Those of you who have followed my blog for a while have witnessed the evolution of Kayaking.org. I picked the domain up on a drop from NameJet in July of 2008 for around $1,400. While I’m not a kayaking fanatic I’ve been a few times and with the domain it was love at first sight! That’s until I realized just how much work I would have to put-into the site to really make it a success.
In my book, Domain Monetization 101 – I discuss what I call the “low-hanging fruit” – domains that I think have great monetization potential without having to build a big sophisticated site. Take the credit/debt market – most people are looking for a guide or service they can use to help them get out of debt. Kayaking is not a category I would consider anywhere near “low-hanging fruit” as the CPC is very low (under $2) and nobody wants to buy Kayaks or Kayaking gear from a random website.
When I first built-out the domain it was a basic website that displayed RSS feeds about Kayaking. I was busy with eight-million other projects and did little to promote the site and of course it failed to draw an audience. During this same time I was launching tons of great five-page content sites that were monetizing well…but like I said – Kayaking is not an easy category to monetize quickly in. Think of legal lead generation sites – they can target a specific customer and make a fortune with each lead they receive. Kayaking doesn’t have this side to it – sure you could book a few kayaking excursions but it’s not like booking luxury hotels or conference space.
Kayaking.org took its next step forward last year when it was transformed into a five-page information site. While it began to get some traffic the site failed to engage users and as usual – I was focused on many other projects. For me I try not to get too wrapped-up with a single site – it doesn’t mean I won’t take the time to really build-out a nice larger-scale site, it just means that I only do this after I’ve met my development goals.
Well the day came and it was time for Kayaking.org to really take-on a presence of it’s own within the online kayaking community. After lots of hard work (yes – I did this one myself) I am very happy with the results. I’ll walk you through some of the new features and explain why I designed the site the way that I did.
On the main page I focused on simplicity and guiding the user towards exactly what they are looking for – in as few clicks as possible. Now an Amazon Carousel sits at the top of the page showcasing some great kayaking books – this gets the visitors attention from the very beginning with its spinning entrance. Right below I ask the visitor a very simple question – “What are you looking for?”
After studying the top kayaking keywords and really understanding what people I looking for I picked four separate options which I think will satisfy over 90% of the people coming to the site. The idea here is to keep the navigation simple – I have a lot of great content on the site but at the end of the day I want to make sure I’m giving the visitor what they want. Many people searching online are looking for kayaking trips in a particular location – this is the top option on my list and when you click on it you are taken to the following page:
The next page could not be easier – the user simply selects where they are interested in Kayaking and it pulls-up a list of recommended spots. I’ve already populated the database with some initial locations but I’ll be working hard at getting users to add their own content helping the site grow organically. On every single region page you’ll find a link to add your own kayaking spot – clicking on that link will take you to the page below:
As you can see I strongly encourage users suggest kayaking spots – so much so that I don’t even require the email address. I’d rather have someone fill-out the form and suggest a place than not if all it comes down to is sharing their email address. I’ll be offering incentives for people to add new places as well as monthly contests to help draw more eyes to the site. I would still consider this site a work in progress – it’s come a long way but I still have much much further to do.
On my desk in front of me I have a list of over twenty new features I’ll be adding to the site from Twitter integration to an easy-to-use system for keeping track of your kayaking trips and sharing them with others. The name of the game is INTERACTIVITY – the more ways I can allow people visiting my site to interact with each other and the site itself the better! Please pardon the spelling errors, etc. on the site – I haven’t even begun doing any SEO work nor have I spell-checked a single page so this is really in prototype mode. That being said I still love sharing this with all of you so enjoy!
Remember, at the end of the day you should be creating destinations – not portals to destinations – Kayaking.org is on its way to becoming the premier online Kayaking destination…but it still has a LONG way to go. I’ll let you share in each step of the adventure and hopefully, along the way I’ll inspire you to do the same with your domains – or let us build it for you!