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ARE MINI-SITES THE ANSWER?
by: Bob McElwain
Mini-sites come in different flavors but all have one
significant element in common. Each site is very tightly
focused upon selling a single product or service. No Flash.
No graphics. No links out. No banners or advertising of any
kind. Nothing that detracts from the site purpose, which is
to make the sale.

The Pure Definition

In simplest form a mini-site consists entirely of a sales
letter and order form. That is, your visitor either buys or
clicks the Back button. Your site offers no other option.

Suppose your current site is focused on selling ebooks
and software to help people raise their kids. Each product
is a candidate for a mini-site dedicated entirely to selling
it.

You might do well with, "How To Build A Sewing Site," or
anything specific of interest to some. Maybe show how to
remodel your kitchen, build a plane or boat. But a mini-site
dependant upon keywords such as "site design" or "site
promotion" isn't going to make it because there is simply too
much competition.

Affiliate Programs

In some cases, pre-selling your visitors before sending
them to the sales pitch on an affiliate site can work wonders
for your conversion ratio. In others, you're better off simply
generating a click to the site.

If pre-selling is a good idea for a program that is paying
well, then a mini-site consisting of only a page or two can work
well. You may need only your enthusiastic endorsement of the
product on a single page. Or you may want to add another
providing an in-depth review. All content points to links
to the sales pitch on the program's site.

This works, but as above, the major task is in drawing
targeted traffic. If this can be managed, then this is also
a good model.

Selling Hot Products

To take the notion of selling as an affiliate program one
step further, you may want to consider selling currently hot
items. For example, back up a couple of years and anticipate
the interest in MP3 soon to burst upon the scene. Make the
right pick, find the best affiliate program, and you may have
a winner.

This approach works only for those who already know how
to sell most anything. Without a background in selling
effectively, particularly on the Web, it's best to leave this
notion to those who do.

Profits To Be Expected

Your purpose in building a mini-site is to generate profits.
However, you are not looking to make a living off the site.
Quite the contrary. You simply want to generate a separate
income stream. And $200/month may be all you need. Given one
such site, the trick is to continue producing others, adding
to total income with each.

Claims Of Time

In notes about building mini-sites, one claim made often
really bothers me. That you can toss such a site together in
an hour or two. This is not even close to feasible for most.

Pros may be able to quickly gather parts of existing sales
pitches with information from the affiliate program or the
manufacturer of the product. Then, in short order, cobble
together a sales pitch that works at least reasonably well.
Still, I don't know anybody who really can manage this in an
hour.

To me, time is part of the cost equation. It takes time
to put together a slick sales presentation. More to define
an advertising campaign. And even more to track costs versus
results.

Generating Hits Is The Hard Part

Okay. You've got a good product, a neat sales letter,
and an order form. All is looking good. Now how do you
draw targeted traffic to read your pitch? This is the
critical issue, for profits depend upon success in doing so.

Yahoo and other directories will ignore you. And response
from search engines will be limited. Their visitors are not
looking for sales pitches, so yours may not show up.

Many who demand that a mini-site be only a sales pitch
and order form are excellent marketers who have been quite
successful. Thus they have a large list of followers, many
interested in reselling what is offered. They produce a sales
letter, announce it to their list, and sales follow almost
automatically.

Since few have such lists, options are reduced to
advertising. Personally I feel the pay-per-click search engines
are the best starting point. GoTo.Com can bite pretty hard with
their fees. While less significant, there are many smaller
engines of this type that can be used for experimentation.
For a list, see

You Can Lose A Lot Very Quickly

If your mini-site is generating say $200/month and it's
costing you $100/month to advertise, you're in a risky position.
For one, you need to commit serious time to make sure your
advertising costs remain reasonable. If you don't, you may take
a look one day and discover you're spending $300/month to
generate $100/month. Not exactly profitable.

Only when confident that an $M investment will consistently
yield $N, will you be able to delete the tracking time factor
from your costs. What M and N need to be will vary with the
individual. However, many will be content with spending
$50/month for $150/month profit, provided results can be
expected to be consistent for a reasonable amount of time.

The Potential Is Grand

A good mini-site can be a steady income producer. It's
something we all should consider doing. For myself, the models
above seem insufficient. I prefer what might be called a themed
mini-site. While the evidence is not conclusive, there are
indications that search engines like such sites.

In this model, beyond the sales pitch there needs to be good
content closely related to the theme. I haven't tried this as
yet, but plan to do so. I like the fact that I can generate
hits from search engines with this model, then experiment with
advertising and pay-per-click search engines to generate even
more targeted traffic.

The Best Starting Point

Just go and sign up at BizMinisites.Com
(Or read the sales presentation
at ) It's not much over
$3/month, and you don't even need a domain name.

There's no better way to go. It's an offer that can't be
beat. It's the brain child of one of my favorite people, Sydney
Johnson, author of "Make Your Net Auction Sell." (See
for my review
of this outstanding work.)

Is This For Everybody?

Yes and no. Skills are required. If you do not have them
and do not have the time to develop them, then I'd wait a time.
But this aside, the answer is yes. Here's what you need.

> Go for a one page site with an order form, then work with
the pay-per-click search engines to generate hits. If you lack
bucks, pass on GoTo.Com in getting started.

> If you go for a themed mini-site, in addition to the
above, develop search engine friendly content pages. (For
notes about building content pages that rank well, send any
email to contentpage@sitetipsandtricks.com .)

In either case, risks of time and costs are minimal.
And potential is unlimited. So take the shot!
_________________

For an earlier article on mini-sites, please see

About the Author

Bob McElwain, author of "Your Path To Success."
How to build ANY business you want, just the
way you want it, with only pocket money.

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