This website planning guide is aimed at people who want to build content driven websites that make money from advertising, affiliate marketing and product creation.
You get 3 seconds
That’s how long people will take to make a decision as to the fit and value of your website. So before you set out on a shiny new website that simply looks good, do you have the essential blogging business elements down:
- Does your website connect with your right people?
- Does it communicate to them how you can help them?
- Does it capture their email and names (because people won’t buy from you on first contact)?
- Lastly does it convert browsers into buyers?
A website is NOT a business. A business is a business and your website should be (and will be) your number #1 sales person when done right by selling people what they want and giving them what the need.
Packaging and Positioning
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business and website, and high class marketing is simply clear effective communication about your products and services. If your committed to making money and helping people it’s your responsibility to reach your right people.
Ever heard that line “build it and they will come”? It’s eloquent bullshit. Build it and they will come will result in you going out of business. If you don’t know how to systematically attract prospects to your business and then elegantly convert them… you’re screwed because no traffic = no sales = NO business.
The best product or service in the world is useless if no one knows about it. Think of it this way, if you found the cure for cancer WHAT would you do? Sit around and wait for others to find out? NO WAY!
Be in it to win it
The qualities for success online are confidence in yourself, courage to fail, clarity of who you serve and what solutions you provide, having an actual business model, having a strong connection to your customers and understanding their problems better than they do and being a professional with integrity so people feel safe doing business with you.
FEATURE VS FUNCTION
Have long term goals with your website. Have big dreams. I think that’s great and very important.
When starting out, focus on the CORE 1-2 functions of your website. For example, one of my online friends runs a super popular fitness website. The site has a blog, a clothing line, products, classes, a massive forum, and an adventure report where he talks about his accomplishments around the world.
When he started his site however, it was just a blog where he focused on creating content that people loved and connected with. Once he figured the blog out, then he expanded his website because his audience was growing and could tailor the site to his visitors.
Let’s also look at Greg O’Gallager.
Greg started Kinobody.com in 2011. It was just your standard fitness blog. Heck he was even using the default WordPress theme!
Jump ahead to today – Kinobody is a multi-million dollar company with fitness products, supplements, a clothing line and a huge online following. Did Greg focus on all these things at once?
No. Make the main thing the main thing. Content, traffic then products. Do one thing really well at first then expand.
The features of you website will grow organically with your website as you determine what your website needs in order to better server the type of visitor you’re getting (and not the other way around).
My first website I started was with my brother and it was a competitor to Legacy.com. Our site was called Remember Me. We would talk for hours and plan all these features we wanted to do, what we liked about Legacy.com what we would do differently. We started building the website and it was a mess.
Too many features to implement. Not enough traffic to justify the costs. Not enough features people wanted and needed. Too much stuff they did not want. In retrospect, we should have just focused on single core service and do that core service really well.
Websites like Facebook and YouTube were started by ivy league educated, highly skilled coders who had the contacts, budget and network to build ideas into reality. For the average Joe, you don’t have the same advantage.
So start small, and perform your core feature really well. If things go well, you will achieve your goals and dreams. Just look at Pete Cashmore’s Mashable. A 19 year old in northern Scotland of all places built a media company that rivals CNN. All from a simple WordPress blog he started while in his parents house.
Ideas don’t drive traffic
Amazing, you have an idea for a website.
Wonderful, but before you rush out and create your website, think it through a bit. Here are some questions that will help you build a powerful website that serves people. Because honestly, good ideas are not enough and they certainly don’t drive traffic.
- Do I really want to make a website on this topic for years to come?
- Can I come up with 100+ content ideas?
- Who is this for and what do they want and what do they need?
- How can I create REAL value for these people – my visitors and my customers?
- Is the search volume enough to justify creating a website around this topic or do I need go broader?
- What is my unique selling point compared with other websites already doing what I want to do?
- What am I SPECIFICALLY offering?
- What problem does my idea solve?
- Why is my website/product worth trying?
- Who are you and what gives you credibility to say what you’re saying?
- Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?
- What resistances or objections will people have to what you want to make and offer?
- What is the purpose of your website, pitch, and product?
- How do you actually want people to take action?
- How can you move people from a logical frame of mind to an emotional one?
Get a notepad and write your answers down. It take a bit of time, but answering these questions will help give you the confidence in your positioning and strategy you need when starting a new website.
Meet the needs of a specific audience
To build a beautiful, thriving website, your website has to solve problems. Specific problems. It’s cool to want to start an entertainment website, just know that you’e going to need a serious amount of traffic to cover your costs. For everyone else, get specific with who you serve.
Dating – to broad.
Dating for women – to broad.
Dating for women ages 20 -40 – to broad.
Dating for women ages 29-35 – better.
Dating for successful career oriented women ages 29-35 – perfect!
Once you narrow down your right person, how can you serve them best? Take a look at your answers to the questions above. Pro tip: You really need to know what you’re talking about. Don’t start a website on a topic you *think* could be profitable or a topic you have no interest in.
Also, If you think you don’t have any skills YES YOU DO. Think! Think hard. Don’t do what most newbies do and start some lame ass personal development website or a dating advice website. You’re a unique person with unique talents. Figure it out.
Focus on search traffic and ONE other source
A thriving website gets traffic from multiple sources. Social media, word of mouth, search engines, YouTube, and your subscriber base.
Search traffic is easily the best route to growing your website in the beginning. Imagine having 500 visitors a day finding your skin care website because they searched for “best natural skin care products for dark skin”. This targeted traffic is the kind of traffic that will revisit your website, buy your products, share your website on social media, and become your customer and subscriber base.
When we start a website we need to think of how people use search engines, and how we can build a website that leverages that. Think about how you use a search engine…you ask questions!
No one searches for “review website”. They search for “best first person shooter android games”. This long sentence is what’s know as a “long tail” keyword and these long tail keywords are what will build the foundation of your traffic.
You will have 2 types of keywords. Competitive and long tail.
Your competitive keywords are your long term keywords. These are the keywords you would like to rank for in 6 months or a year and are usually 2-4 words long. They describe your website specifically and are a long term play. So “create a website” and “make a website” are my long term keywords. For blog posts, I write content that is in line with my unique selling point, content that people will want to share, content that serves a purpose and helps people, and content that is keyword specific so new traffic starts flowing to my website.
This is why blogging is so powerful…because it allows you to go after long tail keywords which in turn drive small amounts of traffic back to your website.
Once you have traffic, START AN EMAIL LIST (more on this later). Building a list is a powerful tool that will help you build a relationship with people. Imagine how useful it is to have a list of 3,000 people who signed up to your website.
BRANDING + COPYRIGHT + DOMAIN NAMES
I originally was going to call this website “Juicebox Creative.” A domain name I owned for some time, now its a premium domain worth 1,000$! It’s such a fun, creative name that’s very memorable.
It represents my “create a beautiful, thriving website brand” by being fun and not too intimidating. One problem. A web design firm in Australia is called Juicebox Creative. They dominate the search engines for that term and also own all the social media profiles too. Also _______creative.com is a very typical format for web design companies. Just put any random word in front of creative and you will find a web design firm. Even LunchBoxCreative.com is taken!
So I had to rethink that one.
The best domain names are one word names that are brandable. They are short and sweet, have power to them, and are memorable.
The other type of domain name is keyword specific. Like, TheCreateAWebsiteBlog.com for example. Specific but BORING.
It’s up to you to choose which one is best. I use both for my websites. Having your keywords in your domain will help that domain name rank for a competitive keyword. So having “create a website” in the domain name will help the homepage rank on the first page of Google for “create a website”…but it’s just one small factor out of hundreds. If you come up with something clever, go with that.
Also, grab up all the social media accounts you can with your domain name and brand for obvious reasons.
As with Copyright issues, please don’t copy other more popular websites in terms of their look, appearance or tagline. You’re infringing on their copyright. So while I could use JuiceboxCreative.com, I could not use it for a web design website.
A WEBSITE IS NOT A BUSINESS – A BUSINESS IS A BUSINESS
You don’t build the website first, then figure it out. You go in with a strategy to use a website, use social media, use email marketing, to support and grow your business…but you still need a business first.
- You need customers with a willingness to buy and the ability.
- Then you need to figure out how much that customer is worth so you know how to price your product.
- Then you need to test to see if you can actually make a sale.
So for example you’re a graphic designer. There are tons of graphic designers, what market could you server that’s a bit different. I know a problem I always had was finding good custom ebook covers. Maybe other people would be interested in this… or maybe i’m just solving a problem only I have.
So let’s do our basic keyword research to find how many people are searching for ebook cover design, let’s see what other websites exist that provide this service, let’s see if there are any communities or fan pages about our topic, then let’s hit up some forums and price our services and see what happens. Let’s email people and cold call them. Let’s also check Craigslist.
Do the grunt work. Our goal is to make sales, with cash in hand. To prove our service or product is wanted and needed. If we can’t do that, it might be because our service is unwanted.
UNIQUE SELLING POINT
You need a unique selling point. I had a talk a few years back when I was running a generic personal development website with an ex girlfriend who was actually pretty entrepreneurial herself.
She was very supportive but randomly one day asked a very poigant question…why does anyone visit your website? Who is this for?
I had a very long winded answer and that made me really think..yea why does anyone visit this website in the first place? Who is this for? Whats the point.
I really had no idea. I had content on minimalism, dating, personal finance. It was all over the place.
The content also was your typical fluffy content about relationships, living better, productivity and so forth. People want box you in so you need to curate content around a specific topic. It’s fine to stray every now and then, but you really need to be known for something.
I realized I was just on a treadmill. Publishing content, hoping and wishing to get traffic to make sales of random affiliate products or ad clicks. Not really getting anywhere and wasting time.
The reason was because I had no unique selling point for my website. I had no compelling reason why people should pay attention to me over someone else. Your unique selling point IS THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of your website and it’s also the aspect that people who build their first website tend to skip over.
To carve out a good unique selling point takes a bit of trial and error to see what people respond to. You may start off making a personal finance website about saving money with unique techniques but in the long run may find your audience wants to learn how to make more money and that becomes your unique selling point. The personal finance guy who talks about making more money instead of saving money.
Your goal is to adapt your USP when things are not working and to NOT copy the unique selling point of other more popular websites. I see this all the time with females who start websites about “empowering women” and living life to the fullest or dorky guys who start websites on how to be an “alpha male” because that’s what their favorite websites are.
Be Better or Different
Now you need to think about how you’re going to be better or different from you competitors. It’s usually easier to be different than it is better, but if you think you can be better go for it!
A unique selling point is a combination of different idea that create a whole new idea. It can be as something as simple as a cafe that gives a chocolate mint with the receipt. For a website it can be a combination of topics already popular like world travel mixed with food culture.
Your unique selling point is for you to figure out. Just know that you need one. That the one you come up with might not work or might not be what people want so also be flexible with it.
Once you figure out your unique selling point, your work will become more clearer and you will develop a reputation and a known expertise that people will come to know and trust.
Success Leaves Clues
If you get nothing else out of this content, remember; go fishing where people are fishing. Success leaves clues and to create a high traffic blog or website takes a bit of originality but it also involves creating content people actually want and following proven success principles.
Yet with every “wanna-be” it’s the same story over and over.
They read travel blogs, or personal development blogs, or lifestyle design blogs and then they start their own site on the same topic because that’s the bubble they’re in, but lacking the expertise to be worthy of talking about what it is they’re talking about – they fail.
They’re always in a hurry to make money too. They try, try, and try, but never get anywhere or make any money or accomplish anything. The reasons for this are so obvious. If you want to learn how to start a website that makes money simply understand the simple reasons why most fail to achieve their online goals-
- Lack of a unique selling point
- Not knowing what they are talking about
- Lack of planning, no keyword research
- Not being helpful by creating a helpful website
- Not having a product offering, no email list, no customer base, no traffic base and no way to monetize
- Holding onto a loser for too long when they should just quit and learn from their mistakes.
To thrive online, to really learn how to start a website you yourself you must plan, you must. You must develop a methodology for what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. This doesn’t start with anything more complicated than…
Get a pen and a piece of paper. Answer these questions before you start a website.
First, think of what you want to create a site on. The easiest way to decide on this is to ask oneself these questions:
Can i easily produce 100+ content ideas for my website?
Am I actually interested in starting a long term project on this topic?
Are their keywords I can potentially rank for?
How easy was it to find long tail keywords for this specific niche compared to other niches?
Are their any sites under 2 years old that are doing well?
Are you able to find weak websites you could compete against?
Do other websites get 1000+ visitors a day?
Is product creation an option?
Are there any unique selling points or unique angles I can leverage to stand out?
Find what people like and are sharing
Most bloggers and web masters get stuck on the keyword planner and never really find those valuable key words and phrases people actually use. Here are some of my tips for finding content ideas outside of the keyword planner.
Seriously, check out Pintrest. All you have to do is create an type in keywords related to your website. Pintrest will auto suggest other phrases and your off to the races so to speak with a bunch of great topic ideas. If it’s ranking in Pintrest, that means their is interest obviously. I use Pintrest all the time to come up with ideas for blog posts and YouTube videos as well as a way to check interest in a content idea I already have.
The 2nd biggest search engine in the world. Simply go to YouTube channels related to your topic and filter the videos for “most popular”. Anything with over 100,000 views is a strong indication of popularity. Take the overall idea and then go to Pintrest to come up with potential titles and then use the keyword planner tool to figure out the potential search volume.
This word “value” is thrown around carelessly.
Real value is when your online work produces tangible results for other people. Creating something that people just think is cool is low level value for sure, but it’s not enough value to translate into cash.
Real value is when someone loses weight because of a diet experiment you tested on yourself, or if you ended up making $1,000 a month online because of what you learned from an online course, or if you improved your dating life because of insightful coaching. Results matter! Results are what value is made of, and value = $$$.
Right people: You can’t be for everyone.
You must narrow your offering down to a certain group of people. That means you must exclude people. Example – fitness products. Some target with their unique selling proposition overweight people, others target women, or men who want to put on more muscle, or athletes who want to train for a particular competition.
If you’re targeting athletes who want to train for say a marathon, this select group is your “right people” and you can build a proper business around serving their needs. Failure comes from trying to be everything to everyone – which results in a watered down version that is useless to everyone because it ignores the concept of a unique selling proposition.
Search volume refers to how many times a word or phrase is searched for in a search engine. The most popular search engine in the world is Google, so use Google’s keyword tool.
In the left hand side bar, change the match type from broad to match.
This will tell you specifically how many times people look for any term you want. Use this knowledge to help plan a website.
If you want to make a website on security guard training, but notice only 1,000 exact monthly searches – don’t waste your time. But if you notice 10,000+ searches, there is enough search volume, or rather there is enough people looking for information on a topic to justify the time, effort, and expense it takes on starting a website.
PRO TIP: Beginners always suck
Beginners rush in, beginners don’t read, beginners don’t know what they don’t know, beginners underestimate the importance of brainstorming, market research, web design, conversion, and taking the time to truly understand their customers needs and wants.
Simply put, beginners always suck. Try to not hold onto a loser for too long as your first website maybe just be a poorly designed site in a bad niche.