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. You simply got lucky and stumbled upon the formula for success.
This is what normally happens with wanting to create an income generating web property. 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.
Well, to be honest the biggest issue is people don’t do the work. They learn how to create a website, then create maybe 5-15 pages of 800 word a piece content and then just move on and either give up or start a whole new website.
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.
GET STARTED WITH THIS FREE TUTORIAL:
- WEBSITE PLANNING TOOLS
- TYPES OF WEBSITES YOU CAN MAKE
FEATURE VS FUNCTION
Have long term goals with your website. Have big dreams. I think that’s great and very important.
Think big. Don’t set out to create a website or blog that could maybe generate $300 a month. Go for something that could be $2000 or more a month. Something that would be life changing for most people.
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 very popular website with multiple physical products, supplements and information products. Greg also has over 200k subscribers on both Instagram and YouTube. Did Kinobody.com start out like this? NO WAY.
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.
- What is the best possible work that I could be doing? Do I reallllly want to make a website on this topic for years to come?
- Who is this for and what do they want and what do they need? Will they use only YouTube and Amazon for product research?
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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
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 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.
Also, you should also try to find newer website that are doing well for your topic. Your website will be new and if you can find new website that are doing well, it’s proof your topic is valuable.
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.
TYPES OF WEBSITES YOU CAN MAKE
Levels.io is a guy I follow on Twitter. He’s a developer and can build out some interesting websites. One of his most famous is NomadList.com. I bring this up only to put your own limitations in check. Unless you have a decent budget or web development skills, you can’t build websites like this.
You can build other sorts of successful web properties. The goal of this page is to give you a primer on the types of websites you can make without needing a high level of tech skills.
If you don’t have a clear cut, one or two sentence answer to this question then you have NO CHANCE of building a successful website.
Everyone wants to make money with a website, but a truly successful site is not simply a site that “makes money”. It’s a website that achieves the intended goals for which it was created, that makes a real world difference for the right people it helps.
Remember: money is a function of value, and value is positive real world change.
There are quite a few different types of websites you can set out to make.
First, decide the goal of your site. Then, decide on what type of site you wish to build. Read the following to help generate some ideas:
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY (provide value by):
1) Starting a niche content site
A good example of a content site is this site about science and fitness and this website about lucid dreaming. Both these sites make over $4,000 monthly for their respective owners (probably a lot more than this). They do so by way of advertising, selling product and affiliate marketing.
These are the best sorts of niche sites. Brandable, authoratative and with excellent content. You need to set out to create and authority information site, known as a niche site. Niche does not mean small, it simply means you know who you’re creating the website for and how it’s going to make money.
Another example would be dirtbikeplanet.com – a very simple and unassuming website that gets thousands of visitors a day and earns the site owner money through ad revenue, product sales and affiliate commissions via the Amazon associates program.
They get their traffic base from ranking for relevant search terms because these content sites are online resources about a subject that makes a tangible difference in peoples lives.
The site owners took the time to look at Google auto suggest, YouTube auto suggest, and various keyword tools like KWFinder.com as a way to find keywords that people are using. The second step is to simply create best in class content on these topics and to then network with other people to promote your content as a way to get links. Now, it’s ideal if you can find uncompetitive keywords, that way you’ll rank more quickly. But again, website promotion is the name of the game.
If successful with a content site, you may not only build a profitable content site, you may end up building a full fledged business. Brain Clark’s Copyblogger is a perfect example of this. It grew from solo blog about copywriting into a full fledged internet marketing and copywriting business offering a multitude of products like themes, hosting, courses and more.
2) Starting an online store.
No point in trying to make the next Amazon, that would take a team of skilled programmers and a hefty budget. It’s also not needed.
What you do instead is setup a Shopify store, find products on Alibaba and then run Facebook ads to your store.
You could also do Amazon FBA, which is fulfillment by Amazon. So you have products made in China which are then shipped to Amazon and delivered by Amazon. Allowing you to make a percentage of the sale.
Last is you could just simply come up with your own product and use social media influencers to sell your product. A great example of this is Skinny Fit tea. It grew originally by using Instagram influencers (people with large Instagram accounts) to promote their product.
Online stores are great, but they do require a budget. Not a huge budget, but to get started with drop shipping or using Amazon FBA you’ll need to buy test products, tweak them to make them unique and also run ads. All of which cost money.
If you have cash to spend, I would either start a Shopify store or an Amazon FBA business or I would create an authority information website.
3) Create your own courses or information products.
Authority information websites are ideal because they can make money from ad revenue as well as affiliate marketing but don’t forget about creating some sort of dedicated website or at lease a section of a website to your own products.
An example of such a site is this website for a 6 pack abs fitness program (which believe it or not makes 12 million dollars a year, in large part because it dominates the fitness niche on the digital product marketplace, Clickbank).
Another example would be this would be UnconventionalGuides.com that is associated with Chris Guillebeau’s blog.
Create a killer product then drive traffic to it by social media, search engine optimization, and having a team of affiliates promoting the product for you.
You could always start out with the goal of building a small focused website and then expand.
4) Consulting/expertise business
Another example would be website to hire a an expert in some field like plumbing, web design, or search engine optimization. If you establish enough pre-eminence in a market, that is, you’re considered an authority on a topic then you can sell your time for client work online. A great idea is to showcase your offline work online with a website. If you’re a writer or graphic designer then you can post samples of your work to help build confidence to potential clients and employers.
5) Traffic leads
The last type of website you can make that I never see anyone talk about are traffic lead websites. Everyone is always focused on Amazon and advertising, yet there is huge potential to create a website that can rank for local search terms like “best plumber New Port Rhode Island.”
You get the lead via an email optin form or by having them use a phone number which tracks them as calling from your website.
The business then that you give the leads to pays you.
Rinse and repeat again and again in different markets. This works in most countries, particularly so is you’re American.
MAKE A WEBSITE TO LAND A JOB OR SHOWCASE YOUR SKILLS
1) A resume/about me/portfolio site.
The above image is Thomas Franks website. He has over a million subscribers on YouTube and is famous for his site called CollegeInfoGeek.com. He created this personal site to be a sort of online resume.
2) A blog can also be beneficial as well.
REMEMBER, a bad blog is more of a liability than no blog at all. Your blog must be about something other than what you think or believe. It must have a theme and a unique selling point as well in order to gain traction.
Knowing and understanding your audience is crucial for success.
Do you know who your “right people” are online? Do you know what makes them tick? How old they are, how much money they have and where they live? Do you also know what is the best possible work you could be doing right now and how to bring all these elements into a website?
Know what kind of site you are making and what it’s goals are.
If want to make a site about photography that also makes money you could make a portfolio site showcasing your work with the goal to get hired gigs. You could also start an online photography school that teaches people how to use a camera more professionally.
Find a unique selling point for your idea, then you need to find a way to deliver value to your visitors. No one is going to pay you to take pictures and post them online.
Building a high traffic website, making a significant income through advertising, product sales, consulting, affiliate marketing or joint ventures again, doesn’t happen simply by accident.
The rules of economics and business planning are not suspended because it’s the Internet. It’s a real thriving industry with professionals making thousands (and some hundreds of thousands) of dollars a month.
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.
Good Niches To Start a Website In
Big competitive keywords require a long term strategy.
“How to start a blog” and “how to create a website” are very profitable but competitive keywords. You don’t start a site expecting to rank for those in a few months. Instead, find big keywords and groups of smaller keywords.
You can and should however build a smaller sites as you’re a one-man (or woman) operation. Here are some of my favorite topics to build niche websites on:
TV – TV keywords are low competition but high search volume.
Health – Complicated problems for people, oddly named products, crazy terms. You’ll be surprised. Particularly if you have a specific health problem.
Mature – Right, you get the idea.
Community – Sub niches. Think world of warcraft, books, movies, guitar tabs. What sub culture are you apart of?
Last would be information sites where I could promote products as an affiliate. So when planning out your site, take a look at Amazon. Does your niche have products that cost over $50? If not, it may be difficult to monetize.
For example, the yoga niche has the search volume but it lacks products and advertising to actually make money. I have an eye care website with the same issue. Low advertising and cheap products.
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.
You will most likely fail at first, but the dumbest approach is to give up. It’s fine to give up on a specific idea but not the broader goal of making a blog, authority information site or online store.
You need to know how to start website by first knowing how to plan, but you also must understand that your first website will most likely be amateurish (but I hope I’m wrong!) and will not provide any real value.
But your second site?
You will learn, adjust, and actually start providing some real value.
See, just ditch this myth of finding the right idea. Ideas are fine, but the power is in the execution, your site being core to this – but since you’re new at this there will be a learning curve.
This curve is what separates the winners from the losers though. Those who stick with it, work hard and learn and adapt.
The barrier to start is low – domain names and web hosting are cheap – but the barrier to online business success is quite high, and is the road to it is paved with many, many failures.