If you’re looking to build your brand with some fresh content, your first stop may be WordPress.com or Medium, or you may choose Wix (the favorite of part-Victoria Secret model, part-coder Karlie Kloss).
CEO AJ Frank would rather you pick Verst to post, manage, and monetize your words (from anywhere including your smartphone) and really understand your audience.
Just over a year old, Verst launched several new features Wednesday that include paid subscriptions, homepage designs, a cheaper pricing tier, content migration from WordPress, and email delivery.
Frank previously worked as a senior product manager at Uber, the general manager at Vine, and in new business development at Google. So, he’s quite familiar with getting people online, especially on their smartphones, to click, scroll, and watch.
While competitor sites like WordPress, Medium, Wix, and custom-made websites seem plentiful, Frank said he and his team saw a need for a mobile-focused and data-empowered solution.
“We’re a fully featured publishing platform, for professionals, not just hobbyists. We want you to own your audience — the way that you won’t on Facebook — and use Verst as your central hub,” Frank said.
The latest update lets bloggers put some of their content behind a paywall, offering a way to making money beyond digital advertising also offered on the site. Bloggers take 90 percent of the revenue.
Verst is less of a drag and drop experience like Wix and not just a one-option only version like Medium. Instead, quite like WordPress, users can choose between a handful of design options which can then be easily altered. Unlike WordPress, Verst is well-designed and has a mobile app for publishing.
“Our number one [priority is] making it easier to use and maintain a site,” Frank said. “We have a mobile solution, where we want any publisher to be able to work off their phone or their tablet.”
Frank didn’t disclose how many users they have but pointed to some popular pages. For example, Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn, is an advisor to the company and runs his blog with Verst. He shares some blog posts to LinkedIn too. Political pundit and activist Ian Capstick, YouTuber Chris Klemens, and mental health app Stigma also use Verst.
What Verst can’t guarantee, Frank said, is building you an audience.
While Medium has a built-in social network aspect, Verst acts simply as your landing page. It’s up to you to share the page across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example. Verst does help with search engine optimization to improve your Google ranking and also provides other audience insights so you can be smarter about when to post.
Of course, content hosting isn’t free. Verst has been charging $29 per month for the whole experience but is also introducing a $12 per month tier.
Next up for Verst is offering more insights and tips. A mobile notification of the Verst app may suggest when would be a good time to post and maybe one day even post or share automatically.
“We can be not only a place you can publish and view analytics but also a coach for you. The more you publish the easiest it is to build an audience,” Frank said.