Since its inception in 2009, Ape to Gentleman has been an essential platform for grooming and menswear tips and articles. Growing to one of the biggest blogging sites in the UK, with over 32,000 newsletter subscribers. Ape to Gentleman has been an illustration of just how successful one can be in the blogging industry. The Guide sat down with owner, Chris Beastall to discuss the challenges of the blogging world, the importance of neutral advice and why you have to trust your instincts.
Was a life in blogging and media something that you had always wanted to do?
''The concept of Ape to Gentleman originally started as a tool to educate men on better skincare and grooming habits. To improve not just their appearance, but their mental self esteem. So in answer to your question, indirectly yes – I’ve always wanted to help people.''
''The premise from the start was to write the best possible article on each topic.''
Where did the inspiration for Ape to Gentleman come from?
''It came about from a lack of neutral advice on men’s skincare and grooming. I found that men were usually being marketed to by brands and this meant that there was very little independent reviewing and approval. As such we found a niche in the market, and we could utilise our expertise in this area to give an informed, neutral review of products for men.''
How did you go about establishing Ape to Gentleman and what do you think were the most important factors in the success of the company?
''The premise from the start was to write the best possible article on each topic. However this revolved around lots of research, which was essential as Google’s algorithms can ‘detect’ this, which is crucial to being found on the search engines, but most importantly our readership can also see this.''
How did you decide on the name Ape to Gentleman and how does it reflect the ethos at the company?
''We wanted to have something that represented incremental improvement over time, and what better way to convey this than the Ape to Man evolution. We then tweaked it to include a gentleman beyond that of merely a man.''
Blogging has been such a phenomenon is recent years, how do you see the industry progressing in the future?
''More and more blogs are being created which is great and will be crucial for expansion in the industry. Furthermore it ensures everyone ups their game. As ever, and in the future – the people who have the passion and time to devote to it will see the fruits of their labour.''
''Early growth was definitely a major challenge and again it comes back to being found on the search engines''
Being found and expanding is notoriously difficult regarding blogging platforms; is this something that is true or is it dependent on the amount of research and work you put in?
''Both are crucial parts of blogging. Hard work and writing about topics you can rank on Google for is key. There’s only so much space at the top of Google – and competition is rife which makes this process so important to getting found on the search engines. However, I am a big believer that anything is possible if you find the right niche and have the time and energy to own it. Patience is key.''
What direction would you like to take Ape to Gentleman to in the coming years and do you have any plans for other areas of expansion?
''We are quite content in the way we are heading – focusing on our niche of style and grooming. Much more educational content around these categories is our focus. A route for expansion would be generating imagery for the brands in our own unique style – a studio if you will. We do it on occasion now, but we’d like to grow this. It’s a way to showcase great brands through our viewpoint.''
What have been the greatest challenges in founding Ape to Gentleman, and would you have tackled them differently with hindsight?
''Early growth was definitely a major challenge and again it comes back to being found on the search engines. At the beginning we were aware of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but we were not masters of it. SEO is so fundamental to ensuring the growth of your website.''
What would you say are the most important lessons you have learnt in business and entrepreneurship?
''Without doubt it is to find something you love. I know it is a cliché, however, if you do, all of your natural energy will be channelled into it and that is one huge piece of the puzzle.''
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
''You need to make a thorough business plan and a strategy. Ask for advice from people you trust but at the same time trust your instinct. It is also important to learn where your knowledge is lacking. From there though, go after that plan like there’s no tomorrow and work hard, really hard. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.''
Thank you to Chris for his time.
If you would like to find out more about Ape to Gentleman, click the link below:
Interview given in June 2020.