This is probably not your average startup story – but nonetheless an intriguing one. Watching online businesses transform from a one man operation to a multi-million dollar corporation is not uncommon these days, as the web reached new levels of interest from angel investors and venture capitalists.
But, my story is not of investors, but of a How-to website with stellar visions. It may not be the most creative idea, as there are several other How-to sites on the Web, but Howitoo.com has a different tweak that other How-to sites don’t.
First, the power of How-to articles has been proven time and time again. Mega sites such as eHow, wikihow, and Howcast have enjoyed millions of web visitors every month and continue to capture market share. Luckily for them, this also means millions of dollars in revenue every year.
So why even start a How-to website?
The answer is simple – people need to establish a goal. Millions of people search how to do things every single day, and believe it or not, many topics are still uncovered. There’s a great need on the Web for DIY tips and simple guides that explain anything from how to make a meal to cleaning your shoes. Something that’s so simple to you can be a difficult task to another, and having a guide available can often be life changing.
What’s more, how-tos can improve the knowledge and education of their readers. More than often, how-to articles are written by industry experts or individuals who are educated about the certain topic.
The power of information is endless. Take a look at Wikipedia, a major success in just a little over a decade. With over 22 million articles, I don’t know one person who doesn’t use Wikipedia at least once a week. That’s what I hope to establish here, a mega information site that can turn into the next big startup.
Why a How-to site to begin with?
You may be surprised to know that Howitoo wasn’t always a How-to site. When I first registered the domain in early 2010, I was working on a few other projects that didn’t really pan out. I was stuck, hoping for something to come through, but it didn’t. I then went back to working on Howitoo and established the site as blogging tips solely. I was following in the footsteps of some great full-time bloggers.
However, the life of a blogger involved many sleepless nights, and not even [many] results. Unless you build a successful mailing list of returning visitors and continue to publish content daily, you’re not likely to be very successful as a full time blogger. I realized very quickly that having a successful blog also involves guest posting for other successful websites in order to get traffic.
I felt that plain old ‘blogging tips’ was too small of a niche for me, and an area that everyone was already trying to cover. I got to a point where I felt that everyone was just discussing the same old SEO tips and what you should and shouldn’t do. I wanted to be different and offer a little bit more value to my readers.
What helped your site get to the next level?
I’d like to say it was just determination, but it wasn’t. Hard work made it possible. I researched different techniques to grow my blog. I knew that in order to get more traffic, I needed more content. I only had less than 100 posts, and I wasn’t getting anywhere without more articles.
You may ask, what makes a great startup? I believe it’s a defined business plan and use of all available resources. While I didn’t have a direct plan in mind, I reached out to the only resources I knew, experienced content marketers and writers.
I knew that if I provided these writers with an incentive, they would be more likely to write more and more for me. In the beginning, I was charged a nominal fee in return for quality articles, and as the relationship grew, these writers were content enough with just including a backlink back to their website. Today, the exposure that Howitoo offers writers far surpasses the dollar amount they’d charge me for the content.
What also helped me get more traffic and be more successful with my site is asking writers to promote their content. Nowadays I receive anywhere from 12-30 article submissions per day, so it would be impossible for me to promote all my content. I do use a plugin which automatically posts a new article to Twitter and Facebook once it’s live, but it’s recommended to use all social bookmarking tools for optimal results. Once I started asking writers to promote their content, I noticed increased traffic and better user interaction on the site. Most importantly, I was getting way more backlinks which helped me improve my website’s rankings in the search engines.
Finally, what would you recommend for other startups?
Every successful startup will need a solid website, so I’m sure you can all use these tips. However, I’ll say that social media can do wonders for your marketing. Get as much content together as you can, as you’ll be more credible, grow faster, and reach more readers.
Above all though, guest posting is simply the best way to be heard and reach hundreds of thousands of people. You never know, the next person who reads your article may be a potential investor who’ll change the fate of your project.