A ‘YouTube or Flickr for Documents’

Whether it’s financial projections or a nondisclosure form, finding document templates online can be an arduous task. One Web site, Docstoc.com, hopes to make it easier for businesses via its marketplace of documents.

“We’ve built the largest repository of publicly available professional documents,” said Jason Nazar, the chief executive of Santa Monica, California-based Docstoc.com. “It’s like YouTube or Flickr for documents.”

Visitors to Docstoc.com can download for free any of the more than 13 million documents, which vary from legal contracts, to financial projections to even teachers plans. The site is divided into different categories such as legal, business, personal finance, education, jobs, taxes, technology and real estate. Users can also upload their own documents to share with the rest of the Docstoc community.

“The biggest benefit is it helps save a lot of time and a lot of money when looking to find content,” said Nazar. “Let’s say for example you’ve got a small five-person shop and are not really in the position to hire a lawyer to help out with a nondisclosure agreement or an employee handbook. You can find all the material … much more easily than anywhere else on the Web.” Plus, you’ll avoid any consultant fees.

According to Nazar, business owners and other professionals can also use it as a promotional tool. Take an attorney that posts his LLC operating agreement on Docstoc. Anyone who goes to view the document or download it will also see a picture of the attorney and a link to his web site.

Docstoc boasts traffic of 20 million unique visitors a month. Nazar said the company targets the small business market because those are the people that most often are creating and looking for professional documents.

Docstoc is of course not the only game in town. MegaDox.com also sells a slew of business documents and legal contracts on its Web site. The company has an online library of legal forms, business documents, leisure & lifestyle guides and health & wellness information. Meanwhile, InforDesk sells its All-Business-Documents downloadable program that consists of more than 6,000 documents. The software includes a spell checker, grammar check and communications and sharing tools. A single user licenses costs $85, while a three-user license costs $185.

Recently, Docstoc launched a marketplace on its site where small businesses can purchase documents. Why would someone want to pay for the documents when they can get them free? Well, according to Nazar, the documents for purchase are of a higher quality than the ones you can download for free.

“It’s the difference between going to Ross or going to Nordstrom,” said Nazar. The free content is user generated, while the pay-for content is from professionals who see their services on the site. Docstoc’s DocStore started with around 15 partners, but the company has since opened it up to any professional that wants to sell content. Sellers are provided with a custom reporting and analytics tool so they can track all the stats and purchases on their documents in real time. In addition to documents and templates, the DocStore sells business books and research reports.

To protect buyers all of the content has a 100% money back guarantee. That means if you purchase, let’s say an employee non-compete document, and it doesn’t meet your needs, you’ll get your money back. Prices for documents cost between $10 and $25. Nazar noted that the refund rate is currently around 2%.