Harrison Alley, Founder

Dallas, Texas
Harrison and his son James working. Person holding a book.
Gaining flexibility and technical skills

While working in finance, Harrison Alley knew that he always wanted something more. He undertook several different ventures, dabbling in e-commerce for example, but nothing really panned out. Meanwhile, his wife Jasmine had taken an interest in travel. When she moved to Harrison’s hometown of Dallas, she began documenting life in the city and beyond, eventually developing a successful brand.

It was then when Harrison realized that he could partner with Jasmine to expand her reach, helping behind the scenes with the technical aspects of her budding influencer career. With the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns resulting in work from home mandates at companies across the world, Harrison gained some flexibility to work on Jasmine’s web presence, spending his free time sharpening his SEO and display ad skills.

“One year later, the income from display ads was greater than the salary at my job,” Harrison says.

Harrison working on his site.
Launching a digital media business

In 2021, Harrison left his career in finance to concentrate full-time on building a blog-based business. He built a blog about guitars before he was introduced to the world of fan fiction, where fans of literature write fiction featuring characters from a particular TV show or movie.

Harrison read “Leo Inter Serpentes” a popular fan fiction series based on Harry Potter, and was hooked.

“I thought, ‘wow this is really good,’” he says. “I couldn’t believe someone had put so much effort into this super long, complex book, and they weren’t getting paid for it. I stumbled into this world where people are writing these amazing stories and it’s all just a labor of love.”

The more his interest grew in the world of fan fiction, the more he realized there was a (digital) gap in the market - a website where fan fiction could be reviewed, recommended and analyzed.

That gave him the idea to start FictionLit, a place where he wanted writers to have more input on exploring the world of fan fiction. He hoped to create an online community of fellow fiction book lovers and worked to grow his website from the ground up.

“One year later, the income from display ads was greater than the salary at my job.”
Finding fellow fan fiction aficionados

Harrison soon found writers for FictionLit through Instagram, searching for people who were interested in the genre of fan fiction and asking them if they’d be open to writing about it.

Many responded positively. Harrison published 300 blog posts before his website got much traction, a risk he took hoping that it would pay off.

“It’s always scary when you’re investing money upfront,” he explains. “But I stuck with it, and about a year later, traffic really started to increase.”

One of FictionLit’s most popular posts is “11 of the Best Dramione Fanfic Stories,” fanfiction based on a romance between characters Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter universe. “I think this has been so popular because my wife, who is a big fan of this fanfic genre, really put a lot of effort into making this the best post online about Dramione fanfic,” Harrison recalls.

Person at laptop taking notes and reading on computer.
Building a non-fiction business

For Harrison, it was important to find genuine fans who wanted to write about their favorite authors and stories, and the revenue earned from ads allows him to continue to engage fan fiction readers to create content.

“I can now take some of the money that I’ve earned from ads and hire writers to write under their own name,” he says. “It opens up a lot more opportunities.”

Plus, the passive nature of ad revenue allows him to focus on more important areas of the business. “Ads are a really easy way to start generating income so I can focus on what I do best, which is growing web traffic,” says Harrison.

And all it’s fueling a dream career. “I love the freedom and flexibility of my work,” Harrison highlights. “And the opportunity to interact with interesting people I would never be able to otherwise is awesome.”

Believing in the future of websites

To keep Fiction Lit running with new content, Harrison uses several tools to make the process seamless.

“Google Analytics and Google Search Console are both indispensable for tracking information on my website to see what works and what isn't working,” he explains. “I also use Google Sheets and Google Docs to do research for my articles and coordinate with my freelancers.”

Harrison continues to work on maintaining and growing Jasmine’s web and social media presence, along with FictionLit. He hopes to continue to expand his blog portfolio.

“If there’s a topic that I’m interested in, I’d be open to having a website in that category,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity in this space and people get myopically focused on social media but to me, you have a better chance of earning a living from a website. I’m optimistic about websites and content.”

About the Publisher

Harrison Alley is a graduate of The University of Southern California and a Dallas-based blogger who owns a portfolio of digital brands.
Portrait of Harrison Alley