The Hole On Most Blogs (Including Mine) That Needs To Be Filled

A lot of people ask me the following question:

“Pat, if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently, and why?”

I have three answers for you:

  1. Start Sooner – If I had known what the possibilities were I would have gotten into online business much, much sooner. I’m very fortunate I was laid off back in 2008 because it was my lay off that took my eyes off of “the right path”, and put me on the path that was right for me. If I had known, I would have taken the bold actions necessary (bold actions that my lay off forced me to take) to make something awesome happen and get something out for the world to see, read and consume much sooner via the Internet.
  2. Build an Email List Right From the Start – One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made since being in this business was not building an email list right from the start. I waited over a year to finally put an opt-in form on my blog and I missed out on huge opportunities to connect with my audience and engage with them in ways that no blog post, video or podcast can ever do. If you still have yet to build an email list, I’ve laid out all of the steps for you in my Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Newsletter.
  3. Include a Starting Point – I’ve lost potential readers and life-long fans of the SPI brand simply because I don’t have a good starting point on my blog. This is what today’s post is all about – creating a starting point.

Why is a Starting Point Important?

Starting PointA starting point is a page on a website that gives new readers clear direction and it’s totally underutilized in the blogosphere.

Why is this important?

Because blogs are a huge mess.

There is hardly any order to the posts that are published and although there is the occasional 2-part, 3-part or n-part series that keeps a few posts in order, they are simply a group of ordered posts in an unordered web of chaos.

Additionally, a lot of our best content – content that would be perfect for anyone new to the site (or new to the topic of our site), was probably written during the first few months of the blog’s life when there were hardly any readers. A starting point is a great place to bring those old posts back into light.

To us, the blog owners, our blogs make total sense. We’re so involved with our blogs and we know exactly what’s going on, but to the reader, and especially the new reader, it’s like trying to read a book that was written on loose-leaf paper, un-numbered and thrown into the air and having the pages randomly land on the ground.

How does a person other than you know where to begin?

Our job as blog owners is to make things as easy as possible for our readers:

  • We make sure navigation around our site is seamless.
  • We use things like cache and CDN systems to decrease page load time.
  • We keep fonts clean and our posts structured for easy readability.
  • We make sure any call to actions require the least amount of steps as possible.

We know this stuff, but most of us overlook the one thing any brand new visitor could definitely use – a clear starting point.

Here’s some proof:

Starting PointThese are just 2 of several emails from new visitors who had no idea what to do when they landed on my site. So as you can see, this blog definitely needs a starting point, which is why I’m sharing my thought process with you today as I plan to set one up very soon.

About Page vs. A Starting Point

An “About Page”, a page on a blog that tells a reader what a blog is about and a little bit about the author, is not a starting point.

Well, let me rephrase that – an about page is not a good starting point.

An about page is important – don’t get me wrong. It’s been covered extensively by several pro-bloggers and is considered to be one of the most important pages on any blog, however, there’s a huge difference between an about page and a starting point:

An about page is viewed when people want to learn about a website and its author, and a starting point is viewed when people want clear direction on what actions to take and what steps are involved.

I’d recommend having both pages, and at the end of your about page link to your “start here” page for anybody who reads your bio and is ready to take action.

The Components of an Effective Starting Page

I only know a couple of bloggers who specifically have a place for beginners on their homepage: Darren Rowse from Problogger and Corbett Barr from Think Traffic. There may be more, but these are the two that I remember.

Starting Points on Existing BlogsThese are great examples, but I feel that I could take this idea a step further and create a specific page here on SPI that would allow me to address beginners in a voice and tone that is perfect for them, while being able to easily link to any posts and embed any videos that I feel are relevant and appropriate for someone new to the topic of passive income and building an online business.

People want guidance, and again it’s our job is to make things as easy as possible for our readers.

Before I create my starting page (which I would link to on my homepage – above the fold), I’d like to go over what I might include and why:

1. A Short Introductory Video.

I’d like to include a brief welcome video that introduces who I am, the page and what kind of content can be found on it. I want to utilize my green screen setup for the video because first impressions are huge and a memorable first impression can lead to long-term readers, fans and followers.

2. Quick Definitions

How are people supposed to what to know what to do when they have no idea what you’re talking about? By quickly defining a few key terms (in my case, it would be the definition of passive income) people will sort of get an idea of what’s going on.

3. Links to My 3-Part “Types of Passive Income” Podcast Series.

Over the past month I’ve recorded about 3 hours of content for my podcast that is perfect for the beginner (part 1 can be found here). I did this on purpose because I wanted to include some type of audio on my starting page that people could listen to – especially while on the go.

Imagine people who have just landed on my site spending almost 3 hours with me in their car, at the gym – whereever. You can be sure those people who get fired up about that content will come back to my site for more.

4. “Your First Steps…”

I’d like to include some clear instruction on what people should do first. Since I have so many different income streams and methods people could choose from, I might include a few quick guides on how to get started with each. Luckily, most of this information has already been recorded or written about on my blog, so it’s as easy as linking to existing blog posts or videos that are buried deep in my archives.

5. Links to My Most Popular Posts

I think this is a perfect opportunity to showcase some of my best content. Not only will this be helpful for the reader, but it will also support the fact that I have some authority in this niche because most of those posts have several hundred comments.

Essentially, I’m adding social proof here.

6. Instructions on How to Contact me

I think it’s really important to also include an easy way to contact me if any questions or concerns arise. I want to make my new readers feel like they have a resource and a friend that is here to help if needed, one they couldn’t find anywhere else. Sure – that’s opening up the door for some potential emails, but it’s also opening the door for clientele and future customers and hardcore fans.

Invest time now. Reap benefits later.

7. An Easy Way to Share the Page

This page will be public and I want as many eyes to see it as possible. By including an easy to click Facebook Like button and a Retweet button, I could potentially reach new audiences that I would never have been able to reach otherwise, especially when you consider that it is new visitors who are looking at this page – new visitors who are connected to entirely new networks of people.

8. An Opt-In Form for my Newsletter

This is a given.

At the bottom of the page, I’d have a clear call to action to subscribe to my newsletter. This is a perfect opportunity to offer even more content (especially my Free eBook), to hopefully make an even bigger first impression and get them to take even more action.

Also, just the act of giving away an email address does something psycologically to make any future actions much more acceptable.

Am I Missing Anything?

The reason I’m posting about this before I go live with my starting point page is because really it’s for you. I wanted to ask you if you feel a page like this would be good for a beginner or newbie and if there’s anything I should add that I’m totally missing.

I hope that after reading this you can see the hole that needs to be filled on most of our blogs and what we can do to fill it.

Cheers!

  • http://thesisready.com Dave Grimes II

    This is excellent. I was just having this same conversation with my business partners. Visitors need a place to start, like a movie. No one wants to come in part-way through… you want to have a sense that you’ve seen everything, and that you can follow the flow of content. It’s a tough idea to realize for certain topics, but if you can nail it… visitor interaction will spike, and the connection your audience makes with you and your content will be stronger than ever before!

    • Pat

      I love your reference to a movie – that’s exactly right. Even Time Warner cable is giving us the ability to start TV shows over when we come into the middle of them, because they know people want to know everything from the start, of course. The same should apply to a blog. Thanks Dave!

      • http://www.theresmoneyeverywhere.com Vik Tantry

        Pat – this is one of the most relevant articles I’ve read in a long time. It’s a huge hole on my blog as well and I’m definitely interested in seeing the final results so I can take some best practices for my own site. Do you know when you’re planning to go live?

  • http://lyndsysimon.com Lyndsy Simon

    With all this talk of restructuring for new visitors, and you past discussion of your dislike for the “most recent post” styling of your homepage… are we about to see a redesign of SPI?

    • Pat

      A slight redesign addressing those issues – yes. A major redesign, nope! I think a lot of people respond well to the overall layout and scheme here on SPI. What do you think?

      • http://settingupabusinesswebsite.com Michelle

        I only found your site fairly recently and haven’t had any major trouble finding anything, so a total redesign definitely isn’t needed. A starting point would be fantastic though to prevent some of us wasting an entire afternoon of work time reading posts at random instead ;)

        p.s. my site is mostly tutorials and advice so I’ve had a step-by-step page on there from the start, it’s one of the most popular pages so the starting point theory is definitely a good one.

      • http://increasingworkplaceproductivity.net Bojan

        I got used to this design, reminds me of school in a way and “brings” value to the content on psychological level.

        Some of my friends think it has too much color, but it’s totally cool with me.

        I will be also implementing the starting point for my readers, think it’s great idea. I think only linking to older posts in the new ones, doesn’t bring enough attention to them, but having a constant page, reminding all the new visitors of great old content, is a killer of retaining your visitors on the blog for just a little bit longer…

  • http://driverdan.com Dan DeFelippi

    Thanks a lot for this post Pat. It’s such an obvious idea that gets overlooked by almost everyone, myself included.

    Whenever I go to a new site/blog one of the first things I do is look at the “About” page. I then skim through the most recent posts. From there it can be very hard to figure out where to go. If I think a blog is good enough (like yours) I will go back to post #1 and read everything. If the blog has been around for years this can take weeks. A starting point page would make the process much easier.

    I think the starting page should be linked to in the main navigation and/or the sidebar. It would also be a good idea to include a link on the About page since a lot of people tend to start there. I would use a good call to action on the About page to get people taking action. Once they see your starting page they’ll be hooked.

    • Pat

      Isn’t it totally obvious? I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner or it’s not something anyone else is really talking about. I think the about page is typically the default “start here”, but like I said I think we can do better.

      Cheers!

  • http://www.youngprepro.com Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is EPIC Pat,

    I can totally resonate with your post and I wonder how many more visitors I’d have gained to my blog if I had a great starting point.

    After reading those two emails you highlighted I knew clearly my blog had no starting point and I’d create some articles/pages to cater for this.

    Thanks so much for the awesome post,
    -Onibalusi

    • Pat

      Thanks Oni – I appreciate that. Yeah it sometimes take a whole slew of emails and requests before I can realize the obvious :P

      Cheers, and hope to see you get a starting point up soon too.

    • http://increasingworkplaceproductivity.net Bojan

      Oni, I’d love to see you on the video to add that personal touch behind your writing!

  • http://www.bloggonaut.net Josef

    Hi Pat, i like your new post. defenetly a good idea with effective starting pages.

    • Pat

      Thanks Josef – I appreciate that. Cheers!

  • http://www.gainhigherground.com Rob Cornish

    Hi Pat,

    I was waiting for this post after you mentioned the “Starting Page” subject a while back…

    I think you make some excellent points here. I have also been thinking about this because my blog’s purpose is 2-fold:

    1) (70%) to try to help other people learn from my experience and past mistakes.
    2) (30%) to document the progress of my online career.

    Trouble is, as my progress develops then the content of (2) runs the risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant to blogger/IM newbies who arrive at my blog for the very first time.

    I think you’ve offered some great solutions here and if I could add one thing that I’m doing: Message number 2 in my autoresponder sequence is an email which asks “What is your biggest questions or the one thing you’d like to know about internet marketing/online business?”

    So it’s like a constant and on-going survey (sort of!).

    I’ve got a spreadsheet of the feedback and refer to it to keep my posts on track. This also might be something that could be considered to mould the look, feel and content of your Starting Page.

    Keep up the good work :-)

    Cheers! Rob.

    • Pat

      Great tips Rob! I have the exact same email, except it’s like 6 or 7. I definitely get a lot of responses and great ideas for content. It’s awesome. Glad to see you’re doing the same thing.

      Cheers, and you keep up the good work too!

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Pat, Fantastic idea. Thanks for writing and getting me thinking about it. The traffic on my blog has really shot up in the last two weeks as a result of promoting my new Tuesday Night Training series of webinars and now that I’m getting all this traffic, I have no doubt that some of them are wondering where to start. You can bet I’ll have this added very shortly.

      Rob, I agree with you as well that as we (as bloggers) get further in our careers, our content gets less and less relevant to new bloggers. This has got me thinking that maybe we could divide our content (via categories or some form of navigation) into content for:
      1. first year bloggers
      2. 2nd and 3rd year bloggers
      3. Advanced Pros..

      What do you think?

      Trent

  • http://tangerineturtle.net Magz Parmenter

    Great post and great ideas Pat!
    I think you’ve covered everything.
    I can’t wait to see your finished page when it goes up.
    I will be thinking about ways to implement this on my blog.

    • Pat

      Thanks Magz! Keep crushing it!

  • http://bloggingwithamy.com Amy Lynn Andrews

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m in the process of a site re-design and because my site is intended as a step-by-step guide for newbies, my plan is to make my home page static with a decision tree-type entry. I’ll provide options for any type of visitor, newbie or not. I’ll push for non-newbies to subscribe or catch me on my Facebook page where I try to offer tips not worthy of entire posts.

    • Pat

      Nice Amy – sounds like a good plan. That’s sort of what I do on GreenExamAcademy.com. The first thing you see is a “click here if you…” and then it breaks into three options and goes from there. It’s definitely been effective – so good luck!

  • http://www.endingthegrind.com Steve Roy

    Pat,
    I never really thought about this, but it makes perfect sense. Your blog has sooo much info on it that it’s easy for beginners to get lost.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do with this…

    • Pat

      Definitely Steve – I know because they’ve told me :P

      Cheers and thanks for the comment!

    • http://www.markbell.me.uk Mark Bell

      I don’t think such a page would be useful solely to beginners – but also regular readers. The content that’s published here is fantastic, but when it disappears off the front page, or isn’t listed in the side bar, it can only be found through the search bar.

      I’d suggest tags, but they are just keywords. Are the posts categorised?

  • http://paramedicsalaryonline.com Manspaugh

    Man, I act like a little kid at Christmas every time I see a new post by Pat on my RSS.

    • Pat

      LOL! I love it. Thanks!

  • http://www.zoulallc.com Bob Malloy

    This is some great advice Pat! It can be really hard to figure out a starting point when trying to read through a blog, especially ones with such transparency and in depth coverage like yours. I think a short (2-4 episodes depending on objective) series of videos or podcasts (easily and quickly consumable mediums) would be a good idea.
    Thank you again for the post. I’m about to launch my site and I would have missed this key step without your post.
    -Bob

    • Pat

      Thanks Bob. I already have the podcast recorded (linked to in this post – 3 parts) and I want to shoot a video too just for this page. Good luck on your new site! Cheers!

  • http://www.chezfat.com Chezfat

    Pat, this is definitely something that many bloggers myself included need. In fact this week I’ve been think about this for my blog already and have been brainstorming ideas. I’m sure your first published draft will be excellent but I’m thinking that an intro section on the main page still has to be there for the Start Here page to be even more successful.

    Think about the above examples and model a section on your front page after them and then also include a all-encompassing Start page and I think you are golden. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what you publish as your start page and seeing if it is similar to what I’ve been brainstorming about as well.

    • Pat

      Good call Chez – I definitely want something on the homepage that works well, of course. Great ideas!

  • http://AngelaDiGiovanni.com/ Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud

    Great post. This has been on my list of things to do for awhile now, but I haven’t felt any direction. You laid out some great ideas.

    Would you make the “start here” your home page?

    • Pat

      Thanks Angela. I don’t think the start here page would become my homepage, but rather a page that I link to from my homepage, similar to what Chezfat mentioned above.

      All the best to you!

  • http://www.flipwebsites.com Eppie

    Oddly enough, I think a lot of bloggers are able to create products because of this challenge. Look at Joseph Archibald’s ebook, which contains information that’s freely available in a Warrior Forum thread — people are willing to pay to have the information organized, to be given a starting point and clear path moving forward.

    I agree that it’s nice to have a “start here” or “for beginners” type listing on a blog — I love the way Corbett has done his, and Michael Dunlop’s Income Diary is another great example, but that only gets people so far in before the path splits off in a multitude of directions. Instead of a guided tour, it still becomes a “choose your own adventure” (remember those books?) type of approach that can overwhelm.

    Many e-books and membership courses are born out of this frustration, and quite frankly they are a superior way to deliver fixed-progression content. If there’s a correct linear path, repurpose the content and format it as such. Boom — instant product.

    What I love about your approach here is that you provide mini “start here” sections. I found you through the niche site duel, and I found it easy to consume that content because you had it organized so well. I also like that you created a domain specific for that content so it could be easily found going forward.

    I took this approach with a series of posts I wrote about a 5-figure flip where I documented everything I did to build and sell a website. Every post in the grouping referenced the previous posts at the top. When I added a new post, I went back to the post that came before it and linked to the next one in the series. That makes that collection read like a book or magazine — not like a bunch of disjointed items. The way we interlink our content can also make a huge difference in the user experience.

  • http://pennyonthefloor.com mike

    i know you hinted at doing this awhile back, so i was waiting to see when you decided to discuss it again. looking forward to what you come up with.

    i had some ideas of my own for my site, but i think i still lack enough content – especially informative beginner content, to set up a “start here” page. hopefully some day soon. thanks for the constant motivation.

  • http://www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com Chris C. Ducker

    Pat

    Absolutely bloody fantastic, buddy.

    I do have a start page, but it is weak, compared to some of that stuff you mention here. Time for some spring-cleaning, me believes!!!

    Thanks for the kick up the butt, matey.

    C

    • http://increasingworkplaceproductivity.net Bojan

      How to start outsourcing on the cheap… I would love reading that. Seems like I am holding back with jumping in with two feet with that one!

  • Beth Stowers

    Hi Pat! Thank you for your post. I hope to get a new blog started tonight and this will be very helpful to me as I set up its structure.

    I am heavily influenced by network marketing on the Internet and one thing I have always been taught by one of my mentors is that a lot of people need to be told what to do. I don’t think that means that we as bloggers should be bossy, but that we should give direction to people and make the directions clear. The idea is to build a roadmap that is as clear as possible so others don’t get lost. :)

    My mentor also said to build a list. You can use that list for marketing, but more importantly, you can use it to deliver good content to people, which helps with relationship building and trust. You do a good job with that and having a newsletter, as well as with Facebook.

    I like your ideas about providing direction. One thing I have seen from Steve Pavlina and a few others is to have a static page that people land on when they come to your blog. From that point, there are directions to “where to start”, about the blog author and so forth. A static page is a nice introduction to the blog and Pavlina uses his static page to give directions to new readers.

    I am toying with the idea of doing that or making sure I have some clear directions to provide people with a starting point. I’ll see and tonight’s blog set up will be lots of fun, I’m sure!

    Have a great day and thank you again for your post and value!

  • http://www.lifestyledesignunleashed.com Richard @ Lifestyle Design Unleashed

    I recently started to use this technique almost by accident. I created a post on a few of my blogs and made it a “sticky” so it was the first post anyone saw on my homepage. The goal was to carefully write a keyword-rich post to push me up the search engines and then to give a general introduction to the niche/my blog and provide links to the top posts on my blog. I also made an introductory video for the top of the sticky post.

    Unfortunately after some initial testing it seems I didn’t get a SERP boost and regular readers were having their time wasted by it. So I “unstickied” the posts, adjusted them slightly and turned them into “welcome/first time here?” type posts that I linked to clearly in my navigation. Since then I have had a number of emails about those pages and they seem to be drawing a lot of clicks from the main homepage.

    There is certainly more testing and tweaking to be done but it has been funny to “stumble” across this idea over the last few weeks then find you telling the world about it today! If only you’d posted this last month you’d have saved me a lot of thought ;-)

  • http://www.danielroachblog.com/blog Daniel Roach

    Hey, Pat, I’m surprised no one else has talked about it before either. I’ve had a section in my sidebar and in my about page for a long time now that gives the new readers 5 posts to get started with. It works particularly well for getting lurkers to jump in.

    One tip for everyone though: put your best/stickiest/most important post first on the list.

    Looking at my analytics, most readers click that first link and then explore other posts via related content plugins and in-linking. They rarely go back and read more from the starting list. But that’s great when you optimize that first post with internal links that help guide them.

    Just an observation that might be helpful,
    Daniel

  • Dawn

    As always- a very helpful post. Thanks, Pat!

  • http://blognegociosdinero.com Cristina

    Hi Pat,
    I was one of the lost newbies just a couple months ago. There’s so much information that it took me a while to find my way here. I certainly missed a starting point. It would have been easier. Despite being lost, I kept coming to your blog because I like your style.

    Cheers,
    Cristina

  • http://www.daniellemcgaw.com Danielle McGaw

    This is such a great topic Pat and one that I’ve been thinking about lately, too. My blog’s focus is social media for freelance writers and my returning readers don’t need a “get started on Twitter” tutorial but my NEW readers might. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to best integrate a starting point into my blog. Creating a page is what I was thinking of as well. Yet one more thing to add to the to-do list, right? :)

  • http://www.accahelp.com Kamcreationz

    Pat as usual a great post and an really awesome idea.

  • http://EminiMind.com Tim Racette

    Great post. Did you find it necessary to setup an entity and passing all your affiliate and ebook sales etc through? If so is it worth setting up from the start or waiting until the income begins to grow. Thanks Pat!

  • http://www.poker4value.com Jeff

    I like this Pat. A great place to introduce yourself, your vision for your blog and a call to action. I flirted with the idea of installing some sort of plugin like “What would Seth Godin Do” for this purpose, but I did not like the “popup” feel of it. Thank you for this great idea, I am definitely going to implement this on my page

    Jeff

  • http://www.myrun.com.au Ralph

    I actually have a where to start category on my site.. but this inspires me to write some more about it..

    Also, great to hear you on the webinar yesterday Pat!

  • http://coloradoblogworks.com Paul Elliot

    Great post Pat! I believe most newbies search for a process, a roadmap, when they’re just starting out. I know when I first starting learning this stuff that I was terribly frustrated that most of what I encountered began somewhere in the middle…definately not the beginning. What I suggest is a “master” flowchart of the entire process that encompasses what your blog is about. Use that as the roadmap. Articles then fill out the branches of the flowchart. Newbies can of course begin at “start here,” where more experienced people can readily see where to jump in.

    Now Pat I know you’re a huge fan of mindmaps (me too) but in this instance a flowchart probably works better because well, it depicts the flow, the sequential steps, that lead to success (hopefully).

  • http://diyblogger.net/ Dino Dogan

    All 3 hits are right on the nose. Starting point is something I’ve been thinking about but I just cant get myself to do it. Its one of those things I know I should have but cant quite figure out how to incorporate it -design wise- into the rest of my site and Im being way too lazy to sit down and figure it out….some day soon perhaps…some day soon (I keep telling myself :-)

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny

    Definitely the way to go. When I found new blogs, like Corbetts, the “Start here” tab was where I went to find out which posts I should read first. I think yours takes it further and it’s much improved.

  • http://www.grassrootsinternetstrategy.com.au Serena Star Leonard

    Guilty! On both my sites! Actually someone recently suggested that my individual blogs also need explaining for new readers. Do you have any tips for this? I can’t see how I can do that without making it boring for my regular readers.

  • http://www.bullzsoftware.com Greg

    Greg post Pat. Perhaps Tumblr/Posterous/WordPress/Blogger etc should take your advice and make it easy to incorporate this kind of feature into their software… being able to “lock” a post or comment at the top of the blog would do the job. Keep up the fantastic work!

  • http://smartmoneyfocus.com Joe Edward

    Pat,

    This was a really good post. I liked how you broke it down. You wouldn’t want to start a book in the middle. I am definitely incorporate your ideas into my site.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  • http://www.quotessuccess.com Barry @ A Leader Quotes Success

    Great point, Pat! I actually encountered exactly this challenge when I first started reading your blog. I caught up by going to your first set of posts (dramatic enough themselves!), then jumping in to some of your most recent content. First chapter, last chapter approach, I guess!

    One of the things that you do nicely, though, is introduce people to yourself, bit by bit, while sharing your content. Like most relationships, it doesn’t need a context or framework – the understanding simply grows organically over time, without need of a starting line. I think that’s a pretty cool way to do it!

  • http://www.internetentrepreneurconnection.com Hector Avellaneda

    Very good point Pat! Believe it or not this is something that I was thinking about not too long ago. Let me ask you a question.

    What do you think about guiding subscribers, through whatever course of action you want them to take, through a email auto-responder such as Aweber?

    I can definitely see some of the flaws in this method such as guiding only subscribers towards your course of action and leaving everyone guessing as to what to do next BUT would the fact that they don’t know where to get started perhaps be an incentive for those people to subscribe?

    Any thoughts?

  • http://www.blogging-the-beginners-complete-guide.com Karo Itoje

    Hello Pat,

    This is a great post especially for bloggers (your third point).

    Yeah when we find a great business we always tend to wish that we started sooner. But the truth is we should be glad we started at all and we are where we are today. Some people will live through life without even getting the opportunity. So let’s count our blessings :)

    As for building email list, I totally agree since it’s one of the fastest way to build credibility with readers and increase traffic, that is if it is used to further offer value to readers, not just as a means to send offers or just send post updates.

    For long-term business building, I am not so much a fan of blogging and I always tell my readers that and why. And point 3 is just one of my strong reasons. Blogs where never designed to be used for or as a business. So a blog lacks the proper structure and navigation an authority site requires.

    For a website a starting point should be your home page. If you check my home page you’ll see that I lead readers through to how to achieve success using my website as a guide after a brief introduction of myself and why I am writing about the topic. I ended by leading them to my newsletter and how to become part of the website. The only thing I would have love to add is a brief video. I would have love to do the brief introduction in a video. But since I am yet to figure out how to privately record a video, I added a photo of myself smiling to the reader, which I even think has an advantage over a video because not every visitor will have a fast internet connection and that could increase the load time of the video and the visitor might not be patient enough to visit and see it. I know this because once in a while when my internet slows down, it’s difficult to get a video on a site to load and I am not always patient enough to stick around.

    The home page of a site should be seen as a sales page where you convince your reader why he or she should use your site. After all, there are many sites on your niche, why should the visitor use yours? What’s in it for the reader? Your repeat visitors already know why they should. But the new ones doesn’t and it’s your duty to convince them enough to get on your list on their first visit.

    This is what I try to achieve with my home page though I don’t think I am there yet.

    Sidebar …

    Just changed the look and feel of my site. Tell me what you think!

  • http://cubiclehugger.com The Cubicle Hugger

    Thanks for the tips, as usual. I’ll be sure to come back to it once I get enough content up. You’re right though. Since I started on your blog right at the point you were starting the niche site challenge(have always been a happy quiet observer since), I always had something to look back on when I was looking for a “start point.”

    I realized later that when I was showing your site to my friends, there was no real place for them to start looking at your site at…and depending what topic we were discussing, I’d have to go through your posts to find the link to give them.

    Anyway, looking forward to more posts.

  • http://www.ChrisFarrell.com Chris Farrell

    Pat!!!!

    This is a GREAT post — really enjoyed it.

    PS – which part of SoCal are you in? I’m in LA….

    Continued success to you Pat,

    Kindest

    Chris Farrell

  • http://www.ingresosalcuadrado.com Franck

    Great post Pat!

    This tecnique might be usefull to increase readibility. But i frankly prefer the approach of Copyblogger here, where all primary navigation pages are landing pages optimized for a specific keywords.

    Brian offers 7 “starting pages”. In your current model it might be difficult to offer that much entry points.

    The main point is to know very well your audience and focus on specific process (starters = build your first blog).

    This is difficult task for a blogger because you need to think in advance month or even years of content.

    That’s why I think that Blogs will ever need reengineering activity to make them more readable. The one you’re suggesting is definitevely worth a try

  • http://www.kidsiphoneapps.net Pavel

    Great post as usual, Pat. A starting point would be an awesome idea. Like someone already mentioned, perhaps it would make sense to have several starting points: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced topics. This way you’d direct your traffic straight to the level the reader is comfortable in.

    Good luck

  • http://alexwhalley.com Alex

    OMG Pat, this is right in tune with what I have been thinking for the last few weeks about my own blog. It is so true that we provide our audience with access to the tools and resources that we use, as well as the references we find helpful etc. We even make contacting us and subscribing easy, but noone talks about the importance of providing resources for everyone, not just those who have travelled the journey with us.

    I think half the problem relates to the issue of exactly that. We grow with our readers and then assume they already know how to get to point B, so we blog about how to get from B to C, thus forgetting about those still at A.

    Thanks for this timely post Pat, it reminds me to finish those pages I built specifically for this purpose!

  • http://seleema.com Seleema | Seleem.com

    This is why I’ve posted a welcome video on my home page. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not. My website is pretty new, with not much content, but I thought I would test it out. Well, only time will tell. Great post Pat, and thanks for all you do!

    • http://blog.momekh.com Momekh

      Hey, checked your website and something’s wrong with your WordPress functions file. Maybe a missed operator here or there, showing an error. Hope you’re on to it. good luck :)

      • http://seleema.com Seleema | Seleema.com

        Thanks Momekh! I noticed that, I’m working on it right now.

  • http://philfaqs.com Dave Starr

    So true, Pat. Heck, forget about new readers, I can’t even find the stuff I know I wrote about several years back. There has to be abetter way. One thing I’ve thought about on this issue .. wouldn’t it be great if there were a plugin that worked like Google’s Wonder Wheel … so whatever topic a readers started with, s/he would automatically be led to the next related articles, and the next and the next ….

  • Kunal – The Guy Who Drinks KoolAid over at HelloStockMarket.com

    I am LITERALLY printing this out, and keeping it in front of me as I prepare to start my own blog

  • http://www.javierrenzi.com Javier

    Hi Pat,

    Just noticed you placed a wrong link for problogger’s (you’re using Think Traffic’s link).

    BTW, what plugin are you using to place adsense blocks within the content on your security guard niche?

    Thanks

  • http://www.learnwithtim.com Learn With Tim

    Do you think using your own product is better to start a list or using someone else? That’s my dilemma now. I have a product I can promote, setup with auto responder emails, but it’s not my product…

  • Ben

    Hey Pat,
    I’ve been following your site for awhile, but this is my first post. This new addition will catapult your site into a new stratosphere of awesome! I didn’t know where to start when I first found your blog, but each post was so great that I didn’t really care. I’m looking forward to finding anything I missed along the way.
    Thanks for your incredible content.
    Ben

  • Jeremy

    The typical blog arrangement of information chronologically is horrible from a user perspective for most sites (unless you’re a news site where up to date information is most important).

    While it’s fine to use blogging software as a CMS, your blog should be designed like a website: a clear homepage setting the stage for your site, navigation pages to each of your major topics, and each major topic page branching off into detailed subtopics.

    Any decent WP theme can do this.

    If you want to have a section of “latest info” in a chronological format, you can add that as well (a “news” page).

    But organizing a niche site reverse-chronologically is bad design from a user’s perspective. It also devalues your “old” content, even if it is still good.

  • http://adriennesmith.net Adrienne

    Great post Pat and yet another wake up call for many. Okay, I have the starting point for one of my blogs clearly mapped out but not for my main one. So why didn’t I implement that same thing for there? Darn good question and one I will be revisiting now.

    Appreciate this excellent post and for that wake up call for myself.

    Thank you!!!

    Adrienne

  • KimP

    Awesome post, Pat! I believe by making these changes you’ll help push SPI from the ranks of proficient to elite!

    YES! I try to incorporate a ‘starting point’ on all of my niche sites because it’s easy to get lost and just leave! I think most people think the most popular/most commented posts will suffice for where to start, but that’s not always the case.

    I also think one could create a beginner’s widget or section that not only included beginners articles but also included links to landing pages for optimized keywords as someone mentioned above.

  • http://www.onespoonatatime.com Paul Wolfe

    Pat

    The only thing that I’d think of adding is a a strategy behind the Start Here page – what do you want the visitor to do? Is it read some posts? Or is it subscribe by email? Once that strategy is in place, everything you put on the start up page can drive the visitor towards taking that action.

    Paul

  • http://www.enlightenedresourcemanagement.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

    Pat,

    Fantastic stuff as always. “Where to start” when someone comes to your blog/website is an important thing regardless of whether you’ve been at it for a while or are a rookie on the scene like I am. I feel like it’s easier to create the starting point page after you’ve been at it for a while though. You have a better sense of what people want, why they interact with you and more content to point them to. Without putting up false obstacles for newcomers to have an excuse not to do this do you feel it would have been challenging for you to undertake this in the infancy of your blog?
    I’m feeling that way but I have confidence I can overcome it.

  • http://www.akilbrown.com Akil

    Hi Pat,

    I am not sure if anyone covered this but you may also think about including a post if you havent about being organized as a new beginner. Apart from learning alot and creating content I believe as a beginner organization in any area not just online is key.

    Knowing when a project was started and when certain points in the project was hint or will be met can help any beginner. From my experience not having everything organized cause most of the confusion in the first place. With organization comes a added step to measure ones performance or progress which can easily be monitored if one is organized.

    I am in the process of doing the same thing but never thought about a starting page good suggestion. I mean as a new blogger I know first hand what I was looking for and can help others by relating with them and providing the information they need.

    Thanks again for a great post as always keep up the good work.

  • http://chrisalta.com Chris Alta

    Pat!

    Starting points are GOLDEN! I like ProBloggers and ThinkTraffics little tabs, clever way to sneak it in, would you suggest making it clear and cut as to where to start? Those tabs are there on the page yes but it still isn’t really giving a clear signal of

    “HEY START HERE IF YOU’RE A NEWB!” OR “FIRST TIME? START HERE!”

    catch my drift?

    I took your advice a month ago and created an opt in form, so far I’ve got 5 opt ins and 1 is from my mom so I don’t know if that counts? haha..but at least I don’t have to think about what to send out with the thought of “would I send this out if my mom were to read it?” because she will! Haha

    (kind of off topic)

    I think I haven’t gotten as many opt ins because I haven’t offered anything tangible such as an eBook. I’ve simply got “Chris’ Weekly Web Tips”

    What are your thoughts as far as the starting point goes for a blog starting out such as my own, and about the email opt in form even though it’s not part of this post.

    Oh and another random note. For your facebook fan page did you use two seperate email accounts or do you have both your personal facebook and your fanpage linked to the same email?

    cheers!

    -Chris Alta

  • Jerry

    Pat

    You have so much great stuff on your site. But you are absolutely correct. You MUST get tab for newbies and/or a coaching tab. Where to start, how to find a niche, domains, hosting, PPC, article marketing and put it in an organized manner. This will triple your subscribership and also help us with a plan. Without that we are just continuously looking for information and trying to put it all together. I’m not saying become WA or 10 sites in 10 minutes but something concrete with a step by step.

    Great site regardless and Good Luck

  • http://www.luminousjuju.com Jennifer

    Pat,

    Thanks for the great article. It couldn’t have been posted at a better time. I recently launched one blog (which I can see already needs help) and am now giving attention to redesigning my personal-branding-what-I-do site. This article had content that I definitely needed to hear. I love how the universe works!

    Jennifer

    • http://www.embark-lovethelifeyoulive.com/ Kala |Embark-lovethelifeyoulive

      Jennifer in addition to Pat’s blog. Look into the AlistBlogging Club-it’s different it helps more with building readership and technical stuff on blogging, and nice support group. I’m a member, find link (I became an affiliate) on my blog page. You get a free report on attracting readers.

  • http://www.moneyin15minutes.co.uk John Burnside

    I have been thinking about having a static page for my front page but I am worried about my regular readers getting bored of coming to the same page every time they come back. I might add a new page for beginners at the top in my navigation and leave the front page as posts. Looking forward to seeing what you’re going to do on this site.

  • http://design.gallerylotus.com/ Kala/ Design @Gallery Lotus

    Sounds like you covered everything I would want to know. I did run into that problem and I think I did email you on it. As newbie knowing where to jump in-I was committed got a good vibe so I explored by most popular-but yes stuff in your archives that are relevant are important to point out. So great, I’m gonna do this too on my other site a blog, which is about creating joyful work, spirituality and healthy lifestyle-basically a life we love.

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  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com Steve-Personal Success Factors

    Pat, I’m in the middle of revamping my sites as well. As another commenter pointed out , blogs are in need of constant re-engineering, since the writer’s knowledge of his/her mission and audience will change as time goes on. You’ve modeled that well here on this blog. Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.thinninghairwomenhq.wordpress.comm, Rian

    That’s what I am thinking today. Starting point is important to make reader knows where to begin and in my opinion starting point also good for SEO purpose where we can put link to target page that has affiliate in start page.

  • http://www.truthaboutquickness20.com Josh Houghton

    As always great post Pat! Really hit home and I can relate to them as well. Back to the drawing board after reading this post for one of my other blogs.

  • http://www.howtoimpressagirlz.com Ye Tun Win

    Thanks! Pat,
    I agree all 3 you mentioned in the post. As for now, I am making newsletter series for the niche blog. It should be active soon.

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  • http://www.jnchaintreuil.com/ JN Chaintreuil

    Thanks Pat for your excellent article!
    I just discover a short mistake : the link for Problogger goes to ThinkTraffic :)
    Thanks again and cheers…

  • Mike from Florida

    Pat,
    You’re headed in the right direction with a “starting point”. But that’s not good enough. What is really needed is a list of “topical threads”. Much like “most popular”, etc. but with titles that have a specific theme. I am new to your site and have some very particular interests. Finding a full thread of content that “scratches right where I itch” early into my visit will cement me as a reader.

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  • http://increasingworkplaceproductivity.net Bojan

    I am all up for a starting point, I thought it would be something similar like your resources page, and possibly it would have the best click trough rate, for any new visitor of the blog.

    This is something that seems so obvious, but people always seem to forget about it.

  • http://nairacow.com Mk Akan

    This was the same problem i had when i started out…sad most of us still forget this….will have to create a page just for this ..
    Thanks pat…

  • http://hpshappyhomebusiness.blogspot.com HP van Duuren

    Thanks for your post,

    In the past you would be bombarded with everything at once on my Blog. You could find a Welcome, the whole posts themselves, some Basic info about Affiliate Marketing and info about Guest Posting etc. etc. all stuffed into one Blog page!

    After reading this Post….,

    Now you will find – seperate pages – for all those items making it a lot easier for you to easily find what you like to read the most by simply clicking the link you want. The same goes for the Posts themselves because with the ‘Jump Breaks’ in the posts you can easily click only on the posts you like.

    So now let the – Readers Rush – begin :)

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business Lifestyle – Inspiration,
    HP

  • http://businessbooksreviews.com Gabriel Nechita

    Most of any website’s visitors are beginners. People that are not dedicated to a specific domain are constantly trying to improve their knowledge in every aspect so that they could sustain a cool conversation with their peers.

  • http://www.bullzsoftware.com Greg

    Thanks for the post Pat – great post, as usual. I think there’s definitely a need to provide visitors with a good “feel” for a site as soon as they arrive but we need to be more creative on how this is achieved. Traditionally, we’ve relied on search boxes, archive links or something like a tag cloud. Boring! Maybe when 3D monitors (without the use of glasses of course) and 3D hand-held devices become widely used we can offer visitors a very short museum-like 3D walkthrough of the site which utilizes text, images, audio and video. Since visitors are becoming more skilled at browsing websites, they know what they are looking for and are less patient with having to search for information on the site. It’s a “show me now and impress me” culture. If anyone has any suggestions on how to provide a new, fast and effective snapshot of a blog/site then I’m sure there’ll be a demand for it!

  • http://www.fromdreamstolifestyle.com patrick

    Very glad to see how you implement your beginner’s page into your blog. It sounds like a very valuable way for your readers to understand how to be more effective and a great tool for guiding them in the right direction. P.s. The option to subscribe to your newsletter right in the comment section is brilliant!

  • http://financiallyeliteblog.com Dwight Anthony

    Pat, as a fellow blogger, couldn’t agree more!

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog dot Com

  • http://www.adamstanecki.com.au Adam Stanecki

    Pat,

    I’m in the process of completely re-developing my site. I’m going for a more tightly defined topic, a cleaner theme and I’m looking to add “tricks” like you’ve mentioned in this post.

    I like how Tyler at Advanced Riskology has setup his site. The first thing you see is “Start here” (http://tylertervooren.com/advancedriskology/start-here/).

    Thank you again, Adam.

  • http://www.theratsplace.com Stephanie

    This is a great idea. As a semi new reader to your blog, I’d love to see where you think I should start and out of the web of information you created, it’d be interesting to see what things you’d highlight. I had a starting point on my site but I didn’t know how mug it helped until your wrote this. I just thought the word “guide” would attract people to click on it. And it is my most popular page thus far.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope to see a new podcast soon. :)

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  • http://www.christinebonaventure.com Christine

    Hm. Being a newbie blogger and online passive income earner, having a starting page is a great idea. Like you said, I am just starting and don’t have any readers, yet. Everything I write at this point is ”the best ever’

    Thanks for the great idea.

  • Jerry

    You have so much great content. What do you think about putting a search Rat Flynn’s blog box somewhere? Sometimes I am looking for something and can’t locate it.

  • http://motorcycleinsights.com/ Jason Powell

    Nice Post! I’m trying to implement this on my blog.

    I can’t seem to find a good widget like the one used by ProBlogger as a starting point to display his articles and guide his guest.

    Any suggestions or is something that can be easily outsourced to fit me sites needs?

  • http://wwww.napincome.com Joshu @ Make money online Blogging

    Pat,

    I totally agree with you here. Its very critical that you have a step by step guide to what you have to achieve at the final stages. Most blogs or websites have great content, but fail to help someone start from the scratch.

    Cheers
    Josh

  • http://www.edgeofdavid.com David

    I think about this all the time, I have new start here page and a page that oragnizes my best content by topic.

    Perhaps the best way would be to collect all the blog posts on a given topic and put them into an ebook format, so on your starting point page you can have a welcome video, links to definitions etc and what everything is about, then a list of free (or paid) ebooks on a given topic. For you what I find most interesting:

    Niche site duel
    Ehow Experiment
    All your Blog advice
    Passive income Tactics

    That sort of thing. Also, that sort of thing would be heavily re-tweeted plus you could use Glen of Viperchill (I know you two are buds) cloud flood software to really ramp it up if you wanted too.

    OK this is what I’m going to do because it’s such a no brainer. I love your site, makes me think of good ideas for my blog and my content marketing sites :)

    -David

  • http://www.todayhaspower.com Rob

    I love the idea of building an email list right from the start (and should have!).
    Not only are you able to give your email list special attention, but it feels more like a community.
    Live it LOUD!

  • http://sodevious.net Nicole Dominguez

    This is some really sound advice. I can’t wait to see what you stir up!

  • http://OurDevelopingMind.com Marco Lee

    I’ve totally cleaned up/ revamped my site because of this.
    My sidebar was a mess and there’s definitely no starting point.
    There’s always room for improvement.

    Thanks for this. ;)

  • http://www.automatedsocialnetworking.com Nicole

    Great post… Really strong points you have here and I totally agree with… Love to try this sometime… Thanks for sharing

  • http://pennyonthefloor.com mike

    I’ve plugged the hole on my blog. Let’s see if it helps out…

  • http://www.heathercoyle.com Heather

    Great post filled with so much information and tips/help. Thanks so much!

  • http://coolpitara.blogspot.com/ Hetal

    Hey Pat!

    It was nice post and I am also thinking about placing a starting point on my blog.

    How about Giving a “Blog Tour” kinda thing for the starting point purpose. Through this New Visitor will be directed to part of blogs which will help them to do starting and following blog.

    Your Thoughts Plz…

  • http://www.musictherapymave.com Kimberly Sena Moore

    Thanks for sharing this information, Pat. What a great idea! I’ve just published my own “starting point” page that you can check out here: http://www.musictherapymaven.com/welcome I appreciate all the wonderful information you provide on your blog–keep it up!

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  • http://www.workathomehousewife.com Elise

    I am so excited I found your site – I can’t believe I never thought to google “Passive Income” before tonight, but am so glad I did. You’re going to be a huge help to me and my online business endeavors.

  • http://howtobeamazing.com Mike Reeves-McMillan

    Thanks for the idea, Pat. I want my new blog to be focussed on practicalities, but there are underlying ideas and philosophies behind it as well, so what I’ve done is create a Start Here page that lays out the things that someone would need to understand and be on board with to get the most benefit from the site.

    I’ve based it around my tags and categories (and linked to them) so that people can follow the themes through the site. It’s something that can grow and develop as the site progresses.

    Great idea, once again.

  • http://blogsnewsreviews.com AstroGremlin

    Is there a good WP plugin for a newsletter sign-up form? And id there a plugin for your elegant non-captcha? Thanks for you site.

  • http://financiallyeliteblog.com Dwight Anthony

    Man, this has really opened my eyes to having more than an about page (which i’m soon rewriting) and getting readers started and there really is alot of blogs that are missing this key component to building value and communication with readers.

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog

    Financial Freedom advocate

  • http://www.spreads.org.uk Adam

    I was thinking of how to make a starting page for my own affiliate/seo marketing site the other day and then saw this post and got some really useful tips!

    The only thing that scares me is that you’re audience is basically beginners interested in passive income, which is easier for you to target. Most of the visitors to my blog at the moment arn’t beginners, so it’s going to be kind of difficult segregating the different types of traffic to make it interesting and valuable for both.

    I’m scared I’m going to end up having an extended pyramid design which might get too confusing for visitors, such as “how to make money online” > “how to start a blog” > how to monetise a blog > how to get your hosting etc, or “affiliate education” > “How to become an affiliate” > “What is an affiliate” etc.

    My worry is that if I just list all my article on one page then it will look very boring (e.g. affiliate marketing guide, domain guide, seo guide) so I need to find a way to break it down but still keeping it interesting for new people to find what they want and allow them to see my best/most popular articles easily.

  • http://inmyhomeoffice.com/ Ian McConnell

    Thanks Pat, I got some useful tips from this that I need to implement now… I guess it’s common sense, but like you said, as the blog owners we know where everything is, but a new visitor doesn’t.

    Great stuff!

    Cheers
    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

  • http://7Payouts.com Jeremiah Say

    My personal blog didn’t have a “start point.” I am going to include them right now. Thanks for the tip Pat.

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  • http://www.bloggingwithdani.com/ Dani Ivanov

    Great post. that is exactly the idea that I’ve been thinking about lately.