Niche Site Duel 2.0 may seem like it’s off to a slow start, but behind the scenes a lot of things are happening. This post will serve to fill you in on where I’m at with my new website and my plan for moving forward.
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In my last update, I shared that I was close to picking a brand and domain name for the food truck related website I am creating, but one major thing was holding me back from moving forward – the name that I initially selected was already in use on another website. Interestingly enough, it was being used on a freely hosted wordpress.com site.
I was advised by my attorney that even though the name wasn’t trademarked, because another person had already used it first, I could put myself at danger by moving forward with it.
I decided to take a chance and email the owner of the website to see if he or she was willing to sell their website or come to some kind of agreement with me, but I didn’t get any response. So, I decided to ditch the name to be safe.
Because I know you’re curious, the URL was FoodTruckStartUp.com. I liked this domain a lot because “start” was in the domain name, which could potentially help me rank for keywords with mild search volume such as how to start a food truck, and it also encompassed the exciting world of startups, which is trending right now. Plus, it has a nice rhythm to it.
My attorney did mention that the words “food truck” and “start up” were both very general and one could argue that because of this they were terms that couldn’t be claimed by one single party. It would be like trying to trademark a term like “microphone stand” or “tire”—it’s just a part of normal everyday language so it would be hard to uphold in court. Even so, I decided to start over with branding the website.
Back to the drawing board.
And Now We’re Moving Forward!
Despite the delay, I’m extremely happy to announce that as of 24 hours ago I now have a brand name and registered URL that I’m happy with, and we’re ready to move forward!
To keep the launch of the new website and its respective data true to real life as possible, I’m not going to reveal the URL to you just yet. I’ll be putting a lot of effort into a pre-launch phase and will attempt to build buzz for the website and collect email addresses from real food truck owners before officially going live. When I launch, I want to make sure I’m getting data from my target audience first before I share the URL publicly here which will begin to skew the results.
As I mentioned before, I debated heavily whether or not to try and keep the URL hidden from the SPI audience forever, but that would be a lost cause. For one, people would eventually figure it out and secondly, it would make for a boring case study. I will reveal the URL to you after the official launch, but I want to make sure that any numbers that I report from the launch are as close to real life as possible. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from here.
Branding Beyond the Brand Name
Although the brand name and URL are currently unknown to you, I can definitely share what my next steps are.
At this point, the most important thing to do is to define the brand beyond its name. This includes figuring out what the logo might look like, the tagline and the mission statement for the brand. It also involves discovering what the 7-second pitch is—which is a variation of the 30-second elevator pitch, but one that forces you to pick and choose the most important words to say to someone who you might be trying to explain your business to.
After you grab your domain it’s easy to get excited and dive right into tackling each of the above brand elements one-by-one. But, you put yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t stop and first think about the most important thing behind everything your brand will stand for: your unique selling proposition (or USP).
Your USP is exactly why people should be paying attention to your brand. It’s your unfair advantage. It’s what makes your brand different than all of the others and once you understand that, everything else will fall into place—your tagline and mission statement, to the design of your logo and website.
No one talks about USPs better than our good friend Corbett Barr from ThinkTraffic.net. I typically recommend articles to read, but Corbett’s post below about USPs I will call required reading:
The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition
I have yet to define these specific brand elements, but I’m currently honing in on them at this very moment.
In addition to the USP and respective brand elements, here are some other important items that I’m working on for the site:
The 200-Outreach Program Spreadsheet
In SPI Podcast Session #67, Neil Patel from QuickSprout.com suggests that we should create a spreadsheet that lists the top 200 blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts in our market – all for something he calls the 200-outreach program.
The point of this is to essentially create a contact list of notables in your industry who you can eventually reach out to when the time is right to help you promote or share your site – or at least get to know who you should be building relationships with in your space.
A lot of people quickly latched onto the idea of the 200-outreach program and have already created their contact lists. I’ve had a few people tell me they did this for their existing websites and businesses and are already benefitting from it. Just having it all neatly laid out makes it so much easier to understand who to pay attention to.
Other people, however, were not so jazzed about the idea of building this list. This is a valid concern and I want to make sure it’s addressed at this point in time.
Kevin, for example, from my how to launch post commented:
“You’ve got to be kidding? ALL this would take 5 years to put together, Ill be living in a box under a bridge somewhere before i get all this done, 200 websites, 200 blogs, 200 Facebook pages, 200 LinkedIn sites 200 twitter accounts, that’s 1000 emails plus 1000 more if they respond back plus 1000 =3000 minimum, all you would do is spend 24 house a day writing and answering emails, you’d never get anything else done!”
Like I said, this is a valid concern, but let me point out a few things:
- It may seem like this is a lot of work—only because it is! If you want to succeed you have to put in the work, and the benefit from creating a contact list and making these connections is huge!
- When you eventually reach out, you’re not sending 1000 individual, completely customized emails. Most of the emails are copy/paste, with perhaps a little bit of personalization in it.
- You can hire someone else to do this for you. Elance.com or Odesk.com. Done.
- You’re playing the numbers here—the reason for 200 is because you’ll only get a small percentage of people to reply back to you.
- And if ALL of them replied back to you, that would be awesome and a huge opportunity! I’d rather have that then write for nobody for months before eventually making these connections.
You have to be smart with where you put in your hours and how you utilize your time.
And yes—you don’t have to create this spreadsheet—it’s not required. I didn’t do it for any of my previous websites, but I can clearly see the benefits and I’m already halfway through putting this together myself for my new site, and in doing so I’m learning a lot about the industry that I’m about to enter.
Competition Analysis—Become Your Target Audience
Something that I’ve been enjoying lately is analyzing the existing competition. One of the advantages of coming into a market later than everyone else is that you can see what the market is like and come in and provide something better for your target audience. You can quickly differentiate yourself simply by paying attention to what everyone else is doing.
There are ways to analyze data behind your competition, like what keywords they’re ranking for, incoming traffic and things like that, which is very useful. Tools like SEMRush and Quantcast are great for data driven analysis, but sometimes the best thing to do to analyze the competition is to become someone in your target audience and experience what the market is like yourself.
A quick example:
When I first started The Smart Passive Income Blog, I didn’t really know what I was doing. So, I subscribed to nearly 30 of the top online business and Internet marketing newsletters so I could learn directly from the experts. I quickly realized, however, that I hated almost every single email that was sent my way because I was being asked to buy something over and over and over again. Everyone I subscribed to didn’t care about me—they cared about making money from me.
Because of this, when I started my own newsletter here on SPI, I decided to differentiate myself by never selling directly to people who have subscribed to my email list, and instead focus on two things:
- Providing quick, high-value exclusive content.
- Actually engaging with my audience through my newsletter.
As a result, I’ve had many people tell me they’ve unsubscribed to all of the newsletters in this space but mine, which is an amazing compliment (thank you!) and a direct outcome of putting myself in the shoes of my own target audience.
Within the food truck space, the few sites that exist that target food truck business owners make it easy for me to see how I can bring something new and better to the table.
More specifically, all of the sites are too cluttered with too many links and things to potentially click on. Additionally, I don’t know where to start and most of the content I see are news articles—stuff that’s less important to me as a hypothetical potential food truck business owner. I want actionable items, specific tips and strategies to help me get started on the right foot, or help me make more sales. So, that’s what I’m going to provide.
When asking around the food truck community here in San Diego, all of the truck owners I’ve spoken too have said there are no good go-to resources for business advice and marketing strategies for food trucks. I’ve mentioned these other sites to them and they did know about them (which is a good sign), but they also said they weren’t completely useful, or were hard to use (which is also a good sign).
As you can see, when you look at the competition you can take a lot of the guess work out of what you should be doing.
See what’s out there and make something better.
Vendor / Business / Advertiser List (VBAL)
One final thing I’m working on is creating a list of potential vendors and businesses that may be interested in advertising or working with me in some capacity down the road.
I don’t envision contacting these companies and businesses before the launch, but it’s good to have this list because once traffic starts to roll in (and with a pre-launch sequence in place traffic can come on day one), that’s when other companies want to get in front of that traffic and are willing to pay to do so.
Here are some quick ways to discover companies that may be willing to work with you in the future:
- Do a quick Google Search with your target keyword. If there are ads that show up at the top or in the sidebar, you know those companies are looking for traffic and are willing to pay for it.
- Visit your competitor’s sites and see which companies are advertising on their sites.
- Enter your competitor’s url into SEMRush and scroll to the bottom of the results dashboard. You’ll see a box labeled “Potential Ads / Traffic Buyers”. Boom. Click on “full report” to expand.
Create a list of all of the vendors, businesses and potential advertisers you find, and you’ll be able to pick and choose the ones from your VBAL that work best with your audience when the time is right.
What’s Next, and When?
What’s next is setting up a coming soon / teaser page to collect email addresses. I’ll be using LeadPages (my new favorite tool!) to quickly set this up and connect it to a brand new list in Aweber.
This is planned to soft launch by the first week in August (after the USP, tagline and logo are nailed down), and then that’s when content creation and building buzz begins.
A couple of weeks after that I’ll be hard launching the coming soon page and testing some strategies for building even more buzz toward a specific launch date. Then, if everything goes as planned, the main site will be up the first week in September and hopefully already thriving with traffic. I guess we’ll see!
I do realize this is a completely different approach than what I did during NSD1.0, but I feel like the research, preparation and time to pre-launch will be well worth the wait. Would you agree?
I hope you found this post useful! Cheers! I appreciate you!