Brisbane-based parenting website Bub Hub (bubhub.com.au) is taking the online world by storm, attracting up to 40,000 unique users a day and four million page impressions a month.
The website also appears in 95 per cent of parenting-related search results on Google, has more than 122,000 forum members and communicates to a database of more than 77,000 people through an e-newsletter.
Bub Hub was launched by Brisbane couple Brad and Hilary Lauder in March 2002 and has since become Australia’s largest independently owned portal for parents, with the majority of its audience being women from 18-45.
“When we first started we used to spend just $60 a month on web hosting and now we have four dedicated servers hosted on the Gold Coast,” Mr Lauder said.
He puts the success of the Bub Hub down to its independent information, inclusive forums, directory of products and services for parents, and well-built website.
“The benefit of Bub Hub is that parents can get all the information they want in one spot and use it to make their own decisions,” he said.
“Our role is to make things less scary for parents.
“When we were having children we found there was either no information or heaps of conflicting information, so on Bub Hub we aim to put all the information in one place so parents can have a look at it all and make informed choices.”
The website’s forum, which Mr Lauder attributes to Bub Hub’s appeal, is moderated by 25 volunteers and can have up to 1500 people using it at any one time.
“It was really important to us that our users could get information they needed on topics in a safe environment, which is where our moderators come in,” he said.
Bub Hub’s forum has 122,000 members who post and interact regularly on issues ranging from practical parenting or pregnancy advice, information on family-friendly things to do and places to visit, or health-related issues.
“We find our forum is so successful because parents want a place to interact with other parents,” Mr Lauder said.
“Many people don’t know their neighbours as well as they used to, or have kids before or after their friends, and sometimes it can feel like there is no help whatsoever – the forum allows parents to interact with other parents.”
Keeping all the site information collated and easily searched was the team’s biggest challenge.
“We are constantly refining our content and the site and the way we do things,” Mr Lauder said.
The team behind the site is relatively small, with founders Brad and Hilary working with a web developer, communication manager, editor, forum manager and interstate social media manager.
As well as ensuring the site content remained fresh and informative, the forums were moderated and the website’s directory listings were current, Mr Lauder said the team focused on making sure parents got the information they needed to make the parenting journey easier and more fun.
He puts the site’s large base of users down to word of mouth, as well as a lot of attention paid to the way the website was built.
“Because of the way our site is set up, there are not many pregnancy or parenting-related search phrases where Bub Hub doesn’t appear,” he said.
“This unique feature of the Bub Hub helps our marketing enormously, but we also rely on word of mouth.”
For example, Mr Lauder said traditionally there was a surge of new site visitors at Christmas, which he put down to word of mouth referrals among parents and soon-to-be parents at Christmas parties and events.
As well as constantly sourcing and producing up-to-date and relevant content, Mr Lauder said Bub Hub had plans to expand with a blog network and e-books.
He said other small businesses looking to grow should put the majority of their early time into proper planning.
“No business lasts without proper planning and my advice would be to have a two-year plan as a minimum,” he said.
“We have seen many businesses that may have succeeded if they had stuck at it a little longer and been more realistic with their initial expectations.
“And remember, if you even break even in the first year then you are truly a big success. And do not forget to list with us for free if you work with parents!”