What started as a dream for Scott Purcell and Frank Arthur has become so much more. In a matter of years, the two friends have turned their side-hustle, Man of Many, a small independent blog at the time, into Australia’s largest men’s website and digital lifestyle publication.
It is no secret that Australians are adopting the side-hustle approach as a means to diversify income, particularly in the digital age, however, it’s generally in an avenue they have experience. For Purcell and Arthur, a finance worker and industrial designer respectively, entrepreneurship offered a chance for a fresh start. Taking a shared love for style, design and technology, the pair launched an online blog that tackled a wide breadth of topics.
“We used to email each other cool products or gear we’d find online and quickly realised there wasn’t any publication in Australia covering the sorts of things we were into. So we thought, why not share these cool things online in our own blog?” remembers Purcell.
Originally founded as an outlet to share their passion for products and design the entrepreneurs quickly established inroads with Australian men. Cultivating an engaged audience across multiple platforms, Man of Many evolved into an online destination for gear, style and culture, and within a month had acquired a loyal following for its website publishing daily stories. Just two years later, the business was awarded the Best Tech/Design/Media Blog Award by Pedestrian TV in 2014. Charting the significant growth, the next step was a leap of faith. Purcell and Arthur decided to take their idea to a larger level, leaving their jobs to invest full time in their startup in 2016. The rest, as they say, was history.
“I think when we quit to focus on Man of Many full time, we had the benefits of 4 years of success behind us. The business definitely already had momentum. We see a lot of entrepreneurs nowadays leaving their work to start afresh on an idea when it can take literal years to get it off the ground. Why not try work on it in your spare time as a side-hustle instead until it gets some traction?” suggested Arthur.
Eight years on from those early stages, Man of Many has continued to grow. The online men’s publication has developed a stronghold on the domestic men’s lifestyle category, through a dedicated social media presence and commitment to quality product journalism. Perhaps most remarkable of all, the men’s publication has maintained the same level of approachability in voice, despite becoming the largest men’s site in the country. But it hasn’t come easy.
“We’ve invested heavily into conducting research on our audience and the topics they’re interested in. This has helped us to continue to grow despite the difficulties many traditional media publishers are facing today” said Purcell.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Man of Many was in a lucky place. Being a solely online publication meant their workforce was able to work quite easily from home remotely and they were able to diversify their revenue streams to sources like affiliate revenue and display advertising while keeping its cost-base low. This led the brand to winning Website of the Year in Mumbrella’s Publish Awards in 2020.
By adjusting their KPI’s and focusing on providing regular content, not only as a source of inspiration but as a relevant and helpful information base during what was a stressful time for many, Man of Many was able to significantly bolster its audience engagement. Honing in on contemporary consumer trends, men’s mental health and entertainment avenues, all with the same product journalism scope, allowed the publication to cut through the media noise as an outlier. In the months that have passed, Arthur and Purcell have sustained that momentum, banking on consistency as the key to ongoing success, with a healthy dose of innovation thrown in.
The publication is now in the midst of another growth period, with an upcoming podcast series, expanded video content and the launch of a full-scale e-commerce store. Suffice to say, Arthur and Purcell have a lot of balls in the air, but if the last eight years have shown anything, it’s that a dream and a vision can make all the difference.