List-Building: Why Sites Come Last And Lists Come First
People often ask me, "I bought a website, but it’s not really what I want it to be. Where do I go to find someone to help me get it right? " "Whoa!" I say, "Back up." Finding a web designer is very easy. But should you even begin looking? The problem is that when most people start out, they say, “I want a website and I think I want it to look like this.” They might pick out five or six different websites (by the way, I’ve done this). When I was first starting out, I hired five or six website designers to do stuff for me.
It was all on barter because I didn’t have any money and none of the websites made any money for me. They were absolutely beautiful and they didn’t make any money! What I learned was that how I want a website to look means nothing. Building a list and learning how my customers want a website to look means everything. What I’m suggesting to you is that perhaps you don’t want to design a website yet—perhaps you want to focus on building a list and learning what the elements are of a really great website that *sells* first, so you don’t waste time, effort, energy, or money. Even before building web sites, other bases need to be covered.
The first thing is to decide what you're going to sell online or what kind of service you want to provide in what area. So, where's the best place to start? Study something that you're passionate about or really good at, be it hobby or profession, and within that subject, find a problem that people need to have solved. Then, study all the ways that the problem can be solved. And, whether you sell an audio series, a streaming video series, or even a downloadable ebook about getting the best car for the lowest price, stress-reduction exercises, saving on your taxes, or some sort or completely ancient alternative therapy, it doesn't matter. Find a problem and solve it. And here's the thing: Whether you’re in real estate or the information business or optometry, the rules are exactly the same. The rule is that 99 times out of 100 a good, direct response website will always do much better than a good-looking website. And no site beats a great list. If you're just starting out, I’m going to make a recommendation to you that will make your life much easier. If you want to be successful online, you have to build a list of people who want to follow you, who are interested in everything you have to say, and want to buy what you'll be selling.
How do you build a list quickly and easily, while still learning? Start building a list by writing a newsletter about your passion and the people who sign up for it will already be interested in your future product. Or, give something away, like a report in your field of study. Or, write or buy an autoresponder series of lessons in that area. There are many ways to build a great list before you even know what it is you want to sell. Then, build a single page where people can sign up. Once they do, they're part of your list, too. You can also try co-registration, where your newsletter is offered in conjunction with other people's newsletters at the same time. That way, you're building your list, and other people building their lists are advertising for you, too. So, you're list-building for a while and studying. Is it time for a site? Maybe, but.
The first priority of online marketing shouldn't be about how great your website looks or where you'll find someone to customize it, it should be about building a list of clients or customers. Otherwise, if you just go out and create a product and don't find a group of people to sell it to, you're sunk. Build your list first, and you'll not only save yourself time and money, you'll avoid frustration.