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Content: Content CreationTo put it bluntly, your content can cause others to wish their site was a good as yours—or allow it to drown in a sea of mediocrity and sameness! There are four keys to successful content creation:
So What's Popular?To build your site around what's currently popular is to build on shifting sand. Istead, let's look at how successful sites are developed, because a successful site can be developed around nearly any subject matter. The online population is just too large for there to be many topics that can't enjoy a good measure of success.
Granted, some topics will have a bigger audience, but they will also have more competition for that audience. Building a site around what you enjoy can often bring more success to you than if you deliberately set out to build a popular site about a topic you're not that keen about.
Sites that enjoy high traffic and keep 'em coming back have one or more of the following elements. The more of these elements you incorporate, the better your chances of developing a successful web presence.
Create an ever-expanding world. Even if you plan on a specialized site you can find different subjects to tie in with it in an entertaining or useful way. If you were doing a site on Stress in the Work Place, for example, you could have serious articles about ways to cope and manage stress, but you could also include humorous looks at ways not to deal with stress.
Try to be creative. Try to imagine what you'd find if you were the visitor and someone else were making the site. What would David Letterman do with it, or Rush Limbaugh, or Dear Abby, or anyone you admire for their creativity, talent, intelligence, or for other qualities you can emulate.
Are you a recreational poet? Are you good at drawing? Do you write short stories or tell good jokes? Put it up—or if that's not what your site is about, think of ways to incorporate those traits into what you are building. Whatever makes you unique and sets you apart from others is a great place to start. Everyone is good at something. Think about your strengths.
Know this about yourself...It can be pretty boring to cruise through a site with absolutely no personality to it because the webmaster is playing monkey-see monkey-do. If you're not being yourself, who will? People don't want to read the same old stuff they can read in a thousand other places that all sound the same. They would much rather read about your unique point of view as long as you're willing to put forth the effort it takes to present your point of view in a coherent manner, rather than just rambling on and on without a good flow of thought.
Serve a Purpose
Serving the needs of others means traffic for you. For me, it means sharing my talent for graphics, teaching, and my . . . um, let's call it my unique sense of humor. I manage to sell enough of my products along the way that I earn my living at this. Maybe in time I can sell enough to become filthy, stinking rich, who knows? I wouldn't mind being a little stinker in that way!
I try to entertain as I serve a purpose. Sure, some folks think I'm nuts, but that's just a lucky guess. Think about what kind of service you could offer. Put up a help page on a topic you know about. You don't have to be an expert, there are plenty of people who know less. If you get questions you don't know the answer to, find it. Then you have new content and something fresh to offer. There are many ways to serve the internet community, find your own angle and go with it.
Sidenote: I was no expert when I first started posting HTML tutorials. I only did it because I kept getting emails asking how I did this or did that. After answering the same questions over and over I made some tutorials. One thing led to another and a publisher called me out of the blue and asked me to write a book on web site design for them. You just never know what interesting and profitable twists life will take when you serve others.
You can offer as many experiences as you can think of. I have more planned than I have time to implement. Build depth with variety. You needn't do it all at once and create a big project. Work on it one idea at a time and do it up right. Become a mini-expert on the things that interest you. If you work on your interests you're likely to do a good job of it and others will recognize your effort and reward you with return visits, email, links to your site, and purchase your products or services if that is your focus. In life, and on the Internet, when you give, you set the wheels in motion to receive.
Think about your favorite sites. Do they have a sterile, officious approach or do they have a bit of personality? The answer for most is the second choice. One of the nicest unsolicited comments I've ever received said..."I really love your site, it feels like you're right there with me." Makes a fella feel good. Doesn't pay the bills but it feels pretty good just the same. The point is, talk to your guests like you talk to your friends and you're on the right track, providing you're not a complete jerk in real life. If you are a jerk in real life—grow up—or you will always suffer the consequences of your attitude.
Even business sites can benefit from having a little personality to them. One of the complaints I've noticed about web sites is that they are sterile. No personality, sterile antiseptic writing, and a lack of imagination and creativity all add up to BORING with a capital SNORE!
Rules of ThumbHere are a few rules of thumb for developing a web site. These are not the only considerations, but they are the most important ones that apply to all topics.
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