Business fundamentals of a successful website: Man of Many

From initial dreams of gaining a few freebies to becoming one of Australia’s most successful male lifestyle online portals, Man of Many founders Scott Purcell and Frank Arthur’s career roadmap is full of twist and turns.

With Scott’s background in institutional banking and Frank’s in designing outdoor furniture, the twosome recently did a 180 on their employment paths to go full-time on Man of Many – now spending their days creating web content, overseeing video productions, and negotiating brand alignments.

Getting to meet the two lads at a recent NIVEA gig where they were both speaking, I was intrigued to find out more about their journey and some of their methods for getting to the top. Here, Husskie chats exclusively to Scott and Frank about their life in the fast lane…

How long have you been doing Man Of Many for?
Frank: So it’s been going for about 4.5 years now. The way that it started is that we were both into a lot of cool things like gadgets, cars, fashion; we use to email each other things we found online! We found that there weren’t many Australian sites putting up that kind of stuff… so we thought we’d give it a go.

The idea at first was that hopefully one day we might get a few freebies. As we started going, we realised there was a big hole in the market for the kind of content we were producing – so we began taking it a bit more seriously and producing good premium content for a male market… and it kept growing and growing.

Then about a year ago, we decided to take the plunge and go full-time. In the space of the last 12 months we’ve tripled our traffic, I think we’re reaching 250k people a month now with the website – which has been awesome. We also now have one full-time writer and another all-rounder in the house as well. We’re now moving into a lot more video content, lifestyle pieces, how to’s, and really expanding our content as well as growing our traffic.

Do you think your numbers have tripled because of producing more content?
Scott: I think it’s been a combination of being more consistent with our content, lifting our production quality a bit more – so trying to take more of our own photos, producing our own videos – just doing more things in-house rather than relying on a press release. And we’ve also begun partnering with brands to tell stories behind products rather than just straightforward product reviews – that’s definitely helped as well. Consistency has been the biggest factor.

Since going full-time what does a normal day look like for you guys?
Scott: We’re publishing about seven stories a day now, pumping out a lot of content. It might be reviewing products or going out to a few events. A lot of time is spent behind the desk – because a big focus is getting the website looking right and having the right sorts of content on there. Sometimes we might be shooting or filming a video for a client, those kinds of things.

Are you doing the filming?
Scott: We’ve got a friend who’s a videographer who helps us out with that, so we’ve recently filmed something for Harley Davidson, a bank (who we can’t name yet), and we’ve got something for Aldi Liquor coming up…

Frank: Yeah we’re doing a lot more video content, trying to do some video stories as they’re quite popular at the moment. Our videos have been getting quite good engagement – so that’s been a strong focus. Posting on YouTube, Instagram, the website, and Facebook – that’s the biggest one. Facebook gets a huge reach with all our video content.

Facebook? That’s interesting! How have you built up a following on that platform?
Scott: It was pretty organic in the first stages. I think we’re lucky that we started four years ago before the algorithm changed. It’s definitely been a challenge in the past year to six months, you don’t get as much reach with your content. So it’s important to put up a combination of photos, links, videos and text posts. Having that broad spectrum of different types of content keeps your readers interested. If you’re posting the same thing day-to-day, it doesn’t get them coming back for more. I think the video functionality on Facebook is a lot better now because they’re prompted to move onto the next video, so that’s helped us in our growth.

Frank: Another thing has been competitions and giveaways. We’ve done some competitions before where as a condition of entry people had to sign up to Facebook. So that was something we’ve done.

Scott: I think it’s also about producing the right sorts of content. Knowing what our readers are interested in, what they’re responding to, and catering to that. I think we’ve been a bit smarter with the sorts of content that we’re posting up on Facebook, not just putting up everything – choosing the right pieces that we know are going to be either conversation pieces, or things people will share with their friends. So that’s been going really well.

With your video content, how long does it take to put together?
Frank: It depends on the video. We don’t do it personally, we get the videographer to do it – but sometimes we can do a half day shoot or shoot over a few hours and then they can put together something in half a day. We recently filmed a video which was a half day shoot, and it’s taken the editor three days to cut it down… so it really depends on the kind of project.

Some of the things that we do that are easier is when we’re doing a profile on someone. We did a video interview with Scott Marsh – he’s a street artist who last year did a mural of Kanye West which caused a bit of controversy, so that video was really popular. That was shot in a few hours in a studio and we got some really nice footage – it was a nice setting, good interview, and it was put together quite quickly… so something like that was a really nice piece of content that required little work but did require a lot of skill from the videographer.

And just three last questions before I let you go… Career highlight?
Frank: I think when we got a trip to go overseas, it was New Zealand – but it was pretty awesome getting sent over to Wellington. They took us to a bunch of different restaurants and wineries, got to see a Super Rugby semi final, so that was pretty cool.

Scott: Probably driving an Audi around a track full speed – that was pretty exciting. That was probably the funnest thing I’ve done so far… I don’t know if it’s a career highlight, but definitely the most fun!

Frank: Actually, maybe not career highlight – they’re just fun things we’ve done! Our highlight would probably be able to do this full-time, quitting our jobs and being able to focus on it all the time.

Scott: One of the other exciting things is finding out some of the people who follow us are sports stars who we looked up to when we were younger, like the Wallabies. Finding out that those people are reading our content is really cool.

And lowlight? Any tough moments?
Frank: I think the toughest moment was when we were working full-time. You’d be at work and have had a big day and then get home and you’d be like “crap, I have to work on the site now” – so being up until late and then waking up the next morning and being half asleep at the desk, feeling burnt out. I think that’s the biggest lowlight, but there’s been a lot more highlights than lowlights.

Scott: I’d say my lowlight would be the same thing, having to work late nights or weekends. But it was built out of a passion – we wouldn’t do that just because we had to. We enjoyed doing what we were doing, it was just more that we needed to take care of our health and wellbeing a bit more – have a bit more of a balance. But I don’t regret it, it’s gotten us to where we are today…

And you get to do exciting projects like this one, working with brands like NIVEA…
Scott: Yeah, being able to work with NIVEA has been fantastic. They were really easy to work with and it’s great for our own profile being able to speak at events like this. Plus with NIVEA, it’s genuinely stuff that we use ourselves – it’s not a product that we have to bullsh*t about.

Lastly, five years’ time, where are we going to see you?
Scott: We definitely want to be Australia’s leading destination for men online – we’re on our way there. I think we want to be producing really engaging pieces of content, partnering with brands, and being more of a content producer than a publisher as such. That’s probably the direction we’re heading…

Frank: We’re also doing a lot of different things, trying new things. When we first started, we weren’t doing any speaking engagements like this, and now we’re doing more of those. We have an event coming up that we’re hosting ourselves, we’re also doing a product collaboration with a sunglasses brand later in the year. So we’re diversifying and trying new things to broaden the scope of what we can do.

Images: @thetrendspotter, NIVEA, and @frankiarthur

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