Interview with Jordan Howard
Could you tell us a little about who Jordan Howard is? Well, obviously my name is Jordan Howard . I live in northern Ontario, Canada. I love being Canadian and sometimes like to think it is one of my best attributes (I like to make sure everyone knows I'm Canadian) I currently own a network of websites, and have also been known to invest in other start ups to help others get off the ground. Developing websites has been a passion of mine since my early childhood. I started early when I was 7 or 8 just making some of the most basic webpages for myself just to share around with friends and family. Here I am over 10 years later now 19 still going at it. I guess you can say it was a a phase that never ended. You have a network of sites under the Pardy Networks banner (at Pardy.co), where did this name come from? Well, to start, I suppose I should tell you my name is Jordan Howard (as I just mentioned). However, very little people in the webmaster community know I legally have two last names. My full name is Jordan Pardy-Howard. On the business side of things, I like to to go by Jordan Howard as it sounds more professional then the fun loving Pardy name. Although, I still wanted to incorporate my other last name in my work. Thus, Pardy was going to be the name of my Network. You now own two forums WebGurubb.com and the 2 million post general chat forum OffTopicz.com (which makes you a Big Board Owner). You also have an interest in ForumHour.com. What is the appeal of adding forums into your network? To be honest, I never really was a forum guy in the past. I only recently started with forums in the summer of 2012. Which would make that about 1 and a half years ago. (I know it seems so long ago now!) After I had to sell off my shares in my previous network, I needed something new and fresh to keep me occupied. I saw a forum up for sale at digital point, and thought it could make a interesting new avenue. So now, you guys are stuck with me. I joined up on WebGuruBB about a month or two later (In September) as a member of the forum. Nearly a year later I got a PM in my box from xpl0iter (Plato) asking me if I was interested in purchasing the forum. At the time I was heavily investmented on another admin forum, but the investment sort of "flopped". Nonetheless, I took xpl0iter's opportunity to take WebGuruBB off his hands and to hopefully help make it grow. Off Topicz is the newest addition to the family as I have just acquired it. It seems the community may have had a dark past. However, I plan to look past that and help get the forum to its prime. The community has a fantastic small number of dedicated users on the forum that seem to be some of the most friendliest people I have talked to. I am looking forward to be part of that community Regarding ForumHour, the site is currently owned by Brad who is basically PardyCo's designer. He pretty much does all of our custom design work. (Along with his own work). When he came to me asking for help regarding the site, I certainly would have agreed to help him out. As it stands, FH is still a standalone independent forum that has no connection to PardyCo Networks. I suppose I still have yet to answer the main question of what is appealing about them. I can tell you that its not about the money. I'm not here buying the forums to try to make a quick buck by slapping some ads on them. In fact, I'm not even planning on putting ads on Off Topicz at all. WebGuruBB has a few ads on it, but I am not making a single dime off them. Those ads are there to help pay for new features for the site. Our custom addons, themes, contests, member prizes. Well they are not being generated out of thin air xD I suppose it is the since and feel of a community driven project. I have grown to love the way the community thrives. The way we can meet new people and make new friends. I like to think I have made a few with WebGuru. Hell, I consider Josh to be an outstanding guy. I talk to him nearly every day now with stuff that has nothing to do with WebGuru. Some of the conversations we have are just to funny xD You had a previous network which you were forced to sell. Explain how it was different to your current network. Well, for the most part the old one was mostly websites owned by other people that I had invested into. The old network did not even have its own website. PardyCo is now mostly contained of websites that I own, run, and manage. I certainly won't stop investing into other sites. However, right now as it stands the current financial situation does not exactly allow me to. Has the silent partner or hands on owner model been more successful for you? I was actually asked this question (or at least a similar one) by a friend not to long ago. It honestly depends on the situation and what type of website it will be. For the most part as you can probably guess why, forums are more of the hands on owner that will require a lot of your attention and communication between you and your members. I believe the only time it is safe to be a silent partner is when your investing into a website that has a strong capable owner of maintaining everything. You also have to make clear that all you are is an investor and nothing more. What do you look for when you are purchasing a site? The innovation, the mission/vision the site has, and if I believe I can perhaps help it in some way are the 3 most important. I have people coming to me daily in regards if I am interested in buying their sites. Most of the times I have to decline. Not because I don't like the site or idea, it is just I don't think I would be the right guy to take over. If the site is not profitable, then there are a couple things I will look for. - Is the niche in my area of expertise? - Is it something I am interested in doing? - What is the current follower base / traffic? - How easy is it to maintain? The forums you own suffered from activity problems under their previous owners. What are your tips for forum revival? I am no angel when it comes to activity with my forums either though I am very fortunate that both my forums have a small amount of dedicated users that will stick around. Could not thank these users enough. Ownership changes are not always easy. For the first while I normally don't want to make any drastic changes unless it is necessary to help the forum as a whole. For the most part if you where not part of the community previously, you will first want to get to know your users first hand. This will help you go a long way. It is imperative that the forum keeps its original vision. If the previous owner had a vision for that forum, changing it will probably loose more members then gain. For some basic tips:
www.xat.so It is a social network I had made using the php dolphin script with several custom modifications and changes made to it. I made the site for users who use the chat website xat.com. It has a nice little community of users who use it daily as well. Love developing for it. Right now I have a developer making cool new features for the site as well. The site is not really a social network for the general internet users. Which is why I think it is doing semi-well as it is niche specific and geared towards users of the chat network. A lot of young teens use the site and to help with user privacy and security I made this to make sure users who like to stay connected to new friends they meet online are not having to give out personal Facebook accounts that may result in personal information being leaked out.
What does the future hold for your network overall and what specific plans do you have for WebGurubb and OffTopicz?
Future for the network? Well we are currently in the process of redeveloping the main website. New design, new framework, new features etc. There is also one big site I am currently working on. I actually already went over my budget for it as well. No one knows what it is yet, and I don't plan to release any information on it for some time. Probably will be done by the end of the summer that is to come. At least I hope. I also want to start getting back into investing into more of other peoples sites and start ups.
Regarding WebGuruBB, I actually had so much plans for this site when I had first acquired it. These plans have somewhat slowed down a bit since then. However, that has not stopped me on keep providing new features to the site. WebGuruBB now has 4 custom coded addons for the site that is also freely available to download in our resource centre. The newest one being User of the Month. I was hoping to start providing more contests on the forum, and getting the site more active with webmasters. I see a future for WebGuruBB. There just needs to be a bit more incentive on my part.
Just my plans keep changing up all the time. I was once going to start a $2,000 investment prize contest on WebGuru that would go towards a users start up idea. However, then something else had came up that needed some investments. I need to keep my trains of thoughts on one track. Hopefully find a balance in managing 20+ sites at once.
With Off Topicz, it may be a bit to early to tell. I know I have just put up a new theme and logo but besides that I am currently just trying to get to know the current users a bit better before I try anything drastic. I can say am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces there though
- Keep trying. Don't buy a forum hoping it will be instant success. I have seen this far to many times, people buy an established forum, they never show up (or at least not anymore), stop posting, stop trying to bring new features or innovative ideas, etc. The forum will then die, and they wonder what happened. Even if you are busy to post more often then you should, making sure you are doing your administrative job of getting new innovative ideas and features into the board will go a long way.
- Make sure your staff are active. Nothing says to the users more that your forum does not mean anything or that your forum is dead then that of your staff not participating or being inactive.
- Contests. Although may not always be successful, it still draws attention. WebGuru once held a $800 webmaster contest that I personally deem to be a failure. The contest itself was good, it did gain a couple members, and everyone who participated did win their prizes. However, the goal of the contest was not met. Still, even users who where not even part of the contest (or even part of the forum) still talk about it on other forums. Thus, generating word of mouth / promotion for your forum. If it is a successful contest, then all the better.
- Marketing. If you have the financial status to do some marketing. Buying some advertisements or doing some promotion on other websites with the same niche can be a huge benefit in getting targeted traffic.
- Post on your competitor sites. Now I don't mean going around and posting your links all over their site. That will just leave you banned, and going nowhere. However, actually participate on their forum. Become a valued member of the community. Actually help out. You would not believe the users who may flock to your site if you seem to care for communities rather then try to take them down in a forum war. If a user on the site starts a thread asking for help, and you have answers on your forum. Provide all the information and leave a source linkback to the thread at your forum. Most sites allow this. (Be sure to read the rules).
- Post exchanges. Although may not be the best option. Getting your forum started with new posts other from yourself may help other users to be able to post around. Try and see if other fellow community owners are willing to do some post exchanges.
- Last but not least, make the community a fun place to go to. No one likes a forum that is run by dictatorship, and is only up to gain profit. Make a community out of your forum. Not a business. Sure, if you need help with hosting bills or if your making profit that's great. I'm not saying to not post ads or offer premium subscriptions, but just make sure you run the site as it should be. A community. Remember that its your users who make the forum. Not you, not the software, not the theme, etc. your users are your most valuable asset when it comes to forums.