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So how do you start a new site?

So how do you start a new site?

There's so much talk about this and an interesting thread has been started about this topic at the A4U Forum.

It all started from a comment reportedly from Mike Grehan which was:

"Sit down, look at your site. Write down 10 reasons why people would want to link to your Web site. If you can’t get past 5, you’ve created your own sandbox."

Totally right! This is what you need to do before you do anything else. I'd say even ignore your design and usability. Look at your site content in Word, Open office, TextPad form or whatever you use.

Don't even have your pc connected to the internet and think, "is this content useful to anyone?"

I'm saying you have to do anything totally unique or even substantially better than your competitors. Just find some USP's (unique selling points).

Find out what you offer that is different to others:

  • Is it the tone and the humour which you deliver your message?
  • Do you mix various forms of information in a manner that others don't?
  • Do you have knowledge or understanding of your topic that is in demand and you have the ability to communicate it effectively?
  • Do you offer others the ability to interact on the subject matter that others don't.

So the first stage would be to start off thinking about do you have great content?

If the answer to that question is affirmative, then move on to the next question, are you displaying the content in a format that is consistent with the subject? Make the people feel at home. Some game review sites would be dark - it's the audience you're catering for. If you're targeting a family audience make things bold, bright and clear.

So you've matched your content to a design that makes your audience feel comfortable think about how you offer interaction.

If it's right for your audience add a detailed and structured forum. If your users are less likely to register then create a simple comment form.

Offer your audience the opportunity to market your site for you - but in a manner in which they'll like. Some site's it'll be completely useless to add digg and furl links - your audience may not use them. But a "send this article to a friend" form may work for them, or a some quirky game/humour/voucher code stuff would work for a different audience.

One thing that is consistent: capture user email addresses. Some may expect a big hefty form that asks them about their interests but another group of visitors may only fill in a quick name + email address form.

Some types of audience would expect regular contact, others may one expect an email/broadcast a couple of times a year.

So when you've really nailed your audience, you've got the content, design and interaction matched tightly with your target audience what should you do next?

Well link-building is so old hat. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't seek links. Find relevant directories and submit your sight. There is nothing wrong with submitting your site to generalist and niche directories.

Second. Contact those that you know and see if they have a site on similar topic. Ask them if a link to your site would benefit their users? If so, ask them to do it, ideally ask for a paragraph or two about your site


Third. Go back to your USP's, think about what makes your site different, think about is there a news story here? Don't worry about getting on the front page of The Times. Just think about your niche and if it is of worth to them knowing about it. Think about what your niche's reaction would be if they saw your site mentioned somewhere and what they'll think about the news story and your site. If you think they'll turn their noses up at either then work out another story.

When you've got a story sorted then you've got two choices:

  1. Create your own press release and send it to PRWeb and niche syndication services;
  2. Pay a PR agency to do it.

It's your call but be prepared to take questions via phone and/or email. You need to be confident about your offering.

Create some buzz. But if you've got a MFA site, another clone shopping directory or price comparison service and you're actually adding no value to the world or the Internet - go back to bed and come up with something useful.

Unless you don't really "give a" about if you make a mint out of SEO, e-PR, SEM or anything. You may just create a site for a laugh, posterity or whatever. But if you do want to make a pile, then do it right from the start!

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