Welcome to a new blog feature we’ve been hoping to launch for quite a while. It’s called TwentyTwenty Trendsetters and will shed some light on all the amazing things that go-getter twenty-somethings are doing around the world. We will focus on interesting digital projects and ideas that young people are heading up all over the world, with an eye to the 20 Something Bloggers community as our source of candidates. We will get in front of the people responsible for these projects to hear about how they came up with their ideas and got started. If you know of a twenty-something doing really cool stuff using the web or social media, let us know by sending us an email and some info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our first edition of Trendsetters, we have one of the web’s hottest websites and a mobile phone phenomenon. If you haven’t heard of Texts From Last Night, you will thank us for a good laugh once you check it out. Combining the brevity of Twitter with the penchant for young people to let their guard down while texting late at night, this simple idea recently landed its founders a book deal and full-time webtepreneur status. TFLN’s founders, Ben and Lauren, were kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting with me about their success and new life.
First and foremost, how’d you two come up with this idea? It’s a pretty simple concept, but talk about how you implemented it at first and how that’s evolving?
LL: B and I were on the phone together as I was making the original, blogspot site. I told him about it and B recognized it was a good idea and we took off from there. Originally we were scavenging through our friend’s phones in order to grab whatever text we could but now we get so many texts per day that I don’t even allow my friends to give me their texts for the site.
How many hits and visitors are you seeing on the sight as of late? This will make everyone on 20 Something Bloggers drool, no doubt.
BB: We’ve been trending upward for some time, but once we finished our redesign we have been getting more than 1M hits and 500K views a day. We’re still drooling, trust us.
Editor’s Note: According to recent reports TFLN is now trending more than 3.5MM hits a day, just a few weeks after I spoke with Ben and Lauren.
Did you intend or hope for this to be as big as it seems to be becoming?
LL: No, we just wanted the site to be funny to our friends.
BB: I don’t think either of us had an idea it would get to this point, but we’re loving it.
How is the upkeep? What kind of time do you spend on the site?
BB: Well, we’re getting 5,000-10,000 texts a day. It’s always 3 a.m. somewhere…
LL: We have it set up though so neither of us is stressed about the situation. Reading dirty/drunk texts should never make anyone stressed.
You must be received quite a lot of email, and thus some pretty interesting notes/requests/offers? Maybe share some of the funnier or weirder emails hitting your inbox?
LL: The funniest emails we get are from people saying something along the lines of, “please don’t post a text that was submitted with a 416 area code that talks about drinking and then egging the boss’ house”. They usually add, “I’ll lose my job if you do”. I love these people.
So, how’d you guys pair up? Are you exes? BFFs? Mysterious internet friends?
LL: Mysterious internet friends (World of Warcraft).
BB: I thought it was Craigslist?
How did you end up on 20SB? Do you two have personal pages?
BB: I had been on 20SB for a short time before TFLN. I thought that it would be a good idea to get TFLN involved right away. Since we were originally anonymous some people didn’t take to us very kindly at the beginning, but we’ve been seriously embraced by the 20SB community and we’re definitely so grateful.
Lots of people must be wondering what it’s like to have a wildly popular website. So…what’s it like? Do you feel famous? Do you feel smart?
BB: It feels pretty much the same, except that the “so what do you do for a living” question is a little more intense now. The next family reunion could be interesting.
LL: Sometimes I make stuff up. If one of my friends tells another that I run a site and then that person asks me what site, I’ll throw something out there like, “cuddlezthehairlessguineapig.com” just so I don’t have to talk about it. And because people’s reactions are always, “oh, that’s cool. I had a guinea pig once”.
Was this your first “user-generated” website, or did you try other stuff before TFLN?
BB: TFLN has my v-card.
Do you have dreams of this being a full time job? Do you have other jobs?
BB: The dreams have somewhat become a reality. We are/were law students and we don’t see any reason to hold back on this opportunity. I’m pretty sure school isn’t going anywhere.
LL: I work for a civil rights group and I’m a law student. It’s like having two completely different lives, but if you go far enough into our archives you can find some law school-themed gems.
Is TFLN making any money? The “Stuff White People Like” dude got a book deal…any non-advertising plots brewing at TFLN Headquarters?
BB: We have a few things up our sleeves…
Editors Note: We talked with Ben and Lauren prior to the announcement of their book deal. We’re smart like that.
Speaking of which, give us a little insight into what TFLN Headquarters is like. What’s a typical day for the TFLN crew?
BB: I wake up; check my BlackBerry before I can even see straight and start emailing our staff (unless LL beat me to it). If hungover, then Excedrin Migraine. Then it’s laptop and BBerry in bed with coffee and toast. The nice thing about TFLN is that we can run it from anywhere. What’s the point of having a mobile site if we’re tied up in an office all day?
LL: I wake up, my mom tries to convince me that her text messages are funny enough to make the site and to explain to her again what a “shart” is and why I always post texts about them. Repeat.
Do the two of you have personal blogs? Are they public, and if so where are they?
BB: My blog has been so neglected since April. It’s http://styletruthsoul.com.
LL: My blog is http://cuddlezthehairlessguineapig.com.
Do your friends know you’re the TFLN duo?
BB: They “do”, but they don’t believe us.
Anything else you’re willing share about the mysterious BB & LL behind the internet’s hottest website?
BB: That’s it for us. Thanks again for the feature and all of the support.
If you liked this little blog feature, please let us know in the comments!