Case history: creating a successful niche Flash arcade site

This is the interesting story of Michael Edlavitch from Hooda Math, a 10,000 visitors/day successful niche Flash arcade site.

If you are an arcade site owner, you can’t miss this:

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Don’t be like us, find your niche.

Inspired by Number Munchers

Last August, I had still not found a job for the coming school year and had a lot of time to procrastinate while waiting for interviews.

I knew I would be teaching math somewhere and to who knows what age.

I figured I would also have a flash version of the original game “Number Munchers” that taught me all of my arithmetic facts, so that my students could also learn there facts in a fun and addicting way.

Even middle schoolers don’t always know there facts.

I made Number Eaters for Multiplication, which I easily remade another version for Addition, Subtraction, Division, Fractions, Decimals, Place Value, etc

Enter HoodaMath

I needed a place to easily bring my students to play these games online.

I have always believed that a good website contains OO in its URL, yahOO and gOOgle.

There must be something to it. So I searched baby name sites for a name with OO.

I came across the name Hooda. Hooda means “the right way”.

I thought “the right way” to learn math? How perfect I will name my site HoodaMath.com .

It will also be easy for the students to remember because it sounds a lot like the phrase, “Who the Man”.

I need Money

Since I learned Flash and I still had no job, but I had rent to pay, I decided to look into freelance work, which paid nothing thanks to outsourcing online.

I read about Flash games a lot, one blog I went back to regularly was emanueleferonato.com

He was full of advice on how to make different types of games. At his blog I learned about FGL, where programmers could sell there games.

It inspired me to make a high quality game.

I still had math on the brain so I made a high quality pacman style math game for students to learn their Factors. I called it “Factor Feeder”.

I put it out on FGL, got lots of comments on how to fix it up and make it look more professional. No-one wants to buy a math game for their arcade.

I gave up and displayed it on NewGrounds, the members there explained to me that teenagers don’t want to play a math based game, so it is never going to get tons of hits

I discovered Adsense
I figured OK, I can’t sell games, but if you read another article on emanuel’s blog about monetizing using MochiAds and do the MATH. I realized the real money is in adsense anyways.

So I added adsense to my site. I forgot to mention my wife knows webdesign so I had her make a kid friendly looking site, then gave her the adsense code and she placed it easily using dreamweaver.

I read on adsense about the success stories of sites that already had an audience, and I was like oh that will never happen I don’t even have an audience.

After about a month one day I made $0.50 and I was siked. Then the next month I hit $1.0. I started doing calculations all the time. If I make a little above $3.00 a day I could get paid $100 every month how awesome.

The school year started

The school year started I got a job, actually 2, because I was split between 2 schools working more hours than I was getting paid and teaching students ranging from 9 years old to 14.

I also had access to the computer labs and brought my students to play the games at my site ;). One day a middle schooler and I were talking about games and he said why don’t I put Totem Destroyer on my site.

I thought well lets just play it on another site. You can’t because the school systems have blocked all the game sites.

Luckily I have a math site (I still had the intention of putting up tutorials), I decided to put on Totem Destroyer and a few other games that I believed to be Math related like Coffee Shop.

Needless to say my site became quite popular.

Spamming

I decided if I was going to make any money on adsense, I better start telling everybody about it.

I discovered all the homeschooling blogs and let them know, then I emailed everyday tons of teachers across the country and still do, my site was growing, I was making a little over $100 and I was happy.

Take a Shot

I decided to write to NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Math) about my site and requesting to get mentioned in their Newsletter.

To my surprise they immediately said yes, and HoodaMath will be in there in the July/August issue. I am looking forward to the publicity.

I figured why not take another shot and ask Multiplication.com to put a link to my game Multiplication Eaters, he did, and my traffic grew tremendously.

I also decided to reinvest the monthly $100 or most of it on Adwords, I still needed to get more visitors. I won’t give away all the tricks, but keep in mind with Adwords, you only pay if someone clicks on your ad, not if they just read the words “Hooda Math”.

I made it

Thanks to my spamming and more importantly to a great link from Multiplication.com, my site grew rapidly and I was getting $100 more each month.

I decided I better start investing in games. I looked into sponsoring games at FGL but they wanted $500 or 10,000 unique visitors a day.

I thought I better start saving up money. I spent the money I had on outsourcing to a couple of programmers to make games, I’m still waiting for the games, hopefully soon.

But in the mean time I added Google Analytics and found out that I am getting 10,000 visitors a day and immediately let FGL know as well as every single person I talk to who appreciates what a big deal that is. and here I am writing an article for a blog I use to read in awe.

Here is my first game I made by outsourcing

Thank you Emanuel and all the good members of the Online Game world »

  • Congratulations for having found a niche in this crowded space.

    Usually, it’s hard for the teachers consider gaming as a medium to help in the children learning process. Some of them are like dinosaurs stuck forever with their old teaching practices and don’t give a chance to new visions. So, congratulations for making move these dinosaurs.

  • Looks Awesome Emanuele.

    I’m glad your blog inspired me to write down the Hooda Math story.

    I will have to write another article for your blog in the future on my adventures in sponsorship at FGL?

  • HiddenSpartan

    I played Number Munchers! It was one of my favourite games for the Macs we had in the labs (Second to Super Word Munchers)

  • Justin Edmond

    Real inspiration for those of us looking to start off our own flash projects :)

    Congrats on your success Michael

  • Emanuel
    I sent you an email, but it may be easier to get a hold of you by posting.

    The article looks great, I couldn’t thank you enough, hopefully it inspires some arcades to be different ;).

    The only edit I would have is the pics of the games and there links.

    In order it should be: 1)Number Munchers 2)Factor Feeder 3)Product Game

    the first two pics are correct but the links are reversed

    and for the product game the link is correct by it has the wrong pic, which I attached in an email.

  • Awesome story, looks like niche game site is a great way to create a popular site.

  • I still prefer the beer one, i hate seeing the paypal signs.

  • Adam

    “Even middle schoolers don’t always know there facts.”

    …and even math teachers don’t always know the difference between there and their!

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  • 10,000+ hits a day? And the guys at FGL said no teenager would want to play a math based game, hah. Great site Michael – kudos to you!

  • Niche is a way to go. You just can not compete with flash portals that are too big and very well established. You can always find a niche that can make you some really good money.

    Thanks

  • Great tips to bare in mind. Bookmarked and will use ;)

    ~Chaz

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  • Inspiring :)

  • ATV

    Very inspiring post, thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for this Michael! A very inspiring post.
    I also read your four stages for bringing traffic and it really brought forth some ideas to me.

    Do you have any new techniques you can share now? Would love to hear more! Or from anyone from Emanuel’s site!

  • Susie

    Michael – LOVE hoodamath.com – I’m a middle aged adult and have a blast on your site – especially love sugar,sugar and have shared it with my husband and grandchildren. Rock on!

  • Wow that is a great success story! Yes, this blog has helped me out as well over the years. The real money is in Adsense like you said! Great story!