Meet Verst, a brand new product from the company that brought you DWNLD. It’s a blogging platform like WordPress or Squarespace, but with all the optimization and analytics tools you need to optimize your traffic and revenue.
“It’s really difficult to consistently monetize on the web,” CEO AJ Frank told me. “Overall it’s a web publishing product that has a bunch of power tools built in. It’s easy to maintain and we have optimization technology built in.”
It starts with the basics. After signing up to Verst, the company takes care of hosting and updating your site. Essentially, you pay $29 per month so you don’t have to care about the technical details.
On this front, Verst works quite well. The clean editor lets you search for images, videos, GIFs and more directly from the admin interface. Verst taps into libraries of “mostly free” media files.
You can publish from your computer or your iPhone as the company already launched an iPhone app with all editing features — Android is coming soon.
You can customize the design and layout or your site from the web interface — no need to upload a theme or customize CSS code. Verst has a built-in analytics feature so you don’t need to use a third-party tool.
Verst also looked at some of the more popular WordPress extensions and third-party publishing tools to integrate directly into the platform. For instance, you can A/B test multiple headlines on different groups of readers so that Verst can display the most effective one in the future.
You receive actionable insights from the analytics feature. For instance, if an old post gets a ton of traffic because it got upvoted on Hacker News, Verst will tell you that you should feature the post at the top of the site.
But having readers is just one thing. If you’re just doing a blog to get more newsletter subscriptions, sell your book or make people come to an event, Verst lets you add calls to action. The service automatically adds a tiny widget in the middle of your post with these common actions so that you can turn eyeballs into dollars.
Verst isn’t for your average blogger. The service targets professional writers who want to write seriously, intensively and with some goals in mind.
“It’s really been about a year that we focused on Verst and we shut down the app business 6 or 7 months ago,” Verst chairman and co-founder Fritz Lanman told me. DWNLD (“the app business”) raised a $12 million Series A round, so the company still has plenty of money in the bank.
With time, Verst plans to aggregate a ton of data to automatically optimize your website. This way, you can be sure that you get as much traffic as possible. Let’s see if this niche of writers is big enough so that Verst can compete with the giants of the publishing world.