How to Create a Giant...

Feb 4th

Focus on a niche and focus on getting the right core users.

I have been getting lots of questions about marketing a site on no budget. The words that are used are not the following, but the question invariable is How do I market my bland useless me too site? The answer invariably is don't make your site bland and useless and expect to market it on $0.

There is a balance on time and money. If you can't afford much money to market your site it likely means you do not place exceptional value on your time. Thus they surely can afford to learn about something they are interested in and then share what they learned.

Most information is in one form or another repackaged. As the amount of information continues to grow logarithmically there is going to be an increasing amount of value in being able to create vertical editorial websites that point out the best news and information.

If you have no money to invest in marketing does it make sense to try to learn how to market something useless? Why start your brand with a meeee ttooooo empty product database?

Or does it make more sense to learn your market first, create content about things that interest you, and then later use that channel to help push your other ideas?

A site does not need to be big to make lots of money, but original content that grows over time draws passive traffic streams that continue to grow. It also helps you get quick feedback and allows you to launch new ideas and have them spread quickly.

The guys at Google are geniuses who are amazing marketers and had great market timing. Most people will fail if they try to go that broadly though. Think of how many search engines you can think of. There have been thousands of attempts and almost all have fail.

You can own large verticals with algorithms too though. The guys at Topix, a leading news site, are no doubt geniuses and were able to smartly create amazing algorithms and then use that to leverage great partnerships.

Most websites and webmasters are not going to do fundamentally innovative things that allow them to work on large data sets the way some of the large resource rich companies do.

But you do not have to be a programming whiz or have infinite resources to do well so long as you are:

  • interested in a topic

  • willing to work hard at tracking and learning it
  • focused on a niche
  • opinionated

If you are all of those 4 you should be able to beat out an algorithmic driven process every time. If you can't then it just means you need to focus more on a niche, become more opinionated, or pick a topic you are more interested in.

The feedback cycles take time and unless you are absolutely great at writing the first 6 months to a year can start to look a bit bleak, but after that you should be able to grow quicker than the market does, so long as you did not start off in a niche that was already hyper saturated.

More and more companies are fighting to create ad networks that help automate the monetization of content. If you don't have any money to push an ecommerce site then you might do well to push content creation and leverage that original content, mind share, and traffic flow for profit.

Published: February 4, 2006

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Comments

February 6, 2006 - 1:46pm

I have to agree. I've written a vertical niche price comparison site for bike and components here in the UK (http://shopping.outdoor-equipment-review.com). It's early days but traffic to the site is increasing bringing in a small but steady income via affiliate fees. I'm just adding merchants as I find them but its attracting attention from other merchants who aren't yet listed who are now asking to be including and what the cost is :-)

Why did I write it ? Because nothing like it existed before and, having written it, it's going to be very easy to apply it to other niches eg golfing equipment.

Total outlay was 450 hours of my freetime and, well that's it, maybe a new domain name in a few weeks once I've ironed out the bugs and I'm ready to go multi-channel with it.

February 7, 2006 - 1:27am

Thats one of the most valuable posts I have read for a while. Absolutely spot on.

We went into a niche we were 110% passionate about - gave people the resources that were not available anywhere else. Put new articles up all of the time and what started out as a resource for users has grown into a very successful shop too.

youre right: niche+passion+hard work = good site

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