Authority Niche Site Pre-Launch and Content Creation

by | Mar 20, 2015 | 1 comment

Note: This post is part of the “How to Build an Authority Niche Site and Make Money Online” series, in which we are creating an authority site and walking through each step of the process on this blog for you. If you are interested in starting at the begin, start here.

Up until this point we’ve laid a lot of the groundwork for the authority niche site that we are creating, but we haven’t actually developed any of the content. It’s been a week since our last niche site post, and in that week we have been very busy doing two things:

  • Doing a lot of the prep work to get the site ready
  • Creating all of the content (articles) about each certification

At this point, about over half of the content that we are planning for the site when we launch has been created, but since we are still in our pre-launch phase, you can’t see any of it. So we just wanted to take you through all of the activities that we have been doing in order to launch.

Creating a Logo

Before many of the other things can be done (ex. social media setup/promotion, website publishing, etc.) we need to have some sort of logo that we can use. This will help develop a brand and look a little more professional/credible.

Normally when looking for a logo, we would seek out a professional designer (or set of them). In the past we have created them ourselves (see How We Created Our Logo for Sylvester Enterprises), but that took a lot of time and creativity to come up with something, and we still have to have a graphic designer clean up the logo before we finished.

When we opened the Warsaw Wine & Spirits (our brick and mortar wine and liquor store), we had the graphic designer at Sign Language Inc., the company that we used to create our sign, develop the logo for us. With Entreprenewlyweds, we reach out to a graphic designer we knew personally to create it.

One of the services that we have wanted to try for a while is called 99 Designs.

99-designs-banner

Essentially you put a posting out of what you need for a logo and various graphic designers come back with designs for you. You then select which design(s) you like and get further tweaks until they are just right. We were originally planning to use this service for this authority site, but in the spirit of keeping things low cost for the people following along and implementing yourself, we have a much cheaper and faster solution for you.

There is a service out there called Fiverr.

fiverr-banner

Essentially Fiverr is a marketplace of freelancers whom offer many different services for $5, one of which is logo design. Not only is this service very inexpensive, but most turnaround times are < 24-48 hours.

We selected a logo designer and provided him with the following information.

1. Company Name: Which Agile Certification
2. Company Slogan (if there is) : Demystifying Agile Certifications
3. Description about your business : We compare and contrast different certifications that are out there for agile software development and project management professionals.
4. Preferred colors : No preference.
5. Target Market (audience) : Software Developers, Project Managers, Consultants
6. Type of Logo (symbol or wordmark or combination): Combo
7. Any Logo samples that you like : No preference
8. Any other description or ideas that is important: Would like a symbol and wordmark so they can be used together or seperate (ex. Nike has their name plus the swoosh).

A mere 16 hours later, the designer came back to us with 10 variations of logos.

Fiverr Logo Design Options
At this point, we chose this one.

Which Agile Certification Logo

So with less than a day and $5, we now have a logo for the site. Not bad.

Setup Social Media Profiles

We didn’t want to go crazy on social media accounts nice our goal is passive income, not active maintenance, but we did want some presence. We decided that Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn would be our primary social channels for the following reason:

  • Twitter: There is a very active agile community and we can constantly share out blog posts and tweets to drive people to the site.
  • Facebook: We can also post our blog content to the page and use Facebook ads to drive people to the site. (See Product Review: FB Influence 2.0 (Facebook) by Amy Porterfield to learn everything you need to know about Facebook marketing)
  • LinkedIn: Given that we are talking about a professional certification, and this is the business networking platform, this is where many of the potential traffic for our site is located. We created a group that people can join and discuss.

Facebook

which-agile-certification-facebook

Twitter

which-agile-certification-twitter

LinkedIn

which-agile-certification-linkedin

Do you notice the branding that is already occurring? When you go to each social media site, you are greeted with the big blue shaded word cloud and our logo.

Pro Tip: Each social media website has different dimensions for their various pictures. Check out Social Media Image Sizes for an up to date guide on the image sizes for each site.

Drive Traffic to the Site & Collect Emails

In one of the previous post we described the reason and process for having a pre-launch site. While we develop the content, we want to be sure that we are starting to get people to the site, and capture their email address. This way, when we launch, we will have an email list that we can contact and announce to, which will give us a better startand some initial traffic.

For this, we are primarily just using Twitter to help get the word out about the site. As you can see in the image of our Twitter account above, we are starting to tweet some of the questions that will drive people to our site.

which-agile-certification-twitter-post

Define a Template for Articles

The content for the site is going to be broken up into 2 major areas: a post for each agile certification with all required information that someone would need to know about that certified (ex. target audience of certifications, cost, prerequisites,etc). The second would be an ongoing blog with topics related to agile and certifications.

So for each certification, we wanted to make sure that these pages looked consistent so that we would capture all of the important information and visitors would be comparing apples to apples.

Description

Certification Company

Target Audience

Requirements

Approximate Price

Length of Training Class

Includes Certification Test

Certification Process

Step 1:

Step 2:

What If You Fail?

Certification Renewal

Benefits

Recommended Reading

We also created a secondary layout for each certifying organization

Company

Brief History

Certifications Offered

Related Books

Reach Out to People in the Niche for Thoughts/Feedback

I’ve worked with a lot of people in the past, and especially as of late, to help them decide what certifications to get. I reached out to these people with a description of the new site and asked their thoughts/questions that the site would need to address to help them. Below is an example of one of the responses that I received when I reached out to people.

“A site like this would be very helpful. There are many agile cert sites out there but many of them say a lot but don’t provide real information. Even the Scrum Alliance site does not really address what you are trying to answer. I had to read through it multiple times before I clearly understood the requirements for a CSM. More importantly it did not really provide any information on what cert was applicable to me.

As we have discussed a few times, certs aren’t a be all but like other things the perspective applicant needs to know what is appropriate such as the question I tried to answer of whether I should pursue the CSM or the PMI-ACP. I would not have been able to determine that from the PMI or ScrumAlliance sites alone. This is a problem for agile certs something that does not occur with the PMP because there is only one.”

Decide on Design and Begin Building

There are a lot of options out there for the design of your website (how it actually looks). My recommendation is to do a little bit of the following:

Draw it Out

I prefer to create the initial design of a website with the easiest way possible. This could be drawing it on a whiteboard, sticky notes or a mock-up on your computer. Normally I prefer a whiteboard, but this week while traveling I did not have a whiteboard. So I took to the super high tech MS Paint and created what I thought the website should look like. Below is the result of my initial mockup and how I think the site will be laid out.
website-mockup

Look At Other Sites

It is always great to look at other websites to get ideas and inspiration. A quick search on Google will result in a ton of different websites for you to review. I’d recommend looking at other niche or authority sites. Think about your monetization strategy and well. Right now I haven’t called out any space for ads, but I can add them in later once we actually design the website.

Think Like a Visitor

From spending several years in IT developing software, one of the most important items when developing something for people is to think about and understand their needs and how your solution will contribute to their experience. From reaching out to people, one specific item stuck to me when I asked for feedback on the idea.

“More importantly it did not really provide any information on what cert was applicable to me.”

This rung a cord with me. When people come to the site, they need to quickly be able to find where they should go based on their current role. If you look at the above mockup, I made sure to incorporate this into the design. Right below the logo will be 4 buttons (or more if needed), which will act for a starting point for each role.

Once you are done, you have a few options for how to implement your design ideas:

  • Hire Someone

    • This is typically the most expensive options, but will result in exactly what you want and the highest quality. Great places to find freelancers for this work are oDesk and eLance.
  • Install a Theme that Looks Similar

    • This is a good option if you can find a theme. For example, we did this with two of our other business websites, Sylvester Enterprises and Warsaw Wine & Spirits.
      elegant-estate-theme-sylvester-enterprisesstyle-shop-theme-warsaw-wine-and-spirits
    • What was really great about this solution for us was that Elegant Themes has 87 themes, all for $69. So for once price and very small tweaks, we were able to build sites for two of our businesses. The downfall of this approach is that you may spend a lot of time looking for a perfect template that matches exactly what you are looking for.
  • Get a general theme and customize it

After some quick evaluation, and keeping in mind one of the objectives for this niche site series is so that you can follow along and create your own site, we decided to go with Divi for the following reasons:

  • Ease of Use – The drag and drop interface for designing a page is simple and intuitive.
  • Price – Although Divi is a paid theme, it is only $69, and include access to 87 total templates.
  • Benefits – Access to the rest of the Elegent Themes templates. You can use these themes on other websites that you create, like we did for our two businesses above.

Setup Amazon Affiliate

We already have an Amazon Affiliate account created, but if Amazon is part of your monetization strategy, this is a great time to get the account created. One of our monetization strategies with this site is recommending related books. Many of these certifications have pre-requisites before people can get them, and one of them is often reading various books, so this should be a good strategy for us, even though amazon commissions are low (4%-7%).

Traffic Strategy

We are looking at generating traffic from several different sources, listed below.

  • Social Media – We have a Facebook and Twitter accounts setup. Twitter we currently have several ads post scheduled to drive traffic to the site with various certified keywords/hashtags. Facebook we may experiment with ads.
  • Email List – Our pre-launch page is setup to collect email addresses, to which we can email and connect with after.
    which-agile-certification-email-signup
  • Word of Mouth – Given that I work in this space, when people ask about certifications, I will direct them to the site.
  • Involvement in Communities – There are lots of communities out there, one example being LinkedIn and the various agile groups. Below is just a small sample of LinkedIn groups that I am a part of related to agile.
    linkedin-agile-groups
  • Organic Search – As the site is published and content is added, people will find various pages on the site while searching via Google and other search engines
    Interviewing Agile Practitioners – This is one of the strategies that I am most excited about. Our site is all about helping people determine which (if any) agile certification to get. So who better to ask than people who have asked themselves this question in the past and made a decision. I have a large network of agile coaches, practioners and team members that I have worked with over the years. Some of gotten certifications, some have not. So we have prepared 7 questions that we will send out to all of these people (my initial list of my contacts is several hundred).

1. How did you get into the agile space?

2. What is your focus area/area of expertise related to agile?

3. What is your view on certifications? Should people get them or not?

4. What certifications do you have and why?

5. What is your favorite agile related book?

6. Any final thoughts for other agile practitioners?

7. How can people contact you if they have specific questions?

We will then post them on the site an short iterviews/blog posts. There several benefits to this:

  • It provides fresh content for the site that we do not have to create.
  • It provides a ton of different perspectives/viewpoints for people considering a certification. We should not have any shortage of agile practitioners to interview.
  • The people who we interview will most likely promote/link to their interview on the site, which should build some nice backlinks that will help raise the site in Google.
  • For me personally, I’ll get to reconnect with many people that I have met/worked with over the past.

Summary

We are off to a great start with the website with really only a solid week of work. Below is a quick screenshot of the actual site as it is being developed. I was able to put this basic layout together in about an hour using Divi, and I must say it was pretty easy.

wac-1.0-resized

Over the next week or two we will focus on finishing the content needed for getting the site live and any other items that are needed.

Do you have thoughts or a question?  Please leave a comment below.