HomeTips: There’s a Lot to Like


Google announced the winner of the Adsense Story Contest today: Hometips. This is a site that features free content concerning home improvement, remodeling, repair, redecorating, and do-it-yourself projects. For example, here are tips for hanging Christmas lights.

According to the owner, Don Vandervort, the revenues generated by Google Adsense went from paying for coffee to paying for lunches to paying for all salaries, overhead, and business development. The site’s traffic is moderate–something like one million visitors a month or less if you believe Compete. I love this kind of story:

  • The company started in a backyard clubhouse. Don converted the bottom floor of his sons’ two-story treehouse. “Two-story” treehouse? How cool is that?

  • The site has a clear focus: content for homeowners. There’s nothing that I can find that smacks of “Web 2.0 social media” at all. This is just so refreshing: All you can do is find information, you don’t need to bond with any strangers.

  • Don added Adsense to his site by himself. He said it took twenty minutes. He probably didn’t do any market research, focus groups, or 2×2 McKinsey-esque matrix analysis.

  • He probably didn’t even raise a dime of venture capital. He probably didn’t even try to raise venture capital. He probably didn’t even boot PowerPoint. He certainly didn’t present at Demo or TechCrunch40.

Yes sir, there’s a lot to like about Don’s story: do what you love, focus on a niche, find a viable business model, and work for yourself.

By |2016-10-24T14:17:36+00:00December 5th, 2007|Categories: Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Sales|15 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Oliver Taco December 5, 2007 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Funny you should say that about VC. We’ve been talking a lot about that at our company, which is also VC free.
    We had a new product we were looking at and did a pretty careful analysis of the pro/con of venture money (we’ve both been through several rounds of that) and decided that it did not make sense for us.
    In fact, our conclusion was that it was hard to imagine many pieces of software where you’d really need it at all anymore.
    Funny old world.

  2. Jon December 5, 2007 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Hi Guy, I totally agree, this is a fantastic story and well deserved success for him. VC, TechCrunch etc are all tools to help fuel growth through debt management… if you don’t have the debts accumulating faster then you can pay them off, then there is no need for a VC, Angel Investor or even IPO 😉

  3. Lisa G. December 5, 2007 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Their ‘story’ is authentic in my opinion, and I bet that is a big draw, in addition to the great info they provide. Great lesson for the rest of us out there.

  4. Audall December 6, 2007 at 12:56 am - Reply

    My story is about Google Adwords…not Adsense. But I can share a similar sense of satisfaction.
    A partner and I started a product development and factory sourcing business about a year ago. We’re bootstrapping the old fashioned way. Developing sales leads from scratch over the last year was laborious and delivered marginal results. Then, one day, a friend suggested I try Google Adwords. I’m tech savvy, but for some reason had neglected to try this simple tool. Very soon, I was receiving 3-5 sales leads a day from clients looking for consumer product development and offshore manufacturing services. After a few months of using Adwords, we’re currently working with some prospective clients (who found us through Adwords), that could turn us into a company that does millions of dollars in revenue a year. So simple… Hats off to Google and my friend.

  5. Marketing Tom - Internet Marketing December 6, 2007 at 2:55 am - Reply

    A Successful Google AdSense Story

    For those of you who don’t know Google AdSense:is an ad serving program run by Google. Website owners can enroll in this program to enable text, image and, more recently, video advertisements on their sites. These ads are administered by Google and gen…

  6. Raza Imam December 6, 2007 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Good post Guy. Donald Trump’s key to success is to do what you love.
    Sometimes the most profound things are also the simplest.

  7. Dave December 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Compete says 400K visitors a months tops. Where did you get 1mln?

  8. Wayne Becker December 8, 2007 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Nice to see people making adsense work. I have been using adsense for about 6 months now, and not a single click at either www.draw2mind.com or my other sites. I keep telling myself there must be something wrong – could it be I just don’t have any traffic 😉
    So far the only money I have been able to make is by parking websites such as www.inventacar.com. Yet, 49 cents over 3 months is not going to make front page news either. My first financial web goal has been and still remains to earn my first $1 by the end of 2007 – still 14 cents shy. Thanks for sharing the success story.

  9. emre December 9, 2007 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Their ‘story’ is authentic in my opinion, and I bet that is a big draw, in addition to the great info they provide. Great lesson for the rest of us out there.I love home

  10. Up and Running December 10, 2007 at 3:29 am - Reply

    A Short and Sweet Startup Story

    Guy Kawasaki has a nice example of a successful startup in Home Tips: Theres a Lot to Like. Its a do-it-yourself company, bootstrapped from a start in a backyard clubhouse, one entrepreneur making good decisions and moving forward….

  11. Anthony December 12, 2007 at 7:46 am - Reply

    Nice site man! www.tutorialparadise.com

  12. Mark Czerniec December 12, 2007 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I read a similar story in USA Today back in October that was also very inspiring.

  13. adboy December 13, 2007 at 10:10 am - Reply

    I’ve made money from AdSense. There are some keys:
    1. Traffic. If no one looks at your site, you won’t get any clicks. Period.
    2. Keywords. Your site has to use keywords that match with ads companies will pay for. I run a celebrity site, where clicks pay about $0.05 a click and a financial site where clicks pay about $0.50 a click. It’s pretty easy to see where I focus my energy.
    3. Search. Sites where people are searching for answers seems to help. The home site Guy mentioned probably has visitors that are looking to solve a problem or get information about homes. Visitors will likely click on an ad that might provide a solution.

  14. Regina December 14, 2007 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I’ve always wanted a two-story treehouse.

  15. Don Vandervort December 7, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

    10 years have passed since Guy graciously posted this article about my company, HomeTips. I have had the pleasure of working with my sons by my side (we’re no longer in the treehouse) and watching them each launch their own online businesses. At HomeTips, we’re still keeping it simple, but we’ve learned a lot through the ups and downs of this decade. I am grateful that we have been able to use our expertise to help others, make a living, and enjoy life in the process. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. –Don Vandervort, HomeTips

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