Oct

My Niche Site Launch Plan – Niche Site Challenge

niche-site-launch-smStrategy and planning go a long way in helping launch a new website successfully. It’s all about your goals for the site and what you want to achieve and laying the groundwork in getting there.

On the other hand, hope isn’t a very good strategy, and if it’s not accompanied by a good plan it’s not hard to end up frustrated or discouraged by not seeing the results you want.

For my original niche site that I created, I didn’t do a very good job of getting it launched, and although it’s been modestly successful, I know there is greater opportunity.

I’ve got big plans for my niche site efforts. I mentioned when I first started the niche site challenge that you need to have a strong goal for why you’re building your niche site and that goal for me is still a huge motivating factor. So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

I’ve jumped in to Pat Flynn’s niche site duel 2.0 to learn and to work on my niche site ideas, and in favor of actually having found a really solid target I’m putting my the bulk of my effort in to building a new website.

Without a doubt the best thing Pat did before getting started with this challenge was talk to several different guys who are working on niche sites and getting the background on what’s working right now.

In case you missed it, he interviewed Spencer Haws, Neil Patel, and Alex Becker. If you have any interest at all in building a niche site you would be doing yourself a favor by listening to each of those interviews.

Based on what those guys talked about I settled on a formula for my niche site criteria that followed closely along with the things Spencer said about what to look for, got a copy of LongTailPro, opted in for the Platinum version, rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

I went through a bunch of ideas and targets, but ended up settling on a niche that is actually reasonably closely related to my first niche. The opportunity has a lot of real opportunity and meets all four of the golden rules of keyword research in a much better way than my original niche idea did. Even better, my keyword research results are based on exact match searches as opposed to broad.

The Plan

The plan consists of three major pieces to cover the whole spectrum each of which has several sub-components. I’m adopting recommendations from a couple different resources, I don’t claim I came up with all this on my own. There is a lot here from Pat Flynn’s post on launching a site for Niche Site Duel 2.0, as well as a good amount from Michael Hyatt’s Platform book, some stuff from Derek Halpern, and Chris Ducker, along with a couple things I’ve picked up on the way.

Prep & Planning

I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with their new website because they didn’t have a plan for what the whole process looks like. They want it to look awesome, they may have a few posts ready to go, but a lot of times, that’s really it. I’ve been in the same boat.

But getting things ready to go is a big deal and the design of your website is only part (but an important part) of the whole process. For my niche site my goal is to start building the excitement as soon as possible now that my concept has been finalized. I’ve figured out what my site is going to be about, and I have a great idea, but if no one knows it exists then it could be slow-going at first, and I want to avoid that as much as possible.

I’ve been talking a lot about marketing and promotion lately with a lot of different people. This seems to be an area where new website owners struggle, so here are a few things that I’m doing to get my new sites off the ground.

Building the buzz for launch day

I want to be able to hit the ground running on launch day so in order to make that happen I need to put several pieces together.

Build my list of 200s – This comes straight from Pat’s interview of Neil Patel and I think this is an amazing idea. The goal is to collect 200 websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, LinkedIn accounts, blogs, and websites that are related to my topic that could be interested in the content and to whom you can reach out when it’s time to start promoting your new site. I’m working with my assistant on this, and I don’t expect that I’ll get a huge response, but even a small portion is better than nothing.

Get a pre-launch teaser page in place – This is something I’ve decided to put in place to get people who land on the site in the meantime to help create buzz around the launch date. It contains an opt-in and a countdown timer. Simple. A “coming soon” page is just a wasted opportunity to connect with people who are looking for the information your site will contain.

Building a “beastly” resource – This is the big struggle, and I’m not sure at this point whether this is going to be a better option than creating the expert round-up post that Pat mentions in his guide. However, this will definitely be something that, if not done at this point, will be created further down the line, potentially as an offer to give away for new subscribers.

Having content ready to go day one – You want to be able to speak to different types of people and how they consume content, so  having “how-to” content, analytical content, and speculative or philosophical content ready to go on launch day is a solid idea. How much though? I think that it should be enough to get new visitors excited about what you’ve got and what’s yet to come.

Get involved in the community – Community engagement is a great way to build buzz too. Connect with related people who can benefit from your content. If you’re writing about a career in a specific industry a great target would be other career and industry focused blogs. But think contribute and engage first. Don’t spam people. Leave thoughtful comments and get engaged in the conversation, don’t even think about selling or promoting at first. The goal for my site will be to get involved in discussion forums when and where appropriate to dig in to the dialogue and get involved in the conversation.

Planning out the pages you’ll need to have – An important piece of the prep and planning stage is to figure out what pages you need to have on your site and one of those without a doubt would be a fantastic “about us” page. It all depends on what your target market is, but I’ve got a few different pages planned for my site in addition to the standards. A “share” page is also a good idea that Pat mentions, and the example of the page at My Kids’ Adventures is a fantastic example of doing it right.

Having a plan for social media – Sometimes this stuff is an after-thought. I know it has been for me in the past, but this time it’s about being deliberate. I’m convinced that there are a lot of holes I’ve left open in the past and it’s time to change that. The plan needs to consist of growing your list as well as building engagement for those followers. It’s a given that you need to have good stuff to share. Images are getting tons of traction these days. But you’ll also want to pay close attention to what you do with folks who opt-in to your list.  I’ll simply be asking a niche related question in to each confirmation email for opt-ins and including “follow us” buttons on the Thank You page for new subscribers as well as in the final confirmation emails that go out. Derek Halpern originally turned me on to the idea of asking the targeted question to get the conversation started, and I remember replying to his email that came through when I first subscribed. What a great way to serve your audience.

Have topics ready to go – this is a task related to the one above about having different kinds of content ready to go. This is where all those posts come from. Brainstorm all the things you think readers will need to know about the topic. A great way to get the ball rolling on content brainstorming is to come up with lists of what you think a person who’s interested in your topic would need to know and start building a list from those ideas. Another way is to think about creating flagship content that’s evergreen. This would be the kind of content that anyone who is interested in your topic would need to know first and foremost and can be a great start to a “start here” category which I think is now a mandatory category for blogs.

Offsite

Now that I’ve got most of the stuff ready to go for the website it’s time to start thinking about offsite stuff. These are the platforms where you need to be engaging and communicating with your audience.

You need to make sure that you have a Twitter account specifically for the niche website. If the niche is close enough to your personal brand it may be worth thinking through using your own brand, but generally I like to keep my Twitter activity focused, so I have accounts for my specific properties. Other properties depend on what is most appropriate for your site.

Generally speaking Facebook pages are a solid idea. It’s a great way for building community. Google Plus is the same way, but has even more benefits from an SEO perspective.

If there are other places where your audience congregates then it makes sense to have a presence there. These could be specific social networks or communities where people in your market gather. Building connections in these places is key. Build relationships and give.

Another thing that I always set up as soon as I decide to do research on a topic is set up some search feeds. You can still do it with Google Alerts and a lot of good stuff can be done with Hootsuite by setting up search feeds. I collect my alert feeds in Feedly now, and it works exactly the same as it did in Google Reader. You can also have them delivered to you via email if that’s your preference. I set up searches and alerts based on my keywords and related terms so that I can see what’s going on, and what others are talking about in regards to my topic.

Post-Launch

Promotion and building excitement

By this time the round-up post is done, the brainstorming is done all my social media plans are in place, and I’ve hopefully set up myself for success. But the work is not done – in fact it’s just getting started!

You’ll have already thought through all the stuff you need to do for the actual site and that part is cranking and ready to go. It’s time to take down the launch page and tell the world about your new site! The first place to start will be to let everyone on the list know, who signed up before your launch, that the site is up and you want them to get the first peak at all the new stuff. Then move forward by making contact with all those people that are on the 200s lists that you collected earlier, and make sure to say thank you to any and all who helped along the way. And if it helps or is appropriate reach out to local news to see if they may be interested in doing a story on your site. Once again, all great ideas coming straight from Pat.

Now that the site is up, it’s important to make sure you’re communicating with your new readers – make sure you reply to all the comments you get and let your readers know you’re listening.

Start working through your content calendar and idea list. When you created your content brainstorming list before hopefully there were a few things that jumped out at you that you really want to write about, so make sure you keep publishing your content at a regular pace that you can sustain and that will meet the needs of your readers. Set yourself up for success and have stuff ready to go and ready to publish according to your calendar in advance and work through your plan.

Marketing Your New Niche Website

There are a few things that we will want to do on a regular basis. My goal will be to make sure that I’m getting my posts and content out there as much as possible without being spammy, but while utilizing all the resources available to me to maximize my exposure.

General/non-daily

  • Make sure to submit your new niche site to various appropriate directories. There are directories for all kinds of stuff, and backlinks are a big deal.
  • Make sure you submit your site’s feed to RSS directories. This is along the same lines as the directory task – make sure that your feed is syndicated in the appropriate places.
  • One thing to see for your new niche website is what kind of content aggregators to which you might be able to submit your site. Alltop is a big example, but there are others. Lots of others.

For All New Posts

There is a process for promoting your posts that you need to use on each and every post. Several of these came from Chris Ducker’s excellent post on marketing your blog.

  • Announce new posts via a tweet when they’re published, then every 6 hours for 24 hours after it’s been posted – include relevant hashtag, and copy via @ anyone mentioned in the post.
  • Announce all new posts on Facebook page with a question over the image and share it as an image.
  • Share post to LinkedIn
  • Create a new pin on Pinterest
  • Create a new pin on Gentlemint
  • Share post to Google+ in same manner as Facebook.
  • Share post to your email list
  • Bookmark to Digg
  • Bookmark to Delicious
  • Bookmark to StumbleUpon
  • Bookmark to Reddit

Consistently Building backlinks

There are lots and lots of ways to build back links. The important thing to remember is to have a consistent habit of building quality backlinks. If you want to dig deeper in to backlinking strategy then I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s work at PointBlankSEO. He’s got some free stuff, and his premium course is most definitely worth the price of admission. Submitting your site to one or two new backlink opportunities a day will help you on your way of building a quality back link structure. We’ll cover more on this part when we get to further down the road toward this part in the launch strategy.

Conclusion

This is my plan. As I mentioned before, I got a lot of stuff for my plan from Pat Flynn and NSD 2.0. There is a lot from his launch plan and stuff I’ve learned from Michael Hyatt, Chris Ducker and Derek Halpern along with a few things I’ve figured out on the way. There are a lot of things on this list that I’ll be doing and some things I’ll be working with my assistant to get done. Without a doubt there is a lot of work here, but I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

There is a bunch of stuff in here that is applicable for any website, not just niche websites. I’ve already started working on several of these things for my blog, as well as other site projects I’m working on and it’s been encouraging to see some of this stuff already working.

If you have a personal blog, there is nothing to worry about here. Nothing is “blackhat” or not completely above board. Several of these steps are things I’ve worked on already and have about and written about in the past, so they should be able to be used for just about any website project.

image by Abstract Machine

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