Reading Al Campell's series on Get Rich Quick, I
couldn't help but think of all the people who have contacted
us over the last four years wanting to build their own
websites. Some just want to share the information about
their local fishery and region and that's great, but some
"want to get rich quick."
The demise of many big 'dot com' companies over the past year,
would lead one to think it may not be as easy as it seems.
True, some people made a lot of money selling their web
ideas to investors who dumped tons of money into technology,
payrolls and equipment. But when the website was not profitable,
they folded. People were out of jobs, investors lost their
money and it makes it ever harder for the next person with
a great idea or concept to succeed.
One large publishing company, (who I won't name), spent 6.5
million dollars on their half ownership of a website. Eventually
they sold their half-interest to an even bigger company, and
stopped the money hemorrhage. It's still up, but I don't
think it has made one dollar in profit. Some of the big ones
familiar to you, Amazon.com for example, has yet to show a profit.
So where does that leave the 'little guy?'
Here's some food for thought.
Anyone can have a 'free website' - there are many services who
will let you build a small website for your personal use. Some
will allow commercial sites as well, but you are limited as to
how many pages, or how much space you can take up. This might
be a good way to try out your idea, see what you can do, and
if you wish to sell a product or service, is there any
interest in what you offer.
If what you have in mind is larger than the freebee hosting
available, you need to find a service which will host your
website. Check the service out! Do they host other websites?
If so, get the names of those websites and contact the owners.
Are they happy? Do they get what they pay for? What happens
if there are problems? Will you always have complete access
to your site? Can you reach someone if your website is off line?
Costs for hosting a website vary greatly. If the website is
large you may be charged for the space it takes up, or how
much use it gets. An option is to own your own server
and have it co-located at a reputable internet service provider.
There of course is a charge for that too. The cost does not
always reflect the amount of support or quality of the service.
What kind of access do your potential readers have to you?
Regular phone lines? T-3 lines? Fiber Optics? I'm getting
a little technical here, but most service providers do not
own their connecting web access across the world. Those
'lines' are called backbones. There are several. How dependable
are they? How often are they out of service? If a back-hoe
cuts a line in Chicago are you out of business? It happens!
How are you going to pay for your website? There are a few sites
in the fly-fishing world which charge a subscription fee. I
only have personal knowledge of one by a extremely well-known
personality. It is not profitable. By profitable, that means
covering the expenses to operate it. Profitable does not mean
paying you (or me) a living wage. It may take a very long time
before you can quit your day job. In the meantime, be prepared
to pay for everything you cannot personally do.
Your ideas for a website may not be fly fishing related, but
here's some figures for you. Alta Vista's search engine lists
6,073,304 websites for Fly Fishing. Google's search engine lists
921,000. Check it for yourself on your favorite search feature.
Either way, that's pretty tough competition. If you are
interested in a different field, do a search and see how
many websites already exist for that field.
How is your idea better? What can you offer the others don't?
And the biggie, how are you going to get people to your website
instead of the others?
If that's not enough to think about, how are you going to produce
your website? There are many 'programs' available to write the
code for you, but all have drawbacks of one sort or another.
Most do not 'read' the same (or sometimes not at all) on more
than one browser. If the program is Microsoft based, there
are problems reading the page in Netscape. Some teckies will
tell you it doesn't matter, because everyone uses Microsoft
Internet Explorer (MISE). The readers on FAOL do not all use
MISE, in fact 42% use Netscape or other browsers. Are you
willing to lose 42% of your possible readers? The alternative
is to learn to write HTML code. This website is not written
using a program, and is written in HTML.
If you have decided to sell a product, you need to provide a
means for people to buy it. That may be as simple as having the
customer send you a check, or may require a 'shopping cart'
which fills out an order and emails it to you, along with
the customer's credit card information. Opps, now you need
something called a "secure" website, where dorks can't come
in and steal the credit card information. There is a charge,
usually monthly, for that. And there is a charge to be able
to take credit cards as well. You need to factor those costs into
your product costs as well. If you are thinking small, like
a special fly you tie and want to sell, you could do just
fine by using a service called Pay Pal. The customer pays
Pay Pal and Pay Pal pays you. I believe the charge for this
service is a very small percentage of the price, which is less
than most credit card services.
How are you going to get people to your website? We probably
get 50 emails a week from folks wanting us to put their website
on our "links page." If they had done their homework they would
know we don't have a "links page." Then there are search engines.
I've been told when a new domain name is issued the search engines
'search' it within eight days. Could be. I do know for sure
there are hundreds if not thousands of companies who tell website
owners they can get you in the top ten of all the search engines
(for a fee of course.) So if ½ of 1% of those websites signed
up for this paid-for-placement, that would be 6,073 websites
listed in the top ten for Fly Fishing. For what period of time?
If at all? There are hundreds of search engines, the record
for search engines on FAOL in one day is 522. It's my belief
search engines do pay attention to something called 'meta tags'
and if they are done properly you will be found.
Lastly, how much time are you willing to devote to your website?
If you wish to sell a service or products, you must keep the
pages current, interesting and correct. Advertising your
guide service is one thing - selling drift boats is something
else. A well-managed website requires content, good graphics,
all pages must load and do so as fast as possible on all web
browsers, interaction of some sort, (if it's only email links),
attention to user and error logs - constant care and feeding,
especially if you want the reader to come back.
Can you build a website? Absolutely. Will it be successful?
Depends on your ability, tenacity and passion. Profitable?
Maybe. Will I send you complete instructions on how to build
a Fly Anglers OnLine? Get your checkbook out. ~ LadyFisher
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!