How I Make My Own Website - A Complete History Of This Website
One day in the month of December 2008 I typed how make my own website into Google. My life changed that day.
All the hype about being a webmaster and making money online got my attention. With no understanding and lots of enthusiasm, a month after the seed sprouted in my head this website was born.
When I started this website what I needed most was the timeline of a successful website - something I could follow, something that would give me a glimpse into my future.
The problem with websites that try to answer the question 'how do I make my own website?' is that they lack real life examples - they seem to pull advice out of the air.
I wanted the owner of a successful website to open their soul. Tell me exactly what they did to become successful. I want to see not just the right decisions, but also the wrong decisions. I want to get into the head of a webmaster so I can think like him. Show me how you got to where you are. How long did it take? What were the mistakes? Do not just tell me what worked. Tell me what did not work.
Successful websites providing advice is intimidating because you never see what was involved in becoming successful – you did not see the journey, you only see it in its final glorious state. You are awed by successful websites. Your first thought is: the owner is a genius, look how good he writes, the website is so professional. At the beginning tears form if you compare your website with a successful one. But you are forgetting to realize that successful websites weren't always successful. They started off just like you.
This page was created so that you get a glimpse into the process of building a website. The trial and error, the hits and the misses.
It takes time to create a successful website. It is a process and a journey; one that everybody must take.
Here is the process and journey of this website. Hopefully it will provide you with a glimpse into your future, lots of useful information, and most importantly comfort in the fact that making a successful website takes time and persistence. When you are feeling discouraged with the progress of your website come back here to remind yourself that it is a process everybody must go through.
Decided to Start a Website And Make Money
Can not remember exactly how I got the idea to start a website. Probably a boring Sunday afternoon on the Internet. Somehow I came across a website claiming that it is easy to make money with a website. I was hooked.
Of all the steps this is the most crucial. Deciding to put your energy into making a website is a big step. One that will take over your life. Be prepared to have your head hijacked. All your thoughts in the car, in the shower, waiting for the bus will be about your website. Say goodbye to your free time.
Registered Domain Name and Opened a Hosting Account
This step could be saved for later - you could do this after you create your website and write at least 20 pages of content, but this step is just too much fun. It's exciting choosing a domain name. Like the name of a dog, a domain name stays forever and provides personality - Sparky is not the same as Killa.
Registering a domain name provides a sense of commitment. With a domain name paid for it feels like out feet are wet. You made an important step towards your website. With money invested you are motivated to move forward.
Created Initial Website
To teach myself about websites I completed a few basic tutorials for Dreamweaver. Then downloaded a 3-column layout CSS template. Created a Logo with Photoshop. Put it all together for a very basic website.
After more than 20 hours of learning and creating a website was born. The website was simple. Just a few pages and logo. The plan was to start simple and add to it over time. Although the initial website was simple it still took hours to get something resembling a website. At the beginning it was a lot of trial and error. It was all new to me, so I just had to fiddle, fudge and force.
It is important to make sure that the initial framework of the website is done properly. Try to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. By having a website designed correctly at the beginning it is easier to add and make changes in the future. If you take shortcuts and are not sure what you are doing than it will cause headaches in the future. Build a strong foundation - try to understand what you are doing. Take it slow, do not do just to get it done, do it right.
Update October 2010
My current website looks nothing like the one I created in the first few weeks. But I did not need to start from scratch. I was always able to build on the original website. It would have been a nightmare if I had made the first website fundamentally with a mistake like not using CSS.
With a properly built foundation I can simply add and edit the core website whenever the need or mood strikes me. I never have to do work arounds or patches to compensate for a poorly designed website.
I do not want to scare you. Your first website does not have to be perfect. If you have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS then you will be fine. If not, do more reading and tutorials - a few hours more spent learn at the beginning will save you countless hours later on.
Created 20 Web Pages of Content
Nothing worse than a new website with only one or two pages. I want my website to look 6 months old on its first day. So write, write and write more.
Before putting the website out I want at least 20 pages of content. Each page around 1000 words.
Every day I try to do at least 2 pages. Not too concerned about the quality of the writing. At the beginning I want quantity - fatten the website up with content. When the 20 pages are done I will re-read and edit them later in a more relaxed state of mind. For now just throw 20 pages out there.
It seems like a lot of hard work but it is not. The newness of it all is a great motivator. You want to write. Every completed web page is another brick - at the beginning it is fun to build. With my laptop I am able to write everywhere, in the coffee shop, on the train, in bed. 20 pages come quickly.
Update October 2010
Of the original 20 pages only a few survived. The few that did survive have been edited beyond recognition. But that is OK. At the beginning the point is to get pages out there - to get the snowball rolling. The great thing with a website is that it is a living growing entity that you can edit anytime. Webpage content is not forever - you are not writing anything to stone - edit anytime.
Now when I write a webpage I put in lots of time. Now there is no rush. Very different than at the beginning when I was excited and rushed because I wanted my website up and running as soon as possible. At the beginning it would have slowed me down too much to have perfect and polished web pages.
When you start just get something out there. Then 3 months down the road on a quiet Sunday afternoon sit down with a cup of coffee and polish web pages.
Submitted Website to domz.org
dmoz.org is a directory of websites. A directory is a listing of websites grouped by category. Its purpose is to make it easy to find a website that you are looking for. So instead of doing a search and hoping for the best results, the directory is a list of websites that you can search and browse.
What makes dmoz special is that it is a non-profit directory. It is run by volunteers that decide which websites are good enough to be in the directory. For these reasons it is a trusted directory - no junk or spam websites. Every website submitted must be reviewed and approved by a dmoz volunteer editor.
Google trusts this directory because a website listed in this directory is a quality website - it has been approved by a human editor. Google mentions dmoz in the SEO guide in which it states that Google might use the description from dmoz for its search results.
Google likes dmoz. The idea is that if you get your website listed on dmoz Google will know your site is good and will send you more search traffic. Makes sense.
So I submitted this website to dmoz.
Update October 2010
Almost 2 years have passed and I am still waiting for this website to be approved by dmoz.
I now believe that it was a big mistake to submit this site at the beginning. At the beginning this site was junk. A reviewer visiting this website in its first few months would think “oh great another make money online website - nothing new here, very little content, won’t last 6 months. Rejected”
What makes dmoz good for its users makes it aggravating for webmasters wanting to add their website to the directory. Users like it because it is a human reviewed directory and so they can be certain of being directed to quality websites. For webmasters eager to have their websites in the directory it means waiting a long time to be reviewed and the possibility of rejection.
Dmoz is a black box. You get no feedback. You do not know whether your site has been reviewed, when it will be reviewed, if it has been black listed, etc. Who knows, maybe I blew my one chance, maybe if I resubmit (which they state you should not do) it will be instantly rejected. Dmoz is notoriously secretive of their process and provides no information of the status of your submission.
Do not submit your website at the beginning. Wait awhile. Wait until you have lots of content and a quality website. Wait until you have traffic and something good to show the human reviewers. There is no point submitting unless your website has aged and has real value.
Build your website and let it become better with time. Once you are confident that it is a quality site, for example 1 year later, try submitting it. Or better yet, build a great site and let dmoz find you.
Submitted Website to Search Engines
This website is new so search engines do not know about it. Since they do not know it exists, it will not appear in search results. Most hosting services provide a service in which they submit your new website to search engines. You simply press a button and it is submitted.
After you submit your website the search engines will send one of their bots over, scan your website, and start sending you traffic. Sounds reasonable. So I clicked a button and a couple seconds later my new website was submitted to three major search engines. Now wait.
Update October 2010
There are two ways for a search engines to discover your website:
- You tell the search engine about your website by ‘submitting your website.’
- Another website links to your website.
What do you think search engines value more - you telling them about your website or somebody else mentioning your website? Obviously it is better if somebody besides yourself toots your horn.
If you submit your own site expect nothing spectacular to happen. Search engines know that all you did was press a button. They will take their time before they send a bot to visit and index your site. It is like you saying “I am great, come look at me”? If you need to call attention to yourself then you are probably not that great.
But on the other hand if somebody else places a link to your new website then search engines will take that more seriously. Somebody besides you saying ‘hey look at this website’ has a lot more value.
Do not bother submitting your site. Instead, create some good content and people will start linking to you. Or leave comments on a blog linking back to your site, or join a forum with your new website as the signature. Search engines will follow these links and find your website on their own.
You probably do not lose anything by submitting your site, but most likely you do not gain anything either. This step can be ignored.
Created Paypal Business Account
A website that is going to make money needs a place to put all that money. A PayPal business account is the best place to pile up future earnings.
Since I will be selling products I need a place where people can send me money. Since most transactions online are amongst strangers a company like PayPal is necessary. PayPal is a recognized name and people trust it. Most people recognize the pay now Paypal button.
Not too many people would be willing to send cash or to send money directly to my bank account. But they would be willing to send the money to PayPal, which then sends it to me.
PayPal takes care of all the nitty gritty of financial transfers. They make it easy for people to send money from bank accounts or credit cards. PayPal also provides people with a sense of online security. If something goes wrong with a transaction they can report it to PayPal. PayPal has ways to resolve issues.
Before making a single dime, I set up a place to put all future dimes. It took about 10 minutes to set up a business account. For security reasons I sent identity information, scan of passport and proof of address. A few days letter I had a operational Paypal business account. The money can begin to roll in.
Created Affiliate Account with EZ-Webhosting
There are many ways to make money with websites: sell your own products, advertising and becoming an affiliate.
At the beginning the easiest and most alluring method of making money is becoming an affiliate. The concept is simple. You sell other people’s product and receive a commission. Basically you are a vacuum sales person. You did not make the vacuum, you sell it - and for every sale you get paid a commission.
For this website the natural thing to sell is a hosting service. People visiting this site are looking for information on how to start their own website. Naturally if they are going to start a website they will need a hosting company. By being an affiliate to a hosting company I get paid for every new account opened via this website.
All I have to do is open an afiliate account - 10 minutes. Then I get a small snippet of code which I place on the website. The code places an ad on this website. When my visitors click on an ad and open a hosting account I get paid $65.
$65 for every account opened. Being and affiliate has a lot of potential.
Update October 2010
It has been almost two years since I created the EZ-Webhosting affiliate account. Still waiting to make my first sale.
At first I had a big banner at the left hand side of the website. It receives a few clicks every now and then but nobody opened an account. Clicks do not make me money - I need people to open an account.
Because nobody was opening an account I decided to change strategy. Instead of having a banner on every single page of the website, I created a hosting sales page specifically dedicated to urging readers to open a hosting account by clicking on the banner ad. On the hosting page I honestly argue what a great hosting company it is and mention that I use it myself and have had no bad experiences with it. Great product, no exaggerations, it is so good that I use it - a classic sales page.
The hosting page has been live for about a year. Within that year 85 people have clicked on the link to view that page which means that 85 people wanted to know more about opening a hosting account. The average time for that page is over 4 minutes which means people are reading the page. 85 people interested in getting a hosting service. But unfortunately none of them were interested enough to actually get one.
But that is OK. 85 is not a lot of people. One might expect something like 1% of them to buy the product. I still have not had 100 people visit the page so I cannot expect a sale.
To make money with affiliate sales, especially something like a hosting services which has a lot of competition, you need lots of traffic. So I am not surprised that there have been no sales. But when the traffic does come I am ready: the affiliate account, I have the sales page, and I have the PayPal account for the commission checks.
Created Affiliate Account With Amazon
On Amazon you can find a book about everything.
For my niche there are lots of relevant books. Books about building websites, making money online, blogs, better writing, HTML, CSS - everything.
What could be easier than selling books to my website visitors? They are on my website because they want to know something about websites. So offering them a book about websites is a logical thing to do.
Amazon does all the hard work. All I need to do is open an Amazon affiliate (associate) account - takes ten minutes. Then I select books I want to sell and how I want to ads to look. Based on my selection Amazon provides me with code that I paste into my website. I paste the code into my website and like magic a beautiful banner ad appears on this website. It has the picture of the book and a buy now button. If a visitor clicks on the banner and purchases the book (or any book on Amazon) Amazon pays me a commission.
People buy books on Amazon all the time - Amazon makes hundreds of millions of dollars every year selling books. Surly I can make some money selling books.
Update October 2010
For the almost two years since I opened the Amazon account I managed to sell two books - and that was only because I asked my brother to buy my birthday present via the website banner. The two books made me $1.27.
Very early on I took the Amazon banner off the website. Nobody was clicking on the banner and they looked out of place on the website. Compared to Google Adsense which you can blend into the website, Amazon ads looks too much like ads. They look desperate - the website looked like a lamp post plastered with advertisements.
The problem with Amazon is that people already know Amazon. Most people, if they want a book, will go straight to Amazon. When they come to this website they are not looking for a book, they are looking for a website - if they were looking for a book their first stop would be Amazon.
Another problem with Amazon is that it offers very low commission. Because they already have a popular website they do not need other people selling books for them. So they are not forced to offer high commissions to encourage people to sell books for them. So with a low traffic website, like mine, it is not possible to make lots of money with Amazon.
When this website has thousands of visitors a day it might be worth it to put up a Amazon banner. But for now there is no point. For those who really want to buy a book from this website there is a single dedicated Amazon webpage with a few relevant books for sale.
Created a Unique Product To Sell
If you can name it, you can buy it on the Internet. Any product you can think of, somebody already thought of, and is selling it online.
It's difficult to sell something original. Something that people want and something that nobody else is selling. Its difficult but there are two advantages in providing original products.
One advantage is that you have no competition. If people want what you are selling then they have to buy it from you. Of course this advantage does not last, if you are making money competition will come running. But while it lasts you're laughing.
The second advantage is that an original product has the possibility of generating hype. If you have the only product and it is interesting or useful people will want to tell their friends about it. The marketing will happen on its own. Nowadays it is called going ‘viral’. If your product goes viral it is the best thing that can happen to you - people will tell their friends and link to your website. Your website will be on social websites like Digg and StumbleUpon. Instant fame. Thousands of visitors will come to look at your original product. Instant fame, backlinks galore.
Creating an original product that goes viral is the dream. It means success.
That is why I created the PAJ. After thinking for many days on what original product I can provide I came up with jar full of Prague air.
Not the most useful product, but quirky enough to be of interest to some. Maybe there are people out there that want a jar of authentic air from Prague. Who knows? Only one way to find out.
My main intent with this product was not to get sales but to get backlinks. The hope was that people would find the product interesting. Not interesting enough to buy, but interesting enough to tell their friends about. I dreamed of being on page 1 of the very popular social network Digg.
So I got a jar, filled it with Prague air, and closed it. I made a nice rustic looking label and pasted it on the jar. Then I spent a couple of hours making a sales page. Beautiful pictures and simple steps for visitors to purchase their own slice of Prague - a PayPal buy now button was conveniently placed on the page.
Update October 2010
Out of pity a friend purchased a PAJ. So I made one sale.
Although I did not know it at the time there is a name for what I was trying to do with the PAJ product. It is called linkbait.
The idea behind linkbait is that you create a product with the sole intent of luring people. You amuse and amaze them with the hope that they link to your website. You do not care if they buy or not, you just want them to link to your website. So you create an impractical, crazy product, hoping that people tell their friends about it and it gets on page one of StumbleUpon.
But Internet users are getting wiser. It is not the good old days when everything crazy was emailed to family and friends. Now people are pretty good at sniffing out linkbait. They can tell when something is crazy just to be crazy.
Now it is no longer good enough to have a crazy product (like the pet rock), but you need it to go beyond. What that beyond is I have no idea. It might be the PAJ, but so far it does not look like it.
Website Goes Live January 7, 2009
After a month of preparation: registering domain name, opening hosting account, designing website, writing content and so on, the website is ready to go live. Today is the first day that I will mention the website to another soul.
I am a member on a couple of forums for webmasters. Today I edited my signature to mention this website. After reading my comments on the forum people will be able to click on my link and visit this website. The signature on the forums will also be the very first backlink.
Update October 2010
Website has been live for over 600 days. Many, many backlinks and visitors later this website is still chugging along.
The first day was exciting. The newness of it all kept me up halfway through the night and the morning came quickly. Before going to the bathroom, before showering, before petting the cat, I checked the stats. There were visits. I was so excited - people actually visited my website. The month of work was justified by that one moment of excitement - the confirmation that the whole process work. Moved from daydreaming about website to having a live website.
600 days later and over 67,000 visitors later the excitement of a couple visitors on my website has died. Now the fact that a few visitors dropped by is irritating - I want more than a few visitors. Now a few visitors is an insult. I want to wake up and see that thousands of visitors came by. When that happens, when I wake up and see a large number of visitors instead of a handful then the excitement will return.
Started a Blog
Website is so 90’s. The cool thing these days is to have a blog. All the kids are doing it so I will do it to. How hard can it be?
There are 100’s of blogs specifically dedicated to persuading you how easy it is to make money with blogs. According to them all you need to do is have good content and update regularly. This will provided you will a loyal following of readers who will keep coming back to be engaged by your good content. And then you sell them stuff. I need to get in on this.
So I found a few fancy blogs written by big gurus. These guys are making 6 figure incomes a year with their blogs. Glancing through their blogs I find nothing special - I can do what they are doing. They write well and have lots to write about. I write well and have lots to write about.
Creating a Wordpress blog is easy. Wordpress provides fully operational blog templates that you can download and use for free. They claim that a blog can be setup in 5 minutes.
In 5 minutes I had a blog. I selected a free template that closely matched the layout of my website. Twenty minutes later, after a few layout tweaks, I had a blog and became a blogger.
I wrote my first post and hit publish. Simple, so simple - all there is left for me to do is to make money.
Update October 2010
Being a blogger is easy. Making money with a blog is hard.
Over the last year and a half I have managed to collect 80 subscribers. Obviously I am doing something wrong. Unfortunately I do now know what I am doing wrong. Why does my blog have 80 subscribers while another blog has 80,000?
You do not need to look far for advice on how to build a success blog. Unfortunately most advice is from bloggers with 80 subscribers. Some say you need to post more, some say you need to post less, some say the posts need to be longer, some say they need to be shorter. Every piece of advice has a counter example. There simply is no right answer. There is no single way to have a successful blog.
The consistent trait of all successful blogs is good content. All successful bloggers have something unique to say and present it well. It does not matter how many times you post, or how long the posts, or if there are images or if you reply to the comments. All that matters is that you provide value to the readers. Besides being unique and present the content well, all other advice is just noise.
There are no successful blogs that I came across that are poorly written or presented. None of them are just a sales pitch or search engine optimized content. They provided information, in various ways, that gives value to readers. Readers keep coming back for more, not because they are being tricked into coming back with ridiculous claims or false promises, they come back because they get something out of the blog.
I have focused on what I believe to be unique and well presented content. So this blog should be exploding. But dispute my efforts the blog is progressing slowly.
I do not know why the blog is failing. For now I will keep on writing posts with the hope that one day the answer will present itself. Hopefully the next update will be about the unexpected increasing in visitors and how it happened.
Created a RSS Feed With Google Feedburner
Most websites have a RSS feed. So even before I knew what it was I wanted one too. Everybody has it - I want it.
Here is how it works. Instead of depending on your readers to come and check your website for new content, you send them content. It is a way to send your readers emails without using emails. RSS is just a different type of email that is packaged in a special format.
Your readers signup to receive your RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed. You write some content and send it to your RSS subscribers. They will receive the content and view it with their RSS reader. If they want to know more they can click on the conveniently placed link back to your website.
RSS is just another way to keep in contact with your readers. The advantage is that you can send them content whenever you want. When you want to tell them something you can. It is a way to push content to subscribers instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that they come and visit.
RSS is no different than if you collected your readers' email addresses and then send them an email.
Sounds like a good idea. It saves subscribers the hassle of constantly checking if there is new content on your website. They simply wait till you send an update to their RSS reader. And if they are interested they can click on the link to your website to view more.
I created a RSS feed. People will register, and I will keep them up to date with my progress on a weekly basis. Every week I will send an update of how much money this website makes. Every week they will be reminded of this website and every week they will come by to see more - they will click the ads, buy products and overall think I am a great guy.
I signed up with Feedburner and am sending weekly updates to my fans.
Update October 2010
The heart was in the right place. Every week I sent an update of the website’s progress. My readers would be made aware of the latest developments of traffic and revenue.
But the heart is naive, its intents and desires lack foundation in reality.
The problem was that I assumed there would be weekly updates. I assumed that every week there would be something to report. For the first 4 weeks I dutifully wrote up a little report and sent it to the 10 subscribers. It took only a month to realize that grass grows faster than website progress. For the first 4 weeks there was nothing to report.
Every week was the same. In my ignorance I expected the website to grow like a snowball. Everyday there would be more and more readers and everyday something new would be happening. But, as I quickly found out, nothing happens at the beginning. You build a website and make it live - then you wait. And wait. 10 Visitors a days turns to 12 visitors a day. There is nothing to report.
At the beginning you write content and build your website. Traffic and progress come much later. Years later not weeks later. After the 4th week of RSS progress updates - I stopped sending them. I did not want to upset my first 10 readers by sending them unchanged stats every week.
RSS is great as long as you have something to say. If you keep sending RSS content to readers with nothing interesting to say it is bound to cause more damage than good.
The website RSS feed has been eliminated, but there is a blog RSS feed. When a new blog post is published all the subscribers receive the post in their RSS readers. The blog RSS feed is doing well. Not because there are a lot of subscribers, but because there are not a lot of unsubscribers.
Created Charity Page
The Amazon banner was the first attempt at making money online. I had a website and the easiest thing to do is to put an Amazon banner up and wait for people to click it and buy a book.
Of course, nobody has bought a book. Why would they? If they want a book they simply go to the Amazon website and buy it. This website is not a good venue to sell books - people want to learn how this website makes money - not buy a book.
People have options. They can buy books from a million other websites. Why would they buy it from this one? I need to give my visitors a good reason to buy books from this website and to buy them now.
It has been said a million times before in a million different ways. You need to be unique, you need to provide value and you need to give people a reason to take action. Placing Amazon banners on your site does not fulfill any of these criteria.
So what can I do to be unique, to provide value, and to push people in to action? A walk in the park and a shower later an idea was born.
I will donate most of the Amazon proceeds to charity. Brilliant.
It's unique. People will buy books from this website because they will be donating to charity. Why buy a book from Amazon or any other website if you can buy it on this website (for the same price) and donated to charity.
Also, to give reader an active role, I added a poll in which visitors vote for which charity to donate to. Once enough money is made the winning charity gets the money.
What a great idea. Charity and participate - surly a recipe for instant success.
Besides giving incentive to buy books from this site, I will also receive lots of attention. Other bloggers will link to my site urging their readers to participate. Buy books and donate to charity!
Finally, the cherry on top of this brilliant idea is that the charities which receive the money will link to this website thanking it for the donations.
I am extremely excited about this idea. It has all the right dashes and doses of a great idea.
I made a charity page which explains the idea, has an Amazon banner and poll enabling people to vote for their favorite charity. Then I wrote a blog post to introduce the idea to the world. Late in the evening the charity idea went live. I went to bed clutching my pillow with excitement - the morning can not come soon enough.
Update October 2010
The gap between what I thought would happen and what actually happened is huge. I thought I would be talking to Oprah and receiving multiple humanitarian awards. I thought I would be getting honorary doctors from business schools for my entrepreneurial creativity.
What happened? Nothing. Nobody cared. A couple hundred people visited the page but none of them bought a book, linked to my website, or called Opera.
I was so disappointed with its failure, shocked that an idea that I thought was great failed, depressed from the fall of such a height. I was so down that I removed the page. I did not want to have it on the website. The webpage is gone but the blog post is still there.
Nothing to do but continue trying more ‘great’ ideas.
Created Product: Website Starter Kit
You can make money with advertising and affiliate sales. But if you want to make the big bucks you need a product. You need to create something that you can sell to your readers. This mantra is sung from the highest rooftops.
All the big money makers have an ebook or a course or a camp getaway that they sell. They provide free information on their websites with the aim of selling a product. They provide free information with the hope that you buy something.
The potential for big money exists for products like ebooks, mp3s, videos because you only need to create it once and then it costs nothing to copy. When someone buys it you send them an email with an attachment. Simple and quick. With information products there is no need for hammers and nails - you just make a copy.
My niche is perfect for an ebook: how to build a website, how to make money online etc. The problem is that there are more ebooks in my niche there are readers. Readers are tired of the old ‘how to...online’ ebook - they need something more.
So I will give them something more. I created the Website Starter Kit. It is awesome.
- 5 ebooks
- my time
and more and more. The sales page lists all the reasons why you need to buy this awesome starter kit. Basically, it is everything you need if you want to make money online with a website and more. The price is $65. The sales pages justifies this cost by focusing on the amount of time people will save with the kit and the amount of time I will provided answering their emails.
A couple of days were spent on the sales page. I tried not to make it too selly - I avoided common phrases like ‘must have resource’, ‘limited time offer’, ‘Bob says it's the best product he has ever tried’. I wanted an open and honest account of what the kit provides - gently convince the reader that the kit will help them. I did not want the sales page to be flashy or pushy. It was written in the same tone and voice as the website. If people trust my website they should trust my sales page.
The ebook and website templates took a month to create. I was pregnant with the starter kit and could think of nothing more then the birth of my baby. The website and blog suffered through this month. All my time was spent thinking about and writing for the starter kit.
The Website Starter Kit is complete. I wrote a blog post about it and am in a good mood. I am happy with the product and believe it contains value for those who purchase it.
Update May 2010
A couple months after the launch of ‘Website Starter Kit’ I received an email which stated: ‘I like your writing, I will buy your Product.’
The person purchased the product then I never heard from him again. It was the only sale that I made.
The problem is obvious. There are just too many Website starter kits out there. I was hoping that my product was unique enough, but it is not. The competition is fierce. The guys with the big blogs, with 100,000 subscribes make all the sales. People who want to build a website will have already visited the big boys' blogs. By the time they arrive at this website they have seen it all. They have already been bombarded by offers to buy a website starter kit. If they did not already buy it then they are not going to buy it from me.
Before selling a product you need traffic and you need devoted fans. Fans who love your writing and personality, fans who trust you and want everything your have to offer. You need to be a ‘guru’. People buy things from ‘gurus’ not from websites that they happen to come across.
Maybe one day this website will have ‘guru’ power to conceive people to buy a product. But for now it I am no guru. My mother and my dog think I am a website guru, but for the rest of the world I am just a guy with a website.
People come to this website to look around and leave, not to buy. One day when people recognize me as a guru and traffic is at thousands views a day I will re-attempt to sell a product.
I tried to sell the product too early. Besides liking my writing style, why would anybody buy a product from me? Especially one about making money with a website. Why would anybody buy a ‘how to make money with a website’ product from a guy who has a website that plainly states that it is not making any money. I need to wait until this website makes a little more money before I write another ebook about how to make money.
The ‘Website Starter Package’ is another waste basket idea. Although, unlike the Chairty page idea, it was not a total loss. I found out that just because you write an ebook and put it in a pretty package does not mean you can sell it.
I still believe that selling a product is the best way to make money online. So I need to either make a totally unique and must have product that does not compete against the big boys, or become one of the big boys and sell a standard product to my adoring fans.
Created Quirky Tool: Website Carbon Footprint Estimator
Besides providing information, a website can also provide tools. A mortgage calculator, a life expectancy estimator, a backlink checker are examples of popular website tools.
Tools are a good way to lure people to your website. They come to use the tool, but they stay to read the content. Tools are also a great way to get backlinks. If people like your tool they will link to it and pass it along to their friends.
There are two types of tools. There is the useful tool - the mortgage calculator. A useful tool provides assistance solving a common problem. How much will I pay in interest over 25 years? Use the mortgage calculator to find out.
The other type of tool is the quirky tool. It provides information that you didn’t even know you wanted to know. Quirky tools are more interesting than they are useful. A good example is the tool which allows you to upload a picture of yourself and it will render an image of what you will look like in 20 years. It's fun, but not useful. The great thing about these types of tools is that the possibilities are endless and if you are lucky it can become popular fast.
I could try to put a useful calculator on this website, but the competition is fierce. All useful calculators that I could think of have already been made. AdSense revenue estimator, Traffic estimator, webpage keyword counter have all been done. It would be too difficult to compete against the well established websites that have these tools. So I had to come up with a quirky tool - a tool that nobody else has but that people will interesting.
So I came up with the Website Carbon Footprint Estimator. How much carbon does your website produce?
The server which runs your website consumes electricity, the visitors who read your web pages consume energy. Having this website and the act of reading it leaves a carbon footprint. With a few calculations one can figure out how big that footprint is. This website reveals the size of its carbon footprints and lets visitors, who are mostly webmasters, figure out the footprint of their websites.
With all the concern about the environment and how humans are affecting it - this tool might be quirky enough to create a buzz. People should link to it and I am doing my part to save the environment.
Update October 2010
Besides the blog post that I wrote about it, there has not been a single peep about it.
In an effort to get a buzz going I visited environmentalist blogs and left comments mentioning the Website Carbon Footprint Estimator. A few people came by to have a look but it's a dead bee - no buzz.
The tool is still up and I will keep it up. Maybe it just needs time. I need a single person who thinks it is really cool. I need that person to have an influential blog. I need that person to mention it on their blog. I need one of their readers to submit it to Stumbeopon. Are you that person?
Website Gets a New Look
18 months ago this website was slapped together. I lacked experience with HTML and CSS was a snake noise. Before I started I skimmed through a couple books, and completed a few tutorials. I had the basics, just enough to build a website.
When I started I did not know what I was doing or what the best design for a website in my niche might be. So I just made what I thought was right with the intent to update it later.
After a year and a half of looking at my website and seeing a lot of websites in my niche I got a good idea of what needs to be changed. My website looked amateurish. It looked like a first try, it was eightteen months old but it looked five years old.
The problem was not that it lacked the latest in technological website gadgetry or a flash-less logo. The problem with the website design is that it was too complicated. Most successful websites in my niche are simple. No dazzly eye popping graphics or animated. Just a simple logo on a white background.
The initial design of this website was too cluttered. The banner was a dark green color that faded into a light green. It had a half face of Benjamin Franklin from the $100 bill. The main link buttons would glow when you hover over them, It all looked good when I made it, but then over time it started to look bulky.
Half heads, fading greens and glowing links might seem great to someone learning to create a website but you soon learn that all they do is get in the way. All these things distract from the main purpose of the website - to provide information.
The green banner was too dark. The website looked gloomy and the eyes immediately focused on the dark banner at the top instead of the text below it. The glowing buttons looked neat but they took up bandwidth. Each button consisted of three pictures: one for normal, one for hover and one for current page - it slowed down the loading time of the page. A visitor would need to wait for all the buttons to download before the page appears. The Benjamin half head was just freaky.
All these things which seemed cool at first lost their luster over time. I just wanted a simple website in which people can quickly and easily find the information they are looking for. They are looking for how this website makes money, they are not looking for Benjamin's head, glowing buttons, fading greens. So I got rid of all the excess.
The website was updated with the follow changes:
- Dark green banner removed. Instead of the Benjamin half head a simple text logo was created. The colors are simple and non intrusive. The header background is white. Instantly the website looks brighter, lighter, and cleaner.
- The glowing buttons are gone. Now there are CSS links. With CSS you can make the text glow when hovered on so users can still tell that it is a link. The benefit with CSS is that it is just text so little bandwidth is necessary. Now the website opens a lot faster. It feels leaner.
- The main links used to be under the banner. Now they are above the banner. The reason is that there will be advertising on the banner and I want to force visitors to pass over the banner every time they want to go to another main page. Of course it has a drawback - visitors have to scroll all the way to the top of the page if they want to go to another main page. But since a lot of the successful website are doing it, I will do it to.
- All margins are increased. By removing the dark green banner and adding a white background the website looks more roomy. I furthered the feeling by increasing the margin sizes. Now there is a lot more white space on the website. Now it feels less crowed - there is more room for visitors to breathe.
Rarely a day goes by that does not include this website. Either I am thinking about it, writing new content, editing old content, or promoting it.
Fortunately it is not something that I need to force myself to do - it is not like mowing the lawn. I want this website to be successful and I enjoy trying to make it so.
When someone asks me, "How Do I Make My Own Website?" I reply, "slap a website together and then keep making it better". If you enjoy the challenge it will be easy to make your own website.
If you enjoyed this website, please share. Thank you.