Every now and then I take some time away from my regular content generation to cruise through some of the online marketing forums or blogs and have a look at what’s going on. It seems every forum contains a lot of the same questions about what it needed to get a successful web site started.
The various experts will chime in with tried but true advice like “the money is in the list” and start with their advice in the middle of the process with list building. The problem that they often skip is getting the eager entrepreneur to answer the question: “Why would I want to be on your list in the first place?”
There are many enticements to get you to join an email list. There’s some promise of good, relevant content from blogs, or daily deals from a couponing site, or updated product and support information from whatever ecommerce site sold you your last video camera or laptop.
All of those are showing some sort of expertise. When you show up to a site, there’s got to be some depth to it to get your prospects to sign up for a list. The information marketers do this by giving “previews” of their teaching content with a couple of articles or a video and then asking for your email address “to get full access”. There’s the promise of more (and better) content behind the opt-in wall, but to get that they have to provide content that doesn’t totally suck on the front end.
For the ecommerce store, the list building may just be based on the “I like your products, let me sign up and hope I get a discount or coupon” impulse, but even then the ecommerce site has shown some depth in the number or quality of products that it is offering to get the prospects to opt-in.
If you’re just starting out, how do you develop that expertise? Here are a few tips:
1. Act like a college student writing a paper.
By this I don’t mean sleep till noon and hack 5 pages together to turn in at 3pm. What I mean here is do your own research and analysis on the topic of your new site and use that to create content. Take a look at the established authors in the field, academic journals, articles in current news magazines, and then write up a summary piece. How does the point of view of the Times differ from Newsweek on the topics? What do the academic journals say about it? What conclusion do you come to when you synthesize those points?
Grab the top 5 or 10 questions or broad topics in your niche and write out some really good content following the above approach. That will give you some really good baseline content.
2. Read, and comment.
Keep on reading. Find the blogs in the field and articles that touch on or relate to it. For every one, write up your own blog post giving your own quick summary (even 100 words will do), include a quote from the piece if appropriate, and link back to the original article.
For more link juice, go to that blog and add a comment to the article. Make your blog comment a 1 sentence summary of your blog post and link to your blog post (with something like “I’ve expanded on this idea a bit more on my blog post here.”)
3. Rinse and repeat.
Keep going back and seeing what the big topics and trends are and use that to create your top content, then do the current news topics blog commenting to inject yourself in the niche and get both links and traffic back to your site.
Once you’ve got the initial run of content and comments done, you’ve started to build your own expertise and should be able to start getting email subscribers.
Make sure you have a plan for what you’re going to do once you get those subscribers on a list. (I hope you’ve already started to figure out what you’re going to sell to them or what actions you want them to take once they read your next email.)
I’ve found in the past that building up your own point of view and expertise on a topic can lead to growing a community interested in the niche that will help you build a long-term business. It does take a good bit of work, but it’s worth it in the long run.