Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Amma Antwi. I am the owner and Managing Editor of a business content platform; Ghana Talks Business.
The platform churns out relevant knowledge-based content on business, personal finance, and lifestyle to our targeted audience.
Publications are in text, audio, and video formats.
Our targeted audience is mainly business professionals, entrepreneurs and prospective business owners, students, and individuals interested in business.
We currently earn monthly revenue between $3000 and $5000. Earnings are steadily increasing because of new content strategies. We envisage a significant increase in revenues in the near future.
Before our introduction, there was no local platform publishing knowledge-based content in Business. With a steady increase in audience, Ghana Talks Business is gradually filling the vacuum in knowledge on business management and Personal finance in Ghana’s local settings and internationally.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My business partner and I are management consultants. We have an added passion for writing on various business topics. Hitherto, we contributed to the content in the Business & Financial Times and the Graphic Business, both leading business newspapers in Ghana, as well as other industry magazines. We birthed the idea to come out with a knowledge-based platform to publish our content, enhance our reach, and also sell our services to prospective clients. The vision was to create a platform to bring relevant content on business management and personal finance to our targeted audience.
Our objective is to produce content that will adequately inform our audience and move them to act in a way that positively impacts them and their businesses.
I became convinced the business idea was right when we focused on our niche area, to provide knowledge-based content to our audience. We created a new and unexplored area to focus our content because our direct competitors were publishing trending news and information.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The online platform Ghana Talks Business has gone through phases of development. The first launch was on the Joomlaplatform, which was phased out after the first year.
We relaunched on WordPress to give us a lot more flexibility and also offer us enhanced features for publications. We do not have any regrets about the decision to go with WordPress. We can re-design our interface easily and also integrate plugins and other features that support email marketing, SEOs, and social media marketing, etc.
We started with limited knowledge of digital publishing, the technicalities of search engine optimization, and the relevance of social media to online publications.
Over time the team has gained an in-depth understanding of digital publishing. Our publications do well in search engine rankings.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We did not organize a formal launch to commence work with the platform. Publications went live as soon as the website was ready. Rigorous word-of-mouth publicity and direct selling followed on. The intention was to introduce the platform directly to the targets.
You may not appeal to well-established brands at the onset of your business; these same businesses will come knocking at your door when you make progress with less popular brands.
Email marketing was also adopted at the early stage to publicize our content to thousands of targets. The business was initially financed by bootstrapping. Readership picked up in the third year of business.
We contacted expert writers at the onset, hoping that they will get on board and provide content for us. The response was mostly negative, of course, because the platform was practically unknown, and had no brand resonance.
We re-strategized and began working with up-and-coming experts who are equally looking to get their names out there and do not mind working with less popular content platforms.
The lesson I learned from this experience; You may not appeal to well-established brands when you start in business. These same businesses will come knocking at your door when you make progress.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The uniqueness of our knowledge-based content has set us apart from other online publishers. Our content is simplified to make it understandable to individuals with limited to no business background. Individuals and professionals find our content insightful and engaging, hence the platform has a very high retention rate for readers.
We additionally conduct regular Webinars on relevant topics in Personal finance and business growth. This has increased our relevance to our audience. We have steadily increased the audience base with our webinar participants.
Occasionally we boost our very sellable articles and videos on Facebook to gain reach and engagements, which ultimately leads to a loyal audience.
Over the years we have realized the potency of good Search Engine Optimization, hence SEOs are applied to every article we post. We also share daily publications on our social media handles; Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
We have also partnered with marketing agencies to increase reach for our content and to earn revenue from ad displays.
We use our backend forms to campaign for webinars and events. And so far for the one year of doing this, we have gotten 640 subscribers.
Our SEO makes us rank on page one of a good number of our content, and we usually come on top of all local producers.
We are 4th in Facebook rankings compared to other competitors who have the benefit of the press or have been in existence for over two decades.
To grow in this space, requires constant learning of the trade, knowing your target audience through well-defined profiling, and the preferences of your audience.
Traffic efforts have mainly been in building a strong SEO capability which throws out our content on the first page or at most the 2nd page.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Presently, we are gradually building a community of audiences who would be loyal and keep coming back to consume our media. We have just moved into producing more audio content for podcast and video content on an agency’s platform. These contents are expected to attract relevant advertisers who would place adverts on our content. Our content is expert and is in line with our positioning of providing personal finance and business management content that are relevant to our consumers and they can apply.
Our earlier weakness was our slow rate of adoption of social media, which cost us well at the beginning.
The future looks encouraging, and we hope to expand our reach, and come out with new and exciting paid learning content that the audience will find relevant and will expand our audience.
We are introducing a premium content category in the near future. We hope to publish highly educational materials which will be accessible only by subscription.
We also envisage partnering with external platforms to publish our learning/knowledge-based content. This will increase our revenues and profitability. We have recently introduced a digital magazine targeted at the pensions and investment industry. Advertisers would be strewn across both the magazine and on the platform.
We are making average profit margins of 40%-60% because for now, we operate a system that has drastically reduced our costs by almost 80%. The positive side of COVID for us is to do away with office rental expenses and go fully digital, after all, we are a digital platform.
There is, however, a big room for us to increase our revenues and therefore our profits.
Customer acquisition costs may be some cents as we use our webinar and event registrations to gather our audience.
- Average page visits per month - 60k
- Average time on sessions - 45 secs
- YoY Growth - 10%
- Social media following - Linkedin (12,000), Facebook (3,200),
- Email subscribers - 800
Our operations are still quite small currently with a team of four but we are looking to expand more into the production of videos, podcasts, include a traditional marketing staff for the local sales, and get on affiliate marketing with brands.
Unfortunately, our domain was blacklisted by Google Ads and all attempts to have it restored have been bluffed off. We are therefore building a revenue model aside from google ads. It has been eye-opening as we have discovered that there are great alternatives to generate revenue for an online business like ours.
We hope to increase profitability once we can implement the full revenue model
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The lack of thorough understanding of our business in the first few years was a mistake that cost us a lot. We churned out very good content, however, with poor technical knowledge about digital publication, we could not attain impressive readership numbers for our content.
Along the line, attempting to swim with large competitors in the red ocean made us struggle for brand recognition. We eventually reverted to the strategy to focus on our strength and what we can do best in terms of business content, instead of competing with large publishers and attempting to do everything that they are doing.
In the last few years, we’ve had to design our customer avatar to determine the characteristics of our typical reader, their expectations, and interests. This exercise has helped to perceive the nature of our audience and to ensure that the content we churn out suits their needs and is relevant to them.
Our earlier weakness was our slow rate of adoption of social media, which cost us well at the beginning.
Honestly, we have not had accidental successes. Every success has been intentional. Optimizing our revenue potential has been one difficulty due to the novelty of our business. The local advertising market is still crawling to catch up with content marketing. They are only used to banner advertising on the digital marketing side.
However, we have attracted attention from some local and international agencies who are operating in the digital advertising space. Our unique personal finance and business content in the local language, spoken by the majority of the population, has been a hit with the ad agencies and brands.
What has set us apart is the quality of content due to the industry, personal finance, management, and consulting experience of the leaders.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use WordPresspublishing platform - makes publishing easy and is compatible with a lot of other apps and plugins. Google Analytics gives us deep insight into our activities and sometimes opens up other areas we are not privy to. For emails we use Gmail and Mailchimpmakes bulk emails easy compared to the other providers. We also use PremiumYoast for SEO management.
For design and editing, we use Canva for designing simple graphics, Adobe Audition for audio editing, and Filmora 9.0 for video editing. We also use JW-player for our videos and SGRecast for podcasts. For social media, we use Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram. Linkedin and Twitter.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- How they Blew it- A 2010 publication by Jamie Oliver and Tony Godwin
- How the mighty fall (and why some companies never give in) by Jim Collins
- Good to Great - Jim Collins
- Built to Last- Jim Collins
- We also do listen to podcasts from Accenture, howwemadeitinafrica.com, McKinsey, and Harvard Business Review (HBR) on a number of topics
These sources have proven to be influential to our business.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Some people are born entrepreneurs, some are made entrepreneurs as they go through the experiences of life, but I strongly believe that entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
You may sit back and admire entrepreneurs who have taken risks and have successfully built businesses. Do not aspire to be them and quickly leave your job to also commence a business. The road to success is very long. It is also very difficult, lonely at times, and daunting. The truth is the majority of prospects do not survive and fall out without the urge to continue.
Notwithstanding if you have the determination and drive to pursue your dreams, then I will encourage you to start. Do not look for ways to make your fortunes overnight, your roots may be too thin to hold you up. Carefully build the roots of the business venture. This may take years of careful work without any fruits/results to show. And this is where you do not give up, but persists with your vision.
Once your roots are well spread out firmly you can begin to enjoy the fruits of your labor permanently.
Three other factors we will mention here are resilience, constant learning, and honesty
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking to hire a Media Salesperson who would undertake both traditional and digital sales functions to help us convert our inherent value into revenue.
The role fits someone who lives in Ghana and understands the local media market.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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