Case Study: WritersNet

Netconcepts developed and maintains this site as a free service to the writing community. Essentially a searchable directory of writers, editors, agents and publishers, an active discussion forum has made this site a popular point of contact for the literary community. It contains entries for literally thousands of well-published writers with a well patroned (and very entertaining) discussion forum.

Challenge

Founded in 1994 by Stephan Spencer, also Netconcepts’ Founder and President, WritersNet was started as a labor of love because he and his wife were both writers. However, in order to devote resources to maintaining and expanding the WritersNet site, it needed to be a viable business model.

Of the 30,000 writers who have profiled themselves on the site, how many of them would pay an annual subscription to post their listing to use the discussion forums? Probably not very many. Therefore we needed a creative solution to keep the site free for visitors but generate revenue for Netconcepts.

Solution

The solution lies in Google’s AdSense program. By placing Google ads throughout the site we were able to monetize a loss-making site and turn it into a profit center. Through some automated SEO techniques, we were also able to enhance the tens of thousands of pages of user-generated content to make it more search engine optimal which really ramped up the traffic levels. Furthermore, Netconcepts optimized the Google ad placement, sizes, fonts and so forth to maximize the clickthrough rate.

Results

The site now regularly generates over $5000 per month in Google AdSense revenue, and that is with just a handful of hours spent each month maintaining the site. The community of users continues to build content. Every day new search engine friendly forum posts are posted and make it into the search engines along with new writers’ directory listings.

The site boasts over 80,000 pages in Google and traffic levels are in the hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.

“My staff at Netconcepts have really risen to the occasion on this site, taking my pet project that I started when I was still a graduate student and turning it into one of the most visible and most respected online communities of published writers on the Internet. One staff member in particular, Hamish Gilbertson, really rose to the occasion and nurtured the community and took the site to new heights, even spearheading the development of a printed anthology of WritersNet authors. On top of it all, the site makes a healthy profit each month. Who needs clients when you could be your own client and have a site as successful as this? We still love our clients by the way!”