It’s day 62 of the Transparent Marketing Project, which means I’m officially into my 3rd month of this project.
If you remember when I first introduced the TMP, I set a few goals for the first 90 days in terms of subscriber growth:
- Good goal: 100 subscribers (1.11 subscribers per day)
- Better goal: 300 subscribers (3.33 subscribers per day)
- Best goal: 500 subscribers per day (5.55 subscribers per day)
I also defined the projects I was going to take on in order to reach those goals:
- Build a website where I can publish content that will convert traffic into email subscribers.
- Create regular marketing emails to nurture these new subscribers and build loyalty.
- Publish and promote content that attracts new subscribers.
- Run giveaways to attract new subscribers.
In the first 40 days, I took care of #2 and #4, which resulted in 306 subscribers, allowing me to hit my “better” goal.
So what’s happened in the last 22 days since then?
Just kidding. It only appears this way from an outsider’s perspective.
What you MIGHT think I have been doing over the past 22 days…
In the past 3 weeks, I’ve been working on tackling projects #1 and #3.
However, due to an extremely heavy client queue + 4 trips (primarily for work), all in July, I had a very limited amount of time to work on the TMP.
Let me be a little more clear and define “very limited” for you: I was only able to dedicate 11 hours and 45 minutes to the TMP over the past 3 weeks.
That’s less than 4 hours a week.
Now, despite these constraints, I’ve actually been able to accomplish quite a bit, including:
- Creating + launching a bare bones site
- Putting together a draft for the first piece of content, which has involved interviewing 15+ travelers
- Staying in touch with my subscribers via email
- Nurturing the new subscribers from the giveaway detailed in Day 23 and Day 40
- Prepping a Pinterest account for future content promotion
Why is this important?
Because even with limited time, you can get a heck of a lot accomplished.
Most importantly, I want you to pay attention to the fact that it took me less than 3 hours to create and launch a site.
Why do I feel this is so significant?
Because most of the time it takes business owners MONTHS to create and launch a site.
And this is a huge, huge mistake.
Why? Well, because as you can see, while working on the site, I have not been able to dedicate time to growing the email list and therefore my subscriber base has decreased by 11.
While some of this drop off is to be expected after running a giveaway (because of the spammy subscribers I discussed on Day 40), you can also see that it means I haven’t been able to counterbalance it by continuing the list growth.
Long story short: creating your website is only a very, very small piece of the long-term marketing puzzle.
Equally as important, your site is likely to evolve as your business evolves. So if you put all your eggs in creating the “perfect” site and forget to grow your audience simultaneously, well, you’re likely to be in big trouble later.
If I haven’t scared you yet, please, let me wax on a little longer about this common trap I see entrepreneurs fall into.
Do NOT waste a ton of time on your website if you’re starting your business for the first time and don’t have any sales. You will spend far too much money and effort on something that will change within a few months.
And, like so many of the first-time website creators I have talked to, you’ll mistakenly believe your new site will be solely responsible for growing your business revenue.
This is oh-so-very wrong. Please, please, please…do not put so much stock into your website.
Don’t be this guy when it comes to creating the first website for your business.
(This is not to say that there is not a time and a place for investing in an expensive website. However, this should only occur after you have a proven business model and can guarantee a positive return-on-investment.)
I heard a great quote the other day, and unfortunately, I do not know who said it and therefore cannot credit the author. But it rings true in this scenario:
“Successful people figure it out as they move. Unsuccessful people wait to figure it out before they move.” – Unknown
What you need in your MVP website
I like to use the concept “minimally viable product” when it comes to website creation. Why? Because it allows you to focus on the bare minimum needed for your website, so you can launch quickly and with success.
So, here’s the basics of what you need:
Think of your domain name as your address on the web.
Your domain should be an easy to spell, easy to remember, recognizable name that allows people who know you to quickly find you on the Internet.
Also, try to make sure you can reserve the .com version of your name. Why? It’s very hard for people to remember that you have the .net or .io or .org version of the domain. Plus, your organization could be easily confused with the one that is on the .com version of the domain.
Typically, when purchasing a domain name, you reserve it on a yearly basis. There are many domain name providers you can use to purchase your domain. Don’t get too caught up in picking the right one. This is not that important.
So, if your domain name is your Internet address, what does that make web hosting?
I like to think of web hosting as your “house” for the website. This is the technology that houses all your web pages, allowing them to be viewable on the Internet.
Contrary to choosing a domain provider, finding the right web host is very important. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a web host, which I’ve explained in more detail here.
All that being said, if you’re looking for some recommendations on web hosts, I’ve included a list here that I like in my MVP Website Toolkit.
Content Management System
What is a Content Management System, also known as CMS, you ask? Great question!
“A content management system (CMS) is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting, as well as maintenance from a central interface.” – Wikipedia
Essentially, a CMS is a system used to manage a website. It often allows for publishing, styling management, and revision control.
Concretely, this means that non-technical people (aka someone who is not a web developer), can partake in much of the management of their website.
Yes, you heard me, but I’ll say it again in bold as this is a very important point: a CMS empowers the average person, permitting them the ability to create and manage the majority of their own website.
Now, again, there are lots of choices when it comes to a CMS. Choosing the right one for you is a tricky business, as there are a lot of feature sets to be evaluated.
If you have questions about what CMS is right for your business, join our free Facebook community and we can have a more in-depth discussion there about your options.
FYI: For LaurenPawell.com, I used WordPress (WordPress.org not WordPress.com…there is an important difference between the two.)
Business Email Address(es)
It’s very important that you create a business email address. Don’t use a free @gmail.com account.
Why? Because when it comes to sending marketing emails to your providers, an @gmail.com address will get very poor placement in your subscribers’ inboxes.
So just don’t do it!
I personally love Google Suite for getting a business email address. It costs $5/month per user and you get a whole host of other awesome goodies with it, including Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc.
Plus, using Google Suite also means your business email is not tied to your web host. (Your web host will often try to upsell you on an email package.) However, a time may come when you need to change web hosts and if you email is tied to them, well, let’s just say, migrating services gets a heck of a lot more complicated…and more expensive.
Email Marketing Software
In the most basic terms, email marketing software allows you to send bulk emails to your list.
Typically, an email marketing software allows you to do much more than just send mass emails, including:
- Building email templates
- Segmenting your list based on user behavior
- Measuring the performance of your emails
- And lots of other cool stuff
Why do you need an email marketing software?
Because it’s the #1 way you should be staying in touch with your audience and nurturing them.
It’s also how you’re likely to make future sales. Typically, I find that email marketing should be one of your top 3 sources of online revenue, if not your #1.
Again, like web hosting, choosing an email marketing software can be a little bit tricky. However, I’ve broken down some good choices for you in my MVP Website Toolkit here.
This is where so many business owners make a fatal mistake when it comes to creating their first website.
Instead of being very strategic about the MINIMUM amount of pages they need, they plan for 20+ pages on their site…failing to realize that each page needs an extensive amount of copy (words) and visuals (images, patterns, graphics and other design elements).
The truth of the matter is, at a bare minimum, you need 4 web pages:
The first thing you see on the TMP home page, which immediately tells you what the site is about and who it is for.
An email opt-in section is included on the home page, as that is the main action I want visitors to take…signing up for the email list.
A simple About page, which tells the website visitor a little more about the site and its purpose.
A short and sweet Contact page, that gives website visitors a way to reach out to me.
If you’re ready to start selling, you may need a few other pages including:
- Work With Us
- Purchase / Checkout
But that’s really about it. Later on, after you’ve gotten some traction, you can always add more web pages.
Here’s the thing: the most important part of each web page is (1) the next immediate action the user is supposed to take and (2) creating copy that encourages them to move in that direction.
And this, my fellow entrepreneur, is not easy to do. So if you have to accomplish this 20x over, instead of 4x over, well, let’s just say launching a successful site will take months.
This is not what you want to happen.
So heed my advice and keep your number of web pages to a minimum.
Now, let’s move on to some of the other actions I’ve been taking over the past 22 days.
Preparatory work on Pinterest
As I shared in Day 0, Pinterest is one of the social channels I’ll be focusing. Why?
Well, people who like to travel definitely hang out on Pinterest. (As well as people who like to decorate their home and do crafts.)
And, when it comes to picking your social channels, you want to meet your target audience where they already hang out.
So, in preparation for future content promotion (because my first article is due for publication soon), I started seeding my Pinterest account with lots of curated travel content.
What did this entail?
1) Setting up my personal profile (which I haven’t used in over 12 months) to be solely travel focused. This meant:
- Updating my bio
- Deleting all pins that weren’t travel related
- Organizing boards based on travel destination (because this is the way people search on Pinterest)
2) Scheduling daily pins to these boards using BoardBooster. This is a huge time saver, as I can schedule out months worth of pins in batches.
And let me just say, I am SUPER excited about what’s happening so far on Pinterest.
First of all, my non-existent profile now gets 114,000+ views per month.
Second, my follower count has increased by 73.9%.
Third, I was invited to my first group board.
(Group boards are gold mines for content promotion. Why? Because group boards often have HUGE audiences, far larger than ones you can accumulate on your own. Being invited to one means that my Pinterest profile is getting noticed by people who want travel content.)
Now, by no means does this mean my content is going to spread like wildfire on Pinterest. Although that would eventually be the goal, right?
But it does mean that I’m moving in the right direction. And, that I’ll have SOME eyeballs (from a relevant audience) on any content I create and pin on Pinterest.
Now, this is where the real work is when it comes to building an audience and converting them into lifelong fans (and hopefully future customers).
Your content has got to be AH-MAZING.
So, I’ve got some tall shoes to fill here.
No pressure, right?
(As I wipe the beads of sweat off my brow.)
I’ve actually got some good stuff in the works.
I’m really excited to share the upcoming articles with you AND show you the behind-the-scenes details, explaining exactly how I go about creating great content. (In my mind, great content = content that is likely to be loved by real people AND search engines alike.)
I’ll spill all the beans in my next post.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the website creation process or anything else detailed in this post, please comment below, and I’ll reply to you in a timely manner.
In the spirit of total transparency, some of the links included in this article are affiliate links. What does this mean? If you click on an affiliate link and ultimately decide to use the product or service I recommended, I may receive a small commission on the purchase you make. However, I do not include affiliate links for any product or service I do not use and love personally. So, you can rest assured that I only recommend tools that I feel deliver great value to you. Please note that I have not been given any free products, services or anything else by the companies I recommend. The only compensation I receive is in the form of affiliate commissions. If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via our contact page.