Among all the online businesses you can possibly create, information websites are the category I like the most. The first website I ever created, Open Home Automation, falls into this category. Information websites are a kind of online businesses that offer free, high-quality content, usually focused on a given niche. For example, the Open Home Automation website is focused on delivering high-quality tutorials on how to build your own home automation systems using open-source hardware.
I love to create these websites, and I recently wanted to expand my information websites portfolio. Having read Work the System by Sam Carpenter (which I really recommend for any small business owner), I am now a man of processes (also called procedures). With every new task that comes up in my business, I ask myself if I can integrate this into a repeatable process. So I wondered: can I create such a process to create a new website, from the initial idea to the post-launch phase of the website? This is what I was working on during the last couple of weeks, and I will share that with you in this article. Note that some of the ideas in this article are inspired by Pat Flynn via his Smart Passive Income website, and also by Dan & Ian from TropicalMBA. So guys, thank you, I could not have written this article without you.
My process to create a new information website is split in 6 main steps. These steps are the initial brainstorming, website creation, content creation, pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch. I detailed every sub-steps below. Note that most of these steps can be outsourced to a virtual assistant or to one of your team member. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
The first step in my procedure to create a new information website is to do some initial brainstorming. I usually have an idea in my mind, and I use this first step to decide if this is a viable idea, and then to plan everything.
- Do keyword research: Using Google Keyword Planner, I search for the main keyword or keywords I will use in my new website. For example, in my home automation website, I searched for “Home Automation Arduino” and “Open Source Hardware”. I usually go for average monthly searches above 3000/month, and low competition. If the monthly searches are really too low for my idea, I stop the procedure here and think about a new idea.
- Look at 5 most important competition: I create a new Google Spreadsheet and create a new sheet dedicated to competition. I search on the web for the 5 top other websites that are in direct or indirect competition with my future website. Having competition might look like a bad sign, but it also means people are interested in what you plan to talk about.
- Define monetization strategy: I think this is a critical step, and not a lot of people are doing this before creating the website. You need to know how to make money with your new website. Are advertisements like Google AdSense enough? If the monthly searches on your products are not really high, you will probably have to think about something else. The second thing you can check is if there are any products related to your website idea on Amazon. If yes, affiliate sales (promoting products sold on Amazon or other websites) are definitely an option.
- Define the website name: I usually base the name of my information website on the main keywords I want to use in the website. For example, I simply named my home automation with open-source hardware website… Open Home Automation. I usually go for the .com, but if it is not available I will still continue the process with a .net or .org website. You can check if a domain is available using the Instant Domain Search tool.
- Make sure you can come up with a list of 10 articles to get the website started: This is so important. Sometimes a website idea sounds great, but if you can’t find enough material to write about, you will have a hard time coming up with an information website. Before writing any content, just make this list of possible blog post titles to make sure you will not run out of things to write about after launching the site.
- Write the mission & goals of the website: Write down inside a document what is your mission for this website, and what you want to achieve with it. This is what Sam Carpenter calls the “Strategic Operating Document” of your new business. Also, write down and practice a 7 seconds pitch to present your website quickly, you will need that later.
This step is all about creating the core of your new information website, and putting everything in place so you can populate it with high-quality content.
- Book a domain name & find hosting provider: These two can be done separately, but I usually go to the same company to do both in the same time which greatly simplifies things. I recommend using Siteground. They are cheap, offer an amazing service and are specialised in WordPress websites.
- Install WordPress: The next logical step is to install WordPress. You can get it at WordPress.org, and follow their 5 minutes install guide to quickly install it. Some hosting providers like Siteground can also do that for you so you don’t have a single line of code to write.
- Choose & install a theme: Now that WordPress is installed, you need a good theme to make it looks professional. If this is your first website and you are limited on budget, you can choose a free theme. However, I really recommend choosing a professional theme for your website. I recommend StudioPress Themes as they look amazing and very professional.
- Create social media accounts: Pat Flynn has a great strategy called ‘be everywhere’ (you can listen to the complete podcast here). I recommend being where your audience is as well. If you don’t know that information at this point, create a Facebook page and a Twitter account, it’s always a safe bet. And don’t forget to link to these accounts from your website.
- Create a mailing list: You HAVE to create a mailing list from the start. Many very successful online business owners like Pat Flynn or Tim Ferriss recognised that probably their main business mistake was to forget about creating a mailing list from the start. For this step, I personally create a new list on my MailChimp account.
- Make it easy to share content: You should offer the option for your readers to easily share your content on social media like Facebook or Twitter. I recommend the Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Buttons Wordpress plugin.
The next step is about putting some content on your website before it is officially launched. I did the mistake once, but never, ever launch a new website with only a single article in it. It will look very unappealing for your first visitors and they might never return again.
- Do keyword research for the article topic: Before writing a new article, I always do a keyword research again using Keyword Planner. This time, the research is targeted on the article title keywords. I don’t expect to have the same level of searches compared to my main keyword, but is is a good practice to always write about what people are looking for.
- Define the article structure: This is where you decide the kind of article you want to write. Is it a review on a given topic ? A how-to guide or a tutorial? An interview with an expert in the field?
- Write: This is the main part of the writing, where you will actually sit down in front of your computer and write the core of the article. I recommend using apps like Coffitivity to feel like you are writing from a coffee shop (or just go to one).
- Edit: I never saw an article or a book which feels right on the first draft. Review, edit, and repeat the process.
- Insert affiliate links: If you are planning to generate revenue via affiliate marketing (selling other people products), this is the time to insert these links. If you don’t know how to start, I recommend using the Amazon Affiliate program.
- Don’t forget opt-ins: You also have to insert opt-ins in your article, for example sign-up forms to your mailing list your created before. You can also embed links to your social media accounts.
- Repeat 5 times: I always aim for at least 5 solid posts before I launch a new website. This way, your first visitors will have the feeling that your website is already alive and running.
At this step, you are nearly ready to launch the website. This step consists in preparing everything for launch day so you can promote your website. You will create quite important pages on your site, and then create a list of people to message on launch day.
- Create the Resources page: The first page I create is called the Resource page. It is a collection of links to relevant websites, books, courses and tools that have a direct link to my new website. You can include affiliate links on this page, but make sure it is only links to products and tools you tested yourself first.
- Create the Home page: I also design the home page of my website, which is the first page a new visitor will see. On this page I include a welcoming message for my new visitors, a description of your website, and a signup form to my mailing list.
- Create the About page: The last page you need to create before launching your website is called the About page. This is where you will first describe what you want to achieve with your website, and what the visitor can expect. Then, introduce yourself and tell the visitor about your story related to your new website.
- Create the ‘100’ list: This is a tip I directly got from listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Pat Flynn advised to search for 100 websites/blogs/Twitter accounts/Facebook pages/Youtube channels relevant in your field. The goal is to have a list of relevant people you can message on launch day to create an awareness for your website. I usually aim for 100 in total. For each entry, I look for the website URL, title, name of the owner, and an email address/contact page. I put all this data in a Google Docs spreadsheet.
On launch day, you will need to spread the word out as much as possible via social media, using the list your created before, and to mailing lists you already have.
- Advertise on social media: The first thing I do on launch day is to spread the word on social media. And that doesn’t mean only your new website social media accounts, because at this point you won’t have a lot of subscribers on your freshly created social media accounts. I usually spread the word on my personal social media accounts, and then on the social media accounts of my other websites if they are relevant to the website I am trying to promote.
- Message the ‘100’ list: This is where you will message all the persons you logged inside the ‘100’ list spreadsheet. Don’t be aggressive in your email: insist on the value that you new content will bring to the audience of these other websites and blogs. Also link directly to one article of your website, and insist on what this particular article can bring to them. This is also the time to use your 7-seconds pitch as an introduction if you are having a Skype chat with some of them.
- Message your own mailing list: In case you already have subscribers to your mailing list, you can message your subscribers.Tell them that the website is officially launched, and invite them to spread the word out. If you have other relevant mailing lists, it is also the time to use them to spread the word out on your new website.
There is still one more important step after the website has been launched. You need to get feedback & adapt, create more content, and then work on the future of the website.
- Adapt based on feedback: The first step after you launched is to listen. Check closely the first comments on your new website. Also carefully read emails you will get from the people you got in touch with to promote your website. Then, adapt your current content, your pages and your future content schedule according to the feedback you got.
- Create more content: The next critical step is to continue growing your website, and create content at a constant pace just has you did before. There is no golden rule for this, on some websites it makes sense to publish a new article every week, on other websites once every two weeks or once per month is enough.
- Work on next monetization steps: Finally, you should never stop growing your revenue streams, as this will ensure that you will be able to keep your newly created website running in the future. What about creating an eBook from your website article? I recently published a guide on my own experience with eBooks publishing. You can also think about starting your own podcast. Or maybe develop your own products, and expand your new website with an eCommerce section.
That’s the end of my procedure to create & launch a new information website. Are you thinking about creating your own information website? Or do you already own one? I’d love to hear what you think about the process I described in this article.