This post is part of our Customer Showcase series, where we profile successful online publishers. Our goal is to help publishers learn from the experts and grow their business.
Driven by a “passion for learning how money and our society work and an interest in helping others with their finances,” twentysomething Andrew Schrage co-founded the informational website Money Crashers as a resource to guide readers to make financially sound decisions. Combining his knowledge gained as an Economics major at Brown University and experience acquired while working at a hedge fund, Andrew and his team strive to educate individuals about credit and debt, investing, education, real estate, insurance and spending.
It turned out his site idea was a good one: Money Crashers now has nearly 20,000 subscribers and has been featured in national media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, MSNBC, Business Insider, CBS News, NBC News, and Forbes. So how did he do it? By focusing on the three Bs that drive success: building a brand, to bond with the audience and ultimately drive real business accomplishment.
Building the brand
The team at Money Crashers has a concrete and unique goal: to provide readers with high-quality, factual content based on 11 principles meant to guide financial decisions. They also ensure that guidance is truly part of the brand by focusing on the readers and their needs. “One thing that I believe sets Money Crashers apart from other websites in our niche is that we take a genuine interest in our readers and do our best to respond to each and every comment. Many other websites proclaim to do this, but we feel we do a phenomenal job of connecting with our readers.”
Bonding with the audience
By making comment responses a priority, the team at Money Crashers not only connects with readers, but also encourages further discussion that is often initiated and sustained by the readers themselves. Facebook, Twitter and video posts provide additional means of bonding with the audience, as do contests and giveaways that essentially reward readers for their engagement.
The site’s most popular articles include a feature on extreme couponing and a list of the best new bank account promotions. Because these topics are clearly important to the audience, Money Crashers publishes an update of the bank account promo article each month and tries to integrate coupon advice in other articles whenever it makes sense.
Making it a business
Hard work, focus and audience engagement has paid off: “Money Crashers is a full-time gig for me and I feel lucky to be doing it as my job. I truly love what I’m doing each and every day.” The site’s primary revenue sources include banner advertising and VigLink Insert (which inserts new links when VigLink technology detects a merchant, brand or product reference in content across the site).
For Andrew, VigLink not only provides an additional source of earnings, but it also helps his readers who are seeking more information or details about products mentioned in Money Crashers articles. “It seems as though content-driven commerce is the wave of the future. As long as the content is factual and the consumer is directed to a reputable e-commerce website, it’s only natural to blur the lines between content and commerce. In fact, we’ve had positive feedback from our readers about the direct product links inserted by VigLink because it helps them find exactly what they are looking for without spending additional time on a web search.”