SlidesCarnival.com provides free presentation templates that help users communicate effectively.
The site has grown rapidly over the last few years and continues to add new high-quality content. We interviewed Jimena Catalina Gayo,
founder, and owner of SlidesCarnival.com.
How did you come up with the idea for SlidesCarnival.com?
I have been a designer for 20 years, and for a long time I worked in digital agencies where it is common to do lots of presentations for clients. So I was already aware that design sells, it can make the difference between winning a client or not, getting an investment or getting a good grade in your class project.
But the idea really came to me in June 2014. My brother was defending his final college project and I was helping him with the design of the presentation for the committee. As I didn’t have PowerPoint installed at home I decided to work with Google Slides and in an hour I had a more than decent template ready. I remember that I was even surprised at how little time it had taken. “Hey… I’m really good at this, aren’t I?”
After my experience with my brother I knew that my speed of design and experience with presentation software gave me a great advantage. Could I offer free templates and find some way to monetize? I was sure I wasn’t the first to consider it, so… was there a niche I could exploit?
I took a look at the situation with a quick Google search, the offer was in two extremes:
- Free templates of low quality, with only 2 variants of slides and designs more typical of the 90’s
- High quality paid templates, with professional design, hundreds of different slides and all possible customization options
So I already had found my niche, there was a gap for free templates with a decent design, but not so professional that I had to invest many hours in making them. Besides, in 2014 the offer for Google Slides was nonexistent beyond the 4 options offered by the application itself.
Which skills were important in developing SlidesCarnival.com into a successful site?
Knowing how to design, of course. But having worked in an agency within a multidisciplinary team, I also knew how to handle other disciplines: front-end, analytics, SEO, social media, marketing, etc.
I’m not an expert in any of those areas but I know enough to not make big mistakes. I also had previous experience with WordPress, because I had set up other side projects using it. And in talking about non-technical skills, it becomes clear to me that patience and perseverance have helped me a lot.
What are the biggest challenges you overcame in developing SlidesCarnival.com?
I am not a developer. I can understand code from other people and modify it for my needs but the result is far from optimal.
At the beginning, SlidesCarnival needed some features that I couldn’t achieve with WordPress plugins, so I did it with poor code and a lot of manual work to make up for what I couldn’t develop. Also when SlidesCarnival started, the user experience of the website was awful (and I’m a UX designer!). But I started with minimum effort. As a result, I spent a lot of time answering emails from users who didn’t understand how they could use the templates.
How did you grow your audience?
It happened naturally. In 2014 I think we weren’t that much obsessed with growth. Although it’s also true that there was much less competition.
When I published SlidesCarnival I told my friends about it and almost all of them mentioned it in their social media. One of friend also wrote a post on his blog, but in general it was a soft start. I think the first peak of visits was when SlidesCarnival appeared on ProductHunt. They were also just starting out and I didn’t even know they existed, but they found my site and added it. Now there are detailed strategies for posting on ProductHunt. Isn’t that crazy? ?
The truth is that most of my time was (and still is) dedicated to publishing templates, improving the website, and answering my users’ questions. I don’t have time for more.
Which monetization strategies have you used?
AdSense from the very beginning. For years I’ve been receiving daily emails from other advertising platforms promising wonders. The truth is that I’ve tried a couple of them and they have never convinced me for different reasons: loading times, payment terms…
I am also very careful with the type of advertising I have and where I place the banners because my website is visited by many elementary school students. I’ve tried affiliates programs (Amazon and Shutterstock) with very poor results. I haven’t put much interest in improving them either because AdSense made more than enough. Aside from all that, I get lots of offers to publish sponsored posts and links. But I have plenty of income already and it doesn’t fit with the brand I’ve created.