Sunday, July 31, 2005

Building a Forum Community

Interesting article:

How To Build A Popular and Profitable Forum Community

From the article:
    You may have heard that having a web community is a great way to increase sales, customer loyalty and word of mouth for your web business. In fact a web community itself, if large enough and targeting an affluent demographic (or one that advertisers like to target), has the potential to bring in revenue. Commonly people use a web forum as the centre point for a web community. However building a popular forum is no easy task and requires patience and dedication.
There are many sites that exist primarily as forum sites, where large groups of people gather on a regular basis to talk. For example, this page discusses a forum site called that "boasted (as of 12:30 AM on 31-Mar-04) 5,384 users online (out of 441,818 registered users) and only 47,190,029 posts." That's a lot of traffic. Go here for a list of the biggest forum sites on the Web.

Forum sites are pretty easy to set up. A site from a web hosting company like this lets you install the software and configure the database in seconds. Once the software is running, you use an administration area to set up all of the different forums and categories. Pick a topic and you could be ready to go in a few hours. Then your job is to get people to start visiting and signing up.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lesson #15 - Getting the snowball rolling

Let's say that you have looked through Lessons 1 through 14. You have chosen an idea and you have created a site. You have called in every favor you have to get some friends to link to your site. Now what?

Now it is time to find out if your site resonates or not. You need to know this BEFORE you start trying to get links on large sites like Digg, Slashdot, Fark, etc.

The reason why you need to check the resonance BEFORE seeking the links is simple. These sites deliver a massive amount of traffic (tens of thousands of people) over a day or two, and you may only get one shot. You want to know that your site resonates before you seek the links.

How do you test the resonance? I would recommend that you buy traffic during the testing phase. Create Google AdWords ads (or create similar ads on Yahoo, etc.) that you can run for a nickel or a dime per click. Bring 50 to 100 people into your site with these ads per day, and watch what these people do on your site.

You want to check several things:
  1. Do these people click into your site? In other words, do they arrive at your site and leave immediately (bad), or do they click around and read 5 or 6 pages (good).

  2. If advertising or sales revenue is important to your plan, do your visitors click on ads or buy things? If not, you need to figure out what is going wrong and correct the problem.

  3. Do you see any evidence of resonance? The way you test this is to look at several weeks of baseline traffic before you start the AdWords campaign. Then turn on your AdWords ad for a couple of days. Then pause the ad for a couple of days. Do you see any increase in your baseline traffic after running the ad? If not, then chances are that your site is not yet resonant.
You are bringing in 100 people per day to your site, you are seeing exactly how they respond to your site, and then you are tweaking things to increase resonance and revenue.

The reason why AdWords ads are handy for this purpose is because you can turn the ads on and off at will. You can turn the ads on for just an hour or two if you want -- Google doesn't care. There's also a side benefit: If you can't create an ad that drives people to your site, it probably tells you something. Chances are that creating a successful AdWords ad is not as easy as you think, and you will learn something about your site through that process.

Once you have the resonance and revenue where you want it, the snowball is rolling. You know that when you bring new visitors into your site, they will tell their friends. Now you are ready to seek some big links. You are ready to make the most of the traffic when it arrives.

What if you don't have the money (or desire) to pay for traffic using AdWords? Then I would use the people who arrive randomly and see if the number is increasing or not on a weekly basis. Remember the concept of the osmotic pressure of the web? Remember how we created a a completely random page on the web to see what kind of traffic it would get? Sure enough, that page has been getting about 7 clicks a day over the course of 3 months. That page is not resonant at all, but it still gets traffic every day. You want to see the number of osmotic clicks per day increasing over time. If not, your site is not resonating and it is not yet time to seek links.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A WebKEW reader creates a blog

People have started sending in links to blogs and web sites that they are creating. They come to WebKEW, get inspired and get moving. They are excited about getting started.

Here is an example of such a web site -- in this case a blog called "Our Technological Future":The blog's first major post is called the Singularity FAQ for Dummies.

This is a very simple and straightforward beginning, and it is a good one for four reasons:
  1. This blog has something of value to say - The first post shows that the author is going to have something unique and valuable to say to a community of people. In this case, the author has created a FAQ that introduces people to "the singularity". Someone who wants to learn about the singularity can come to this blog and find something of value. If they like what they read, they will link to it or email it to friends.

  2. This blog already shows signs of life in Google - Even though this blog is only a few days old, it already shows signs of life in Google. If you type "singularity FAQ" (with quotes) as a search term in Google, this FAQ is there. That means the Google has found and indexed the blog, and is ranking it ahead of several other entries because it has value.

  3. The blog has an AdSense ad on it - This ad will provide the author with some daily stats that are very easy to access.

  4. There is a nice set of links - A reader who arrives at this blog from a search engine or link will be be able to find more information about the topic by clicking on the links. That provides the blog's readers with additional value.
There are dozens of minor tweaks that the author can make to the template. There is a valid question of whether entries like these belong in a blog or a site. And so on. Things like that will cause this blog to change over time, and that is great. The part that I think is important here is that the author has gotten in motion and is creating something of value for readers. That is 90% of the battle already won. It's a great start.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Outrageous business ideas

When you think about different business ideas to work on, there are many different angles of approach. Most people, however, would not neccessarily have "start an airline" on their short list because, mentally, it seems like a lot of work to start an airline.

That's what makes this article particularly interesting:From the article:
    A British teenager says he has launched a low-cost airline from his bedroom, becoming possibly the youngest airline boss in the world...

    "I called round a few airlines and asked how they had done it and I slowly realised it was quite achievable," he said.

    Mr Reilly, who attends Deyes High School in Maghull, showed his project for Nexus Airline to a financial adviser who found backers for the business.

    Initially Nexus will operate services from an airport in Liverpool, northern England, to the Spanish Canary Island destinations of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
The web site for the company is available here:It is a simple site, but has all the basic parts you would expect to find.

The obvious question I had when I read this article was, "Where do you get the plane?" The answer can be found in this article:
    Nexus, which has received backing from private UK investors, plans to lease a Boeing-737 jet from Futura International Airlines to facilitate the new services.
This is especially interesting to me because I used Southwest airlines as one of my examples in How to make a million dollars. That means that you can go read the book Nuts!, on the creation of Southwest, to get additional ideas.

Note that "getting money" does not seem to have been a barrier for this particular business idea.

I think the moral of the story is, "don't immediately dismiss ideas that at first might sound outrageous."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Top 10 nonprofit web sites

Amazon is having a contest to name the best nonprofit web site. They have 10 finalists: Nonprofit Innovation Award

The interesting thing about it from a WebKEW perspective is that these are 10 good web sites. Let's look at the sites and ask some questions. How do they feel? When you first open each site, does your gut say "good" or "bad"? "Interesting" or "boring"? "Cool" or "Uncool"? How do the sites orient first-time visitors? What features are available? What would you do differently?

Also look at the sites as a source of business ideas. Each site is choosing a problem to solve -- what new business ideas do these sites spawn in your head?

If you have any thoughts that you would like to share, or if the sites prompt any questions, please email them or post them in the comments.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Making $100K+ per year with blogs

The tech world is abuzz this week with this:From the article:
    I went to the PO Box this morning to grab my mail and found my monthly cheque from Google’s Adsense had arrived for earnings in the month of May. May was my biggest earning month since I started blogging (June was a little lower due to me being away for the full four weeks).
The check was for $14,000.

The author answers some questions here: ProBlogger Slashdotted. He makes several important points. For example:
  • He works 8-12 hour days and has been at it for 2.5 years.

  • In that 2.5 years, he has made 12,000 posts. If you assume that 2.5 years = 750 days, then it works out to 16 posts per day.

  • He works on a range of blogs each day, including these three:
It is definitely worthwhile to read his comments, and to look through his tips on things like AdSense ads.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Lesson #14 - Where do visitors come from? Search engines.

We have talked about several different sources of visitors in previous lessons: Resonance, Links and Advertising. In this lesson we will talk about the most powerful form of free traffic on a long-term basis: Search engines.

If you are creating a typical content web site, perhaps half of your daily traffic will be coming from search engines. In other words, if you have a content web site, about half of your visitors will arrive from search engines each day. They will go to a search engine, type in some sort of query, and a page from your web site will come up in the results.

[For completeness, let's look at the whole traffic picture for a second. If half of a typical content web site's traffic comes from search engines, then perhaps a quarter of its traffic will come from links. The final quarter will come from "other" -- people who type in the URL by hand, people who see the URL in a magazine and type it in, people who get an email from a friend about your site and click on your URL in the email, people who habitually return to your site daily, and so on. On any given day, these ratios might change a bit. For example, if you get linked by of one day, a disproportionately large amount of your traffic will come from links that day. But over time, on average, the 50/25/25 rule or something close to it will hold for "normal" content web sites. If you are running a blog, your ratios will be different -- you may get a tremendous percentage of your visitors from daily returning traffic. If you are running a retail web site or a business brochure site, a lot of your traffic may come from advertising. See Lesson #2 - The different types of web sites for a discussion of the different types of sites.]

[Half or more of the traffic that a "typical" content web site gets will come from search engines. Three-quarters of this search engine traffic will come from Google. The rest will come from all other search engines. Other sources of traffic include links from other sites, miscellaneous traffic and daily returning traffic.]

When we talk about "search engines" on today's web, we can simplify things by talking strictly about Google. This may change in the future, but at least for now, Google is king. If half of your site's traffic is coming from search engines, then that normally means that half of your search engine traffic (25% of your total traffic) comes from And then there are all of the Google international sites like,, etc. -- they make up a quarter of your search engine traffic. In other words, three-quarters of your search engine traffic will come from Google. Yahoo search, MSN search, AOL search, and all the other little search engines like Dogpile, etc. together make up only 25% of your search engine traffic.

Given that this is the way the world works, you can immediately see three things:
  1. If you have a content web site of any kind, you want to make sure that your site is in Google.

  2. You would like to have as many pages as possible in Google. The more pages you have, the more likely you are to come up in Google's search results.

  3. You would like to come up as high as possible in Google's search results. The higher you are in the results, the better chance you have of getting clicked on by a visitor.
Point #1 is easy. You would probably have to go out of your way these days to NOT be in Google. Google's spiders are very thorough, and if ANYONE links to your site, your site will be discovered and listed in Google's index. As mentioned in the lesson on links, It usually takes a week or two for Google to discover your site once it gets linked by another site, and then might take a week or two after that for Google to plow into the site and find all of its pages.

Point #2 talks about what I call the "Google Footprint" of your site. The bigger your Google Footprint, the more visitors you will have coming to your site. You can see the effect of footprint size by looking at some of the largest sites on the Web. For example, look at It has 23 million pages indexed by Google. The way you find that is by doing this:
  • Go to
  • Select the "Advanced search" option
  • Type into the "Domain" field
  • Click the "Google Search" button
Google reveals that it has indexed about 23,600,000 pages from Now go look up the Alexa rank of and today you find that Wikipedia's rank is 64. Here are some other examples of this phenomenon:
  • has an Alexa rank of 67 today and about 7,530,000 pages in its Google footprint.
  • has an Alexa rank of 28 and about 1.74 million pages in its Google footprint.
  • has an Alexa rank of 11 and 13.9 million pages in its footprint.
  • And so on...
There are exceptions, and the exceptions are educational., for example, has only 439 pages in its footprint yet its Alexa rank is 262 today. That's because almost all of Drudge's traffic comes from daily returning traffic, not from its Footprint. Wikipedia, on the other hand, gets a huge portion of its traffic from its Footprint. If there are 23,000,000 Wikipedia pages in Google and each one yields just one visitor a day, that's 23 million visitors per day for Wikipedia. CNN's traffic is a combination of its large footprint and its daily returning traffic.

From your perspective, anything that you can do to increase the number of pages in your site will increase the size of your Google footprint. In general, the larger your footprint, the more visitors you can get.

Point #3 talks about your site's placement in the Google search results for a given search term. This is also known as the "rank" of your pages. If your pages are ranked highly by Google, then your pages will come up higher in a page of Google search results than a page with lower rank.

For example, let's say that you type "robotic" as a search term into Google. Google has 7,100,000 pages to choose from. In other words, the Google spiders have gone out and looked at billions of pages, and 7,100,000 contain the word "robotic". When Google shows a page of search results, it has to pick which of those 7,100,000 pages it is going to place first, second, third and so on. How does Google pick?

[Click for larger image]
How does Google pick which page will go first, second, third, etc. in a page of search results like this? Read below for details.

No one really knows for sure how Google picks because it is a closely guarded Google secret, but it is believed that:
  • Google will pick a page that has the word "robotic" in the title.
  • Google will pick a page that has the word "robotic" placed throughout the body of the article.
  • Google will choose a page that links out to other robotic pages.
  • Most important of all, Google will pick a page that lots of other sites have linked to using the word "robotic" in the link.
That last one really is important. The more outside pages that link to your site, the more "important" your site is perceived to be by Google. Part of this "importance" is crystallized in a number called the PageRank for the page. You can see the PageRank if you download the Google Toolbar -- it will show you the PageRank for every page that you visit. For example, the PageRank for WebKEW right now is 6 as shown in the screen shot below:

[Click for larger image]

PageRank ranges from zero to 10. When you first create your page, its PageRank will be zero. If a lot of sites link to your page, then over the course of several months your PageRank will rise. If sites with a high PageRank link to your site, then your PageRank will be higher. If a group of sites with a PageRank of zero link to your site, or if no sites link to your site, then your PageRank will be low.

As a general rule, the page with the most external links wins when it comes to the order of a Google search result page.

PageRank, and external links from high-PageRank sites, are important. There is an entire industry that has built up around helping pages to raise their position in the Google search result pages. This industry is called the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry. If you search in Google for search terms like PageRank and search engine optimization you will find thousands of sites offering you information, tutorials, forums and services. In general, however, it is my belief that there are no shortcuts -- if you want your pages show up at the top of the search results for a certain keyword, having lots of external sites linking to your site is key. External links are the only thing that matters significantly to Google's algorithms.

What does this mean? Here are some observations:
  • It means that if you are creating a new Web site, you need to contact every friend and relative you can think of who has a Web site and ask them to link to your site. Every little bit helps.

  • It means that once you have created one Web site that has a decent PageRank, you have something of value. You will be able to link to other sites that you create to give them PageRank.

  • It means that you will often see sites offering to sell PageRank, and now you will understand why they do it.

  • It means that you will look at popular blogs like, and in a sidebar you will see something like "Blogroll" or "Friends", and there will be 50 links to other sites. This is a way of sharing PageRank. These sites link back and forth to each other in order to increase the PageRank of the group (among other benefits).

  • It means that if you see a web site that you like, and you want to help the person who created that web site to succeed, you should link to that web site.
Obviously there is a lot to learn about search engines as a traffic driver. We will continue this discussion in the weeks and months to come. If you have specific questions, please email them to me or insert them in the comments below.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

An example of an idea

This site is interesting to me simply because it has taken an idea that is as old as the hills (recipes) and added a new twist to it to create an interesting web site:If you are trying to come up with new web site ideas, think about this: Is there something old and familiar that you can do in a different way to make it fresh and unique on the Web?

How is WebKEW doing at the 90-day point?

At the two-month point, we took a look at the progress of WebKEW in this post. At that point, 60 days into this project, WebKEW had 383 links in Google.

Here we are about a month later, 90 days into the project, and there are two things to note:
  1. The number of links is continuing to grow. On June 17, WebKEW now has 4,940 inbound links according to Google:

    [Click for larger image]

    What kind of sites are linking to WebKEW? Go into Google, type WebKEW and you can see. It's all over the map, from personal web sites to blogs to social networking sites to business sites. There was a day where WebKEW appeared on the Popular list at and that certainly generated some links. WebKEW benefited from some exposure on The folks at were nice enough to add WebKEW to their template and that is extremely helpful. And so on.

    To go from 400 links to 5,000 links in 30 days is a strong rise. When we look again in a month, the number of links may decline a bit as things adjust and settle out. Or they may continue growing at a more subdued pace. Or they may rise significantly again. Only time will tell. But you get the idea -- even if it does fall next month, the number of links into WebKEW is growing at a reasonable clip right now.

    Let me take a moment to say a special THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to link to WebKEW. It is truly appreciated.

  2. WebKEW has been assigned a PageRank by Google. WebKEW's PageRank is currently 6.

    [Click for larger image]

    A three-month period of time like that for the assignment of PageRank is fairly typical. A PageRank of 6 is a nice place to be for an initial PageRank. We will talk about where PageRank comes from, and what it means, tomorrow.
So things are proceeding.

If you are creating your own Web site, you should track your metrics like this. See how many links you have every 30 days. Wait 90 days see what PageRank Google assigns to you. As mentioned in this post, if you have only 1 or 2 inbound links after 90 days, that is telling you something. If you have 1,000 or 5,000 inbound links, that is telling you something else.

It will be interesting to see where we are a month from now. THANK YOU again to everyone who has been kind enough to link to WebKEW.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

An effective use of a web site to sell a retail product

As I mention in Rocket video, the kids and I have been doing a fair amount with rockets lately. David is interested in this rocket, which has a small lo-res video camera built into the nose cone. That got me wondering what else is out there in the world of rocket video.

Going to Google, I typed "rocket video" in as my search term. I didn't really find what I wanted on the left-hand side of the page. But on the right-hand side, the top AdWords ad was for a place called

This is the AdWords ad that I saw for

BoosterVision is a retail site that is doing a good job of using AdWords ads and content to boost sales. The site is a little sloppy in places, but overall it is heading in the right direction.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the home page is the Videos link. Since is advertising a video camera, it makes sense that it would have videos. However, you would be surprised how rare this is. Video is an incredibly powerful tool on web sites, especially retail web sites. Clicking on the video page brings you to a place with two dozen videos showing you typical rocket flights.

Another nice feature is the Installation page. This shows you several different ways to easily mount the camera on your rocket, making it much easier to imagine doing this project with my son.

It's easy to get to the features for the camera. It's easy to order. Overall, this is a good use of a web site to sell a specialty retail product. You can see that there is no "black magic" involved -- simply help the user visualize how he/she would actually use the product using photographs, text and video.

One thing I would change if this were my site -- I would put a picture of "the product" and/or "an application of the product" at the top of the home page, rather than the montage that they are using. Another thing I would fix is the sloppiness.

Let me say again that if you are selling a specialty retail product, video can be a very powerful tool. Here is a product that is as cheesy as can be, yet the video does a good job of selling it: Think about different things that you could do with video on your own web site.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Interesting statistics from Alexa

Top 500 Sites Have All the Luck

From the article:
    Every two months Alexa's crawlers go out and scour the web bringing down 100 Terabytes of Web content and over 4 billion URLs into the archive. In the process we discover over 18 million unique sites on the Web. These are e-commerce sites, blogs, news sites and more. Virtually anything you can imagine is on the web spread out among these 18 million sites.

    But how much traffic do these sites get? It depends on your Alexa Traffic Rank. Let's break it down by Alexa's Rankings, starting with the Top 500. Out of a total of 18 million sites to choose from, the Top 500 represent less than .003% of sites. But, as you would expect, these sites get a disproportionate amount of traffic. In fact they get 45% of all traffic. No, that's not a misprint. The odds that any Web surfer in the world is on a Top 500 site at any give time is about 50/50.

    Moving down the rankings, if you take Alexa's Top 100,000 sites you'll find that almost 3 out every 4 clicks are spoken for. In other words, almost 75% of all the traffic on the web goes to the sites in the Top 100K list, leaving the remaining 18 million or so sites to fight over the scraps.

    Like the distribution of wealth on the planet, the distribution of traffic on the Web is extremely lopsided. The Top 500 are champagne and caviar. Sites 501 - 100,000 are meat and potatoes. The rest are hungry.
If nothing else, this should be a great incentive to try creating a top-500 web site!

This article is also a bit misleading. If you have a top-5,000 Web site, you are making $1 million or more per year. Most people would be able to live quite comfortably in that realm.

If you are just starting out, your goal should first be to break into the top 100,000 Web sites. If you can move into the top 100,000 sites, you are on your way. Then start moving up.

If you can create a content web site with a rank of 50,000, you are reaching 200,000 or so visitors in a month, serving about 1 million page views a month and are probably making $5,000 per month from advertising. That is definitely a solid foundation to build from.

See also:

Monday, July 11, 2005

How to Become Wealthy

Nine Truths That Can Set You on the Path to Financial Freedom

The article contains several good points that are worth repeating. From the article:
    The general population has a love / hate relationship with wealth. They resent those who have it, but spend their entire lives attempting to get it for themselves. The reason a vast majority of people never accumulate a substantial nest egg is because they don't understand the nature of money or how it works.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Getting in motion

Here is a letter that came in from a reader recently:
    Hello. I have read your article on "how to make a million dollars" article and I disagree with your article. The "tone" of the article seems to be that it is easy to make it a million dollars, and that we are oblivious to the obvious. As the article suggests, I have read some of the titles listed on your articles. Your article and the books have dramatically changed my view of the business world, but still i have not started a business. The problem I have with your article along with some of your suggested reading is that it doesn't deal with the fears/motivations of starting a business. Yes, there were sections where the books and your article "instructs" us to lose our fears and keep trying. Frankly, I was not motivated nor saw a decrease in any of my fears of starting a business.

    Currently, I am even more frustrated now that i seem to know what to do, but i cant act upon it because I am still fearful and confused about the whole thing. I tried to overcome this fear my overloading my mind with information, but it just led to more confusion. How do you deal with this information overload and how do you truly get rid of the fear of starting your business. Although i am rambling about my confusion, I would actually like to thank you for your perspective and insight. As a suggestion, what if you wrote a book or an article regarding this confusion? I have a feeling that information overload/ confusion seems to be common among the hungry and fearful learners trying to "perfect" information into experience.

    Thank you for reading my babbling.
To me, this is an incredibly good letter because it clearly articulates a problem. I do not see it as "babbling" at all. In reality it is a breakthrough.

There are two things that are important in this letter, the first general and the second specific. Here is the general part: If you can look at your life, your business, your situation, whatever and you can say to yourself, "I have a problem, and the problem is ____," you are often 80% of the way to solving your problem. If you: a) can recognize that you have a problem and then, b) clearly articulate it, the fact that you have recognized and articulated is enough to get a solution rolling. In a lot of cases, simply stating the problem in English is enough to present an immediate solution, because many problems just are not that hard to solve. Recognition is often the hard part.

So in the case of this letter, the problem has now been clearly articulated. One problem is "fear of the unknown". That is leading to another problem – "inability to get anything in motion because fear gets in the way." In addition there is the "way too much information" problem. Fortunately, all three of these problems are solvable. Here are three specific suggestions:
  1. Start small. Do something very simple in the business sense to get some positive momentum going. How simple? I might go down to a local flea market that has a lot of people flowing through on a Saturday, spend $10 of $50 or whatever it costs to rent a space, and try selling something. Anything. Go buy bananas and bottles of water at a local wholesale club and try selling them at the flea market. Sell hot wheel cars that you buy at Wal-Mart. Sell motor oil. It doesn't really matter at the start, and it is quite likely that your first idea will not work. Spend a day walking around and see what other people are selling if you have no idea what to sell.

    One of two things may happen: 1) No one buys anything, or 2) Some people actually do buy things. In either case, try playing with your prices and see what happens. Try selling different products. Try giving away certificates with the hot wheel cars and instructions with the motor oil. Just have fun with it and learn from it.

    What you have done is profound: You have just started a business. Try to make it successful in the sense that, after all your expenses, you make a profit and you get paid for your time. Work at it over a couple of months. See what happens.

    Now that you have started one business, try to take the lessons you have learned and start one that is a little more complicated. And just keep moving up the scale.

    [If you have kids, I would suggest that you let them try a flea market business now, while they are young. They will be ahead of the game when they get older.]

  2. There is a lot to learn. You are not going to read, say, 5 books and have it all make sense in 10 minutes. Accept that. Re-read the books several times. It will get clearer. Note that it can take a hundred hours of practice playing a video game like Halo to get good at it. Don't expect that "learning how to start a business" is going to take 25 minutes.

  3. Find a sympathetic someone who has a business that is working and ask questions. Lots of questions. Work for the person on nights/weekends if need be. See a real business in operation. Understand all of the business's moving parts. Understand how cash flows in and out the door.
In the WebKEW space, things can be even easier. If you are totally stalled at the moment, simply start a blog today. Go to Blogger (or wherever you prefer) and start a news blog on any topic that interests you. Just do something like that and GET YOURSELF IN MOTION. Then set up some Google AdSense ads on your blog so you start to collect some data. You will learn a lot from doing this - you will learn about traffic, what people are interested in, linking, click-thru rates, etc.

Fear can be a terrible deterrent. One way to eliminate fear is practice. Simply start doing something today. Once you are in motion, stay in motion by doing a little bit every day. Every moment that you are in motion you are learning something, and those lessons will pay off down the road.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Two ways to get traffic

Here's one way to get a lot of traffic -- launch a satellite that crashes into a comet:

Comet collision a historic one

From the article: "NASA's Deep Impact Web site registered nearly 1 billion hits when the space probe collided with comet Tempel 1 late Sunday -- about twice as many hits as the twin Mars rovers got when they parachuted to the Red Planet last year."

If you look up in Alexa you will see a huge traffic spike over the weekend that took NASA into the top-100 sites.

If you don't have the budget to launch your own space probe, then here's a far more down-to-earth alternative:

A good way to waste time online

From the article:
    LifeHacker is a regularly updated blog where you can spend hours and hours learning how to make better use of your time.

    Launched in January (and attracting 188,000 visitors in its first eleven days), LifeHacker welcomes visitors with the observation, 'Computers make us more productive. Yea, right.' and then proceeds to try and take at least some of the irony out of the first statement by collecting efficiency aids from around the Web. LifeHacker is a blog in the style of a links collection rather than an online diary. New posts are added more frequently than at most such sites (averaging a dozen or so each weekday) and simply supply a few lines of introduction, the related URL, and, when the story has been discovered on another blog, a 'credit' link to the original source.
If you look this one up in Alexa, you will find that it jumped to a decent rank very quickly and settled into a pattern. It will be an interesting one to watch going forward. It does show that very simple ideas can get a lot of traction. Read the article for details.

If you are looking for a way to generate cash quickly, here's another possibility: Best. Phone. Sex. Ever.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Site vs. blog

The following email came in the other day:
    Hi Marshall. Love your Blog. I was reading your entry titled "15,000 page views per day". Letter E of 26 steps to 15k a Day says...

    E) Content:
    Build one page of content and put online per day at 200-500 words. If you aren't sure what you need for content, start with the Overture keyword suggestor and find the core set of keywords for your topic area. Those are your subject starters.

    Do you think it matters If I add one "page of content" per day versus one "blog entry" per day? With the blogs, you don’t have a "new" page. Didn’t know what the impact would be.

    Interested in your thoughts. Thank you.
My tendency would be to say, "page of content" rather than "blog entry." This is more of a gut feeling rather than something I can put any numbers behind, but here are the reasons for that feeling:
  • Look at any of the big link sites (Slashdot, Fark, Digg, Drudge, etc.) and notice the number of "pages" they link to vs. the number of "blog entries". Almost always they are linking to "pages" on Normal content web sites.

  • Usually, the URL to a page on a "content web site" is cleaner than the link to a "blog entry". I admit that it does not matter when linking on the web, but if a newspaper or magazine wants to print the URL, it is often easier with a normal web page. For example, this is a clean URL that is easy to print:

  • If someone links to the home page of a "normal web site", that home page is usually a nice landing page that orients the user. Linking to the home page of a blog is much different. is something that changes every day. It is not particularly good at orienting the first-time visitor. (although I do try to help with the links to "Introduction to WebKEW" and "Table of contents")

  • In my experience, I see more revenue from "normal web sites" than I do from blogs. That does not make a lot of sense to me, but it is a consistent pattern.
Having said that, you will note that Webkew is currently a blog. I did that to show you that it can be done -- you can build a normal content web site inside a standard blog frame. For many people, creating a full web site is "hard", and that slows them down. See also: Lesson #8 - To blog, or not to blog?.