Digital Entrepreneuring: Start an Online Publishing Business From Scratch – Part 1

Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 4:30pm by Site Administrator

Domain/ sub-domain structure

Sending web traffic from main blog to subdomain minisites

As more people get drawn to the online space for business, they’ll be looking for online opportunities. Most of the time, to promote whatever you’re doing online you need to write/ buy content – possibly by blogging. Well why not start a small online publishing business? You can bootstrap one for very little initial capital, as a side venture to other online ventures.

Below is a formula that people I know have been successfully employing for the past couple of years. However, you should also read Dosh Dosh’s article Mini Sites vs Flagship Websites has Maki has a contrarian viewpoint there. Not everyone can make minisites work. I’m only touching upon the setup lightly, and will expan in later articles – based on what I’ve gleaned talking to successful webmasters.

1. Identify Hot Topics.
Identify 10-20 issues/ topics from TV that will be on consumers minds for the next 2-3 years or beyond. TV can drive search traffic. This is very, very important. Minisites are not blogs, so they will not have regular readers. However, see below about adding forums.

2. Take Your Pick.
Pick the 5 or 10 topics that interest you the most and set up a mini-site for each. Usually, people focus in a single niche that interests them, and build sites for sub-niches. E.g., health is an umbrella niche and a particular set of diseases might be the topic sub-niches for which you’d set up individual sites. Note that no matter how many hot topics you stumble across, it’s best to focus on a few, build up the sites, and then later consider expanding.

  1. Register domains for each, or if they’re related topics (say health), get one good domain and use subdomains. (I’ll cover the domain architecture for unrelated topics in Part 2.)
  2. For each topic, produce a list of 10-20 questions that searching visitors might have. TV shows surrounding these topics will help, as will FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sites. For business, health and other topics, the U.S. government often has this sort of content online.
  3. Write or buy articles – one article per question. Don’t use too many outbound links to other sites but do have maybe a page of references for each minisite. Make sure that if you’re covering sensitive topics that you offer well-researched, accurate content and that you publish a disclaimer, for your own protection. It’s better to put in the time/money now, to build each site up as an authority, if you want long-term results. Crap content for the sake of making money isn’t going to fly for long.
  4. Publish the articles on your sites. Some blog platforms such as WordPress are versatile enough to act as a general CMS (Content Management System).
  5. Decide how you want to monetize the minisites. You have several choices:
    1. Ads – CPC (Cost Per Click – paid per click).
    2. Ads – CPM (Cost Per Mille – paid per thousand pageviews).
    3. Affiliate programs (typically the same as CPA ads or Cost Per Action)
    4. Other content (e-books, newsletters, DVDs)
    5. Services.

    What you use depends on the nature of the topic and what you have available to you, or what services you can offer.

3. Adding Forums.
Optional: If something is a hot topic and you have the traffic to support it, consider adding a forum for each minisite. Either that or a way for vistors to post or answer questions. If the subject is sensitive, allow for some anonymity.

4. Maintenance.
Maintain the sites by occasionally adding new articles. The frequency is up to you, and might be determined by how well the site is monetizing.

5. Send Web Traffic.
Now drive traffic to each site, either from other blogs you write, purchased traffic (e.g., Google AdWords), or suitable social media sites.

You’ll notice I didn’t say “blog”. Mini-sites take less work to maintain, though they do take much longer to build up traffic, unless you’re proactive about it. So they don’t necessarily monetize “immediately”. Some may take six months to a year, but on a long-term basis, if you’ve selected a niche that enjoys a lot of search traffic, you might start making $200+/mth long-term.

To speed up the process – though not guaranteed – you might add a blog to supplement each minisite, but that is a lot of work/cost to maintain. Instead, if you’re setting up 5 or 10 sites in the same umbrella niche, then you can have a single active blog drive traffic to all of them. I’ll expand further in part 2.

Note: Illustrations are copyright 2007-present, Business Credit Cards.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi, like the article but where is part 2. Also how do I create these websites. I am thinking about publishing my writings online and also providing publishing to others on my website, email me with information on how to create websites. Thank you

    Comment by rennie — December 2, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

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