Back in June, I revealed a high-search volume / low-competition keyword that I discovered during keyword research that looked very promising to build a site for: food trucks for sale. After some digging, I soon realized that not only were there no major players tackling this niche, but there were no major sites helping food truck owners in general too – nothing reliable to help someone get started with their own food truck, and nothing spectacular to help those who already owned and operated one.
That’s when I decided to think beyond food trucks for sale and instead develop an entire resource dedicated to helping food truck business owners.
Before pressing forward, however, I had to validate my idea.
Well, I did mention the idea here on the blog and the response from the SPI audience was overwhelmingly positive, but that doesn’t really count as true validation since you’re not really a part of that target audience. The best thing to do would be to ask real food truck owners and operators for their opinion, so that’s exactly what I did.
Conveniently, every Monday and Thursday, 6 to 10 food trucks park and serve food at a school in my neighborhood here in San Diego. On Monday June 24th, the same day I announced the food truck niche idea here on SPI, I showed up 30 minutes before serving time (5:00pm) to make friends and spend some time talking to those who were working on the trucks.
Yes, I was a little nervous, but I knew that’s exactly what I had to do. Thankfully, everyone I spoke to was extremely friendly and everyone was actually very excited to talk about what they do!
A great sign.
The very first question I asked everyone I met was: “If I wanted to start a food truck business of my own, where would I go to find out how to get started?”
This question was extremely important because it would tell me, right away, if there was already a known resource out there serving this niche that I may have missed.
No one gave me the same answer, and no one gave me a specific company, organization or website address, besides Google. Answers ranged from “Google” to “You should job shadow or volunteer on a food truck for a day” to “You’d think there would be a place with all of that information on it, but if there is, I haven’t heard of it yet.”
Most of these people just figured it out on their own, or followed someone else’s footsteps.
Another great sign.
Eventually, I’d get to a point in the short conversations I had where I would ask a more direct followup question, such as: “If there was a website that talked about marketing strategies and had tips specifically for people in your line of work, would you read it?”
They all said yes.
Mind you, this is a small sampling of food trucks – all from the same city – but their answers were good enough for me to keep pushing forward, and to do so with great motivation.
And today, I’m excited to announce that I finally have something live on the web!
So What Just Went Live?
Last month, I published a detailed post explaining how I plan to launch this new website.
Most websites and blogs start their sites publishing content for an audience of zero. Over (a long) time, an audience will eventually start to grow, but just think about how much of that early content, which so much time and effort is put into, goes unread, or eventually get buried in the archives of a blog never to see the light of day again.
All of the sites I’ve built in the past have started off the same way – publishing for an audience of zero. This time, I’m taking a pre-launch, “coming soon” approach and will do my best to build buzz before the launch of the main site, primarily by building a list with a landing page and driving traffic to it.
A pre-launch phase doesn’t make sense for all niches, but for this particular niche it seems like a perfect opportunity. I can start building buzz now, build relationships with important people and create content – and by the time the main site launches (which is scheduled for September 16th), I’ll already have an audience who can benefit from the content, share it and help spread the word of the new site.
The landing page for my food truck site is now live and my goal is to collect 1000 email addresses from food truck owners and soon-to-be-owners before launch.
In a couple of upcoming podcast sessions and posts, I’ll be sharing details about how I’m going to try and make that happen. It’s going to be a combination of all different kinds of strategies and I’ll make sure to be as detailed as I can, and it’s going to start with optimizing conversions BEFORE we talk about traffic building.
Because if you get 10k visitors to your site but your opt-in rate is 0%, you’re losing – so we’ll be digging deep into best practices for email list conversions next.
Like I’ve mentioned in previous NSD2.0 posts, I’m keeping the brand name and URL of the site hidden for now so that I can keep the numbers as real as possible. If I mention the site now, it’ll be hard to tell if those who sign up to the email list are people actually interested in food truck ownership, or simply those in the SPI audience interested in this case study.
Currently, I have 2 emails on my list – my developer’s, and my own – so I’m totally starting from scratch here and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Once the main site goes live I’ll be more than happy to share the URL with you, as well as all the details about how the site was built, brand inspiration and all that good stuff. Then, we’ll be hardcore in traffic-building, community-building and content-creation mode, all the while thinking about monetization as well.
The NSD2.0 posts will definitely come much more frequently at that point, especially because you’ll have something to reference.
My New Favorite Piece of Software!
The main goal of a landing page is to quickly get people excited about something so that they’ll perform one action, which is typically to sign up to an email list.
A good landing page or squeeze page:
- Has no options for the user other than to perform the desired action. There are no additional links, navigation items or calls to actions other than signing up to the email list.
- Is responsive in design so that it can easily be read from any device.
- Has a large, clear, and magnetic headline that captures people’s attention, with a few, precise copy points below.
- Is designed to make it incredibly easy to read and/or watch (if there is a video included) and then perform the desired action.
There are many different ways to create a landing page. I’ve setup landing pages manually before using a New Page in WordPress and then hacking my theme so I could create a template that has no sidebars and no navigation. Then, I’d drop in a script for an email form that was designed in my email service provider – and it worked – but they weren’t the prettiest pages in the world and were definitely not optimized for conversions simply due to my lack of HTML and CSS knowledge.
That’s why I’ve fallen in love with LeadPages (from the same company that developed LeadPlayer), which makes it incredibly easy to choose from a growing library of well-designed, responsive landing pages and have them setup and integrated with an email service provider or webinar service in minutes. I love the software so much, I’ve been working with Clay and the LeadBrite team as an advisor, and that in itself has been an awesome experience.
Clay will be the next guest on the SPI podcast and we’re going to talk all about best practices for lead generation. The session has already been recorded and I can say with confidence that it’s going to be in the running for one of the top podcast sessions to date.
What’s really cool about Clay and his company is that they keep track of the performance of all of the landing page templates in their system, and his data reveals exactly what’s working and what’s not – everything down to the color of the button that you should use and the wording in the headlines – it’s AWESOME. Clay will share all of this and more on the upcoming SPI podcast (#78), and there are a lot of giveaways too – including some of the best converting landing page templates that are in HTML format so you don’t need LeadPages in order to use them.
I’m Hosting a Free List Building LIVE Event
I also invited Clay to help me host a free live event for you next week to visually demonstrate more best practices for lead generation, and I’ll show you exactly how I put my landing page together with LeadPages too.
The purpose of the event is to help you (and me!) discover even more ways to help us better optimization our email conversions and rapidly grow our list.
Whether you’re interested in landing page software or not (this isn’t a pitchfest for LeadPages, although it is an incredible helpful landing page tool so of course we’re going to talk about it!) this is definitely going to be an event that you don’t want to miss. As most of you know, I only do webinars and events like this once in a blue moon, so you know it’s going to rock!
Clay was also nice enough to create a LeadPages template edition of my ‘Let Go’ custom book landing page (which is on PatFlynn.me). If you attend the webinar live, you’ll get access to this template so you can use it yourself and he’s giving away other goodies for free too.
We’ll be doing the live event two days in a row – each day will contain the same material so you only need to attend one. This is so that we could give more people an opportunity to watch live, depending on location and timing. And yes, there will be a section for Q&A each day as well.
I hope to see you there!
Editor’s Note: These events have passed—thanks to all who attended!
A Special Note from Pat: “Can You Do All of This Too?”
In the next formal NSD2.0 update, I’ll be going over the elements of the main site that will be included on the main Food Truck site, as well as ideas for content generation. Then, I’ll update you on the progress of the landing page and traffic building.
Before I finish up today’s update, I wanted to end with something that I know is on a lot of people’s minds about NSD2.0. I’ve addressed a similar concern before, and it’s worth addressing again. The concern is best voiced by Jon who left a comment on my latest income report. Jon said:
By the sound of it, you are going “large” with this. It’s going to be a multimedia extravaganza and big launch. All well and good, but it’s losing the “common touch”. Many of us out here want to see something we can replicate in the cracks in our schedules – we don’t have a team or the wealth of experience. NSD 1.0 could be implemented easily by the solopreneneur and we could identify with it. I fear NSD 2 is going to lose that identity and move away from the sentiment “I could do that”. You know it’s going to give us all ready made excuses to not try!!!
I understand the pressure you’re under to do a good job on it, and I will still be intrigued to see what’s possible.
Just a thought…
First of all, let me just say, this is why I love this blog – the community is amazing and isn’t afraid to voice concerns for the betterment of the entire community. Thank you Jon, for your concerns and your honesty!
Here is my response:
I love the fact that it’s being perceived that I’m going “large” with this, because thats exactly how I want the site to feel to its target audience, even before the site goes live. I hope this shows everyone what a pre-launch page can do for a brand’s image.
Should I “go small”? No way!
Larger doesn’t mean things that you can’t do yourself, and I don’t believe that any of what I’m doing is out of reach for anyone in the SPI audience. I’m not dedicating hours each day to this project, and I am creating this in the cracks of my own schedule too.
The purpose of NSD2.0 is to show that all of this isn’t as scary as it might seem, and that yes, you can do it too. I could more easily just create a site on my own, never talk about how it was put together and then all of a sudden start talking about the money that the site earns. This is a “This is WHAT I did, now you can do it too” approach, which doesn’t work for me and I know it doesn’t work for you either.
Instead of “This is WHAT I did,” it’s:
“This is HOW I did it.”
In other words, “These are the exact steps I’m taking and you can learn from the things that do and do not work along the way. You may have previously thought you couldn’t do these things, but this is how you can, and here are your options.”
Everything I’ve done so far with NSD2.0, and everything I plan to do will be things that you’ll be able to do too. The old NSD1.0 way doesn’t work quite as well anymore, and the example I’m trying to set here is that if you want a long term business – a real business that grows a large audience, you’re going to have to “go large” to properly serve that audience, stand out of the crowd and build a site that lasts – a site that actually matters.
Yes, I’m taking a completely different approach than before, but I would hope that a solopreneur would rather strive for something like this. This is the example I’m trying to set. Yes, it’s more work upfront – but that means more potential for bigger rewards down the road.
Like I mentioned before, I’m trying to redefine how people think about “niche sites”. The food truck business owner is my niche, and this site is how I plan to serve them. The site just happens to be treated like a real business and I feel that deserves to be perceived as a big deal.
Yes, this “harder” (and smarter) approach will give you more excuses to not try, but here’s something to think about:
When something in life causes you to create excuse after excuse after excuse to NOT to do something, that’s probably something worth doing – something that could potentially change your life.
To sum this all up, I’m taking it up a few levels, and I hope you will too.
The next update is coming soon, and get ready for a killer podcast with Clay Collins in a couple of days.
Thanks everyone! You’re awesome.