Ah, Reddit. The self-described “front page of the internet” with over a million subreddits (growing at 500+ a day) and serving 6 billion pageviews a month.
You too can create a Reddit-style website and you can do it with the internet’s favourite content management system and publishing platform: WordPress.
An excerpt from co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s book was published in Fast Company a few years ago detailing Reddit’s beginnings. It’s a great insight into the early history of the site and for anyone looking to create their own phenomenon. (Turns out the answer to marketing is just $500 worth of stickers.) It’s easier now than it was in 2005, certainly from a technology point of view.
The code for Reddit is well known and freely available but not everyone can, or wants to, go wading around in that. Instead you can piggyback on the power of WordPress, a good theme and a few choice plugins. You can get started running your very own site like Reddit in just minutes.
There are plenty of WordPress themes that look nothing like blogs and we are using Epic Themes’ own WPeddit.
What could you do with a site like Reddit?
Reddit has inspired many new websites and, arguably, changed the way people interact online. The user engagement and user generated content has become a standard for sites nowadays. Before we get into how to make a site like Reddit, let’s look at why you would make a site like Reddit.
There’s only one Reddit and it’s an incredibly popular one, so you don’t want to be totally replicating the original. An easier approach would be to apply Reddit’s features to a scaled-down niche website. This can be a profitable – and fun – side hustle.
News works well for sites like Reddit. It keeps people coming back for more and makes the most of the instant communication available on the internet. YCombinator’s HackerNews is for hackers and startups – a big, engaged audience. As would be TV and movie news and spoilers, perhaps even for certain shows, genres or channels. Video games, travelling, eating out, and more, all make great niche site subjects.
Remember that you will have to play an active role in the site, especially at first, so it should be on a topic you personally enjoy and are willing to spend hours talking about.
Making money from the site could come from advertising or adding affiliate links, marketing to users or offering subscriptions. See some more ideas on how to make money with niche WordPress themes.
Building a site like Reddit: the users
What makes Reddit so much fun to use, and so popular? It’s good to take some time to think about how you are going to attract – and keep – your users.
User engagement is huge on Reddit. The structure of the ranking algorithm that rewards great content with user votes and hot, new and rising status. Getting the most popular content onto the first page shows new visitors the best stuff your site has to offer.
The Reddit fanbase is bustling, but even so, co-founder Ohanian said that 80% of the site’s users weren’t even logged in. That means they weren’t even directly contributing to the site. Reddit is powered by a pretty small proportion of its overall users. That’s okay because a small proportion of Reddit users is still a whole lot of people. To get your new site to take off you will need all the user engagement you can get.
The WPeddit theme, the WPeddit plugin and the NotifyMe plugin boost user engagement and get users hooked. To make a site like Reddit with WordPress you just need the theme and the plugins to get massive user engagement with:
- User generated content in the form of posts, images, videos and comments
- Hot news and different categories of the best content to browse
- A personalised frontpage for each user based on their interests
- Upvoting, downvoting and ranking content and comments
- User karma, notifications of new interactions and activity feed
- Integrated myCred for points and rewards
Where are you going to find your users? Targeting people’s interests with Facebook and other social media is easy and there are likely to be groups of people already discussing your niche elsewhere. Perhaps on larger catch-all forums, in the comments of websites, or on social media. Offering them a specially-designed, super-focussed site for their particular obsession will help get people interested.
You’ll definitely need some hard work getting started. Ohanian said that he and his co-founder had to do a lot of work on Reddit at the beginning – within the site, not just on it. That meant posting, starting and promoting subreddits and commenting. You will need to be your site’s first and most productive user for a while, until critical mass takes over.
Let’s go: first steps
First things first, get yourself hosting (we recommend Bluehost) and a domain name. Setting up your hosting is easy with Bluehost and they even have a one-click WordPress install, making the whole process a doddle.
That set up will take about five minutes and once it’s done head over to your new WordPress dashboard.
Buy the WPeddit theme and upload the zip file in the Appearance > Themes tab and then “Add new” and “Upload Theme” buttons. Hit “Activate” and your WPeddit theme is installed.
How to make a site like Reddit with WordPress: the theme
The WPeddit theme gives you the structure and style of the site.
Across the top are the categories just like on Reddit: hot, new, rising, controversial and top. Users see a personalised homepage with their subscriptions to subreddits as well as all the best content as voted for by them. Top subreddits are listed at the top, as well as the user profile, search, and a submissions link. They can also see their profile and activity feed with the plugins, which we will add later.
The customisable front end allows users to sign up and submit their own content and create subreddits. Content can be submitted as a post or an external link.
Your visitors can easily manage their subscriptions to different subreddits with a subscribe or unsubscribe button. It feels legit to them, like serious coding has gone into this. And it has – but not by you. You installed the right theme and skipped over all that.
On the back end you have complete control over the look of your site. Add your own logo. Choose your colour scheme and change it with CSS. Hot pink? Lime green? No-one can stop you. Make more detailed changes if you like, but the basics can be set up in just minutes.
How to make a site like Reddit with WordPress: the plugins
Reddit relies on addictive features like upvoting, downvotes, hottest topics and post ranking. To get these on your new site you need the accompanying WPeddit plugin. Not only does the plugin add up and down votes to posts and comments it uses Reddit-style algorithms to rank the content.
To add even more Reddit-esque and social functionality the NotifyMe plugin gives your site notifications next to the user’s profile link while they are logged in. They have the option to turn these on or off in the preferences settings. It also gives users an activity feed. The notifications also work by email or browser notifications. It keeps users engaged with your site even when they have left, and will get them coming back.
What else do you need to make a site like Reddit with WordPress?
These are all the tools you need to make a site like Reddit with WordPress. YourWPeddit theme, the WPeddit plugin and NotifyMe plugin. That gives you an up-and-running fully functional site like Reddit. In minutes.
To get your creation running more smoothly – especially if you start to pick up some traffic – you’ll want to look at other WordPress plugins to extend your capacity. There’s two parts to this. Caching plugins, security plugins and the like are invisible to visitors other than that the site runs smoothly and doesn’t have any issues.
Then there are plugins that change the user experience of your site. If you want to make a site like Reddit then you should look at increasing the addictive experience of social networking and sharing. The Social Buzz plugin lets visitors share pages easily and build hype as you see the numbers climbing.
Polls and quizzes are hugely popular. They will get your visitors really interacting and engaging with the site – and each other. Try the Easy Polling and Social Polling plugins or QuizBox plugin. It’s fantastic social proof and will get lots of shares, bringing in new visitors.
Where to go next is totally up to your imagination.
To make a site like Reddit you don’t need tons of coding experience, or hours and hours. You just need WordPress, the WPeddit theme, WPeddit plugin and NotifyMe plugin. Out the box that will give you everything you need to make a site like Reddit.
Now you know how to make a site like Reddit with WordPress get out there and make it happen. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with.
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