We hope you enjoy our top stories from 2013.

We hope you enjoy our top stories from 2013.

Jake Munday's internet business is based on a simple idea: people love dogs.

But that idea has garnered his Facebook page, Dog Lovers, more than three million followers, which Munday says is earning him about $40,000 a month.

These are impressive figures by any measure but even more so, considering that Munday is 24 years old and Dog Lovers is only a part-time exercise for him. His full-time job is selling phone plans in a Telstra business dealership.

Jake Munday and his dog DJ

Jake Munday and his dog DJ

Having decided he wanted to start a business based on people's love of dogs, Munday thought he'd start a Facebook page and decided that rather than start from scratch he'd acquire one. So he acquired the Dog Lovers page when it had an already impressive 430,000 fans.

“We saw an opportunity there to set up a little business and sell dog collars and dog products to the audience,” says Munday, who lives in Geelong in Victoria. But he quickly discovered the business model was not workable. A lot of the Facebook page's fans were overseas and it was impossible to make a profit by selling a dog collar that cost $8 wholesale for $12 and paying foreign postage.

In the meantime, he set about securing more fans for the Facebook page and, the way that Munday tells it, getting the next 2.5 million "likes" in the 12 months since was pretty simple.

Indeed, his strategy for attracting viewers is much like his original business idea. “Animals are very emotional to people; they're like family, they're like their kids,” he says. “We can make it sound like a special formula but at the end of the day some [posts] work and some don't.”

They posted a picture of a cute little girl holding up a handwritten sign saying, “my daddy said I can get a puppy only if I can get 1 million likes”. The post went viral and within 72 hours had picked up 1.3 million clicks.

The picture had already been posted on Facebook. Munday simply picked it up and put it on his own page. He has no idea who the girl is or whether she ultimately got her puppy.

The site continues to pick up more traffic with its mix of cute and funny dog pictures and videos. Munday has employed a friend part time to produce content for the site but most of it is posted by fans, free of charge.

With the original idea of selling dog products not working out, Munday looked for other sources of revenue. He turned the Facebook page into an advertising vehicle.

The page earns its revenue through advertising – pet businesses pay to place ads on the site – and through affiliate marketing – where companies pay Munday when people click on their site from the Facebook page.

For instance, he promotes products for the pet-related group buying site coupaw.com and, when people click on the ads, they're taken to the site where they have to fill out their email details and Munday earns $1 per email address. Others pay a commission on the sales Dog Lovers generates.

Promoted products include doggles (goggles for dogs), booties to keep puppies' paws warm and dry, and dog-themed jewellery for owners.

The site initially earned $4000 a month in revenue, and has grown each month, to about $40,000 now, Munday says.

For several months, Munday ran his own non-Facebook website, with his videos and pictures, which earned revenue from the Google advertising service AdSense, where the search giant places ads on sites.

That site proved popular and profitable, bringing in revenue of several thousand dollars a week. But he was blocked by Google for not complying with its guidelines about how and where ads could be placed, such as places that created accidental clicks.

Munday plans to relaunch the site on a more professional basis. His next task is to work out how to derive revenue from his database of three million followers and the Dog Lovers brand.

“It is hard when you have a worldwide audience. It's hard to create my own products,” he says. He could continue to sell ads on the new site but might also license the brand.

Munday expects the site to keep attracting likes but wants to sell out in the longer term.

“Ideally someone comes in and pays me out for the right price,” says Munday. “This is fantastic but it can't last forever. The reality is that it's always changing.”

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