Sunday, December 31, 2006

Starting A Hobby-Related Website

When there is a topic you enjoy and cannot get enough of thinking or talking about, then you may have found the perfect topic for a personal website project. Although there is much made of making money on the web, many people have sites that are not intended to make money. Instead these sites are used to promote the interests of the site owner.

If you are thinking of developing a site based on your hobby topic, then you should do some initial research to see what already exists. Check out other websites on the same subject. See what information all of them seem to have. While you do not want to repeat too much information, you also have to consider that those people include the information because others want to read it.

Your job is to look for angles not covered. Perhaps you love fly-fishing, but you are a woman. You may want to exploit that angle and create a site dedicated to women who enjoy the sport. You would include much of the same information about getting started, finding locations, and planning trips, but you would focus on the fact that you are speaking to a primarily female audience. That means that you may cover rods that are made for smaller adults as well as information on taking your children along with you.

While you are searching, keep an eye out for what is not available, too. Are there no sites with forums? On the sites that have forums, do they provide interesting information? Are they too basic? Are there enough members to make it worthwhile to run your own forum? You also should consider specials on sites, such as allowing visitors to send in questions for you that you answer or allowing comments on articles. You may want to do your site in the form of a blog or update it all at once and be done with it.

Try to keep in mind what it will take to maintain a website. Many people begin sites but are unaware of the amount of work that goes into keeping them up. You will need to consider the cost although you can get a domain name and hosting package for fairly cheap. I am able to get mine for about $50 a year total. If you are using a blog format, you even can start by using a free service, such as Blogger, so that you will not have any upfront costs until you see how the site works.

Then you need to consider how much effort you want to put into the site. Perhaps you are willing to work on it daily. If so, then you should consider forums and other high-energy parts of website design. If not, then you may want to cut those parts of the site. People who want to put in two or three hours a week, perhaps on a slow night, should consider whether they simply can add an article or two every week. Take into account how long it will take you to research and write the article as well as putting it up on the site.

Once you have the site started, you will want to advertise it. You can use basic methods. Make up a t-shirt that you wear to events related to your site with the domain name on it. Make up simple business cards and leave them in strategic places (legally, of course). Get a sticker for your car. Then you can write free articles and distribute them online with return links back to your site. Participate in forums related to your website topic.

Creating a site about your hobby is a great way to add to your resume. After all, site design is something that can be beneficial in the workplace while allowing you to research and write about something that you find fascinating. Just remember that you should make sure you can commit to a site before you get started. There is nothing more frustrating online than a site that never adds content or a site owner who promises that lots of features are coming soon on a date that never materializes. Give it your best.

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