So, you’ve got an amazing idea for a new website. You’re buzzing with excitement and day dreaming of seeing your name mentioned alongside the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Biz Stone as the creator of the next big thing on the internet.
It’s such a good idea… nothing can possibly go wrong…. can it?
Well, hopefully not! However, sometimes you can be too close to an idea and overlook the potential banana skins and obstacles that will be blocking your new site’s path to internet glory.
Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before remortgaging your house to finance that fantastic new website idea….
In fact, before you read all that boring text, since it’s nearly Friday I fancied a bit of fun. So here is the whole article presented in the form of snakes and ladders
Ok… now read on to make sense of the above!
1. What Is My USP?
Social networks are all the rage and for good reason. Everyone would like a piece of the facebook pie and with ‘out the box’ software like social engine (aff) making it a doddle to get your own niche social network up and running, it seems like a great, easy way to make money online.
But here’s an example of why it is not as simple as you might think.
Fishermen. There’s lots of fishermen in the UK. 4 million in fact.
So, how about setting up a niche social network for fisherman. What a great idea!
You think of ‘catchy’ domain name (pun intended), grab a social networking script, create a great logo, nice layout, put it live, throw some ‘bait’ (sorry…) out on a few forums and social media and wait for those 4 million UK fishermen to sign up to your site.
And you wait….
And you wait….
So What Went Wrong?
Well, put yourself in the shoes of one of your target audience, a fisherman (hopefully they are not too wet…). He sees your blurb in his favourite forum about this great new social network for fisherman where you can….
- Set up a profile
- Upload pictures
- Upload videos
- Post to your wall
- Connect with other fishermen!
And he thinks… Well yeah, I already do all of that. On facebook.
And he’s right isn’t he?
But this social network is just for fishermen you say… that’s the USP!!
Well no. It really isn’t. He’s already part of an exclusive ‘fishermen’s friends’ (sorry, there’s just too much material here!) group on facebook.
So what are you offering that they aren’t?
And the answer is nothing. Apart from one more longwinded registration form and social network to worry about updating.
What Could You Do Differently?
There’s nothing wrong with niche social networks as a concept and there are some very successful ones.
The key is to really think about your target audience and what you can offer them that they are not getting at the moment through their existing social media.
You have to get them as excited for your new site as you are.
So, let’s continue with our example of fishermen.
How about in addition to the usual profile, pictures, wall stuff we offer them the following features: –
- Live streaming shipping forecasts
- A monthly ‘one that got away’ competition
- Guides to the best fishing spots in the UK
- Rules and regs
- Free entry into a prize draw to win $1,000 of fishing gear just for signing up
- Some extra incentive for the first 1,000 sign ups?
- Exclusive discounts at online fishing stores
I’m just making this up off the top of my head, and you can probably tell I know nothing about fishing, but hopefully you get the idea!
So, if you believe your site has a strong USP that will appeal to your target audience, get them excited for your site and rushing to sign up, it’s safe to proceed to question 2.
2. Is There The Critical Mass Required To Make This A Success?
It’s all very well coming up with a concept that your target audience will love, but if your target audience is 10 people then it’s highly unlikely your site is going to be floating on the stock exchange any time soon.
In an ideal world your new web property will have a global appeal (a youtube, a pinterest), but if you are targeting a niche then make sure it is big enough to justify all that effort.
This is one of those occasions when you have to put aside your personal thoughts on a topic for a second. Conventional wisdom says that you should create a website on a subject you are passionate about, but if the only other person interested in that subject is called mum then it’s probably best to go back to the drawing board.
3. How Tech Savvy Is My Target Audience?
If you are happy with your answer to question 2 and the potential audience for your new site is large enough to make it fly, then the next thing you should think about is whether that audience is actually one that would be interested in a digital expansion of their interest.
For example, there’s around 300,000 Amish people in the world, which probably ticks box 2, but they wouldn’t exactly be an ideal target for a social network…
So, make sure your site is aimed at a demographic that is tech savvy enough to be interested in what your amazing new corner of the web has to offer!
4. Am I Prepared To Put The Work In?
A very important question to ask yourself before you dive in headfirst and certainly before you spend any money.
There must be millions of half completed, abandoned websites out there rotting away in cyberspace.
Launching a successful website takes a tonne of hard work and dedication and unless you are very lucky you won’t see any return for a while. So…
Are you prepared to work hard to make your site a success? Are you super confident in your idea; prepared to live and breathe it, promote it and shout about it from the rooftops until the world sits up and listens?
If the answer is yes, then good for you – you can think about question 5…
5. How Can I Monetise The Site?
Wait a minute… shouldn’t this be number 1 on the list? Isn’t that why you are creating the new site after all?
Well, let me explain why it is only after you have proceeded past questions 1-4 and are confident that you have strong answers/cases for each, that you should think about where the money will actually come from.
Cats And Skinning
You know the phrase, ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’. Well that very much applies on the internet.
You see, once you have traffic. Actually, let me rephrase that – once you have engaged, trusting traffic then there are multiple ways to reveal the skeleton on the moggy.
Unless you are really unlucky (and it’s why you should certainly give this question some consideration before you start), if you think about value and traffic first, then the money will follow.
For example, your new site could be monetised through any of the following methods: –
- Selling advertising
- Sponsored reviews
- Promoted posts
- Premium subscription content
- Affiliate Marketing
- Adsense (not for me, but…)
And that list is far from exhaustive.
In fact, if you have a big enough member/subscription base you’ll probably be able to sell the site for a fortune without it ever having made a penny.
So amazing idea with audience first, money second.
And If You Are Happy With Your Answers…
Then you just might have a winner on your hands, so don’t hold back… go for it!
And good luck!
Oh… and bonus internet magic points to the first person who can name the 4 online entrepreneurs in my snakes and ladders game 😉