A typical Wirecutter reader heads to the site only when they’re looking to buy something. Ben Frumin wants them to come around a lot more often.
“The core of what Wirecutter does and will always do, thoughtful rigorous testing that is just leaps and bounds better than competitors, that won’t ever change,” said Frumin, who took over as editor in chief early this year. “But if Wirecutter is about solving problems, there’s an entire galaxy of problems we can solve.”
Some new areas the New York Times-owned site is looking to get into are style and beauty, which Frumin sees as getting into aesthetically pleasing products in general, not simply shoes and lipstick. There will likely be those, too. To get into this area in particular, he’s hired Jason Chen away from The Strategist, New York Magazine’s recommendation vertical and Wirecutter’s most obvious rival.
Frumin is enthusiastic about adding Chen as a deputy editor, not only because of his admiration of The Strategist, but because Chen is someone he says has “really exceptional taste.”
But with his eye on expanding Wirecutter’s audience, Frumin noted that Chen has proven “extra adept at appealing to different kinds of readers,” like women and people of all races. So not just tech-bro types looking for the best noise-canceling headphones.
Along that line of thinking, Frumin also sees plenty of room for Wirecutter to expand into new kinds of content. Maybe not a galaxy’s worth, but plenty. And again, all adjacent to the site’s core of product reviews and recommendations.
“Right now, we’re more of a utility — we used to call it the ‘bored-at-work business model,’” Frumin said. “We want a deeper relationship. We want to be a destination not just for great purchasing advice, but a place where people can learn and laugh and enjoy.”
Bringing on more of a focus on editorial-type content will get Wirecutter in front of more readers, Frumin thinks. And he’s thinking of all sorts of new content, from lists to magazine-level features. And adding other product areas beyond style and beauty, like data and privacy and emergency preparedness.
Ultimately, this is all meant to expand Wirecutter’s business as a whole, which is almost entirely based on affiliate revenue, plus a little advertising. And Wirecutter does good business. Frumin declined to comment on the site’s revenue beyond that it’s growing. Nevertheless, it’s thought by industry sources to be in the low tens of millions annually. And that’s on Wirecutter’s current audience, which hit 5 million unique visitors in May month, according to internal Google Analytics reports. Revenue has also increased 50 percent year over year, a times spokeswoman said.
Frumin, who was editor in chief of The Week for several years, said he’s been “floored by the level of loyalty and engagement” of Wirecutter’s core audience. His goal for the next year is “to grow that base of loyal super fans.”
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