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How I made mythology my business

By Joanna Gillan, Co-Founder and Editor of Ancient Origins

I was always passionate about mythology and separating fact from fiction. Growing up I had an insurmountable passion for reading about Greek gods, Ancient Egyptians and the likes. Little did I know that my love for separating fact from fiction would soon become a full time occupation. As an Australian native with Irish roots seeking change in life, I moved to the UK in the year 2006. I applied for numerous jobs and one day replied to an anonymous job posting. I secured a much sought for job as Research and Project Officer to the British Royal family, a position that I loved. It was a unique experience working alongside Prince Charles, William and Harry one that unfortunately I can't delve into great detail about as I was required to sign a clause of confidentiality. It was during my time in London that I first met my other half, Dr Ioannis Syrigos from Greece. I was surprised to find that like me, Ioannis harboured a curious nature and a passion for mythology. Happy in love and later married to Ioannis, I moved to Greece to spend more time in my husband's native country. There I tried my hand at teaching English and set up a website aimed at helping people develop their language skills. Together my husband and I embarked on many unique expeditions investigating ancient Greek sites such as the Parthenon and the Acropolis. After returning from each trip I was surprised to discover the level of interest from people in separating fact from fiction. There was a genuine curiosity there, one which we would later capitalize on.

A mythological business concept
We set up our website Ancient Origins back in 2013 and began writing about lost mountain gods, witchcraft, wolves and sun worshipping. Within a week we realized we had a viable business idea. Between ourselves we would set up a unique website where our investigative articles were published and we would discuss myths and findings with other readers across the globe. Readers of the site who shared our interest in uncovering the truth about ancient myths got in touch and offered to contribute. We got advertisers in that space onboard and demand and interest in our site grew.

Joanna Gillan - Co-Founder and Editor of Ancient Origins, Former Researcher to the UK Royal Family, Adventurer & Explorer
Joanna Gillan
Co-Founder and Editor of Ancient Origins
Former Researcher to the UK Royal Family, Adventurer & Explorer

A near death experience
The first and last time I ever doubted the future of the site was when after three years in operation, Ioannis was kidnapped. He was taken hostage during an explorative trip to the Amazon where he was held for days by native tribes. I was extremely worried about his safety and well-being and at that point and that point only the future of the business was in doubt. There was no way i could continue on without my business partner who shared the same passion as me.

Sharing our passion globally
Thankfully Ioannis was freed and today we are two incredibly proud business owners who share and speak about our passion for mythology all over the globe. We lead expeditions to Ancient sites and carry out archaeological investigations making our mark on history. Our combined love for writing and mythology has lead to Ancient Origins achieving over 2 million monthly visitors from all over the world. We have also managed to turn our passion for mythology into a six figure salary. We have become the go-to site for educating global audiences about emerging viewpoints and explanations. I currently juggle being a mum of one with running the site alongside Ioannis, who has an expedition to Columbia this October where he will investigate ancient cliff carvings. I never believed I could ever make mythology my business, but to think that was fictitious in itself.

About Ancient Origins
Ancient Origins is the world's leading global archaeology site, with over 2 million monthly visitors and 13,000 articles. Founded by explorer couple Joanna Gillan and Ioannis Syrigos in 2013, it has become the go-to site for educating a global audience about emerging viewpoints and explanations surrounding archaeology, mythology, religion, and history, through pursuing and highlighting the latest discoveries and scientific research.

Fuelled by their thirst for knowledge and passion to explore humanity's origins and the evolution of civilisation, Joanna Gillan and Ioannis Syrigos decided to set up Ancient Origins together. They had found that no similar publication existed which allowed for both conventional and alternative perspectives regarding ancient history and anthropology, and Ancient Origins was initially established as a hobby. Ancient Origins allowed the couple of pursue their joint passions for history, mythology, and anthropology. Their aim was to assemble a global team of historical and archaeological researchers committed to unearthing the myths of historical significance, with the purpose of separating fact from fiction and educating readers around the world.

From the very beginning the publication avoided the route of tabloid gossip sites, full of unsubstantiated claims, clickbait, and shock tactics. The couple focused on creating an evidence-based, legitimate social scientific site. Initially 100-200 word snippets sharing knowledge and ideas were published, which rapidly evolved into longer articles written by both the couple, and contributing and guest writers. Joanna and Ioannis quickly found their hobby was extremely popular within the online global community. Within six months Ancient Origins began publishing 4 articles per day, 7 days per week, with contributions coming directly from excavation sites and expeditions around the world. The couple got their big break in February 2014, when an article about the results of a DNA analysis on the skulls of Parcas went viral, picked up by leading international broadcasters and publications around the world. Having been reported on by the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and Der Spegiel, Ancient Origins quickly secured their first milestone of having over 1 million unique visitors per month.

With the publication growing from strength to strength, Joanna and Ioannis took the opportunity to hire a full time editorial team. The couple excelled at balancing their life; from running their business and managing the editorial team, to carrying out expeditions, and even raising a family together. Ancient Origins has grown from a site dedicated to their hobby, to a full time online business, managed directly by the couple from their home in Ireland. Now Ancient Origins has over 3.5 million page views and 2 million unique visitors per month, with a combined social media following of 1 million. Joanna and Ioannis currently manage eight full time staff members, four part time writers, and over 250 contributing writers and guest authors. By staying true to their passions for investigation and separating fact from fiction, the couple have been hugely successful in firmly establishing their website as the go-to for investigating popular myths.

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