By Bob McElwain
Most have become convinced the basic ingredient of a great
site is practical and useful content that potential visitors are
looking for. (Those not yet convinced, will not succeed until
they embrace and implement this fundamental.)
But at the word, "content," many roll their eyes upward in
despair, for they feel their writing skills are not sufficient.
While this may be true, there are ways to improve them. For
openers, click Topics in the navigation bar on my site, select
Writing Skills, then dig in.
Great Content Versus Great Writing
You do not need to be a Pulitzer-type writer to produce solid
site content. Those who disagree, are generally good writers.
Thus they tend to believe great site content is great prose.
This is stuff and nonsense.
True, the easiest and most straightforward way to build great
content is to create quality prose. But it's far from being the
only way. For example, a site loaded with "how to" information
will do fine, provided enough people want what is offered. And
in writing this kind of content, the focus is on clear
explanation, not grammar. Here's another example.
An Aside About Fishing
My fishing experience amounts to having been with some
fellows upon three occasions who were doing so. All I remember
about the ocean trip is being seasick. Another time I walked the
perimeter of a small lake twice with a neat fellow more
interested in walking than fishing. The only pro I've met was
a fellow with a fly rod. He caught his limit in minimal time
in a stream rod & reel types claimed was "fished out." This
makes me uniquely qualified to define a site of great interest
to fisherman. (g) What follows is all made up. Any resemblance
to truth about fishing is pure coincidence.
Let's Go Fishing
Bill, who owns FishNow.Com, got a call from Phil, made some
notes, and immediately wrote the following, sent it out in his
newsletter, and posted it on his site.
"Bill here, with a neat update from Phil Randal who just
called. (You probably remember him from our Caught 'Em
forum. He knows what he's about.)
Just now he's at Triangle lake. It's great country and
even better fishing. It's about 20 miles east of
Kramer's Junction on Hwy 145. To get there, take the dirt
road that starts behind Kelly's Feedstore. Takes may be
40 minutes, and you don't need four-wheel. (Click here
for a map you can print. I've marked the route.)"
An Aside: The map is a GIF copy of an actual map on which
Bill has sketched the route. Throughout he's added text like,
"Stream here; drive right through it." And below the map is a
"If you're short of time, check with the Travel Desk.
They'll arrange to pick you up and put you beside Triangle lake
in quick time. And the rates are the best I've seen."
"They've got a room at the lodge at Rising Creek come
tomorrow if you want. And a cabin this weekend. You can
get from there to Triangle on horseback in about four hours.
Or Jake can run you up in his Land Rover in about an hour and
a half. Fact is, fishings pretty good in Rising Creek just
Back To The Message
"Now get this. Phil says he's catching his limit every
day in less than two hours. And they aren't minnows,
either. He's got one he wants measured. Thinks he's
got a record. Whatever, it's got size. Those who know
Phil, know he doesn't lie.
But here's the best part. The other guys aren't catching
diddle. They're all over him asking what he's doing they
aren't. Again, if you know Phil, he's not saying. (g)
But here's what he told me.
He's using a BlueLine lure. He tried a FlatFish and did
pretty good, but he swears the BlueLine is the trick here.
If you've got the time, get on up to Triangle and let me
know how you make out. Click here for info on a BlueLine
lure. Click here for the FlatFish."
Each of the above links is to a page picturing the lure in
detail. There's a link below to a page that shows you how to
make one. And, of course, another that lets you buy one from
And There's More.
In a PS, Bill added, "Just now, the week's forecast looks
awfully good. Click here for the latest." Take this link, and
you have a long term forecast for the weather at Triangle lake.
Triangle is not the only lake Bill follows. And he has this
kind of info on all of them. And about the local streams.
Further, he'll be happy to sell you a great fishing rod, wading
boots, cooking gear, even camping stuff.
About That Fellow In New York
James Bartell faces yet another major business crisis. But
reading Bill's newsletter gives him a thought. He calls to his
secretary, "Will you get Joe and Pete in here, please?" Grabbing
for the phone, he mumbles, "If they can't handle this, I'll find
somebody who can." Half way through the sentence, the phone is
ringing at Travel Desk.
Bartell Is Not Alone
Many people who bust it day in and day out are quite willing,
now and then, to cut loose for a few days. Bill offers one great
way to do it. He gets a commission from Travel Desk. And from
the local lodges he refers to. If he chooses to do so, he is
in a great position to buy a lodge, thus extending his online
business offline. If he targets upscale fisherman like Bartell,
such a move could be enormously profitable.
Okay, so that's just a yarn. And hey, likely someone already
has something like it going. But it's bound to be local, else
one can't keep up. Find a local area *not* being covered, one
easy to get to, and go for it. The task is simpler if you
already know something of the area. But if you love fishing,
you can have a lot of fun learning whatever you need.
So Where's The Content?
Measured in total words, there is very little content on this
hypothetical site. But in the eyes of a devoted fisherman, it's
loaded with the stuff. Bill needs some good text content for
search engine positioning, but that's another matter.
What's Bill Really Selling?
Will anybody visiting this site see it for what it really
is? Have you figured it?
What is readily available is great info that matters to
fisherman. Behind this, Bill offers everything you need to get
to a great fishing spot, catch your limit, and be comfortable
while doing so. His visitors will not see this as a trick or
con. They may not even recognize the site is a selling tool.
Products offered will be seen simply as an additional service
This is not the greatest example, for it's seasonal. You'd
have to do very well in order to take the rest of the year off.
But it's a possibility. If you owned a lodge, you might pick
up some off-season business from skiers and hunters.
But I Don't Like Fishing
Is that what I heard you say? If so, join the club. I don't
either. But the idea works in many areas and differing products.
Competition is fierce in the travel business. But how about a
site featuring weekend adventures for families or seniors or
both? House plans might work well with how-tos about remodeling
and interior design.
Home gardeners are a committed bunch. And there's lots of
potential here for repeat business. Anything people love to do
that requires resources you can provide is a possible target.
Each must be checked with care. Competition needs to be
examined in depth. And you must find a niche that sets you above
or apart from all of it. But given a defined position and a good
business plan, you have the basis for a successful online
There are several errors in Bill's prose. Did you notice
them? If so, will they matter to a fellow who wants to catch
some fish? Or will he just grab his keys or the phone?