They then began work on one, CountdownToPregnancy.com, collecting data from expectant mothers and displaying it in charts and graphs before officially launching in July 2008.
Now coding, blogging and running the website from home with a toddler (Kaila) and teenager (Jacob) in tow, Ms. Aylesworth says she’s ready to bring her website to the next level.
Projected revenue in 2012 from their website is $75,000, enough to support one person.
They expect $200,000 in revenues next year. The site is getting so big that the couple want to add another employee.
“Most of our revenues come from direct advertising,” Ms. Aylesworth says. “We have a few of the larger ad networks, and the remainder comes from Google (advertisements).
The couple’s first goal is to seek a content writer for the site, and then to have someone take on sales to alleviate the time they spend working on advertising.
Ms. Aylesworth and Mr. Auger say they do not want to do a fee-for-membership structure to bump up revenues.
“From day one it was important for us to keep the site free,” says Mr. Auger, who also works full-time for Halogen Software as a web marketing specialist. “This should be accessible for all women. The only people we should charge for this site are advertisers.”
OBJ asked two online experts to take a look at CountdownToPregnancy.com and share their thoughts on how to grow the
business. Here are their edited responses:
Work with a media agency
Dave Hale, founder and CEO, Soshal Group
(Approximately) 600,000 (visitors) a month is pretty good. They should focus on how to make the content better, how to make the experience better for users. Focus on the core product and let other people who are experts at distributing and positioning media handle that kind of thing.
(Revenues of) $200,000 run by two people is a good small business to have. My question would be, “How big do you want to go? What is your actual goal?”
If their goal is to become a $10-million business in the next five years, it’s very different than if they want to structure linear growth.
When looking to expand their advertising revenue, they should ask if it makes sense to speak with a media agency to promote their website. Those agencies are probably taking anywhere between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of whatever comes in, (but) they have connections with advertisers and other networks and may be active on real-time bidding systems for advertising.
If they want to go beyond banner advertising, you have to get into events or selling products. They can create an affiliate model where they ... push (their visitors) to a (sponsored) e-commerce store that they think their readers would be interested in.
Another option is to raise financing from angel investors, venture capitalists, the BDC. You’re going to give up equity to do that and take up equity to hire salespeople, content people, marketing people to get you to have a greater reach. But sometimes it doesn’t make sense to raise money, based on the personality of the entrepreneur and if their goal is independence.
Consider joint advertising agreements
Debbie Carkner, vice-president of e-commerce strategy, Cactus Commerce (a subsidiary of Ascentium)
She’s done a good job of getting participants in contests to register into the site. She’s leveraging Twitter and Facebook and the website and the blog in order to generate content.
One of the areas I would look at is how to improve the blog. She seems to have three audiences: first-time (mothers who are) just looking to get pregnant, (those) who have lost (their) baby and are devastated (as well as those who) just can’t get pregnant. She treats them all in the same vein.
I would consider looking at when I sign up for an account, asking a question to build profiles. “I’m a first-time happy momma” versus “I have tried for two years and we’re not having any success,” because the message and tonality, especially if she’s hiring a content person, will be huge.
The reason for the personalization is then you can track and you can start to use your blog to attract experts.
She should also consider joint advertising agreements. Gaming is one of the big trends for women. She may want to look at some gaming sites to see if she can do a cross-promotion: you’ve got a contest for Mother’s Day on your website coming from a jewelry store.
This is how you keep your membership free: you make sure you are offering services that encourage your members to come.
It’s like crowdsourcing. It’s being able to take that and go out to advertising opportunities and say, “This is what my customer base is looking for, and our fee to offer you to our network is X.”
Gwen Aylesworth and Martin Auger
One (Gwen Aylesworth)
2012 PROJECTED REVENUE:
2013 PROJECTED REVENUE:
CountdowntoPregnancy.com receives more than 600,000 visits a month. Of those, 350,000 are unique visitors.
Sustainable revenues that will allow a second full-time employee to come on board.