Dec 2, 2007

How To Launch A Website

Someone recently asked me How To Launch A Website?

I jotted down a top seven list for her and then quickly realized that I had the makings of a valuable article for the ARRiiVE Blog.

7 Ways to Launch A Website:

1. Start With VISION.

With most of my programs, I'll tell you that you can't do much of anything without first having a vision for what you want to do. Start a website without a clear vision, and your website will be clustered, poorly designed, and lack continuity or miss the target. Worse yet, you might have to shift, redesign, and rebuild the whole thing. And that can be costly. So, first, get clear on your vision:

What is the website for?

Who do you want to reach?

What are they looking for?

Until you can answer these questions in one sentence, don't start your website.

2. Get Your Domain.

I might even suggest getting "potential" domains even before getting clear on your vision. However, this might mean you buy more domains than you need to, and there are enough domain hawks on the web as it is.

One useful tool is to make sure you search for your domain names in a way that NOBODY else can see your search. There's only one tool I know of that lets you do this:

http://www.instantdomainsearch.com/. When you go for a domain, you want to get two different types of domains. Type A is the domain name for your company name. Reserve your company domain name and all the extensions for it (.net, .org, .biz, etc.). Type B is the domain name for the top key word or key words you wish to go after. When I first launched AspireNow, I had several names available that I ought to have registered (http://www.smoothsailing.com/ for example). I didn't register it, so a domain hawk who was seeking for a general ad-catchall site registered it and now won't release it to me. And, there isn't much I can do about it because he's international. So, get your keyword phrases also in domain form, as this is one of the top secrets of keywords.

What if the domain name I want is taken?

If the domain name you want is reserved or in use, you have two choices: (1) Bid on the name. There are several services on the web that provide this service, from http://www.fusebid.com/ to http://www.gimpsy.com/ or http://www.sedo.com/. If that doesn't appeal to you, then do what I did: (2) Choose a different name. In the case of ARRiiVE.com, I simply misspelled my name. Funny thing: by intentionally misspelling the name ARRiVE to ARRiiVE, I created an opportunity for the two lowercase ii's as part of my logo. People now ask me "What's with the two ii's?" I can tell them "before, you felt like you were in it alone, now it's i and i - we - together." I also created a name people remember MORE than the other name.

Some people will state "get a domain host" as a separate function from get "get a domain host" (a host is the company who will host your website on their server). The domain host CAN be separate, but I prefer to have them both tied together. I've been getting my domain names and hosted sites through 1and1.com lately.

3. Develop Your Identity.

This means Name, Logo, Brand, Slogan, Colors. I've read many articles on launching websites and have quite a bit of experience launching sites now. The mistake almost 98% of all websites make is failing to create any type of brand prior to launching their site. Before I launch any of my sites, I always have a logo developed. I have my slogan. I know what I'm doing with the site. If you can't say that, you're probably not ready to POST anything. So, before you create your content or post content, make sure you have a logo. If you need help, I can design a logo for you for under $1,000. In addition, if you want a full brand, name creation, vision strategy, and you're going BIG (you have millions in funding behind your idea, etc.), then you'll want to have a big-time branding firm help you with this.

I recently found some impressive branding elements at Viewpoint and Ovo. One of the best blogs I've discovered discusses Owning Your Own Brand. I've also got a good friend who is a pro at creating identity, who I reference when I need higher-end work. Most sites are going to be fine with a good logo and brand. So, before you go with an unknown, you might want to talk to someone you trust. :)

You can launch without your logo, but you'll be more impressive to visitors if you've got your identity act together. Don't forget to trademark your brand and logo, as well. Once your site gets popular, other domain hawks and site operators will see your popularity and want to copy you. As the saying goes, imitation is the best sign of flattery. Well, try not to get flattered in this way too much and protect your rights.

4. Develop Your Website Layout, Look, and Feel.

Are you a graphic designer? Do you have a good eye? Don't just answer yes if you don't really know. I've seen people with a great eye who could choose what they thought they wanted, but they may not have taken into account what their USERS wanted. Are you marketing to females? Use warm colors. Are you marketing to males? Use cool colors. Is your layout showing pictures? Then you might want to either show thumbnails or start with one classy picture, then invite people to see more.

Keep your space uncluttered. Many sites over clutter their site. If you're not sure what you're adding provides value, leave it off. Or, test it for a week, then see how it impacts visitors.

5. Develop Content.

If you're concerned about how to write good content, I've found that it helps to pick a topic I want to write about. Then, I figure out the headline. It's kind of like writing lyrics for a song. A co-songwriter in my band, Body, says to me "If you have a good song title, the rest of the lyric is easy." I think he's right. It's the same for writing articles. Usually, I'll pick the title and then some sub points underneath that. Sometimes, just three sub points, sometimes five, sometimes the 7 best. Whatever makes the most sense for that topic. Guy Kawasaki likes to do "Top Ten" lists or ten bullets in his talks. This ensures in the instance an audience member might think you suck, at least they know how far you have to go in your presentation (there's an end to the suckiness?). I typically will let people know how many points I'm going to talk about, too.

Within content, it is useful to cross-promote other articles, links, and sites you wish to promote. I cross-link related articles in many of my posts. For example, I'll mention that if you want to launch a blog as a website, and make money with it, you'll probably want to check out Profitable Business Blogging. See, it's that easy? Okay, so that was a shameless plug. Sometimes, I'm more subtle. Either way, you get the idea.

6. Optimize For Search Engines.

If you're not sure on how to optimize for search engines, I'm working on an E-book that will be part of the Profitable Business Blogging program called: G-Juice, Secrets of High Search Engine position. I've developed a few over the last year, in particular. One I'll give you here is to pick a title that has some Google search. Different strategies work for different things. For example, if I'm going for a title with high volume, I'll probably need to write about the subject more than once, and link back to it from other blogs. If you don't know how to pick keywords, you'll need a tool to do this. I use several, or can do this as a service for you through ARRiiVE Business Solutions. The important thing is to build a strategy, then continue to hone your strategy. I don't recommend submitting your site multiple times to multiple search engines. In fact, I don't even recommend you submit until AFTER Google discovers your organically (they give you more power when you do this). It will mean you'll have to wait a few months, and if you can do that, then it is a good idea. Otherwise, get your keywords right, submit to the engines, then work on your other strategies.

7. Promote Your Site.

There are several ways you can promote your site. The most popular on the web, right now, include:

a. Writing many blog posts.
b. Posting genuine comments on other posts (please, no spam).
c. Google Ad-words campaigns. I like AdWords because you can control the cost. It starts at $.05 per click, and goes up from there. Other linkage programs, can also be helpful.
d. Other affiliates, such as Amazon, can boost your earnings, but they won't necessarily improve your traffic. Try to pick affiliates that drive traffic back to you, too.
e. Consider a link-share program. The best site I've seen with links is CoolBusinessIdeas.com. I'm considering adding a similar linking strategy for both of my blogs. It's very powerful to have high-ranking blogs on your roll. Plus, when you give them out traffic, they likely will send some back to you.
f. Free gifts: Ideas for easy (downloadable gifts) include an e-book, software, widgets, or an online training course, which can be automated for newsletter sign-ups. People love free things.
g. I'm NOT sold on free ad networks. I've found that the reciprocal SPAM isn't worth the traffic I've received. If you find otherwise, please do share.
h. Make sure your URL is in your email you send out.
i. Put your WEBSITE name and URL name on your stationary and business cards. Some people even put it on their car!
j. Use traditional press releases. I've found some limited success with publishing press releases. There's a strategy to this. I recommend you contact Jill Lublin at http://www.promisingpromotion.com/ to make sure you do it right, or you can contact me and I'll hook you up. OH - when you call Jill, PLEASE tell her that Scott Andrews, from ARRiiVE and AspireNow, referred you. She knows me and likes to know these things.

Frankly, when it comes to promotion, I'd much rather do PR than advertise. Why? Because PR establishes me as an EXPERT, while an advertisement positions me as a SALESPERSON. Which would you rather be?

Most important tip:

If you're stuck in any of these areas of creating your website, don't be afraid to ask for help. I've helped many entrepreneurs launch their website, create their logo, find their name, and more. You'd be surprised how much people want to help you, if you're doing something they believe in. Better yet, offer them help in your area of expertise. Most people will throw some love back your way just out of human decency. It's good for business.

Have any tips to helping people launch a website? Contact me and share.

You may also find this resource of value: Profitable Business Blogging. I like the acid test: if your time is worth more than $2.04 an hour, you'll more than likely find the tips in this program of very high value in launching your website.
__________________________________

Post by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions.

ARRiiVE Business Solutions helps executives improve sales, launch products and services, and build dynamic, cross-functional collaborative teams. For more information, contact info (at)ARRiiVE (dot) com or call us at 1 (805) 459-6939.

Copyright © 2007 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. You may republish this article only if you publish in WHOLE with the COPYRIGHT and ALL ACTIVE LINKS intact.

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5 comments:

  1. Hey, one day something clicked inside my head and I decided I wanted to start a blog so I did. Now, I have it and I am playing with it. No money was put into it, but that is ok. I think it has been an interesting start. Half of everything is the willingness to get up and start something.

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  2. followed all you advice and we are launching http://AdviceandinInfo.com - Advice Columns -- Be an Advice Columnist!

    Wish us luck!

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  3. hi there! nice post! great checklist on launching a website. - http://www.easywebcreatortool.com

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  4. Great post! I wish I had all this information laid out for me before I got started. I like your views on how to develop content... How finding the title is the most important and after that the content will just follow. I have found the best articles I've written and have received multiple comments on have stemmed from the title. Sometimes I try to think of an eye catching title something that may even be a paradox. Readers love this! It perks their curiosity to find out more about the article.
    Also, thanks for your tips on promoting your website. Some of these I have not thought of implementing but I think I will try them out. Great blog!

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  5. very very interesting post... i found this to be quite informative. thanks!

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