Oops, I’m #1 in Google. How’d I do that?

Back in the days of 2007, before anyone knew what a “tweet” was, when Facebook was still for college kids, and before email storage space was unlimited, I needed a way to archive my funny email forwards that I got from friends and family.

Well, I thought: why don’t I just start a free blog on that blogger platform that Google acquired and just post them up there.  That way I can free up my email and others might find some funny stuff on there.  And so http://funnyforwards.blogspot.com was born.  I created the site, uploaded about 50 email forwards that were humorous, and then pretty much forgot about it.

Sometime in 2009, I had another stockpile of funny forwards so I posted about 50 more.  Then I honestly forgot about it again.

Then in 2010, happen to stumble on my Google Analytics account and noticed that I was getting tons of visits every month.  The traffic would generally be about 100 to 200 visitors a day with spikes of up to 1000.  So I did what most rookies would do and slapped some Google Ads up there.  After a few weeks and only making a couple of bucks on ads I foolishly decided to move on.

Looking to consolidate some of my web properties and focus my efforts I stumbled across this site again a couple of months ago.

Now that I know what a niche actually is in the online world and know how to identify and evaluate one, I realize that I picked a really good one and set it up properly to get traffic.

What I am still uncertain of is if I picked a niche that I can monetize easily.  For example, when selecting a website niche where the goal is to put ads on, you want ads that have high cost PPC rates.  This way you make dollars when ads are clicked, not pennies.

However, if your plan is to monetize with a different method, say an eBook, you have completely different qualifications to look for.  For instance, it might be difficult to sell an eBook to monks, as they typically don’t do a lot of purchases online, let alone Internet browsing.

To make up for my mistakes I am going to be spending some time on this site to see if I can monetize that traffic.  I’ve already changed the design, changed the ad style, and moved the ad placement a couple of times to test what works best thanks to Pat Flynn’s advice:

The changes that I’ve made with my Adsense ads that have dramatically increased (and decreased) my income.

Was I foolish to turn my back on this? Yes. But granted, I didn’t know then what I know now: that getting consistant traffic can be really difficult and that there are thousands of different ways to make money from that traffic.  In my own defense, it is hard to know what you don’t know.

So if you do have some websites already, take a look at the analytics once in a while.  What you see may shock you.  And if you do have some traffic, figure out a way to convert that traffic to sales.  Or at least start building a relationship with your audience.

I will keep you posted on my progress with this.

Oh yeah, and case and point of this post, I guess content really is king.

How to Launch a Niche E-commerce Website

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So the month of July my wife and I worked hard on launching a niche e-commerce website that sells baby shower diaper cakes.  Following the advice of Tim Ferriss, Store Coach (Affiliate Link), and Andrew Youderian, I evaluated and selected my niche, found drop ship companies to purchase products from, and optimized my site.

Now on to the marketing.  But first, why diaper cakes?

Selecting a Niche

Well, I evaluated many niches from tattoo equipment to gun accessories but only diaper cakes ended up fitting my criteria. Here are the major ones:

1) Be able to add value to the niche you select.  Thanks to Andrew for this one.  I’m a web/mobile developer by trade so I know how to build e-commerce sites and I know what good design looks like.  Most of the websites in the diaper cake niche look like they fell out of the 1990s.  As a bonus, my wife is pretty crafty and has built several really nice diaper cakes for friends and family, so she knows what products look good and what doesn’t.  With both of us I felt we could really add value.

2) Select a price point of $100 or more.  I had heard this before from the Four Hour Work Week, but to recap: $100 – $200 products give you maximum profitability (20% – 50%) while minimizing customer service problems.

3) Find the right type of customers.  Our goal is to appeal to both the female and baby boomer demographics – two groups that are really starting to buy a lot of stuff online (in the past it has been mostly men).  Check out this infographic (thanks again Andrew!).

4) Sell products that are difficult to find locally.  While selling stuff online, it is important to niche down and find something that is difficult to find locally.  For example, I would never considering selling screwdrivers online.  Your local hardware store probably has a great selection.  However, a great “niched down” subset might be a special type of screwdrivers for working on oil rigs or large machinery.

Product vs. Marketing Mindset

Marketing has been my achilles heal for sometime now (hence why I blog about it now).  It is not because I don’t have the ability to market, but instead because it is difficult to know what you don’t know.  And I always thought the term “sales” was a dirty word.

Most engineers would agree with me though.  I’ve heard statements like “the product should sell itself” and “sales and marketing are not necessary.”  But in actuality the best product in the world won’t sell if nobody knows it exists.

Although Google’s walls are full of engineers, without marketing (be it word-of-mouth), we’d all be using Ask Jeeves – Ok, maybe not.  But you get my point.

So step one for me was just getting over thoughts of a used car salesman when somebody talks about marketing.

How to Market an E-Commerce site

As I am discovering from the various Internet marketing experts, most online marketing strategies are the same, no matter the product.

The things that do change, however, are what strategies work best for a) the type of site you have and b) the niche you are in.

It all boils down to 2 things.  In order to rank high in search engines you must have:

1) Relevant content related to your topic.  This makes sense if you think about it.  What are people looking for when they search the web?  Information primarily.  So if you are selling widgets, you’d better have some useful information about widgets such as “how tos” and information to solve widget-related problems.

2) Relevant backlinks pointing to your website. Think quality and relevance over quantity here.  This is how most search engines tell if your site IS ACTUALLY useful.  It is a basic voting system.  A backlink is essentially a vote for you.

I will be talking more about the specific strategies for marketing websites in upcoming posts.  But as you’ll see all of the strategies and methods are based on one or both of those underlying goals.

Stay tuned as I spend the next few months building traffic to my baby shower site OhBabyCakes.net and report the results.

To evaluate your own e-commerce niche, check out my notes that I used to select my topic.