If you have ever attempted to start your own online business, or any website for that matter, then you must be all too familiar with its similarities to say, building a house. The budget and timeline you begin with bare no relevance to the budget and timeline you end up with. This is the case in 99% of web build projects, but it doesn’t have to be.
Obviously, taking your idea to the online market in 28 days is no walk in the park but with a smart and ruthless approach, it’s not impossible. The key lies in staying fiercely on task, asking countless dumb questions and being tough on your designer and developer. Think you can pull off a 4 week launch lockdown? If so, then here is what your timeline will look like.
Choose a name and tagline, buy a domain, hosting and email addresses and set up social media profiles. Brief you designers on the logo, website skin, email template & social media graphics with firm deadlines and expectations.
Get design quotes and move ahead with one. During this design phase, set up a PayPal and Google Analytics. Approve designs and purchase any stock photos required. Alternatively, take your own photos.
Draw a site map and write web content. Pick high traffic keywords for top 10 pages. Provide written brief, photos and web design skins to developers including PayPal, Google Analytics code and survey along with firm deadlines and expectations.
Get developer quotes and move ahead with one. Get them to bring on a cheaper developer to delegate most tasks to and oversee.
Check in with your web developer and insist on daily progress reports. Do not allow them to get stuck on minor tasks. Take shortcuts if necessary – be willing to move on to option B if option A is wasting time.
Insert your graphics and start a presence on social media. One goal – build curiosity. Write a basic marketing plan, social content calendar and email series. Draft a database growth plan and hinge it off joint ventures.
Write, or outsource, 10 articles on current headline topics in your field, make them credible, opinionated and include keywords linking to your site. From these 10 articles, create 10 short videos, 10 PowerPoint slideshows, and 10 podcasts. Distribute through YouTube, Slideshare and iTunes.
Review the first version of your site. Invite 5 road testers who will give it to you straight. You need brutal honesty not misleading pampering. Send the recommended changes back to the developer.
Write a media release and an email pitch to bloggers and partners for joint ventures and get your hands on a media list. Send your articles to editors of the most credible industry sites possible, and only once they’re knocked back, send them to PR Web.
Review the second version of the site, allowing time for bug fixes. Once this is done, LAUNCH! Now market like your life depends on it!
So, there it is!
Of course, this timeline assumes you have researched your idea with your target market first. The idea is to get up as fast and inexpensively as possible so you can test your idea where it matters – real life.
Oh, and most importantly, you need to be comfortable launching an unfinished site, because (and you can quote me on this), your site will never be finished. As Eric Ries, author of New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup says, if you’re not embarrassed by your website at launch, you’ve missed the boat.
Your website should remain in a continual state of improvement based on customer feedback from the moment it sees light of day. Every minute you waste building something based on a hunch, is a minute your competitors will be gaining on you. Good Luck and enjoy the ride!