see, but I knew it would happen this way. I saw it all unfold in my head.
Later into 2014, in August specifically, is when things really took off and we had our first 235,000+ unique visitor month with over 580,000 pageviews.
Things continued trending upward into 2015 and we had multiple 200,000 unique visitor months until things eventually cooled down in the second half of the year.
Now, I say we because by this point, I had hired a few staff members to help with the site.
Not only did Matt help lighten my workload, but he had connections in the industry and already knew the journalism game. It was an exciting time and we worked well together.
Matt was an essential part of the team, but he was also a good friend while we worked together and even after parting ways from CSHH in May 2015.
I also have to mention Ivy Sanders, who was a staff member on AllHipHop.com and joined the CSHH team in March of 2012.
This dude right here, man, he would consistently post new music and videos regardless of the day or time. He was a great asset to have on the CSHH team.
The final team member I want to acknowledge and thank, is Mathias.
Mathias helped with promoting the site and uploading YouTube videos since the beginning. He was also the only team member who helped out with the Facebook page.
He knows how instrumental he’s been to the success of CantStopHipHop and I hope to remain friends and possibly business partners forever.
2014 and 2015 were the two strongest years for CantStopHipHop and it was that 2-year span where other, bigger sites began to notice us.
This also led to big-name rappers and their social media managers tweeting & retweeting our site to their millions of followers. Some of those rappers include Migos, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane, Lil Durk and more.
All of this success led to being placed #51 on the Most Influential Music Publications in the World list by Style of Sound Magazine in the Summer of 2015.
Fast forward to 2017, and the site has now accumulated over 14 million pageviews in its lifetime, more than 11 million of those being unique pageviews.
Thank you to everyone else who was ever a member of the team or a supporter of what we did over here at CantStopHipHop. The past 5 years have truly changed my life.
I had always been a good writer in school and everything, but writing thousands of words onto a website every day for 5 years taught me more about writing, grammar and journalism than any class could teach me.
Okay, now you probably think I’m crazy. How could writing thousands of words onto a website every day for 5 years change your life?
Well, the writing on this website led to paid writing gigs and contract work in various other industries since 2013. Not to mention, it taught me a lot about how to run a website in general, giving me the knowledge needed to mentor others and start other projects.
Running CantStopHipHop also helped me understand business. How to present an opportunity over the phone, how to write professional emails, how to recruit and hire people, how to run daily operations, how to file taxes. The list goes on and on.
And that’s one major reason I’ve decided to end this site: other opportunities.
The thing about a site like this is, it takes a ton of work. I mean, new music in the hip-hop industry drops every hour. It’s a never-ending barrage of new music hitting your email inbox and other sites.
And with tons of work comes a lot of time spent doing it. Time I realistically needed to be spending on other projects that gave a better return on investment. In this case, my investment was hard work and time.
I became burnt out.
Now, I’d be lying to you guys if I said money wasn’t a major issue with a site like this as well.
Sure, you make money from ads and can also make money through sponsored posts, but that’s only feasible if a site is pulling in 1 million+ unique visitors per month.
The truth is, a site in the music/entertainment niche gets considerably lower CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) than other niches like technology or health. Plus, most people in our target demographic (16–27 year old males) use AdBlock, so that hurt even worse.
The bottom line is, after paying staff members and not having much success with sponsored posts or other monetization methods due to the industry, I was relying on ad revenue. And even though we had a lot of traffic, due to low CPMs, I was hardly making any profit from a site that I worked on more than any of my other projects.
What started out as a passion project and eventually a decent way to make some money, turned into endless days of writing, tweeting, emailing and conference calling, all for hardly any return on my investment.
And no matter how much you love something, when you aren’t making a good return on your investment — whether it’s money or happiness — it doesn’t make sense to continue spinning your wheels.
I didn’t ever want to close down a website that was so close to my heart but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
The site was sold to a fellow hip-hop head in February 2017 and will hopefully continue to live through someone else’s lead.
If you’re interested in any other projects I am working on now (or will be in the future), check out my website.
Thank you to everyone who ever visited CantStopHipHop over the past 5 years, it’s been a truly amazing, life-changing roller-coaster ride.