Most Bowdoin students try to balance their academic and social lives; some students take on more. Hartley Brody '12 is one of the latter. As the creator of the websites freshoncampus.com and thecollegecartel.com, Brody balances schoolwork with entrepreneurship.
Fresh on Campus is a music blog featuring both new releases by popular artists and tracks by up-and-coming performers. Brody launched it last March after a self-teaching experiment.
Brody and the site's co-creator, Conrad Dresdale '12, had often casually discussed making a website to combine their musical interests, but neither were familiar with the intricacies of the web. Over Winter Break of his first year at Bowdoin, Brody decided to teach himself more about the programming side of the Internet.
"I was sitting at home bored for a few weeks and started teaching myself HTML," said Brody. "I spent a lot of time on the Internet and didn't know how websites worked. I always like to know how things work."
Brody's knowledge came in handy a year later when he and Dresdale got serious about creating a music blog. Brody set up the site himself and he and Dresdale began adding music in preparation for its premier.
Fresh on Campus officially launched on March 29 of last year and began receiving hundreds of visitors. Brody set up a promotion to release the rap group 1-2Kidz's mixtape on April 1 of last year, which also helped drive numbers up.
While the site has been received positively and now gets thousands of hits per day, with Brody revealing that, "at any given time there's 60 to 70 people on the site from around the world," he has also had to deal with the negative side of being a business owner: cost-balancing.
After spending over $2,000 getting the blog up and running, Brody and Dresdale looked into ways to monetize the site. In September, they added an online store to sell Fresh on Campus T-shirts.
"My vision for the store was to make it more about the concept of Fresh on Campus and not just the specifics of it," said Brody. "I wanted to make a shirt you'd want to wear to a party as opposed to a shirt with just the logo on it."
Brody hopes to balance out the costs of the site with revenue from the store, but he is more focused on Fresh on Campus's founding goal of exposing college students to different artists and music genres.
"At this point, Fresh on Campus is a giant marketing experiment," said Brody. "I'm creating a brand really targeted to college kids and music, and I want it to be fresh and cutting-edge."
Keeping the site cutting-edge requires Brody to spend a few hours each day sifting through new music.
"It can get overwhelming at times...you can fall behind very quickly," said Brody. "There's a few days where I have a lot going on and just don't have time to listen."
Even though Fresh on Campus is a huge project in itself, Brody was not satisfied with launching just one successful website. He came up with the idea for his other site, The College Cartel, after Fresh on Campus gained a hold in the music blog world.
"All of the music bloggers knew each other's sites but we didn't want to acknowledge each other," said Brody. "I decided we should form some kind of network or club—there was no need for us to be territorial."
The College Cartel combines data from several different music blogs and allows visitors to see all recently updated content. Brody designed the site this past summer and launched it in September.
"It got well over 10,000 visitors the first week it was online, which was extremely impressive," said Brody. "Most of the blogs on the site put notices on their own sites saying they were part of The College Cartel."
Brody is currently in the process of updating The College Cartel to be more interactive and comprehensive and hopes to implement changes sometime in February.
After getting a taste of the real world through his site ownership, Brody decided to take it to the next level this spring. Thanks to a proliferation of AP credits, Brody is taking the semester off and interning at Hubspot, a software company focused on marketing for small businesses.
"I found an opportunity in Boston that lined up with my interests in being online and being part of a digital marketing environment," said Brody. "It's a great place to work."
Brody has not planned any other projects involving Fresh on Campus or The College Cartel for the near future, but he has already been influenced by the people he has met through his internship to keep developing new ideas.
"I do have my hands full because I have a full time job and two websites, but I'm young, I've got a lot of energy and good ideas, and I'm not wasting my potential," said Brody. "I'm going to try and pursue as many things as I can, even if I end up going a little crazy."
Brody does not yet know how his experience working in the professional world will affect him when he returns to Bowdoin for his senior year. For now, he is concentrating on networking and talking to as many different types of people that he can.
"Fresh on Campus has been a great way to talk to people and have some credibility behind it," said Brody. "I'm really big into the concept that if you put yourself out there and have stuff to offer people, you can get good stuff in return. Those little interactions can really put you on the right course for being successful."