The Big Idea
I don't want to be anyone's dream crusher because I think it's great to set goals and desire to accomplish big things online.
However, when coming up with an idea for your site, it's important you really think about execution.
So many people have ideas of becoming the next YouTube, MySpace or Amazon.com, but they don't have a complete understanding of how Internet marketing works.
People Don't Just Stumble Upon A Website
It's tempting to think, "I know my idea is so great that people will just flock to my site."
It doesn't matter how cool your website idea is, if you don't check for demand and market it properly, you could have another cool site just sitting out here with no visitors.
One of the best ways to generate free, targeted traffic is through the search engines, so it's important that you understand how they work.
Search engines love theme-based, content rich websites that are updated frequently. So your first order of business is to decide on a group of related keywords you'd like to target. Your long-term goal is to rank on the first page of Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. for these phrases.
Do some research in some brainstorming tools like Google's AdWords tool to see what kind of searches are done every month in relation to your potential topic.
Also look at your potential competitor's sites by doing a search in the engines yourself. This will give you an idea of what you're going to be up against and what kinds of sites succeed.
Cool Idea, But is There a Demand?
It's important to be realistic about your idea. Just because you think it's neat, make sure you've defined an audience you want to target and be sure there is a demand for your idea.
A teen emailed me the other day with an idea to create a site like YouTube, but with user profiles, chat rooms, etc. He said all his MySpace buddies thought it was a great idea.
Word of mouth is an excellent way to start promoting your site, but most people do not know enough people to rely on word of mouth alone. You are also going to have to find relevant sites to promote your site and this may even involve paid advertising in the long-run.
This is particularly true if your idea involves some kind of feature or function. Sites with features, applications, etc. and little content have a more difficult time getting ranked in the search engines, so you are going to need an excess amount of advertising to get the word out.
It's much easier to start with a small, very niche idea and let it develop into something big once the traffic comes in.
Let's say you want to create a forum for people to discuss sports. Rather than launching the forum right away, it's much better to create a niche, information site about one sport, learn about SEO (search engine optimization) so you can rank high in the engines for phrases related to that sport.
Once you build up a steady traffic base, you can launch your forum and then expand into additional sports.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep your focus very narrow in the beginning. It will be much easier to attract traffic when your site is focused on a specific topic and audience.
Watch My Video on Brainstorming
The video below discusses the importance of understanding how people search the web before you add fancy features to your site.
If you can absorb the preliminary information on this site, you will have a huge advantage because most people rush and don't take the time to plan and educate themselves before they begin.
If your goal is to make money with a website or blog, absorb the content on this site like a sponge.