Empire Sports

Alex Wilson, CEO

New York, NY
Fans enjoying a baseball game. Empire Sports logo.
Sportswriting from the fan’s perspective

Like any diehard sports fan, Alex Wilson would regularly go online to check up on his favorite teams. While he had no problem finding objective news and stats, he had a harder time finding sportswriting that felt like it was coming from a passionate fan’s perspective.

“It wasn’t easy finding a perspective that fans could connect with,” says Alex. “It builds trust with readers to know they’re reading a fan’s take — it lets you know this content creator is coming to you with straight talk and relating to you on a more emotional level.”

It wasn’t until Alex completed a college blogging assignment that he realized he might be the writer suited to fill this niche. Using his lifelong fandom, perhaps he could be the one to fill this void in the sportswriting landscape.

So even though his college assignment was over, Alex stuck with his blog — which eventually became Empire Sports Media. The multi-media site covers all New York-based sports teams, blending quality journalism with social media-driven fan interaction.

Unfortunately, timing wasn’t exactly on Alex’s side. Just as Empire Sports was taking off, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which canceled just about everything… including sporting events. Despite the hiccup, Alex plowed ahead with this passion project, riding out the pandemic and continuing to build out his voice and perspective as a writer. Then, amid the turmoil of the pandemic, he heard from The Publisher Desk, Google Certified Publishing Partner who could help Alex monetize his content.

“When I first heard from The Publisher Desk, I was a very, very small fish,” says Alex. “I was working another full-time job at the time and trying to build my business at the same time, which wasn’t easy. But I knew that this site had potential — and maybe all I needed was a skilled team to run the advertising side of the business.”

“So hearing from The Publisher Desk was truly a godsend. They were there just when I needed them to help me figure out how to build our ad strategy and scale it. I could focus on creating content for the site full-time while they were able to take over the advertising side of the business.”

With marketing experts on his side, Empire Sports could deploy a winning ad strategy — and Alex could turn his passion into a revenue-generating business.

Stock image of a basketball game.
A powerful ad partner

“Originally I was trying to manage and optimize AdSense myself through a trial and error process of making mistakes and then fixing it,” explains Alex. “But managing that and the site’s content became too much to handle on my own.”

The Publisher Desk allowed Alex to focus on creating content — the part of the business that drew him to this project in the first place. Meanwhile, The Publisher Desk would automate the entire process of deploying ads. “It was then that the pieces really started to fall into place for our business,” says Alex.

The Publisher Desk team used AdSense to implement relevant display ads that never detracted from the reading experience on the site. This meant Alex could create content without having to put anything behind a paywall and slow down his growth.

“We've never taken any outside investment, which I’m very proud of, all because digital ads have been so effective for us over the years,” says Alex.

Plus, he’s found a powerful partner in The Publisher Desk. “Any time I have a question or concern, I just email them and they respond quickly,” says Alex. “When you're a business owner, you notice the small things that change and you certainly notice when the revenue or viewership is impacted. If I notice something is off, they always fix it right away.”

With a steady stream of revenue from ads, it was time for Alex to think bigger — and vault his site into the big leagues.

“We've never taken any outside investment, which I’m very proud of, all because digital ads have been so effective for us over the years.”
A basketball stock image.
Ads are a home run

Embracing ads has powered Empire Sports Media to 20% growth year-over-year on average — even through COVID-19 and economic fluctuations. This revenue growth has enabled Alex to build out his team, “we’ve hired two full-time employees and more than 10 part-time employees who help write and develop audio, visual, and written content for the site,” he says.

“I love that I’m able to give opportunities to other people,” says Alex. “I was once one of those kids in college that was looking for any opportunity to create content online. Now I try to give back and offer writing gigs to younger writers who are looking to get their name out there in the sports media world.”

Aside from hiring more people, the revenue from ads has helped Alex build an office where he can record podcasts. Turning into a multimedia sports site has helped Empire Sports increase their viewership and connect with a wider range of sports media consumers.

Ads also give Alex the option to diversify his content offerings. For instance, Alex hopes to hire credentialed reporters who can get exclusive access to team events. “This way we’ll be able to offer more premium content that fans can pay for,” says Alex. “We love having ad-supported content that’s free and accessible, but pairing that with premium content would just give us another revenue stream and drive more growth.”

Next up? Using their ad revenue to create apparel that they can sell on their site’s online store. This would once again give the site another way to connect with readers and diversify income streams.

“It all started with advertising, which allowed me to scale up this business and make it sustainable,” says Alex. “Working with The Publisher Desk, I’m confident we can continue this momentum, reach a loyal base of users, and deliver great fan-driven sports content for the long-haul.”

About the Publisher

Alex Wilson is the Founder and CEO of Empire Sports where he's grown the site to more than 2 million monthly page views and 100 million monthly social impressions. Alex and his team focus on high quality journalism and interaction with readers to build a trustworthy relaitonship between media and the fan-base.
Picture of Alex Wilson.