I am sharing what I learned through personal experience.
My aim is to show course participants the basic steps of starting an online platform from scratch and building an audience.
The three broad steps are:
- Pick a niche
- Create content
But, in reality it wasn't so neat and nicely planned. In the case of Johor Kaki, it was mostly trail and error, just do it and, learn and adjust along the way.
Pick a niche
Back in Dec 2011, when I went online to look for what is good to eat in Johor, I couldn't find any systematic guide on Johor food. So, I decided to create such a guide myself which everyone can use.
Looking back, I actually stumbled upon a need and addressed that need by creating Johor Kaki blog. So, without planning it, Johor Kaki was serving directly an unserved niche and was quickly welcomed by readers in Johor, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Next, I started to write about the good food that I tasted in Johor, one hawker at a time. I asked my friends in Singapore and Johor for suggestions, and started with those. As readers stumbled upon my blog, they began to offer me suggestions.
Then I found and joined forums and Facebook Groups talking about Johor food. I got many tip offs from these groups (not to mention, making many friends too).
I also walked the streets of Johor and try to spot good hawkers myself.
I was thus creating content, post by post on my Johor Kaki blog, starting with my first post published on 20 Dec 2011.
Promote (Push Content out to Readers)
It is not enough to just create content as many millions of web pages are published every hour. The chance of a new website being seen is negligible.
So, it is necessary to promote your content on various channels so that more people can see it. Bloggers have to work with external channels, if they wish to grow their audiences.
Either they contact us (the blogger), or we reach out to them.
As readers found Johor Kaki content useful, it was noticed by other platforms and they contacted me to have my content featured on their websites and magazines.
My website and magazine partners helped push Johor Kaki content to their readers. With their support, Johor Kaki's reach grew very quickly.
I was happy to let these platforms carry my content because more people will read about the hawkers I write about.
Search Engine Optimization (Pull Readers to Content)
Due to lack of resources, I was unable to invest in any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services.
So, it's all DIY (do it yourself).
The only SEO I knew was to use keywords. Other than that, all I could do was to write as engaging content as possible.
Fortunately, readers appreciate the stories in Johor Kaki.
Johor Kaki readers are highly engaged. Three out of 4 visitors read 6 pages per visit and stayed 16 minutes per visit.
I am really grateful for the strong support of my readers.
With this level of engagement, Google recongised Johor Kaki as a trusted site on Johor food, and sends search traffic to the blog when people from around the world query about Johor food.
To sum up, start with a genuine intention to serve, and an unserved niche will appear.
Focus on creating engaging content to serve your niche well. Readers and partners who want to channel your content will follow.
Note: Street Food 360 course 街食专家 360 by Makansutra (Singapore) looks at the culture of street food, opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, new kitchen skills, thinking/approach, recipes, promotions and marketing.