Hobart King polishes into a digital gem for students


Hobart King polishes

The Goals:

  • Build into a resource for everyone interested in geology, mineralogy, and gemology

The Approach:

  • Invested in his own geological expertise and doubled down on creating great content
  • Partnered with AdSense to earn ad revenue and increase profits

The Results:

  • Hired his wife, sister, daughter, and nephew to support the business
  • Keeps content free to serve as a mineralogy textbook for students globally

Hobart King writes most of the content that appears on and He has a PhD in geology, a Graduate Gemologist diploma, and has been a geologist for over 45 years.

Hobart King polishes into a digital gem for students

Hobart King is a geologist by trade with a curiosity for all things digital. “I have a PhD in geology,” he shares, “and worked as a practicing geologist for 15 years and taught as a professor for 20 years - I actually taught the second online class ever in Pennsylvania.” .

Hobart started experimenting with websites in the mid 1990s, and when in 2005 he found out the domain was up for auction, he knew he needed to buy it. “I went home and told my wife I wanted to buy the website,” he recalls, “so we scraped together as much money as we could and actually won it in the auction. I was thrilled.”

Crafting into a thriving family business

He quickly put his geological expertise to use, publishing articles on rocks, minerals, maps, and more. As someone with a passion for the web, Hobart knew he could use ads to start earning money, so he turned to Google AdSense. “AdSense gave us our first big boost in revenue,” he says. “We tested a few other ad networks, but AdSense was able to help us earn the most. I know that I can keep publishing articles and driving traffic to my website and my ad revenue will keep increasing. Eventually, it became enough revenue to sustain a business, AdSense is about 50% of our profit and still the most profitable part of our business today.”


Today is a family business, with Hobart's wife, sister, nephew and daughter each working in various roles. His daughter and sister have been part of the company for almost 20 years, which makes the business incredibly meaningful. “When it’s your family that you’re employing,” he says, “everyone has a lot more of a stake, because our wellbeing really relies on it.

To keep his family business growing and thriving, Hobart takes a data-driven approach. “From the start, I looked at the content on our site with a profitability model,” he explains, “I looked at all of our inputs -- how much time I spent writing, costs of image licensing fees and props for photography, employee time to publish articles -- and found that on average our articles take around five years to recover our investment, and that some articles are more profitable than others. So it’s given me good insight into where to invest.”

Keeping content free for students of all ages

Hobart continues to create excellent content by investing in the business and himself in new ways. “I saw that a lot of traffic came to our site for geology,” he explains, “but then people would stick around to read about gems. So at age 65, I went back to school to earn a graduate gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, to enable me to write high-quality articles about gems. It turned out to be a great business decision; those are some of our highest-performing articles and get high-earning contextual advertisements.”

With new articles constantly added to the site, Hobart continues to let his passion shine and share his expertise with the world. “Our traffic spikes in the fall with students visiting the site for schoolwork,” he says, “and it’s rewarding for me to be able to help people learn about mineralogy. We get a lot of traffic from countries in Asia as well, because there are almost no mineralogy textbooks in other regions, so really serves as a textbook for students across the globe. That’s why I believe keeping content on our site free is really important, because we’re helping students learn.”