At the end of 2010 I created a niche site from scratch for the security guard training industry in the U.S. In 73 days it got to the #1 spot in Google and it’s currently generating between $1,800 to $2,200 consistently each and every month. You can read more about how I publicly created this niche site (from niche selection to the domain name and monetization—for free) on the Niche Site Duel Hub.
In that particular industry there are different training requirements for each state—so it made sense to create a separate post for each one individually.
As a way to organize this content and provide a better user experience on the homepage, I thought it would be cool to have a clickable map of the United States—so I had one made for me.
I found a flash map that I liked on iStockPhoto.com. It cost about $8.
From there, I hired a flash-developer on Odesk.com for $10.00/hour to include the correct links for me and add some color. It took him 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete the job, for a total of $53.30
Finally, I gave the file to Mike, my VA, to embed on my niche site. You can see the final result on http://www.securityguardtraininghq.com right now if you wish.
That’s $61.30, which I consider a worthwhile investment.
I’m very happy with the final result and it’s something a lot of people have complimented me on—not just people from this blog who are familiar with the niche site, but actual users of the site as well, which is really nice.
Interestingly enough, one of the most common questions I get is “How can I make a map just like that one for my own site?”
At least 3 times a week, somebody asks me this question—and I even have a response setup in TextExpander (one of the several productivity tools I discuss in Productivity Hacks—How to Make Time by Shaving Time) to quickly reply with an answer, which basically outlines the process I just described above.
I must have shared this with at least 50 people by now, and although I have no way of telling whether or not all of them followed through, even if 25% of them did, that’s a lot of money that could have been saved if there was an easier way.
And if there was an easier way, maybe all of them would follow through and have a helpful map on their website.
So—I decided to develop a tool myself.
My New Web App
Four days ago, I only had an idea.
Today—Create a Clickable Map is already up and running!
You can watch the video below to see exactly what it looks like and how it works:
(Click here to watch How to Create a Clickable Map for FREE on YouTube)
This app, of course, isn’t for everyone—but for the few who are looking for a tool like this—it will be extremely helpful.
The experience of building this web app was amazing, especially after the WordPress plugin failures I had last year, and it only cost a couple hundred dollars and 3 hours of my time. The developer (who I found on Odesk) was awesome and I’ll definitely be working with him again soon for stuff related to my upcoming SPI related product actually, hehe. 😉
Since I know a lot of you are interested, here’s a link to the original job posting on Odesk and a copy of the mockup I drew up in photoshop below (using my pen and tablet tool!):
Although the hand-drawn U.S. map in the mockup is embarrassing, I think the general idea of how the apps works and the user-interface shows through, which is why communication with the programmer was extremely smooth and development was quick.
If you do use this app, since it creates a flash map for your site, I’d still recommend linking to each site below the map (like I did on securityguardtraininghq.com) so that the search engines can still read the links, and in case anyone has flash disabled in their browser too.
The Domain Name
The people who email me (or those of you reading this post) who may find this tool useful will at least know about it now—but I was hoping there was an untapped keyword that would allow me to reach more people through the search engines too.
If traffic becomes significant, I wouldn’t mind strategically placing some Adsense ads on the site and seeing what happens.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t very many keywords to choose from that weren’t either totally out of reach (because of map sites like MapQuest.com, Google Maps and other more robust map generators), or keywords that were “too long tail” and totally weak in terms of search volume and traffic.
I picked http://www.createaclickablemap.com because it encompassed both the keywords “create a map” and “clickable map” in it, which had ‘okay’ numbers—but more so because it’s easy to remember and it describes exactly what the site does. People can expect to find a tool to create a map when they arrive, and that’s exactly what they get.
I wasn’t really creating this tool for a niche site anyways, and because it’s only a one-page site with a flash enabled tool on it—I’ll probably need to add more content somewhere on the page to even start to see any significant traffic from search engines.
I created this tool primarily to help those who may be interested in creating their own US maps for their website so they can avoid having to pay extra money and waste time waiting for a developer to finish it up for them. I’ll be creating more niche sites in the future that will be utilizing this tool as well.
Just a fun little experiment that I enjoyed and wanted to share with you today.
If you like the tool and want to help out, please visit Create a Clickable Map and LIKE the page! That’s all!
Cheers, and all the best!