Dealing with new affiliates on a daily basis, I see the same issue cropping up time and time again; people bringing no new ideas to the table, with no real thought process beyond “I want to make money online” and “I have no new ideas”.
For the latter – it generally means rarely(as in 1/100 of the time) will I see an actual unique concept, or a niche being targeted that isn’t already over saturated and extremely competitive.
Whenever you are planning on building a new website, before doing so these are 10 questions that I usually ask myself that I’d recommend you ask yourself.
I’ve also found that giving examples can really help in the learning process. So I’m going to also use the example of a site a friend of mine approached me with yesterday. If you’ve seen sites like GasBuddy.com where random drivers will update it with the latest gas prices as they see them – he wants to do a niche version of that, focused specifically on the city of Toronto, where he lives.
I’ll also use the example of a website I see being built frequently – a large, catch-all online poker website that aims to cover everything from reviews to strategy.
1: What Is Involved In The Website Work-Wise?
You have to think about the work that is going to be involved – from launching the website to the daily work that will be required on the actual website.
Toronto Gas Site: Obviously a lot of coding is going to have to go into a site like this, as well as keeping up with gas stations opening and closing. However the main job is actually building a community of drivers who will report gas prices on a regular basis on the website via their smartphone.
Catch-All Poker Site: As this is going to cover everything, the majority of the work will involve content. There will be marketing yes – but for a site like this to work, it needs content. A LOT of content, and all high quality, covering a variety of topics.
2: Do I have the time/resources to do it?
Once you’ve sat down and thought about the work involved, you need to seriously consider if you have the time to put into it. This is where a lot of projects shouldn’t leave the ground floor – once you calculate the work involved, you need to see if you can handle the actual workload, be it from your own time or hiring out to other people. If you can’t – don’t be afraid to scrap it at this stage, and come back to it later on when you have the resources to handle it.
Toronto Gas Site: As I said above, the main part is the coding and the community building. The person would need to be able to either code, or have the resources to hire a coder. They would also need to focus strongly on building a community via so many, many different methods. Lots of work is involved in that and it may not pay off.
Catch-All Poker Site: You’ll need to either be an established, knowledgeable poker player who is familiar with lots of poker rooms and has lots of time to write, or be able to outsource the content to people. For a site like this to be a success you need to be able to look at adding multiple articles per day, not one a week or launching with 10 articles and never touching it again. For a site like this to be a success, I’d recommend launching with at least 50 articles, and 1-3 new articles per day.
3: Is There A Market For It?
It’d surprise you how many people build a website without thinking “Is anyone interested in this?”.
At this point I’m not talking about the competitiveness of the niche or anything like that – just whether or not there IS actual people interested in the topic your website is being built around.
Toronto Gas Site: Yes. People care about gas prices more than ever these days, and are willing to drive fairly far to save even a few bucks on gas. For many people, it’s the principle.
Catch-All Poker Site: Of course.
4: Who Exactly Am I Targeting?
This is one that a lot of people also overlook – they never think about their demographic. They simply decide to build a site, without really thinking about who is going to be visiting. You may be WRONG in your demographics – but hey, it’s good to get some estimations and ideas then you can re-evaluate as time goes on.
Toronto Gas Site: People who live in Toronto who drive, and who have smartphones.
Catch-All Poker Site: People interested in poker. It could be learning how to be a better poker player, looking to play online at new poker rooms, or read up on the latest happenings in the WSOP etc.
5: How Competitive Is This Market?
Competition shouldn’t always put you off – but you should get an idea of just how difficult it may be to compete in the market. You should have a general idea of your primary keywords – take a look at the competition for those keywords, and get an idea of how competitive it is. If it’s very competitive you may need to go back and reassess the work involved in the website, while if it isn’t very competitive you can probably take a more relaxed approach to the site.
Toronto Gas Site: Nothing too bad. The only real competition is an EMD and a brand name website. This is very good because you are relying on the community, so you don’t have to pry them away from many sites; just a couple.
Catch-All Poker Site: Obviously, a lot of competition here. This is where I might try and look at focusing on less saturated keywords at first. For example for poker room reviews, a review of Pokerstars wouldn’t be #1 on my list. Instead I’d be looking for new poker rooms, or poker rooms that don’t have as many reviews etc online to target. Essentially due to the competition, you’re changing your focus onto your secondary keywords.
6: What are my income sources?
Very simple – how are you going to make money from this type of site? Are you going to focus on affiliate links? Or throw up Adsense and hope for the best? There are many ways to make income from websites, and you should sit down and cover them all.
Toronto Gas Site: Looking at the competition, it seems to be your typical “throw lots of Google Ads in your face” technique. Nothing wrong with that, but you should think of other methods such as localized deals, or selling ad space to local businesses etc. If I was going the app route(with people using smartphones to most likely report gas prices) I would look at possibly a premium version of the app.
Catch-All Poker Site: Obviously affiliate links are the main thing here – but don’t forget sources like Amazon, and of course media buys.
7: What Can I Expect Financially From This Website?
This can be a tricky one – because often, you don’t know. It may not matter. You may wish to just try it and hope for the best. Sometimes the website won’t rank, other times it does and you get traffic but no income etc. You can learn or get an idea of this by looking at existing websites in the niche – if they’ve been around for awhile, constantly updating etc then yeah – if everything works out well, your site should have income. But depending on how important the income is should also affect the workload and plans for the website.
Toronto Gas Site: This is one where honestly – I just don’t know. And that’s okay. Based on the existing websites, ads and traffic numbers as well as the market, I would estimate you would make from $xxx per month to as high as $xx,xxx. I would focus however on hooking up with some local sponsors, and considering anything else a bonus until I see how Adsense works out. The tricky thing with a site like this is in the early days you actually don’t want a lot of ads – you want people to get a nice clean experience, before slowly adding ads. So in this sense, you almost want ZERO income for the opening year while you focus on building a community.
Catch-All Poker Site: Obviously the potential for a lot of money is there – but it’s going to take a ton of work. I would focus initially on working out deals with poker rooms where you get a certain amount of money for putting them in your top spots or plastering them all over your site – at least for the first year until I have a better estimation of how the site is going – and consider anything else a bonus.
8: Am I Passionate About It?
Sadly, not all websites are overnight successes. Do you have the drive to keep going if months down the road, everything is failing? Generally that’s where the passion comes in – where you’re still very passionate about the idea to be able to do that. It’s something you need to consider as you decide whether or not you are building the site purely for income, or if it’s a project that you’re willing to put work into, and forget about if it’s not succeeding.
Toronto Gas Site: The biggest part of this site is the community, and you need to think 3-6 months down the road what happens if you have almost no members? Are you going to be motivated to come up with fresh ideas and continue to market the site?
Catch-All Poker Site: I’ve seen this happen so many times before; people who create sites like this, work hard on it for 2 months and are then burnt out when there is no income, and give up. If you don’t have the passion for a site like this, then you need to have the resources to be able to hire people to keep the site going when you have lost your drive.
9: What Are My Goals After One Year?
So many people don’t have a long-term thought process about their website. That always surprises me. You should sit down and mark one year from today on your calender, then work backwards. Think about where your site will be one year from today, how much content will be on it, what content will be on it, and how it should be doing. Having a long-term perspective is great for a site – it keeps you driven, and it allows you to really comprehend how the site should be laid out and so on. I know there are many sites in my past where I’ve had no long-term perspective, and down the road I’ve had to change things around big time – which was a lot of time and work I could have been putting to better use.
Toronto Gas Site: The goal is simple for this site; to have a community doing most of the work for you. Maybe one year is too optimistic but it’s a nice goal to have – seeing the majority of gas stations having updates every day, new members being referred by people other than yourself and so on.
Catch-All Poker Site: The goal here would be to have consistent traffic numbers and income growing by the day. There are too many variables to accurately predict the amount of either – but I’d like to see a constant growth to know I am on the right path. I would also have a set number of articles to aim for by the end of year 1.
10: How Can I Reinvest In The Website?
This is the big one. As time goes on, ideally your website will be making money. Do you have any reinvestment plans? So many people I know simply take the money and never think twice about reinvestment. Yet reinvestment is the big one. For example – all the work you do, you could hire OTHER people to do freeing you up to do OTHER work or NEW projects and make even MORE money. Or you could reinvest in the site to increase the quality of it, and further solidify the income.
Toronto Gas Site: The big one here is the community. I would look at reinvesting in them – give them rewards for the hard work they do. Encourage them to keep doing it, to start referring friends etc – keep the community happy and make them priority – that’s what you need to do for any community driven website. Cater to all of their needs. Without the community you have nothing.
Catch-All Poker Site: As this is a content heavy site, the main reinvestment area would be this. Hiring people to write content and explore new sections. Also look into various social marketing methods, potential viral marketing methods etc. In theory however content is the big one – I fully expect for a site like this to be a success, it needs to be content heavy. Therefore it is a no brainer that most of the reinvestment should go into the content.
None of this is meant to scare you. But every time you build a website, you should consider the importance of that website. Essentially, you are creating your own business. You should think of every website you build as a “make or break” website for you, and treat each one with the utmost importance.
Every website you build has the potential to be your retirement fund, to allow you to move to Costa Rica and enjoy sun and relaxation while your monkeys are doing the work. On the flip side, it could be a massive time sink and failure for you. It could take up hours, days, weeks and months of your life – all for nothing. It could demoralize you, and scare you away from the greatest lifestyle there is, which is working for yourself.
Isn’t it worth taking some time to consider all of the above?