Expounding on Development
I wanted to write a more in-depth post on the development of my mini-site, TropicalBirds.com due to the amount of comments that were left and emails that were sent to me. First, thank you to everyone who sent their compliments to me. Domain investing and development can be isolating things, and I appreciate the support from my friends and colleagues.
Development can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. If you have a vision for a website but lack the development expertise, this post is probably for you. I came into the domain industry with absolutely no development skills or even development knowledge. I was barely able to put my development thoughts in an email, and 99% of the vocabularly I used was in layman’s terms. However, heeding the advice of a couple of friends, I taught myself how to use Dreamweaver.
For those of you who don’t know, Dreamweaver is an Adobe program used to build webpages. I probably only use about 1% of its capabilities, but that was really all I needed. Much of what I’ve done is cutting and pasting within the parameters created by my developer. I learned a bit of code (from my Ebay and blogging days), and using code, I was able to make simple changes. I think there are books about code, but I am talking very rudimentary code. Well… maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from square 1.
My first step in the process was buying TropicalBirds.com for several thousand dollars. I saw the name and thought it would be a great foundation for an informational website about tropical birds. With hundreds of species of tropical birds, I knew I could jampack it with information that will get spidered (spread out) throughout Google. Since the name only receives a couple of visitors per day, I knew I would have to develop it to increase traffic and generate revenue. Spending several thousand dollars on a domain name is always a risk, but it was a calculated risk, and I believe I got a fair price.
As I was buying the name, I was thinking about a theme for the site – not difficult when it’s a category generic domain name. I thought about tropical colors, and I decided that orange, green, and red would be perfect. I contacted LogoJeez.com, and verbalized my vision for the logo. A few days later, they presented a few logos from which to choose, and I have to admit, I barely changed anything. I’ve worked with them in the past, and it usually takes a few rounds to perfect, but this one was almost spot on the first time.
With my logo in hand, I was in contact with my friend Kevin who created the layout for me. I told him what I wanted to accomplish with the site, I told him that I wanted an easy navigation scheme, and I gave him my logo. Within a couple of days, he provided the layout to me – it was almost perfect with a few minor personal changes. He sent me the base page and the stylesheet, which is used to dictate how the website will look – it’s basically where the architecture plans for the website are kept, and all the pages of the site read the stylesheet to know how to look.
The tricky part with development is building the pages. With a bit of coding knowledge (VERY basic), I am able to replicate pages to build new ones. I basically copy and paste text from Microsoft Word into Dreamweaver, and save it as a different page name. Kevin created the layout for me, complete with pictures, so I basically change the name of the image, copy the image into the image folder, copy and paste the text, and add other pictures using copy/paste. Since the meta placeholders are where they should be (keywords, page title, page description), I just change those out, too. I do a “save as” and it’s easy.
When it comes to the technical aspect of things, I am a rookie. I wouldn’t say learning Dreamweaver is easy, but if you can learn a little bit about code (what is bold, what is italic, how to create bulletpoints…etc), you can easily make new pages for a website. I wouldn’t have been able to create the foundation and stylesheet from scratch, but with Kevin’s help, I got a great start. He was also willing to create a couple of the more difficult forms for me and has always been willing to give advice. Dreamweaver isn’t easy, and I know I am not using all of the features, but the best way to learn is by playing around with it. Lot’s of doing and then undoing when I did something wrong!
I am not a great writer, and with Burbank.com being developed by yours truly at the same time, I don’t have much time to research dozens of tropical birds. I hired a copywriter based on a recommendation from someone else. Not only does she do good work, but she has had some great ideas for expanding the site. I get between 4-6 articles per day from her, and I am formatting and uploading the pages as they come. Once my copywriter has finished working on this project, I will recommend her personally, but I don’t want her inundated with requests before she finishes. I would happily use her skills again in the future.
For pictures on the site, I used copyright-free images from Wikipedia. These images are free to use as long as they are cited. All citations are on a single page of the site, which is linked from each page with an image. Additionally, I embedded some YouTube videos throughout the site, which was very simple and only involved resizing.
To generate revenue on the site, I have 3 Adsense advertisements on each page. While they are somewhat strategically placed, my plan is to test the placement at a point down the road to see how that impacts revenue. Additionally, I have Amazon affiliate links on some parts of the site. If people are looking for a bird cage for their macaw, I am happy to refer them to a place that can give them what they want. Once the site is finished, I will look for another affiliate who can offer more related bird products, but for now Amazon will suffice.
Developing TropicalBirds.com isn’t/wasn’t easy, but I know my personal limitations, and where I didn’t have expertise, I hired someone who is an expert. Yes, development does take quite a bit of time, but I think it will pay off. Instead of listing TropicalBirds.com as a domain name for $10,000, I will hopefully have a revenue producing website that isn’t for sale. All in all, the site cost under $1,000 to build and it probably took a solid 30 hours on my part for research, revisions, page building…etc.
I could have done the same type of website with CoolTropicalBirds.com or TropicallyBirds.com and saved several thousand dollars on a less expensive domain name. While that might have worked in the long run, if the site failed, I would have spent several hundred dollars on a website with a poor domain name. At least if TropicalBirds.com would fail, I would have a strong domain name to try and recoup my investment.
As I’ve said in the past, I really think development is where domain investors should begin to focus. Although I am still going to be relying on Google for revenue, I am able to increase the traffic to the site, something I couldn’t have done if I parked it. Also, I can sell links on the site to other bird websites, and eventually I can sell advertising, which will make the site non-reliant on Google for revenue. There are many more options with a developed website than a parked domain name.
This project has reaffirmed my belief that it is important to own a strong domain name.
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