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.