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BiggerPockets: 100,000 Members and Beyond. A Celebration!

by Joshua Dorkin on September 6, 2012 · 43 comments

  

Just a short while ago, we accomplished something that I never imagined possible when I created BiggerPockets — we crossed the 100,000 member milestone! As I mentioned in my article last week about the early days of BiggerPockets, I initially created this site to help me with my own investments, and didn’t have my sights on anything even remotely close to this amazing until I realized that the site was making a difference in the lives of other investors like me. I had to push on to transform the site into something even more special, and I can say without a doubt that we’ve accomplished that!

Before we talk about what we’ve accomplished, lets talk a little more about how we got here.

The First Attempt at a Social Network: An Unmitigated Disaster

As I mentioned previously, I saw MySpace as an inspiration for what our real estate forum could evolve to become. People could not only connect with one another as they could on our site, but they could build rich profiles that would allow them to share more information about themselves. I knew the positive impact this could have and set out to build the new social network that BiggerPockets was to become.

I had never hired a developer before, and I’ll say up front that I made some HUGE mistakes. I don’t recall where I found the firm, but I ended up hiring a company to outsource the development of the new site. I first put together specs and designed layouts, and after spending hours with my contact, covering everything from A to Z, I knew we’d have a great site completed in the next few months. My contact was local and his team was based in India — I’d be able to communicate directly with their lead overseas, and the project seemed like it would be off to a great start.

Unfortunately, the result was a catastrophe. I learned the dangers of outsourcing for someone with not-enough technical skill to oversee the process, and realized that a project of that size and magnitude really needed to be done more gradually. I had overshot and ended up months later with a visually appealing site that didn’t work, and the cost to fix it just didn’t make any sense.

It was a stunning blow that rid me of far too many thousands of dollars, and almost made me give up on the site completely.

Slow And Steady: Back on Course

The setback that came with my first attempt at building our social network demonstrated to me that I would need to take a different approach. I decided that we’d start with the feature that I felt was most important – the development of user profiles – and create them first. Then, little by little, we’d add new features to the platform.

After doing some research, I noted that many of the hot startups were using Ruby on Rails to build their sites and felt that we should do the same for the new features on BiggerPockets. This presented some technical challenges, as we’d need to tie our PHP forums with our soon-to-be developed Ruby on Rails profiles, but I felt like it would lay the groundwork for us to transition the entire site to Rails. I found a site called ODesk, which would not only let me hire and manage my developer, but I could also see screenshots of them at work, something I thought would bring some accountability to the process. I hired my first Rails developer and we got to work building the profiles for our users. When complete, I was extremely pleased, and knew that my decision to transform the site would be worth the time, money, effort, and struggles.

Eventually, we’d transition our forums to the new language, and we’d follow that with our blogging platform, property directory, and the many other features that can be found on the site today. Over the course of the next few years, we’d build an incredible social network that was scalable, user-friendly, and which I believe was (and still is) technically superior to our competitors. BiggerPockets gave our users the tools they needed to connect, learn, do business, market, and excel in their real estate investing endeavors.

Blogging Time

On March 13, 2005 I wrote the first post ever on our newly created “Real Estate Investing for Real” blog, which is today known simply as The BiggerPockets Blog. Like the few others in the real estate space who had taken up to blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I shared news stories, good forum posts (there were few sharing tools back then), and from time to time, I would add a little commentary. Over time, I began to get a better grasp of how to blog and what people were looking to read on this relatively new medium.

My goal with our blog in the early days was relatively non-existent. There was no posting schedule, no strategy, and ultimately, where would have been no hope of gaining any traction if I didn’t set out to learn the craft of blogging and running our blog like a real publication. That was one of the best moves I’ve made, and it has brought us an incredible amount of credibility, traffic, and new users.

We’ve had 98 individuals contribute to the wealth of knowledge that comprises this amazing publication, which includes 3,463 articles and 21,338 comments.

The goal of the BiggerPockets Blog is to serve as a destination where readers can learn from experts from any niche in the real estate space, where they can get insight into important events and news, and where, like on the rest of our site, they can let down their guard. We’ve established an incredible amount of credibility on our blog, and as a result, have had our content syndicated on sites including BusinessInsider.com, AOL.com, and Realtor.com. Our blog has helped countless readers, and we even had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Respond to a BiggerPockets Article About a National GO Zone.

The Path To Tomorrow

BiggerPockets has just begun to make an impact on the real estate space. While we’ve come a long way, we still have very far to go. There are many more resources we want to share, many more tools that we want to make available, and many more investors whose lives we can affect.

As we start the next stage in our development, not only are we planning on building up the website, but we are also looking to grow the company. Bootstrapping a startup takes passion and perseverance, but at some point you need to develop your team; now is that time.

Our goal is to not only give our users the network they have found to be so valuable, but also to provide them with the tools that they have asked us to build, and the valuable data that is just not available today. In the coming weeks we’ll be announcing the first new tools and data of this new era, and both will have a real impact for our users and investors nationally.

We’re looking towards tomorrow knowing that as we continue to provide value to our members, and as we stay true to the principles that have guided the site since its inception, that we’ll be talking about many more large milestones to come.

Thanks

There is just no way we could have gotten here without the support of my friends and family. My wife and children have been so supportive and patient with me, and are the ones that I get up every morning to work for. For 2,135 consecutive days I’ve come to work for their futures.

I want to thank all of our moderators over the years, especially Jon Holdman, who has been a steady hand and incredible source of wisdom for thousands who come through our site each day. I want to thank all of our amazing blog contributors, and the developers who have helped to make an impact over the years by helping me see my vision to fruition; thank you to Edd Morgan in particular. Our partners and advertisers allow us to grow the site, and I want to thank them for placing their faith in our site; it is pretty incredible to have so many of these businesses stick by us for the long term . . . we must be doing something right! We also rely on various other companies that provide services and tools — our accountants and lawyers, the consultants and service providers all play an important role in our ongoing business. Otherwise, I want to thank those friends who have helped when I needed it, those acquaintances who have gone on a limb for me, and everyone else who has taken the time to give their feedback . . . we listen to all of it — even if you don’t think so.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank the millions of visitors who have come to BiggerPockets and the 100,000 individuals who have created accounts on our network. This is for you. This community is your community. This site is your site. Use it, learn from it, connect with it, do business via it, and of course, share it. With your help, we can all become more successful in our real estate endeavors.

BiggerPockets Highlights

Members: 100,000+
Unique Visitors: 10,000,000+
Page Views: 55,000,000
Forum Posts: 433,000+
Articles & Blog Posts: 25,000+
Value of Property Listings: $4.9 billion

Join today and be a part of this incredible community!

Photos: Jhong Dizon, http://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/5188002036/

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew September 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

This is fantastic news! BP is THE place to go for all topics REI. The information is invaluable and the regular contributors are amazing! A big congrats to all the BP team!! On to the next 100k!

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I couldn’t have put it better, Andrew. Thank you!

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Dale Osborn September 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

Thanks for being able to see the “Big Picture” and then being able to put it together for all investors to access. This site is by far the best I have seen in the years we have been involved with real estate. Learning from other professionals is much easier than learning from the “school of hard knocks”. Keep up the progress and I for one can’t wait to see the new & improved site of the future!

Dale

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Thank you so much, Dale. I work very hard at it, but clearly it is paying off for everyone. I’m excited to bring those new features to you in the not too distant future!

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Karen Rittenhouse September 6, 2012 at 11:54 am

Congratulations, Joshua, on your tremendous accomplishment.

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thank you for the congrats, Karen. I really appreciate it!

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Kyle J September 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Congrats Josh. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

It is indeed, Kyle. Thank you so much for the message!

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Remi Hudson September 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Congrats Josh!!

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Thank you! I hope we’ll see more of you around the social network and forums.

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Ken Corsini September 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Congrats Josh! Huge Accomplishment!

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Thanks Ken. I’m happy to have you as a contributor and member.

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Peter Giardini September 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Josh…

What can I say… the site, the numbers, the level of success achieved by many Bigger Pockets members, all speak to and validate your vision.

Thank ou yfor everything you have done to make the real estate community a much better place.

Pete

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Pete – It means a lot to hear from you on this day . . . just don’t start crying and we’ll be good! I’m proud to have you as part of this community.

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Sharon Vornholt September 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Josh –

You have done what it takes to build this into something awesome; start out with vision and a solid plan, then be willing to make adjustments and changes along the way as needed. Nothing ever evolves quite as we planned it does it? But if we stay the course, it is almost always better and so much bigger than we could have ever envisioned in the beginning.

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Sharon – The challenge of it all is what makes victories so sweet.

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Nathan September 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I truly believe without BiggerPockets I’d still be sitting on the sidelines wishing I were a real estate investor instead of actually investing. Thanks for the site, I’m proud to be a part of it and learn through it every day.

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Nathan – That really means a lot to hear. Perhaps you’ll share your stories with us on the forums?

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Keith September 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Congratulations Joshua! I have learned so much, thanks for putting this together!

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Keith. I learn all day, every day thanks to members like you!

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Arthur September 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Josh,

Congratulations! The success of the site is a testament of your time and hard work! I’m proud to be associated with what you’ve done, even if in a small way.

Here is to many more wonderful milestones!!!

AG

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Joshua Dorkin September 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thanks buddy. We’re lucky to have guys like you associated with this place!

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Jay Thompson September 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

A remarkable achievement Josh (and mod’s, and community members). Well done. Very well done!!

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

Thanks Jay. That means a lot to me.

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Jeff Brown September 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Nothing short of awesome, Joshua. What an incredible feeling of satisfaction you must be experiencing. Building something this solid from the seed of an idea is impressive to say the least. Major congrats!

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 7:18 am

It is definitely a good feeling, Jeff. To be honest, what feels best is hearing from guys like you who support the site. Sometimes it can be very lonely doing this. Hearing from you guys makes it worthwhile!

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Jason Sandquist September 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

On to the next 100k!

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 7:19 am

And the next 100k after that Jason! Thanks for the message.

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Dustin Luther (@tyr) September 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

You’re a rockstar! You’ve done an amazing job building this community!

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 7:20 am

Thanks so much for stopping in, Dustin. I really appreciate seeing you here . . . and thanks for the message.

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Jay Castillo September 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Hi Joshua, congratulations! I can’t help but cringe a bit when I read that you are using Ruby on Rails for your social network. You see, I’m looking at implementing something similar to my own site and was wondering what you used. Now I know and I can’t help but feel intimidated. :-o

At least with your blog, I believe we are using the same platform (wordpress and thesis right?).

Again, congratulations and thank you for being an inspiration to other real estate investors out there, who also have their own online presence.

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 7:21 am

Thanks Jay.

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Ryan Lundquist September 7, 2012 at 11:53 am

What a remarkable milestone. Congrations!! Way to paint the vision for this online community. I look forward to hearing about continued success and 200,000 members in the future.

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Joshua Dorkin September 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thanks so much Ryan. I appreciate having you as a user and supporter!

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Jonna Weber September 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I’m so thankful for this site and the resource it offers. Thank you! See you in Denver again next year!

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Joshua Dorkin September 8, 2012 at 12:42 am

Thanks Jonna!

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Mike LaCava September 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Absolutely awesome news Josh, congratulations! What a tremendous milestone to have achieved, you have done such a great job of creating a real world, usable platform for like minded real estate investors to get together and share ideas. Thank you so much.

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Anthony September 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

Josh,

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A great site, administered by great people, started by a great fella!

Here’s to the next 100,000!

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Joshua Dorkin September 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Wow, thanks Anthony. Great message!

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Charles Perkins September 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm

When I came across BiggerPockets, I knew this was a great venue for learning and coming into contact with RE professionals. 100,000 members is impressive though I believe 200,000 is not going to be that far a way.

Congrats on your achievement and thanks for the countless hours of time, money and energy you have fed this project.

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Joshua Dorkin September 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Hey Charles – Great to hear from you! I definitely appreciate your thoughts and membership on the site. See you back around the forums!

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Gary Rowe September 25, 2014 at 8:26 am

Congratulations, Josh, your endeavor gets bigger and better everyday. Thanks for providing so much that is of true value to the real estate investment community!

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Joshua Dorkin September 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

Thanks so much for the feedback, Gary! Much appreciated.

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