Ask the Builder Mequoda Media Brand Case Study

Using the Mequoda Method of driving website traffic with free content to sell products and advertising.

Tim Carter started as a building contractor and decided one day to tell homeowners about remodeling and residential construction by writing a newspaper column. The column started in 1993 and continues today. In 1998, he launched AskTheBuilder.com.

In addition to that column, Carter expanded Ask the Builder’s reach into radio, television and the Internet. He now sells ebooks, DVDs, sample blueprints, bid sheets and house plans.

He uses the Web as the nexus to sell all those products and relies on the Google Adsense program to generate lots of advertising revenue.

Tim Carter launched AskTheBuilder.com in 1998 after becoming an expert on remodeling and almost every aspect of residential construction—from carpentry to plumbing. He started as a building contractor and learned that homeowners were routinely fleeced by his competitors. One day he decided to tell homeowners about the subject, and started writing a newspaper column in 1993 that continues today.

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In addition to that column, Carter expanded Ask the Builder’s reach into radio, television and the Internet. Online, he started archiving newspaper columns and charging for access while offering a free builder bulletin and newsletter to drive traffic, but that was unsuccessful. He sold some e-books, construction bid-estimation sheets, sample blueprints and multimedia software presentations, but the site was still struggling. Things did not take off until Carter tried Google AdSense to drive traffic.

Then Ask the Builder started to sell all of its products, and it continues today. Carter was so impressed with the results of Google’s AdSense that he stopped holding back his premium content and offered it all for free, further increase website traffic. Anyone looking for advice on fixing or hiring someone to fix anything in the home would land on the site.

Now Carter sells about 400 e-books and 200 building check-lists monthly, which cost about $6.95 to $47 dollars and are “huge profit centers,” he said.

Carter may have found it through trial and error, but he is now a great example of finding a niche topic and using the Mequoda Method of driving website traffic with free content to sell products and advertising.

“Most people don’t want to work. So if you decide to put your nose to the grindstone and you pick a niche and become and expert in that niche, it will pay of. There is just so much opportunity out there,” Carter said.

Platforms used by Ask The Builder:

Books: While Mr. Carter has made the majority of his book revenue selling ebooks, he does have a hardcover book he coauthored, titled You Figure it Out! He sells signed copies on his site for $14.95.

DVDs: Users can purchase how-to DVD sets. Some DVDs come coupled with ebooks, others come with products. Prices range from $25 to $44.

PDFs: Last we heard, Mr. Carter was selling about 400 ebooks on his site. Topics include
Crown Molding and Cork Flooring and prices range between $14.95 and $20.

Email: Mr. Carter’s email strategy is simply to inform interested parties that he’s posted a new column or video on his website. His email newsletter doesn’t necessarily monetize through product placement, but instead drives traffic back to his ad-driven website.

Video: Mr. Carter posts lots of free how-to video on his site through YouTube. Users can also subscribe to the YouTube RSS feed so they stay informed on when he posts new videos.

RSS: Mr. Carter does host a feed of all his latest video’s.

Website: AsktheBuilder.com is Mr. Carter’s free Internet hub. He posts a lot of free, valuable content on this site and he generates Google Advertising revenue. Users can also easily find links to all his products on his site.

Merchandising: Mr. Carter sells multiple downloadable items that include house plans, sample blueprints and bid sheets. For anyone building or remodeling a home, these checklists aim to relieve potential home-building disasters and save money.

Services: Mr. Carter offers a 15-minute phone conversation for $47 or an 8-hour Consult plus dinner for $4,997.

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