Q&A: How FitSmallBusiness.com attracts readers and revenue
David Waring co-founded Marc Waring Ventures LLC, the parent company FitSmallBusiness.com, with Marc Prosser in 2013.
Prior to co-founding Marc Waring Ventures, he held a variety of senior level positions at successful startups ranging from mobile technology to institutional trading systems.
The editorial team of FitSmallBusiness.com is headed by Eric Noe, the former managing editor of ABC News Digital, who has nearly two decades of experience running digital content teams. It has a monthly readership of more than 1.5 million.
Last week, FitSmallBusiness.com was named No. 286 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S.
Waring spoke with Talking Biz News by email about FitSmallBusiness.com and its editorial strategy. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did you and Marc get the idea for FitSmallBusiness.com?
We are both entrepreneurs, and have lots of friends that have started their own businesses. It was always surprising to us the poor quality information online about starting and running a business. When we were looking for answers to questions, most of what we found was very poorly executed, and obviously written by someone who may have been a good writer, but knew nothing about running a business.
It was pretty straightforward: we saw a gap in the market for this information that we thought we could fill, and we knew that if we were able to do so, that it would be a valuable audience to have.
How did you fund its start?
We both invested $12,500 of our own money, for a total of $25,000.
Who do you see as the target audience you’re trying to reach?
Brick and mortar small business owners with between five and 50 employees are our core audience, however our content is relevant to both businesses that are significantly smaller than this as well as larger.
How big is your editorial staff and how much content are they producing weekly?
We have 21 people on our North American editorial team, which produces around 40 articles per week. We have another 12 writers and editors in the Philippines, which produces another 80 pieces of shorter form content per week.
How did you get the idea to do the studies?
We feel that we do a great job of providing small business owners with high-quality information and wanted to extend that to the small business publishing community at large. Like most publishers, we use stats in our articles, so we felt that publishing our own research would help get our name out there among our peers by helping them with stats that can aid their content development efforts.
Who do you see as your biggest competitors in media?
It depends on the type of content. For our ‘how-to’ content: Thebalancesmb.com and businessnewsdaily.com are the publication competitors. For product and service reviews it’s sites like capterra.com and softwareadvice.com.
As discussed above, these sites focus on hiring professional writers and trying to teach them about business. We take the opposite approach. We would much rather have a topic expert that we have to teach to write than vice versa.
How do you generate revenue?
The solutions we recommend to business owners often include products and services. When a product or service is included in an article, we sometimes earn a fee or a commission from the advertising partner based on readers’ actions.
We only partner with product and service providers that we believe in. There are many companies, products and services featured on our site simply because, in our view, they are beneficial to our readers. These partnerships result in no compensation for FitSmallBusiness.
The recommendations in our buyer’s guides and reviews are based on independent quantitative and qualitative assessments from our editorial team. Our editorial team always has the final say on whether a partner is included anywhere on our site.
Our business model allows us to fund our operations without cluttering the site with banner ads that everyone hates.
What’s been the biggest hurdle in the past five years?
Hiring. In the last five years, we have grown from just my business partner and me to over 80 employees. We spend an extraordinary amount of time and resources to make sure that we are always hiring the best of the best, which has been especially difficult in recent years as the job market has tightened.
Where do you see opportunities to grow in the future?
There are still many questions that business owners ask that we do not have the answer to yet on our site. This means that in the near term we want to do more of what we are already doing which is identifying small business owner’s most pressing questions and creating high quality content that answers those questions.
For the medium and long term we want to build Fit Small Business into more of a brand where instead of small business owners coming to Google when they have a question, they come directly to fitsmallbusiness.com.
A lot of your content is “How To” stories. Have you thought about covering breaking news?
This is not something that is on our roadmap currently. While we feel like there is not a lot of high quality “how-to” content for small business owners, there are a lot of very large and high-quality brands already doing a good job on the news front.