With the economy in its current state even more people are turning to couponing as a way to save money than ever before. Most of these people are new to the coupon game and can be clueless on how to get started. More of those people now than ever are turning to the internet to help. Hot Coupon World is one such site to help the new coupon users, as well as the seasoned pros find all the deals in their neighborhood.
With helpful links such as online coupons, a coupon database and store forums for every store imaginable, Hot Coupon World holds nearly everything a bargain hunter could want. Store specific forums make the information easy to find. They also have forums for deals for expecting parents, pet owners and several holiday specific ones. You can also learn how to trade coupons with other members or hop on a coupon train to trade coupons you wont use with others.
I have been a user of the site for several years now. Recently I had the pleasure of talking with one of the sites founders, Heidi Kennedy. It was a fascinating discussion on how this up and coming website got it start and where it will go from here.
1. How and when did HCW get its start?
Hotcouponworld was started in July of 2006. We opened the site because we were at another website who was bought out by a bigger company and the warm feeling was missing in the new company. Julie and I started the site with the basic premise of just having a site run by couponers for couponers and a place for our online friends to hang out and talk coupons.
2. Back then did you know HCW would evolve into what it is today?
No, it is always a thrill to see the site grow the way it has. When we first started the site it was really just to have a forum to hang out with our online friends. We never expected the site to grow so large and to be all that it is. However we have embraced the growth and enjoy the notion that the site helps so many people save money.
3.How has HCW grown over the years?
Hotcouponworld has grown by leaps and bounds over the past years. Our growth has always been pretty steady however when the economy took a downturn we saw a noticed increase in growth because more people are needing to cut costs in their household budgets. The primary focus of Hotcouponworld is teaching folks how to save money on groceries and that is one of the few areas of a household’s budget that is not fixed and has some wiggle room to learn how to shave costs. Currently we spend zero budget dollars on advertising the site so the growth of the site is 100% word of mouth which is amazing to us that readers enjoy the site so much that they tell their friends, family and co-workers about it. We have also gotten some nice mentions in the media which helps spread the word about our site and all it has to offer. We have been featured in Woman’s World magazine, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and various major regional newspapers and television.
4. How many members does HCW have?
Currently Hotcouponworld has 211,914 members. On average we see an increase in membership by about 200 to 400 new members a day.
5. What new things are in the works?
We are currently working on a few new projects. Our Coupon Database is getting re-done to make it more functional and easier to use, we have taken into account some of our members suggestions for that feature and are trying to incorporate as many of those as we can. We are also getting a new header soon for the site to help facilitate better navigation of the various parts of the website. We are also working on some writing projects to help the new coupon user and new Hotcouponworld member learn the ropes easier. We are also switching to a new company that we do our email newsletters with so that we can provide better email messaging to our subscribers. We have many projects that we are researching and discussing but those are the four that are in the works right now and should be out sometime soon.
6. What part of HCW are you most proud of?
There are so many things that I am proud of when it comes to Hotcouponworld. I love all the deals that get posted. I love the coupon database and some of the other features of the site that help readers save money. However I think I am most proud of our community. When times are rough for a member there is great support as the rest of the community rallies around them to offer words of support or offers of help. We recently lost a member who was also the daughter of one of our moderators and the support shown to her and her family during this tragic event was amazing. People sent her cards, flowers, coupons and just well wishes messages to her. We have also seen members donate to help a long time member recover after a flood, pay a bill and of course our members are great about donating their excess stockpile items to local charities and food banks. I think for the most part the community sticks together and realizes that we are all here at Hotcouponworld to help each other save money. Everything at Hotcouponworld is 100% member contributed and that makes for a community effort set of mind.
7. Have you seen an increase in traffic due to the economy?
Yes absolutely! With the downturn in the economy people are looking for ways to save money. Many expenses in a household budget are fixed (rent, mortgage, insurance, etc) however there are areas like groceries where you can learn the tricks to cutting back on those expenses. We liken the notion of shopping with coupons combined with sale prices to be like office manager in that you have to learn ways to control costs to bring you within the budget. More and more as more Americans loose their jobs or their hours are cut back households are looking to find out how to to save money and Hotcouponworld is a great resource for learning how to do just that. Additionally coupon shopping and living frugally is a hot topic in the media which also has been reflected in the increase of traffic.
8. Can you give me a little bit of background about you?
My name is Heidi Kennedy. I am a work at home mother of 5 children (ages 18, 12, 7 and 5 year old twins). I am married and live in Wyoming. I started couponing in 2004 shortly after my third child was born and we had moved to Wyoming. I don’t recall how I found it but I was “Googling” something and stumbled upon a website where I saw pictures of my now business partners stockpile. I was intrigued and signed up for that website to learn more. The notion of getting multiple coupons, combining them with sale prices to get the items for pennies or free and stockpiling them so that you did not have to pay full price clicked right away with me. The next day I bought a binder and some baseball card pages and was dumpster diving for coupons. In August of 2004 I was pregnant with my twins when my husband was in a pretty bad accident at work where he got his hands crushed in machinery. This event coupled with my high risk pregnancy put a major strain on our already tight budget. We held out as long as possible with the help of family but eventually we had to go and apply for assistance from the government. We qualified for about $150 a month in food stamps for 6 months. By combining coupons and sales and stockpiling though I was able to get about $600 worth of food with that $150 in food stamps. I was able to stockpile with that money which was a real Godsend when my husband was able to go back to work at a job that paid considerably less money than the job he had prior to his injury. The stockpile saved us when we no longer qualified for food stamps but did not really have a lot of money to put towards the grocery part of our budget. I am a firm believer that if we give people the information programs like food stamps can be a true hand up and not just a hand out.
Julie Parrish is my business partner. Together we own Coupon Girls, LLC which owns Hotcouponworld.com, Organicgrocerydeals.com and Printablecouponspot.com (with other projects in the works) She is a work at home mother of 3 boys (ages 12, 10 and 7 if I recall correctly). She is married and lives in Oregon. Julie’s husband is currently deployed in Iraq. We have never met in real life although we talk on the phone just about daily (usually a few times a day) and have even Skyped once.