James Ashenhurst is passionate about organic chemistry, so much so that he launched Master Organic Chemistry, a WordPress-based website that teaches organic chemistry to pre-med students. For James, WordPress freed him to earn a living based on his passion.
Though he had a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, Ashenhurst could not land a post in the ultra-competitive market of college professors. He turned the frustration into offering organic chemistry tutoring on his own. He created a website full of useful information for students, creating content for curious pre-med pupils that would eventually lead them to his organic tutoring page, where students could register and pay to meet with Ashenhurst via Skype for one-on-one tutoring.
As the years passed, Ashenhurst added valuable information to MasterOrganicChemistry.com, and his traffic grew from hundreds per month to hundreds of thousands per month. Student questions gave him ideas for study guides and other products he developed. The live tutoring both helps his students across the globe and promotes the study guides he’s created.
Now, rather than answer to administration or worry about tenure, Ashenhurst wakes up to a job he loves. But reaping the benefits took some time.
His biggest challenge was starting the site, and his biggest fear was professional associates and former colleagues would look down on him for doing something outside the norm. But his fears were unfounded, in an odd way, when he realized no one was actually reading his website.
Again, Ashenhurst turned obstacle into opportunity. He learned that people looking for information don’t really care about the person behind the site. They care about whether the website meets their needs. The realization was liberating and he crafted more content with his audience in mind, his site began to rank better. Having a niche topic, organic chemistry, helped too.
Ashenhurst eventually migrated his content to WordPress.com, After a year and a half, moving from a free site to a self-hosted site. Facing that fear was worth it. Ashenhurst’s traffic increased three-fold.
Listen to our full interview with James Ashenhurst for more of his story, where he also shares about the value of attending WordPress meetups as well as how he fixed his hosting problems so he could focus on content creation.
Clark Buckner is online events manager at TechnologyAdvice.com, which as an in-kind sponsor of WordCamp Nashville 2014 provided his time, intern time and equipment to set up a podcast booth at WordCamp Nashville 2014, record interviews and produce show notes. TechnologyAdvice helps companies find and evaluate practice management systems, gamification software, electronic health records software and other software solutions.