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Finding success with niche sites

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Finding success with niche sites

“One in five people in the UK use us every month,” says Rob Paterson, Group Managing Director, Friday Media Group, UK. “They won’t know that it’s part of a bigger group because that’s not how we opeate,” he adds.

Friday Media Group was established in 1975, and was mainly a local advertising paper until 2004, when the company acquired the website, says Mr. Paterson.

“That basically changed our whole outlook and strategy and how we viewed our future and the web. I would like to say this was planned, but it wasn’t,” he says.

Today, Friday Media Group operates numerous general interest and niche websites and prints the weekly “Friday-Ad” and “Trade-It” publications.

“By 2009 our online revenues were ahead of the print revenues,” says Mr. Paterson.

Among the company’s many websites are:, which Mr. Paterson describes as “arguably the best online boat shop in the world.” – This is the website for young English people who want to do a ski season in the alps – or slightly older people who want to be ski instructors, he says. – “We are the Number 1 website in the UK, and it becomes more interesting when you realize more than 1 million people in the UK keep birds,” Mr. Paterson says.

-Fancyapint? – about finding a pub for a drink. As of now, this site is mostly in London, he says, but it is expanding across the UK. – a job and information forum for flight crew members.

Citing figures from Pingdom, Mr. Paterson points out there were some 555 million websites as of December 2011, which is nearly double the number that existed at the end of 2010, when there were about 300 million.

In pointing to the power of niche sites, he quotes Clay Shirky as saying: “Now that a billion people are online even sites aimed at a narrow slice of the web audience can attract huge crowds.”

Niche isn’t new, Mr. Paterson says. The UK’s “Horse and Hound” has been around since 1884, and while they should be number one property online for horses, they aren’t: Friday Media’s Horsemart is: It has 100,000 members and 800,000 visitors each month.

“We believe that Google, or search, has enabled niche to work online, and more importantly, in the case of Google, they actually prefer the niche sites,” he says.

In terms of resources, Mr. Paterson says his sites have very little staffing – some have no staff at all, and all development is out-sourced.

He says Friday Media makes money the following ways: Listings, upsells, services, placement, data, adsense, sponsorship, banners, courses, ecommerce, events, affiliates, video, email, publications, and lead generation.

“Just one thing to make very clear: Our sales teams are completely separate, and we never package anything,” he says, and adds: “We believe very strongly in self-service. All of our top selling salespeople are computers.”

“If you have the right content, the real art to making money online is be able to sell that,” Mr. Paterson says.


Brian Veseling's picture

Brian Veseling


2012-03-02 22:57

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