Student start-ups: ‘Influence Digest’

From blog to money-making website

Image supplied by: Supplied by Influence Digest

For Queen’s alum Saarim Asady, what started as a personal blog has transitioned in the span of a year to a successful money-making online publication, featuring articles about mental health.

Asady’s website Influence Digest publishes articles tackling and discussing issues of mental health and psychology from a personal perspective. Some of the most recent articles include titles like “5 Reasons There Is No Such Thing as Failure” and “How to Make Willpower a Habit.”

The website also has a focus on book reviews, the importance of reading, how to increase everyday productivity and lifestyle articles focused on travel.

Asady’s website Influence Digest fills the gap that he sees in other online publications.

“The end goal is to be a very well known publication like Buzzfeed and Forbes — there is a big market gap out there,” he said. “There is no publication to go seek help for psychology, physiology and mental health.”

After graduating from Queen’s with a Masters of Entrepreneurship in 2017 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Studies in 2016, Asady started working with a friend on the initial blog to explore the benefits of partaking in the online publication world.

“We worked on it for about a month, and then the plan failed so he went back to working on his startup and I had free rein to take over,” Asady told The Journal.

Having the company to himself, Asady started working on producing articles and went from 1,000 to 2,000 viewers to an average of 60,000 a month. He also expanded the company by hiring an additional six writers.

To keep his website successful, Asady said he will cater to the needs of its intended viewers.

“We have a large audience who reads our articles – mostly 18-34 year olds – and we don’t want to charge them for the content,” Asady said. “We simply work through google ads, our money comes from sponsorships and advertisements.”

The articles are targeted towards people who are planning their career paths and their futures and learning to be successful when they are new to a field.

By focusing on relatable issues like mental health and additionally making the articles freely accessible through use of sponsors, Influence Digest has garnered immense popularity.

In terms of finding sponsors, the first couple reached out to Asady themselves. After that, he started reaching out to digital marketing companies that don’t necessarily know how to properly target people. Asady explained these companies benefit from the relationship because of the amount of young people that visit the site each day and are exposed to their advertisements.

Asady intends to keep working on Influence Digest moving forwards with plans to add more audio and visual elements to the site.

“I am really passionate about it so I don’t know why I would stop,” Asady said. “I got office space in Toronto and am going to continue running the business from there.”

To check out the website, head to


student start-ups

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