Website Planning Tutorial

 BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEBSITE DOES NOT HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT

..and If it does happen by accident, the core concepts I talk about on this page are still true.

People get an idea in their head, think it’s great, are convinced it will work, ask their friends what they think, and then plow full steam ahead into making a website that usually ends up making no money, getting no attention, and having low traffic levels.

Let’s fix that. I know you want to skip this part and jump right into setting up a website but stick with me for a bit and read this page through. It will help you avoid some costly mistakes.

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FEATURE VS FUNCTION

Have long term goals with your website. Have big dreams. I think that’s great and very important.

However,when starting out, focus on the CORE 1-2 functions of your website. For example, my friend Steve 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.

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 mistake

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 a 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 built a media company from a simple WordPress blog.

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.

  1. What is the best possible work that I could be doing?
  2. Who are my my “right” people and what do they want and what do they need?
  3. How can I create REAL value for these right people – my visitors and my customers?
  4. Is the search volume enough to justify creating a website around this topic?
  5. What is my unique selling point compared with other websites already doing what I want to do?
  6. What am I SPECIFICALLY offering?
  7. What problem does my idea solve?
  8. Why is my website/product worth trying?
  9. Who are you and what gives you credibility to say what you’re saying?
  10. Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?
  11. What resistances or objections will people have to what you want to make and offer?
  12. What is the purpose of your website, pitch, and product?
  13. How do you actually want people to take action?
  14. How can you move people from a logical frame of mind to an emotional one?
  15. How is your domain name, and tagline the “essence” of what the core of your message and website is?

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 DEMANDS OF A CERTAIN 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.

For example:

Dating – to broad | Dating for women – to broad | dating for women ages 22-36 – 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.

IS THERE A DEMAND?

Next we need to do a bit of market research on our topic.

Just like we did in the above questions, take some time to find your competitors, profile them, take note of what makes them unique and how you can be different. A good rule to follow is to find at least 3 other websites that are popular with regards to your topic. They don’t need to be exactly what you’re doing… it’s just a way to verify that there is a demand for the content, products, and services you wish to create.

Next we need to use the keyword planner tool by Google. Do a Google search for this tool, sign up for an account, and begin exploring different keyword ideas for your website. Take note of the search volume. The higher the volume, the more competitive typically. You will want and need a bunch of keywords that have good search traffic so you can get search engine traffic. Otherwise you will just be creating content that know one will find because no one is searching for it.

Make sense? Not everything you write needs to focus on keywords of course…but you need to have enough pages on your website that are keyword focused so you can attract a steady stream of visitors. If you can’t find any keywords that have search volume for your topic, you need to rethink your topic a bit.

CAPITALIZE ON THE SEARCH TRAFFIC

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.

BUSINESS MODEL – VERIFY YOUR IDEA

What is the plan with your website? How is it going to become self sufficent? How is it going to thrive? What products and services are you thinking of offering? Have you tried to validate any of these ideas or do you just *think* it’s a good idea?

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.
  • This is not hard stuff it just takes a bit of…wait for it, PLANNING.

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

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. The content was your typical fluffy content about relationships, living better, productivity and so forth.

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 men (or rather boys!) who start websites on how to be an alpha male because that’s what their favorite websites are.

One, the topic is not specific enough and two these websites are simply copies of more popular websites.

REMEMBER EARLIER TO HOW I MENTIONED THAT YOU SHOULD FIND 3 POPULAR WEBSITES ON YOUR TOPIC?

Well now you need to think about how you’re going to be better or different than those other websites now.

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.

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