Trying to build a website audience from the very start can be a daunting task. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and it can seem insurmountable. Here are just some of the questions that may be running through your mind?
- What are your goals for the site?
- Do you want to sell products or advertising?
- What should you name the website?
- Where should you have it hosted?
- What format or engine works best for your needs?
- What type of content will attract readers?
- How frequently should you publish?
- How will you attract readers to your site?
- What is your plan of attack?
To Build A Website Audience Is Like Solving a Jigsaw Puzzle
The sheer number of tasks that need to be addressed can seem like a 5,000 piece puzzle with tiny pieces. When one sets out to complete a jigsaw puzzle, there’s a time-tested approach that seems to work. From a mile-high perspective, the jigsaw-solving approach parallels the approach you can take for building your website’s audience.
Let’s look at the steps for solving a jigsaw puzzle and how they correspond to website audience building.
STEP ONE: Make sure all the pieces are turned face up.
When you’re creating a website, trying to create a list of all the issues and opportunities to address, McKinsey Consulting uses the “MECE” framework to list all of the issues and opportunities in one document and make sure they are Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive — thus, the name MECE. Much like turning over all the pieces in our puzzle, this will help you understand the project’s scope.
STEP TWO: Sort by color.
After you’ve flipped all of the puzzle pieces to the printed side, the project will look big. So, to make it more manageable, sort all of the pieces by color into groups. For our website project, the groups might be sorted by the skill set needed to complete, e.g., design, writing, technical, research, etc. You might further sort by timing — which projects need to be completed first? Which projects take the longest?
STEP THREE: Divide and conquer.
If you’re to involve other folks – be they colleagues, friends, or contractors – it will make the project go faster. Anyone knows who has completed a jigsaw puzzle that many hands make for lighter work.
STEP FOUR: Put all of the edge pieces together to form the outline.
Here’s where jigsaw puzzling and website audience development are the most similar: Things are tough initially. It isn’t easy, and you don’t have much to show for your early decisions and work. But, at some point, the edges start to fill in. And, when the complete boundaries are finished, excitement grows, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When it was maybe hard to stay motivated in the early stages, the success of seeing the edges completed – or the initial structure of a website up and running – inspires. This whole idea of the project becomes easier as your progress can also be seen after the first 100 or so posts have been completed. There are more natural links to existing content, and you’re not just dependent on new posts to drive traffic, as your existing content is hopefully still ranking high.
STEP FIVE: Look at the completed puzzle on the box top for inspiration and clues.
In addition to checking into your original plan for your website to see how it compares to the actual, one should also check and monitor how websites that are winning the ranking wars are accomplishing it. How much text is on their pages? How are they promoting their website on social media? What are these websites doing to rank in the top three?
STEP SIX: Take frequent breaks to refresh your concentration and give yourself a new perspective.
Driving big traffic numbers to your websites can involve some pivots and revisions to your thinking. A great idea 12 months ago might not be now, given market changes or a Google algorithm update. Do some surfing of websites in other industries and see how they’re succeeding. Spend some time not viewing any screens. Relax. Consider new and different directions. Sometimes, the biggest wins come from doing something no one else has tried!
STEP SEVEN: Don’t give up!
Building an audience for your website seems to reward the folks who don’t give up. While there may be a few overnight successes, it is far more likely that your wins will come after some struggles. There likely won’t be a straight line from your start to millions of page views. Rather, you’ll rise, you’ll fall, you’ll plateau, you’ll rise again, plateau again suffers a big fall, rise again, have a big rise, and so on. Be patient. And always be learning.
Build A Website Audience
Focused concentration, stick-to-itiveness, and an understanding that the toughest go of it is at the beginning will help you along the way with your website audience development.
By Michael O’Halloran
Mike is the founder and editor of Sports Feel Good Stories and Greeting Card Poet. In combination, the two websites had over 25 million page views last year.
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