Backyard Assist

Kelly Skelton-Badlani and Scott Pancake, Co-founders

Austin, TX
Man building a pool. Man working on pool components.
From inspiration to budding business

Inspired by his former colleague, Jim Campbell, who created the successful website, Kelly Skelton-Badlani wanted to try his hand at site development. “I saw how successful he was and he really built a full time business,” Kelly says. Though he had no formal training in web development, Kelly had worked in marketing and helped local businesses set up websites. With his digital experience, he teamed up with an old colleague, Scott Pancake, a Landscape Designer and Pool Expert, to launch Backyard Assist, their site that helps homeowners on pools, landscapes, outdoor kitchens, and more. “Creating a resource like Backyard Assist allows me to speak directly to those out there getting ready to make big decisions related to their homes,” says Scott. “It’s about helping people navigate a world I know well, and taking the fear out of making the next move on your project.”

With so much passion for the outdoors, Scott and Kelly are hoping to turn the site into a full-time endeavor. “We believe Backyard Assist will double in audience size by next year,” Kelly says. “We’re already seeing a lot of increases in traffic and new daily readership milestones.”

Kelly and Scott holding a laptop launching their business.
Digging in to the business

To fund their content, Kelly and Scott use Google AdSense. “Our revenue has grown from non-existent to meaningful,” says Kelly. “Ad revenue provides us the opportunity to produce different kinds of content across topics.”

In this industry, most content isn’t directly monetizable, so ads help the site still stay afloat. “A lot of our content is just sharing helpful information that doesn’t lead to the sale of anything,” Kelly explains. “With ads, we can earn money by just being helpful.” The two chose AdSense for its ease of use. “Within 48 hours of signing up for AdSense we had ads on our site,” says Kelly. “And it’s super easy to operate and set up, we can see how we’re performing and how much we made the day before.” Besides a business model, AdSense has given Kelly and Scott a motivation to continue making content. “Starting to earn money has just given us so much hope that we can build this business,” Kelly explains. “We already can pay for our Wordpress license and we just sent Scott to a conference, we’re already funding parts of the business.”

It was important for them to keep content free for their audience of homeowners. “Scott and I didn’t want to sell out and rely on product commissions to make money,” Kelly says. “We see that as a slippery slope. While we do recommend certain products that we love, ad revenue is 75% of our total website income. That enables us to never have to try to push a homeowner to purchase something just so we can be successful.”

Luckily, there’s an abundance of content for them to share. “In the beginning I remember asking Kelly ‘what if we run out of things to write about?’ Now I see why that’s ridiculous,” says Scott. They’ve covered everything from retaining walls and fire pits to answering questions like “will vodka clean a swimming pool?” (the answer is no).

“We continue to see growth of 25%, 50% and sometimes even 100% growth month-over-month in both site traffic and AdSense revenue.”
Kelly and Scott in front of a "Love is the answer" mural.
A website built on friendship has high hopes for the future

While they’ve got a ways to go to their dream of full-time work, Scott and Kelly are enjoying the process. “Building this business with Kelly has been an incredible opportunity to see the other side of a great friend,” Scott says. “Though we’d worked together in a professional capacity in the past, we hadn’t worked together on something with such a personal touch. From editing each other’s writing to discussing strategy about what subject we plan on tackling next I feel fortunate to have someone with such integrity to work alongside.”

The duo are driven by their dream and getting closer to it every day. “We continue to see growth of 25%, 50% and sometimes even 100% growth month-over-month in both site traffic and AdSense revenue,” says Kelly. “We know we're moving in the right direction.”

About the Publisher

Kelly Skelton-Badlani is a marketer by trade who is passionate about home improvement. Scott Pancake is a Landscape Designer and Pool Expert who helps bring backyard dreams to life.
Kelly and Scott in front of a water feature.