My New Project has Launched: Niche Site #1
I’ve been working on this project for months and hinting around about it here on PrivateLabelPreneur. I’m finally ready to share the project with you but not by name; we’ll refer to it as Niche Site #1.
I may reveal the name in the future, but I want to be able to share the process and the results as if I didn’t have the advantage of an existing audience. This project will mirror what it would be like for you to create something and launch it.
This post will be a bit lengthy because I want to share with you the logic I used in defining the site and the process to build it. Let’s start with the niche.
Being a Domain Junkie Has It’s Advantages
I’ll admit it. I’m a domain junkie. Every time I think of a great business idea, I dash off to GoDaddy to see if a good domain is available and buy it if it is. It’s pretty cheap insurance to secure a business idea even if you aren’t ready to act on it. Besides, you’ll be reminded of the idea each year when you renew your domain.
The idea for Niche Site #1 came to me back in 2009 and I purchased the domain. It wasn’t until the second half of 2015 that I was ready to build out the idea.
The overall niche the site falls under is very broad with millions of avid fans, which is one reason that I didn’t pursue it earlier. But things changed last year; I started following Spencer Haws’ Niche Site Project 3.0 because Samara Kamenecka, a woman in my mastermind group, became Spencer’s student.
What I learned about building out an authority site dovetailed beautifully with my love of physical products. It turns out that the key to building out a site that gets noticed is hidden in the keywords you use for your pages and posts (including product pages).
I kept thinking about this particular domain I’d purchased so long ago and determined that if I narrowed the field down to a segment of the niche, I had a chance of building something amazing. So I did.
As a metaphor, assume the overall niche is sports. By niching down to hockey you have a better chance of being noticed by your target customer.
In earlier posts I described how my first attempt at private labeling started with a product and then I worked on the brand. This is not an uncommon path for people wanting to test the waters as an eCommerce seller.
But I have a grander vision for Niche Site #1. For this project, the brand came first and then the product. I believe this is critical if you want to build something that can scale and potentially be sold as an asset in the future.
So what is “brand?”
Brand is the way you create an impression on your potential customers. It’s the hook, the feeling, the trust. It’s the difference between being recognizable or forgettable.
Here’s what I want my brand to do:
- Appeal to women.
- Conjure up the warm feelings associated with Disney movies.
- Make people laugh.
- Engender trust.
- Support a charitable cause.
- Sponsor giveaways.
- Trigger sharing.
Notice that I didn’t say “get people to buy.” That’s because if I build a brand/site that does the things listed above, people will naturally want to buy. At least that is my belief. We’ll have to see how that proves out!
Site design consisted of creating a logo, choosing a platform/host (WordPress, Shopify or some other eCommerce option), picking a theme and building out the site. Let’s start with the logo.
Creating a Logo
I LOVE 99designs for this purpose. I’ve used their services for a multitude of projects including the logo for PrivateLabelPreneur.com, designs for my beer cozies, file modification and the awesome design for Niche Site #1.
For less than $300 you can run a contest (I’ve run two), which will give you the chance to see designs from lots of talented designers from all over the world. You then narrow down the field and ultimately work with the best designer to refine the logo so it’s perfect for your needs.
I ran a contest for the Niche Site #1 logo and it came out AMAZING! I have since opened several 1-to-1 projects with the same designer for additional artwork and a t-shirt design.
In case you decide that you’d like to try running your own contest, I’ve created some best practices that will make running a contest a better experience for both you and the artists. You can find that post here: 10 Tips for Running a Successful 99designs Contest.
Next is choosing the platform that Niche Site #1 runs on.
Choosing a Platform
I’ve tried using Shopify in the past and while it’s a convenient platform, it just doesn’t have the flexibility I want without costing an arm and a leg. I’m a blogger at heart and I can see the value of delivering high-quality content to your audience regardless of whether you are primarily a “store” or simply providing information. High-quality, relevant content attracts traffic to your site and without traffic it’s hard to make sales.
For that reason I use:
- Self-hosted WordPress (free)
- Blue Host (~$5/month for a basic shared service package)
- An SSL Certificate, needed if you have a store ($49.99/year)
- Rehub Theme ($59 one-time license fee)
- WooCommerce for my online store (free plugin)
Choosing a platform is really a function of your skills and what you want to create. Let me explain.
- Technical aptitude: If you are somewhat technically skilled and are not afraid to play around and try to make things work on your own, WordPress is a great option. Platforms like Shopify function very similar to WordPress but the key difference is that there is a lot of support available to help you when you get stuck. A self-hosted WordPress site will cost you around $5/month; platforms like Shopify will cost you $25/month minimum.
- Objective: If you want a typical “online store,” then Shopify will be a good choice; however, if you want to build an authority site where you can have a blog and advertising space in a sidebar, for example, self-hosted WordPress would be a far better option.
A word about themes…
Choosing a suitable theme is important regardless of the platform you decide to use. The difference between the platform (e.g., WordPress) and the theme (e.g., Rehub) is like the difference between an automobile chassis and the body. The chassis is the framework that the body sits on. All the options on the car, the pretty paint, leather seats and moon roof are part of the body.
Think of WordPress like the chassis and the theme like the body of the car. Both are important but there are gazillions of themes out there and not all are created equal. I’ve tried many and been terribly disappointed with most for one reason or another.
I am in love with the Rehub theme. It’s not free, but it’s not as expensive as others I’ve tried. Here are some of the reasons I like it so much (by the way, I run PrivateLabelPreneur.com on the Rehub theme as well):
- It’s designed to work beautifully with WooCommerce so you can have a store on your site.
- It’s designed to incorporate ad placement.
- Page design is easy and the text isn’t all jammed together.
- You can build a store with only affiliate products if you choose or you can mix your own products and affiliate products.
- You can create coupons.
- The developer is very responsive and helpful.
I’ve just scratched the surface of this powerful theme and can’t wait to dig into more of the functions.
Building Out the Site
Before launching Niche Site #1, I needed to create certain core pages to ensure customers knew about the company and had all the necessary information. Here’s a list of the pages I created:
- About Us
- About Giving
- Affiliate Links Disclosure
- Shipping & Returns
- Terms and Conditions
- Contact Us
Building out these pages is not the most fun part of the build, but they are very necessary. While you should never wholesale copy someone else’s content, you can use other sites’ pages as inspiration for building your own. There are also resources that will assist you, try typing this in Google: _[page type]_ Templates
Once I had these basic pages done, I needed to create some content.
Creating Content Using a Keyword Strategy
Creating great content that readers enjoy and find helpful is one way to attract customers and it’s a significant part of my strategy with Niche Site #1. But to achieve my goal, I had to write posts that I have a chance to rank for in Google searches.
Keyword selection is critical to choosing post topics. I used to use Market Samurai to research keywords, but I have to admit that that tool is clunky and not intuitive. I was reluctant to purchase Long Tail Pro, a similar but more powerful keyword research tool, because I didn’t want to throw good money after bad.
But I’m glad I made the switch…
Long Tail Pro is so easy to use and makes keyword research actually fun! This tool was created by Spencer Haws, the same guy who runs NichePursuits.com and is running the Niche Pursuits Project 3.0 I mentioned above.
I not only use Long Tail Pro for finding content keywords, but also as a tool to help research potential products to private label.
Here’s an example going back to our hockey theme from earlier posts…
I did a search in Long Tail Pro using “hockey decorations” as my seed keyword. Long Tail Pro returned 372 keywords based on what people are currently searching for.
I’m looking for keywords that meet the following criteria.
- A keyword that I can logically fit into a post topic. Hockey helmet stickers fits that bill.
- A keyword competitiveness score under 30. This keyword has a KC score of 21. Nice!
- Enough monthly searches that I can hope to grab some of that traffic. This keyword gets 390 monthly searches.
- At least two sites with a Domain Authority score under 30. There are four.
- At least two of the sites with a low Domain Authority score that also have a Page Authority score under 30. In this example, all four meet both criterial.
This one would be a shoo-in for me if I were writing in the hockey niche. In fact, it would also give me some bread crumbs to follow when deciding whether this might be a good private label product for me research.
Merchant Words shows there are 2,500 monthly searches on Amazon, which means people are looking for this product.
There’s a lot more to learn about the awesomeness of Long Tail Pro, but that’s for another post on another day. I’m sure you can see the value and why I used this tool to develop my content strategy.
At launch, four posts were published along with the store.
A word about writing content…
I regularly get inquiries from freelancers asking if I need writers. I normally don’t use writers for my sites; however, Niche Site #1 is different. I’m building it to be independent of me. You won’t find my name associated with the site anywhere.
For that reason, using freelance writers makes sense and helps to speed up the timeline. I was extremely fortunate to have Alexandria Powell, a freelance writer, connect with me at just the right time. She has written all of the posts to date (eight so far) and has done an amazing job.
If writing content is a roadblock for you, think about hiring a freelancer. In a future post I’ll share my process including my Independent Contractor Agreement and Assignment Template.
Next up, products.
Finding Products for Niche Site #1
Finding products to sell on this site was a challenge. I started working on a potential product by looking for manufacturers in China. I ordered samples from three different manufacturers (including one here in the United States).
Generally I liked the samples but I couldn’t get the math to pencil out so there would be enough of a profit to make it work. I like to leave enough room so that if I have to lower my price I can still make a small profit or at least break even.
I abandoned product idea #1.
Since I was going to the ASD Trade Show in February, I waited to research products further until I could see what I might find there. The trade show was overwhelming but I went with a strategy and ended up with three viable products. I started with one and will branch out to the other two once I validate the first product.
I’ll also be adding print-on-demand products as well.
Once I received the inventory from my initial order, I worked like a mad woman to take the images and create the product pages. I’ll write a separate post to cover how I am getting my products photographed. I’ve finally found a decent method for taking them myself.
- Product Profitability — Evaluation Test: Step 3
- How I’m Preparing for the ASD Trade Show in Las Vegas
- Supercharge Your Trade Show Buying Experience Using the DPAN Formula
- Print on Demand Products — A Private Label Option
- Real Landed Cost of Goods Imported Calculator (this is an awesome free tool on Steve Chou’s site, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com)
Launching Niche Site #1
Once I had the brand defined, the artwork complete, the main content built out, the products listed and some posts up (that include affiliate links to products on Amazon and other marketplaces), I was finally ready to do a launch.
This was a simple launch.
I removed the “coming soon” page and let the website out into the world. I then emailed a few close friends who are also building online businesses and asked them for feedback.
Once the edits and fixes were implemented, I did this:
- Sent an email to every friend, family member and co-worker I ever worked with that might have a clue who I was. I didn’t let myself ask “why would they care about this?” and leave their name off. I emailed everyone asking them to visit, enter the giveaway, share with their friends and family and share on Facebook. A lot of them did and I’m so grateful. You’ll be surprised how supportive people can be.
- I announced the launch on the Facebook page I created for the project. (Oops, I forgot to mention that earlier!)
- I ran some Facebook post boosts and an ad to get people to like the page and enter the giveaway.
See, pretty simple.
Now it’s a matter of continuing momentum by posting new content regularly using low-hanging keywords, using Facebook as a platform for gaining new visitors and trying other methods of advertising, such as Google Shopping ads.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress over time.
Call to Action
Do you have a project you want to launch? What’s getting in your way? If there’s anything I can do to help you make progress, just leave a comment below or shoot me an email at Ree@PrivateLabelPreneur.com.
I’d love to hear your stories, too. Have you launched? What can you tell me about gaining traffic that I don’t know (and trust me, there’s a lot I don’t know!). Thanks for hanging out with me on this very long post. I really appreciate you 🙂
Now back to work for me!
Want to follow along on my journey?
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