Forget Domain Development – Let’s Talk Business Development

In the past I’ve discussed Domain Development (which is really just Web Development) as well as Brand Development. Now I want to talk about what is really important in 2013, business development. I’ve written about it quite a bit in the past but just to get you all up to speed, the days of building a quick-and-dirty site and reliably generating cashflow are over. The MiniSite is dead, it died a long time ago. If you want to make money in the brave new Web 3.0 world you have to ace the business side of the equation.

Over the last couple of years the buzz in the domain industry has been around Domain Development, making the move from parked domain to developed website. The problem is the discussion often ends there when it should actually be starting there, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Here’s what I’m going to assume you already have in place:

  1. Fully developed website on a meaningful domain
  2. Lots of well-written content updated frequently
  3. More than just content – yes, people want a product, service or cool app that allows them to more than just “read” on your site (unless it’s a blog in which case you just need to pump out lots of fresh content)
  4. Solid backlinks – either you’ve spend a few thousand dollars with an SEO company or you’ve put in the sweat equity to get backlinks from sites with high page authority

If you have these pieces in place you shouldn’t expect to make money, you can expect to now have the chance to make money. What you need to do next is focus on business development. Who is your customer? What are they looking for? Who are your competitors? How can you offer something different or better?

These are the questions that rarely get asked. Instead many people put all their time and money into building a site, getting a great logo and putting lots of content on the site. They then sit back and wait for the money to come in…but it doesn’t. Sure it can happen, but that’s not the norm.

The business development side of the business takes understanding the industry you are in and finding out how to best make your mark and provide something valuable. I always recommend that people either develop in a space they are an expert in, or become knowledgable about the space.

I recommend that you subscribe to magazine and blogs in the space, start interacting with influencers and get your butt to a conference. Get to know people in person and meet your customer face-to-face. Hear what their problems are, find out what bugs them about the current solutions. Then put together a real plan for how your are going to build a real business.

In this plan you should clearly define if you will be doing everything or if you’ll be hiring or outsourcing some or all tasks. Study the top businesses in your niche and read about how they got started, did they learn from any mistakes along the way? Some niches do great with Affiliate Programs, others actually perform better with AdSense, and others are a much better fit for lead generation. You can experiment yourself or learn from other people’s experiments. The more successful a company is, the more documentation there is of their failures.

Ever heard of Angry Birds? Sure, everyone has, it was a runaway success, but did you know it was Rovio’s 52nd game? Can you name the other 51? Probably not. If you’re making an app though you sure can learn from the 51 games that didn’t take off and avoid making the same mistakes. Look at the guy who is in the #1 spot in Google for your top keyword phrase, how long ago did they start, where are they focusing their revenue generating efforts?

It is so important to understand that just because you spend $5,000 – $10,000 or more developing a site, doesn’t mean the business model will just fall into place. A well-built site with great content and good backlinks means you have what it takes to play the game, now it’s time to get in the game and actually play.

Have a success (or failure) to share? Want to share one of your own experiences building an online business? Comment and let your voice be heard!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton