Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Reaching +200k Monthly Visits as a 10-Year Old Running Blog

Jason Fitzgerald
Jason Fitzgerald
June 1, 2021
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
No Data
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Reaching +200k Monthly Visits as a 10-Year Old Running Blog

Jason Fitzgerald
Jason Fitzgerald
June 1, 2021
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Jason founded Strength Running in 2010 as a blog to share his running experiences. It has grown into one of the largest running blogs in the world, the #2 most popular running podcast in the US, and a YouTube channel with +45k subscribers.

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Hi Jason! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

I’m Jason! I’m 37, live in Denver, Colorado, and always knew I wanted to be more closely involved with the running community. I started Strength Running in 2010 as a blog to share my experiences and the site quickly grew to be one of the largest running blogs in the world. We’re now a media company that publishes the #2 most popular running podcast in the US of all time (the Strength Running Podcast), a growing YouTube channel with about 45,000 subscribers, and our award-winning blog.

I’m the owner and Head Coach. Besides publishing our content, I build training programs for endurance runners, work with private clients, and interact with the community on our social platforms. We’re proud that 98% of our material is free but for those runners who want our best, most strategic coaching guidance, we offer a collection of topic-specific programs, coaching, and custom training plans to help runners reach their goals. 


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I competed in track and cross country for all three seasons during my high school and college years. I’m a true running nerd that loves the sport so I always knew I wanted to work in the industry.

I bought the domain name StrengthRunning.com in 2007 but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it besides “online coaching.” Finally, in 2010 as I was working as a government contractor outside of Washington, DC, I launched the Strength Running blog. I had previously dabbled in e-commerce and affiliate marketing with very little success and knew that I needed to be more passionate about the topic of my business. Now, 11 years later, I’m still just as excited to help runners!


How did you go from idea to product?

Strength Running offers a collection of coaching services and training programs for purchase. The main driver of these programs is our community; they’re created to address specific, real problems and needs from runners.

Strength Running Landing Page

The process from idea to product includes a lengthy research phase where I’ll read as many books on the topic as I can, interview potential customers, study other programs, and test early versions with small beta groups.

Usually, after 9-18 months, a product is ready for launch to our audience. The pricing strategy depends on the complexity of the program, the cost to create it, the length of time needed to build it, market comparables, and some good old-fashioned testing. 

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Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

Strength Running has relied heavily on organic traffic from search engines, social media, and other sites. Primarily, our biggest source is organic traffic because we have focused so heavily on our blog content.

I’ve also built relationships with other large sites and blogs and contribute to Runner’s World, PodiumRunner, the MapMyRun blog, Lifehacker, The Art of Manliness, and others. 

Social media plays a smaller role and is better for building relationships and connecting with your community. 


How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

Today, Strength Running is thriving! While we have been negatively impacted by the global pandemic, we’re still thriving and growing in some areas. Particularly our podcast, which has gone from the #4 to the #2 ranked running podcast in Apple Music of all time.

We have hired a video editor, content assistant, and podcast editor all within the last 18 months to help scale our content ambitions. In the future, this may be a new podcast but certainly, new training programs to help runners reach their goals. 

I’m still running and plan to get into the mountains of Colorado for as much trail running as I can this year!

Since starting Strength Running, what have been your main lessons?

Like running, entrepreneurship demands consistency, resolve, and a willingness to fail and keep going. If you’re sensitive to stalled growth, failed launches, or online trolls, starting an internet business is not for you!

I also recommend new entrepreneurs build their network of peers, mentors, and colleagues in their industry. Your Rolodex of influential friends can help you launch a product, solve a business problem, or just generally keep you aiming for the starts. 


What were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?

Keep things simple. When I’ve tried to get too fancy, take on more than I could, or build too much complexity into the business then I’ve always failed. My most notable mistake was attempting to create software that would create a custom training plan. I hired a firm to do this, they dragged their feet, and I wasted $10k on a product they never delivered. The real lesson is to know what your business needs to thrive and focus on that - not shiny new things that seem great only in the abstract. 


What tools & resources do you recommend?

I’m a voracious reader (most of the time!) and recommend a wide variety of books to help founders and entrepreneurs have a more “liberal arts” view of the world. You’ll be more creative, well-rounded, and original in your thinking. I’ve particularly enjoyed Influence by Robert Cialdini, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk, and Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham.

I also get a lot of great business advice from other entrepreneurs so build that network! Even if you don’t have a formal, personal relationship with someone, you can learn from their podcast, email newsletter, or social media. I’ve gotten a lot from Ramit Sethi, Pat Flynn, Noah Kagan, and Peter Diamandis.


Where can we go to learn more?

Join the fun on any of our social media channels or platforms!

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