With the new year, many people are looking to start up new sites and begin new projects. But while this is great, the simple truth is that the vast majority of these projects will fail, many becoming nothing but memories before even spring sets in.
So what can you do to make sure your new projects have, at the very least, the best chance of survival possible? There’s no truly easy answer but, over the years, I have noticed something of a pattern in the sites of mine and others that have taken off and done well. It may not be a sure-fire way to guarantee a successful site launch, but I certainly haven’t seen many sites be successful without these elements.
Of these keys there are three big ones that seem to be the best predictors possible of success. So, if you’re preparing to launch a new site or even just thinking about doing so, it’s likely worthwhile to check and make sure these factors are in place before pressing the publish button.
You might find it best to rethink and recalibrate your idea in order to avoid having it run aground later.
1. Choose Something You Are Passionate About
In blogging and website development in general, there is no substitute for passion. If you feel strongly about something, really enjoy it and put yourself behind it, it will show in everything you do.
While it’s great to be knowledgeable about a topic and an expert in the field, you can learn about a subject as you blog about it, becoming an expert as you go. You can’t however, develop a passion for it as you go.
Your passion is what gets your readers excited about your topic, whatever it is, and its what keeps you writing on it after the going gets tough and you would otherwise be thinking about quitting.
In short, if you don’t feel strongly about your topic, you’ll never be able to engage your readers and, when that happens, it will just be too easy to quit and walk away.
2. Find A Good, Under-Served Niche
Once you’ve found a topic you’re passionate about, you need to find a niche within that topic that has a real need for your site. Whether it’s a new audience to target, a sub-genre of that area or just a new angle or slant, you have to do something truly unique with your site.
If you walk into a field where dozens of larger, better-established sites are already entrenched, you’re most likely going to make very little progress. Finding a smaller market that is underserved lets you get your foot in the door and then establish yourself before moving into larger fields.
On the Web, it is much better for a new site to be a big fish in a smaller pond than the reverse. With over a billion users of the Web, you can most likely find an audience even in niches that might seem impossibly small.
If you target well and offer something unique, you’ll likely find that the audience is there.
3. Keep Determination Alive
On the Web, “overnight success stories” stories takes months or even years to happen. For every site that’s a hit within weeks of publication, there are thousands of sites that got there by sticking with it and growing it the old fashioned way.
Go into your site assuming that the first 6 months to a year will be fairly abysmal and use that time to create good content and promote it. The efforts may not have immediate returns but will pay off in the longer run.
If your niche truly is unique, you’ll likely even have people telling you that you’re crazy and that you can never build a site in that niche. This is often where passion is the most crucial as it keeps you from giving up when the naysayers show up.
All in all, look at your site as a long-term project and not something to give up on within the first six months or longer and you’ll likely start to see the first rewards for your effort. Once that happens, building toward a successful site is much easier and much more natural.
When it’s all said in done, the key to building a successful site is to find a topic you’re passionate about, find a niche that you can serve well and then stick with it. It seems simple, but most sites are started without one or more of these variables.
Do they guarantee a successful site? No. But not having them does virtually guarantee a site won’t succeed.
Unless your plan is to get extremely lucky, which is never a good “plan” regardless, these are the things you need before putting words on screen or installing your CMS. Without them, the project may be doomed before it begins and that makes the entire effort a giant waste of time.