Friday, July 29, 2011

John Williams' Animals Being Dicks is online catnip

Atlantan behind the Internet meme of the moment speaks

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 9:00 AM

ANIMAL INSTINCTS: John Williams shows a goat whos boss.
  • Jillian Williams
  • ANIMAL INSTINCTS: John Williams shows a goat who's boss.
The man behind the Internet meme of the moment is a fairly unassuming dude. Sporting thick-rimmed glasses and a faded Pink Floyd T-shirt, 31-year-old Atlanta web designer John Williams casually recounts how his Twitter account @AnimalsBeDicks, created in early June, earned more than 10,000 followers in a month's time. Its associated Tumblr, Animals Being Dicks, receives more than 40,000 visitors a day — visitors who rack up 600,000 pageviews. Why are they clicking? Because watching a deer trash a bar, for example, is hilarious. The sites' combination of schadenfreude and cute animals is straight up Internet catnip.

Williams, unlike the animals he features, is not a dick. He's relaxed, down to earth and self-aware. (During our chat, he excused himself to help a couple of strangers find a nearby grocery store.) Moreover, he knows that Animals Being Dicks is a novelty, bound to be chewed up and spit out by the ADD-afflicted Internet masses. But in the meantime, he's trying to make some money. What started as a bored guy entertaining himself during a lonely weekend has turned into a legitimate business opportunity backed by an ad network tossing around six-figure goals.

When did you decide to make a website about animals being dicks?

The wife and kids went out of town, so I was at home alone and I was planning on playing [video game] L.A. Noire all weekend, but I finished it about a half hour after they left. I was just surfing around the Internet and I came across this [message board] thread of .gifs. There wasn't any real thought, but I figured it would be fun to curate it.

Are you a big fan of animals in general?

[laughs] I don't have anything against animals. I have two dogs. I've got a Dachshund-terrier mix named Milo; he's awesome, mostly nonexistent and he doesn't get into trouble. Then I've got this poodle named Lulu who's a complete asshole. She's miserable. She's super lovable and cute and all that, but she's neurotic. She's a spite-shitter. Like, she shits out of spite.

It sounds like Lulu's an inspiration for your website.

You know, I don't know if that's true or not. Maybe subconsciously. But yeah, we kicked her out of the bed one night and she just immediately shit on the floor. Always barks when I walk in the room. Only when I walk in the room.

Are you making any money on this?

No. Not right now. I hopefully will be soon. We've been in talks with a pretty major ad network, and contract stuff, it's just so foreign to me and it takes so long to make things happen. Luckily, I've got people helping me. I actually got the final agreement today. So hopefully by Aug. 1, I'll be able to have some ads on there. I try not to kid myself. This thing is a flash in the pan. I'm trying to do something with it. The ad network's performance goal is six figures of revenue per year. Again, though, can I keep the traffic up? Can I keep the impressions there? Can I keep it going for 12 months? But if I can get some dough, put it away and save it for a kid's college, I'll sell my soul. That's the idea. I'm not gonna lie; there are gonna be a lot of ads up there.

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