After graduating from Emerson last year, Danny Horgan faced a meager job market — so he created his own job. As one of the developers of the website The Awesome Cave, Horgan’s work is read by thousands. The entertainment-based site receives around 300,000 page views monthly, according to Horgan.
The former writing, literature, and publishing major and his friends decided to create a video game website, which they launched in May of 2012. By July, Horgan was the last one standing as an original member’s visa ran out and another got a full-time job. Horgan said he decided to take the domain name and turn the website into a general entertainment site, targeted at high school and college students across America.
“When I decided to take on the site, I was fresh out of college,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of jobs out there, so I said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to create my own job. I’m going to learn the whole culture of blogging and the whole current internet sphere.”
Horgan gained followers by linking his site to the other popular blog sites Reddit and Mashable.com, while making connections with other bloggers. For example, in October, Horgan ran across a video blog on YouTube made by Juliann Lajeski, and after contacting her, Lajeski has since written several popular articles for the site. According to Horgan, by November, the site was getting 20,000 viewers per month, and in December it jumped to around 50,000.
Horgan equates the site to different sections of a newspaper, with five major parts: Dating, Movies/Music, Gaming/Anime, Humor, and Lifestyle.
“We try to keep ourselves open to as much content and as many different viewpoints as possible,” Horgan said. “There are a lot of internet sites out there that have a huge ego, and we try to throw that aside when we run the site. We keep it professional obviously, but we’re always looking to bring in new people and hear different types of talent.”
Horgan said the writers of The Awesome Cave are a collection of people from his life, whether they met through music or martial arts. Horgan also posted on the WLP Facebook page, and there are currently three writers from Emerson on the staff.
One Emerson student who got involved after Horgan’s post is Clare Fuller, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major. After sending Horgan an article she had written about Quentin Tarantino’s top 10 movies, Horgan decided to run the piece and Fuller joined the staff.
“The Awesome Cave does a lot of top 10 [and] top five lists, which is kind of how people are reading journalism online to begin with,” Fuller said. “It’s really quick, it’s really short. I think they’re kind of getting ahead of the game on that.”
As the head movie critic, Fuller has reviewed movies for the site and will be reviewing the Oscars award show. She said her favorite piece she’s written thus far was a list of seven “puke-worthy” romantic comedies, in which she said she believes the genre is going down the drain. Fuller said that she enjoys writing for The Awesome Cave because she has the freedom to pitch her own ideas and make her own deadlines.
Horgan said he likes to include satirical pieces to keep readers on their toes, so they don’t put labels on the site. He said one of his favorite articles was a satirical piece he wrote that claimed that Apple would be out of business by 2017, after meeting a cool girl at a Windows store. Horgan said he received a big response from the technology community, who took him seriously, though those who understood his humor appreciated it.
Sometimes, reactions to the site are less than favorable. For example, one comment reads “This is one of the absolutely stupidest things I have EVER read!!!”
Horgan said that the hardest aspect of running a website is dealing with posts like these and the culture of the internet.
“When people get online, they reveal their true colors,” he said. “Behind the mask of anonymity, people get pretty mean. Dealing with people who literally have nothing better to do than to try to sabotage The Awesome Cave — that can be frustrating.”
But cynical commenters aside, Horgan said he likes that the work he does for The Awesome Cave is reaching an audience, and he said he enjoys collaborating with other writers and editing their work.
“My favorite part is knowing that we reach people,” he said. “Seeing that a story that I wrote has been read by 10,000 people — that to me means that I’ve changed some people’s day in some way, and I’ve reached that many people.”
Horgan said he attributes much of the website’s success to the knowledge he gained while attending Emerson.
“Emerson definitely helped me hone my craft as a writer and as an editor,” Horgan said. “I took a magazine publishing class my junior year, and I learned how to create content people would want to read. With the degree I have, it’s kind of the perfect job that I’m doing, and it all kind of meshes together.”