I’m not sure if this is ever going to make me rich or even make me money, but I’ve decided to become a businesswoman. Not for the money, but because I think it would be fun to try something new. Being on the business side of things, as opposed to being a writer will be an interesting challenge, to say the least. (And, hopefully, one day, it will produce money.)
My new business is web-based. I know, I know – I’m like seven years behind in this trend. But it’s not all lost. People everywhere still seem to attempt to start web businesses (I know, because I get press releases about them every day). These people, mostly women, are trying to balance work and stay at home to spend time with their children. And they want to make money!
I definitely know I have a business mind. By noon, I can come up with 12 ideas of things that haven’t been invented, but should. I always like coming up with ideas, but generally don’t follow through. Where does one even start when they have a great idea?
With my new website (which you’ll learn about in a couple weeks), I had the idea, the image of what I wanted it to look like, and what I wanted it to provide. Still, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get everything in place, and that’s even before I’ve launched it.
I’m not above asking for advice from people smarter than me. One of the most successful web sites in Canada is Erica Ehm’s YummyMummyClub.ca. She has worked her butt off for five years as it continues to grow and flourish. Today, her site has more than 60,000 subscribers, numerous advertisers and sponsors, and a very loyal following.
So I spoke to Ehm about my plan, and she gave these great tips for people starting websites with the intent to make money:
1. You need to understand your business model: “Making a website look pretty and having interesting content should come way after you create your business plan,” Ehm says. She suggests we all should read her “Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Business”.
2. Research the platform your web developer will be building it on: Once you understand you’re building a business, she advices, not just a website, you need to research the system it will be built on. This platform will inform the way your site functions in the front end and back. “It’s a huge decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.” (I have no idea really what this means. I need a remedial computer class)
3. Figure out what your site offers the public: Ehm says there are a “ton of websites populating and crowding the net by wannabe digital publishers.” She asks, “What makes your site different? Why will people surfing choose your site over another site with similar content? What are you giving them that no one else can?”
4. Make it loveable: Ehm says you need to make your site “sticky.” Meaning, you want people to love your content so much they stay on it for a long time and click around to different pages. “This is good for the bottom line in terms of selling advertising, if that’s your business model, and shows real interactivity between the reader and your content. “Plan the layout of your site very carefully to allow for a lot of content to be found easily.”
5. Start marketing!: “Once you’ve built your fab site, you need people to find it. You will have to find innovative and easy ways to reach out to your desired demographic to let them know what you have to offer. A Facebook fanpage, a very active Twitter account, cross promoting with other sites. TV and radio appearances, walking the streets with a sandwich board!” Do anything to get noticed!
6. Make it reader-friendly: “When I launched Yummymummyclub.ca, I built it to be interactive. The site is written and run by moms who are representative of those who visit our site. We connect with other like-minded moms by sharing articles, blogs, reviews and events. Our site is constantly changing based on reader feedback. You will need to find authentic, valuable ways to connect with your readers to help create a bond. You’re nothing without committed readers,” she says.
After talking with Ehm, I’m terrified of what I’m getting myself into, but I’m not giving up before I give it a shot. Do you have a web business? What’s your advice?