Start an Online Publishing Business From Scratch – Part 2: Navigational Structure

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 8:30pm by Site Administrator

Part 1 of starting an online publishing business from scratch, covered the basics of how to come approach setting up the publishing of mini websites (aka minisites). In this article, Part 2, I cover some specific steps for setting up the sites, as well as your “publishing company” home page. The primary point to note here is that if you want to publish content about different topic niches, you can. Furthermore, you can structure your sites in such a way as to minimize cost of setup and promotion.

Site setup:
This is a general process for setting up one or more topic clusters (as discussed in the last article). The diagram later in this article might help you to see what I’m getting at.

  1. Decide on a publishing name and register a suitable domain name for your online publishing business.

  2. Pick topic/niche cluster #1 and register a suitable domain name.
  3. Pick subtopics for the cluster and build mini-sites for each, on subdomains. You might want to have each minisite in a cluster link to its siblings. It helps visitors to one site find similar topics.
  4. Set up the cluster index on the root domain of the topic domain.
  5. Create a home page on your media domain. Point to the topic domain (not the minisites).
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 for the next topic cluster, and add an entry for the topic on your media home page.
  7. Promote/ advertise either the main media site or the topic cluster homepages. That reduces your promotional efforts and budget needs.

Example setup:
Here’s a specific example: a publishing company site, two topic clusters, and at least two subtopics per cluster. The total number of domains is 1+2 = 3. The total number of sites is 1+2+(2×2) = 7. This reduces the cost of registration and hosting, and can reduce the cost of promotion.

The diagram somewhere below shows a more generalized structure. [Note: None of these domains were registered at the time of this writing.]

  1. Company: MyMedia; domain: woofmedia.com

  2. Topic: Crafts; domain: lotsofcrafts.com
  3. Subtopics: Create minisites for each
    1. Knitting, knitting.lotsofcrafts.com
    2. Crocheting, crocheting.lotsofcrafts.com
  4. Create a home page on www.lotsofcrafts.com that conists of links to these subtopic minisites. Include a paragraph or two of description for each minisite. You can always add a general crafts blog later, and have some of the posts link to the minisite pages.
  5. Create a home page for mymedia.com. Display at least a logo. Add a link from woofmedia.com to www.lotsofcrafts.com. Any description added should be generalized to cover the subtopics in the cluster.
  6. Topic: personal finance; domain: itsmyfinance.com
  7. Subtopics: Create minisites for each.
    1. Investing, investing.itsmyfinance.com
    2. Mortgages, mortgages.itsmyfinance.com
  8. Create a home page on www.itsmyfinance.com, as with lotsofcrafts.com in step #4 above.
  9. Add a link and description to www.itsmyfinance.com from www.lotsofcrafts.com.
  10. Repeat for other topic clusters.

Generalized architecture:

Topic pyramid architecture for websites

Additional reading:

I’ve done only a very light treatment of setting up clusters of related minisites. After writing the last article mostly from my own web experience, I searched for references and found the following great articles that can provide you with a lot more detail:

  1. Net Business Blog – Building a Niche Minisite Part 1.
  2. Net Business Blog – Building a Niche Minisite Part 2.
  3. Domaining UK – Domain Name Monetization, Minisites and Niche Sites.

Other relevant articles worth looking at:

  1. SEOproToolZ discusses doing bulk searches for domain names.

  2. Net Business Blog guides you in finding keyword-rich domains for building minisites.
  3. Hart-Empire has a very thorough (advanced) explanation of how to consolidate sites into subdomain clusters. This applies if all your sites are currently on their own domain. Note that this article is a case study around a set of blogs, not static minisites.
  4. Read Xfep if you’d rather launch a network of blogs. Just keep in mind that a blog is far more effort to maintain, since it has to be updated regularly.


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


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