5 With… Patrick Ruddell, ScienceFiction.com

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Similar to what I’ve been doing on DogWalker.com, Patrick Ruddell has been building a brand on the category defining domain name, ScienceFiction.com. I read about the remarkable growth of the website on Domain Name Wire, and I was  very interested to learn that Braden Pollock was getting involved with the site.

According to Patrick, “Braden and I had some great discussions while aboard DNCruise 2 last September which continued on land. After some negotiations and buying out my previous partners, Braden came into ScienceFiction.com, LLC as an equal partner in November.”

I think this growth story is a testament to how someone with a category defining domain name and a solid development and business plan can create a business. For Patrick, the revenue is not yet there, but with the growing audience, it certainly will be there very soon.

I reached out to Patrick to ask him some business related questions, and his responses are below.

ES: How have you been growing the site and what are you doing to drive traffic and awareness?

PR: Quality content and a lot of it. I can’t say any of our traffic success has been from SEO because we haven’t done much. What we have done is work on putting out quality content in bulk. With a team of roughly 15 writers we publish 7-13 articles per day. Beyond content, social media has been an excellent source of traffic for us. Also having 15 writers with their own social media outlets and being active in places like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon is a bonus.

ES: Are you active in the Science Fiction community offline and on other sites? Do you think it’s important to be active in the community?

PR: Unfortunately I have not had the time, just yet, to be an active member in the community offline, only through social media and email. I do think this is important and something we plan to change in 2012.

ES: How are you monetizing the site and how is it working out?

PR: So far we have only done a single Google Adsense ad which brings in less than $1,000 per month. We did this more of a test to see what that specific location would generate on a monthly basis. With this in mind we can set a base price for that ad space. With the site now one year old, and certain traffic goals met, we plan on turning our attention to ad sales. We just hired our first in-office employee which starts next week. One of her primary responsibilities will be reaching out to potential advertisers with our marketing opportunities.

I’ll share this story, which gives me a lot to look forward to. Only a few months after our launch, a cable channel reached out to us for advertising. Their budget, to my surprise, was $25,000 for a theme-takeover of 10 days. Unfortunately at the time our site was only getting roughly 45,000 per month, not what they were looking for. We closed December with 439,000 visits and over 1.2 million pageviews, certainly closer to what they were looking for. Focus for us to date has been getting eyes to the website.

ES: We all make errors along the way. Have you made any missteps that you’ve learned from that others may benefit from learning? How did you correct them?

PR: Where do I start, there have been many. If dealing with partners, know their strengths and weaknesses. Without going into specifics this alone was the biggest stress on ScienceFiction.com until Braden joined the business. Know your product. Before diving into the business I wasn’t what you would call a sci-fi geek. That has changed as I now own hundreds of comic books and watch A LOT of sci-fi tv shows and movies. I’m still working on earning my sci-fi geek badge, getting closer every day.

ES: What advice would you give to people looking to build a brand as you did?

PR: I’m not just saying this as a domainer, start with a premium domain name. Operating under ScienceFiction.com has given us credibility from day one. The science fiction community itself may not be aware of domain name values, but they know with our address that we are serious about what we do.

And a second piece of advice, call it a bonus, hire multiple writers. Do whatever you can to get included in Google’s news feed. This has been the single biggest boost to our site’s traffic.

Thanks for the interview Elliot. Let me give a quick shout-out to my amazing team. They have done a killer job writing and getting the word out. Their love and knowledge for science fiction and website has helped us grow tremendously.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Would you mind sharing a ballpark estimate of what you pay the writers?

    I would love to hire 15 writers for my main site but I don’t know what I would be paying them.

    Thanks!

  2. ScienceFiction.com is a huge category killer domain just oozing with potential. Comic books, magazines, tv shows, movies, video games, novels, just so much out there to do with Sci Fi.

    I think its great to have writers and put out a dozen unique articles per day.

    What does it cost on average to hire a writer like this, because I’m sure a lot of others would like to do the same thing on their better domains.

  3. Troy,

    If you would like to email me privately I am happy to answer that question. I don’t know that my writers want their pay published.

    Besides straight pay per article, an option I considered was allowing writers to add their own Google Adsense code into their content. Then they can generate income from their traffic results.

  4. I have been following this domain since the purchase was announced. I am very impressed to hear these latest numbers.

    My main question is, What does it take to get accepted to Google News? I tried unsuccessfully with a “This Week in Sports” column written by a great writer and was simply told it did not meet the requirements.

  5. Wow no I didn’t read anywhere that you need 3 writers. I will get right on that. I will check to see for the 3 digit code as well and go over the rest f the guidelines.

    This is great advice thank you so much Patrick! If its ok with you I will email you directly later.

  6. Elliot, thanks for sharing this short interview. Sciencefiction.com is a really neat, easy to manage and fun website. It is definitely inspiring and helpful to hear about the success Patrick has had based on quality content and that alone. Although I will not discount SEO, quality content has been my focus on my projects above all else and this continues to affirm that goal I have.

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