While at an event in Maryland last weekend, I was talking to a few friends and one young woman mentioned, she wanted “to get online and build a website”, so of course my first instinct was to ask, “Really? About what?”. Sounded like an easy enough question to me, but I was surprised by her response. “I have no idea.”
Even though this wasn’t the first time I have heard this response it always catches me off-guard.
Choosing just the right topic is actually the hardest part of getting started online. It’s taken me almost 5 years to decide to start my own site, and I practically live, sleep and breathe online as a full-time web designer, so don’t feel bad if you get stuck on this step.
The best advice I can give someone starting out, is that your website should be about something you are passionate about and a topic you would enjoy even if you never got paid a DIME!
WAIT! NOT GETTING PAID! THEN WHAT’S THE POINT?
I figured you would ask that question, so here goes. There are plenty of ways to make money online, but unless you have loads of cash or a super marketer then the odds are it will take time to grow your traffics and see some returns. So it’s best to start with a subject you just love, similar to a hobby.
Wikipedia defines brainstorming as a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. So to get your problem solved, lets begin with a few question I typically get from people interested in getting started.
1. I want a website, but I have nothing to say. What should I talk about?
What interests you? Do you feel especially passionate about any subject in particular? Sailing? Knitting? Making money online? Flying kites on Carnival Cruise ships, while eating a corn dog and drinking a root beer float? Your options are endless. Sit back, clear your mind and just think. What do you like to do. You don’t have to be the best at this subject, but you have to like it enough to want to learn more. As wild as your topics may seem, there is an audience out there for everyone. Start by making a list of your interests. Read it, now read it again, and again but this time carefully begin to cross off ideas on your list that are similar, that you don’t really care about, then Google the rest of the list to see what’s already online.
Still clueless? Start by asking your friends and family what they think you might be especially good at doing. You don’t have to tell them you’re thinking of starting a website, just get their opinion. (If your family is filled with a bunch “haters”, you might want to skip this option.)
2. Ok, so I did a search on Google for my topic and there were 5,907,351 results! What in the world!?!?!?!
Wait! Don’t freak out! First, some of those results are duplicates or triplicates (if that’s a word lol). Just browse the results and see what’s out there, because this is your competition. Take a look at their sites. Make a list of what you like, what you don’t like and what you would add/remove if this was your site. Research is the the key to knowing how to succeed! When you’re done review your notes. Which topics do you have the most information about? Did you notice any topics that were missing a lot of information you felt was important? What would you say about your topic if you had the chance?
The best niche sites and successful blogs talk about subjects from a particular point of view or improve on what’s already out there. Don’t feel the need to re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to!
3. I have lots of interests, but I’m not an expert at anything.
In my opinion experts come a dime a dozen and besides, there isn’t an Expert College or anything, where you take a few classes and become knowledgeable about a particular subject. The title “expert” doesn’t mean anything, especially when you give it to yourself. I’m not an expert, nor do I want the responsibility of being one. I am simply a person who is passionate about great web design and have an interest in sharing my resources and experiences with others. There are no experts, just people who know more than others.
So for newbies, don’t worrying about being an expert at anything. Just read and know what you’re talking about for your specific subject. You can start by searching Google and buying an e-book on the topic, then read it from cover to cover and TAKE NOTES! (Recently I purchased an e-book about affiliate marketing and read over 200 pages in about 6 hours so it can be done!)
Visit Amazon and search for books on the topic and read the table of contents to see which subjects are popular for that topic. Also a favorite of mine is to search Google Books, they have lots of books online FOR FREE!
4. Technology scares me! How can I make money online when I feel clueless about computers?
I understand. But don’t feel alone. At some point we were all new to this. I grew up in a household that had atari’s, IBM’s and Apple computer’s in a little gray box, so I have never been afraid to use a computer. However, there was a time when I didn’t know how to setup a website or search for things on Yahoo (before the Google Era). But with time and practice, you will get the hang it of it too.
Hands-on-training is the quickest way to learn about computers and the internet, however even if you aren’t a technical person you need to AT MINIMUM be knowledgeable enough speak to someone if you have a problem. Having a basic understanding of how things work and using the correct terminology can go a long way. I would start with this book, “PCs for Dummies”, for Mac users try “Macs for Dummies”, they both give you a basic no nonsense approach to understanding how a computer works.
5. I don’t have a computer or the time. When am I supposed to get all this stuff done?
Well, then you don’t want the freedom and power as much as you think you do. If you have time to watch tv everyday, you have time to plan for your future. Websites aren’t only for selling products, they can be used for families, portfolios, and self promotions for a new job. The possibilities are endless. Don’t make excuses. Start today. The best thing about starting your own website is that, your options are limitless and it only requires YOU to get it done.