I’ve decided to launch a new Web site. I know, I know, "who cares?" People launch new sites all the time. What makes this site any different?
First, I’m going to document the site launch on here. I’m going to tell you how I do it in a couple of easy steps. You will learn the secrets behind launching a (hopefully) large scale advertising-supported content-rich site. You will learn the steps necessary to create the site, where I get content, how the site design and build progresses, how I launch and market the site, and how I build the site quickly to tens of thousands of visitors.
First Steps – What Are We Here For?
The first step in launching a new Web site is to figure what niche are you going to serve and what is going to make your site different. I frequently meet with people who want to learn how to launch their own successful site and I always tell them to pick a niche. Do not go for the broad market as people will get lost in what you’re offering and you won’t be able to earn enough ad income to satisfy your needs. Of course, I frequently violate this very rule (Learnthat.com, MyTutorials) – but how is life any fun if you can’t break your own rules. The flipside is this: if you want a big-monster-of-a-site, you really have to go broad. I have the patience to let it grow and I have an asset few others have.
Launching a New Site on Another Web Site
I’ll admit it: I’m going to cheat when I launch this new site. It’s going to be on Learnthat.com. It is, however, a separate functionality and is just using the horsepower behind Learnthat.com to further my goals. Use what you got, and I got a popular Web site as a launching place.
The site is Explainthat.com – a new place to learn from experts. The purpose of the site is to produce high quality explanations of a variety of topics – somewhere between Yahoo! Answers and Wikipedia. What sets Explainthat.com apart is we are going filter out the junk – if a content article doesn’t meet standards, it will either be improved or purged. There are a lot of user generated content (UGC) sites out there that have great content on them, but finding the great stuff is impossible. We are going to write some code to help filter out the junk and provide great content to our visitors.
Steps to Launching a Successful Site
We are going to document the process we take to build a site. This is pretty rudimentary – people have been building high quality Web sites for years much more successful than ours, but we want to provide a foundation so you understand how we do it. Along the way, we will post stats and analytics so you can understand the impact of the steps we take. Hopefully, we won’t make any mistakes, but if we do, we’ll let you know what they are so you might not repeat them!
After we determined what we want the site to be and where it will reside (www.learnthat.com/explain/ or explainthat.com), we began working on the design elements. For this site, it will fit into Learnthat.com and into the site’s design, but since we’re launching a new design for Learnthat, we are building ExplainThat into a new layout. We also had to create a new logo and new page layouts for the sections within the site. This process typically takes two weeks and we’re entering the second week of design now.
Acquiring Content for Your Web Site
As we’re creating the design for the site, we are also working on building out content for the site. Though it’s going to be a UGC site, we are going to seed the site with a couple hundred articles to get started.
We use Guru.com almost exclusively for content. We’ve used the company for years to find good contractors to create content and generally have a good experience. Guru manages the backoffice operations (payment and taxes) so I can worry about getting great content. For a project like this, I am acquiring 1,000 word articles in a variety of topics from a variety of authors. This typically ranges from $25-$50 per article, but the sweet spot is $30 per article. Once we have the site up, we will generate some analytics for the return on investment for that $30 article, but generally speaking we should see a return in less than 12 months.
In our next blog entry, we will have the site design completed and begin work on developing the code to make the site function. Since it’s a UGC site, we will want strong administration tools and an easy to use front end.