When many people think of creating a website for their business, organization or self, the first idea that comes to mind is the standard “corporate” style site consisting of basic “about” information, followed by a contact form.
Truth is those kinds of site have limited value. The proof is, of course, in your own online behavior. What kind of site do you visit most often? I bet you find content sites more useful and therefore visit them far more often.
We like to keep abreast of news, read tutorials and how-to guides, be informed and entertained.
Why Create a Content Site?
You might be thinking to yourself that you are not interested in entertaining people, and that you are more interested in where the profit lies.
This is a good point, and in fact content sites are very profitable, and I will tell you why:
- A traditional site is more expensive to promote and generate exposure for, content sites can be promoted more easily, and for free
- Search engines love content as much as human beings do
- Content sites are linked to voluntarily by other sites, traditional sites are harder to gain links for
- People are much happier to tell friends about great content rather than corporate websites
- Old fashioned websites give visitors no reason to return, content sites create loyal, repeat visitors
So a content website is easier to attract people to, and more naturally creates return visitors. But there is more …
Think about it, what do you find more persuasive? An advert leading to a long pushy sales letter or well thought out articles that you return to over time, delivered by an expert, who explains and educates?
So now we agree that content sites are superior to the traditional, thin, corporate style site, how do we create such a site?
The first step is to work out where you want to go with it …
Follow the link and create your no-obligation free website for you to use during this course
What do you hope to achieve by creating your website?
- Sell your own products – Have you got products that you want to find more customers for?
- Sell your own services – Perhaps you provide services and need to grow your client base?
- Grow your visibility – It could be that it is fame and reputation you are after?
- Sell third party products – Selling third party products, either as a store or for a commission can be a very profitable way to do business online
- Create a membership site – Growing an audience of paying members and subscribers is both a fun and rewarding strategy where you can make a good, growing monthly income
These are just some ideas, but you do need to decide where you want to go with your efforts. Without a clear goal you will not know if you are achieving anything, or have any way to measure overall progress.
Note down what the goals of your website are. If you don't know the target, its like throwing darts blindfolded.
As well as profit and your long-term goal, there are common ways to measure progress with a content site:
- Unique visitors – How many individuals arrive at your site every month?
- Subscribers – How many visitors sign up to your email newsletter or feed?
- Members – How many people become a registered member?
- Sales – How many people buy, and how much?
- Goals - Other site based goals, for example filling out a contact us form.
You will often hear of others, such as “hits”, or “page views”, but to keep it simple initially these are the main criteria.
On top of the count of visitors, subscribers and members (if you are creating a membership site), you will also want to track the conversions.
A conversion is where a visitor becomes a subscriber, a subscriber becomes a member, or when a visitor becomes a customer, and so on. Ideally you want as high a “conversion rate” as possible, so if one visitor in ten buys something, a 10% conversion rate, you are doing very well indeed.
Once you have decided where you are going and how you are going to measure your progress, you need to decide the market that will help you get there.
Create a Google Analytics account (its free) and set up some goals for you to track. Helpful guides on setting up goals can be found at:
How to Setup Goals in Google Analytics
10 Must Track Google Analytics Goals
How to Track Offsite Links for Google Goals in Joomla
Choosing a Niche
You might already have a market that you are working in, but in most cases even then you will need to carefully consider who you are aiming your content at and which content you will create for them.
This is because the more targeted your audience and focused your content, the more impact you will have and the more you will stand out from the crowd.
Inevitably there will be a crowd that you need to stand out from. The internet is full of content and more is being added every day. The good news is most of the content is poor quality and only loosely targeted; the majority of people do not even have a target audience in mind when writing, so advantage you!
So get thinking of things that you can write about and audiences you can address. I find mind-mapping very useful for this process. Just brainstorm everything and everything; you can narrow down to one or two favorites later in the “qualification phase”. Just come up with ideas right now.
Selecting your subject will be based on the following criteria:
- Level of engagement – Some subjects have more addicted enthusiasts than others. Sort the passing fads from the long-term fascinations. Ideally your subject will cause people to be very keen indeed.
- Competition – You need there to be enough competition that it shows the niche has promise, but not so much that you will have to fight extra hard.
- Profitability – Is there any money to be made?
- Interest – Are you at all interested in the subject? If not you might find it a struggle to research and maintain motivation.
- Expertise – Do you already know a fair amount about the topic?
If you find yourself sitting in front of a wealth of opportunities, then you can trim down by rating and ranking each niche. Many people go on gut-feel, but if you can objectively compare the opportunities in each then you will be well prepared for what comes later.
Niches not used right now do not have to go to waste. Perhaps some ideas can be held for future development?
Make a mind map of possible niche areas. Be sure to include the above factors. Narrow it down to your first choice.
As well as a subject area, you can build a content site around an audience. Consider the difference between a site about Star Trek versus a site for Science Fiction Fans, or a site about Children’s Nutrition versus a site for Parents?
The good thing about creating a site for a target group rather than a topic is you have lateral growth potential, for example “geeks” can cover everything from television to gadgets, while the risk is your niche might become too wide and vague. Best results come from an audience that is once defined becomes a clearly identifiable “tribe”.
- Demographic – How old are your audience? What gender are they? Etc
- Psychographic – What are your audiences loves, hates, interests and turn-offs?
- Technographic – Do these people have particular technical needs or preferences?
- Behavior – How do your audience act? What are they likely to be found doing? What would you not find them doing? (Getting them to take action is key, something many people forget!)
- Gathering points – Where can you find these people in numbers?
If you know what your audiences are attracted to, which buttons to press, and where to find them, then you are way ahead of the game!
Try to describe your potential audience and some of the associated factors about them listed above.
Next you need to know how to approach them
Your site needs to elevate aspects of your brand that will most appeal to your target, while being based in an authentic reality. This means being able to tell congruent stories, not make stuff up.
Some people are turned off by the phrase “brand” but branding is actually very important whether you agree or not. The best description of a brand is “what people say about you when you are not in the room”. Like it or not, you have a brand, and all you can do is make it the best you can.
You can influence your brand in the following ways:
- Content – What you say, the content you create, and especially what others say about you. Most important is to provide value, lots of value, before asking for anything. Make sure people find your content useful and engaging. Being of value is half the battle.
- Personality – Let your personality shine through, people feel more connected to people rather than dry, academic, “just the facts” style presentation. Use video and audio for an additional way to communicate the “you” behind the words.
- Positioning – How are you different? Why is that difference important?
Once you have a handle on how to present yourself and your organization, next you need to make an offer.
You are not at the point of selling a product or service, but you do have to make an offer. This is the offer of free content.
Yes, this often confuses people, but in fact you need to sell free content just as you would billable content.
- Features – What do you make available?
- Benefits – What value does your content provide?
- Uniqueness – What can you find there that you cannot find elsewhere?
- So What? - Why should anyone care?
Articulate the offer embodied in your free content. Remember, this isn't what you are selling (yet), but the free content on your site that people come and read. Why should they?.
Download the mind-map for part 1 here:
Summary of Part 1
Most people do not carefully consider the market they are trying to enter. By identifying the audience you are aiming to serve, and what you are going to provide them, you will put yourself ahead of the majority of your competition. Also by creating a defined positioning and ways to differentiate, those competitors become potential partners, because you will be sure your offer clearly stands alone.
Your next task is to really drill down into your market and find out everything you need to get inside your prospects head, thrill and delight them so they can’t get enough of you …