Building a Brand – Kayaking.org

If you’ve been following my blog then you know that I am currently putting a lot of time and energy into Kayaking.org. I did a post this Monday about Kayaking.org making it to the first page of Yahoo, just two-weeks after the re-launch. Yes – first page of Google is the end-goal, but in two weeks this placement is phenomenal. Today I looked and I’ve actually moved-up a spot in Yahoo and am now out-ranking a wikipedia page and a .gov site…as well as Kayaking.com 🙂

Kayaking.com has been an active site MUCH longer than Kayaking.org and the site has over 1,100 members! The funny thing about this is that I haven’t done any of my SEO tweaks yet – so much still needs to be done to the site but this is a GREAT sign.

First let me say this – I’m not saying all this to brag. I’m saying this because I’ve been paying careful attention to the things that people like the Castello Brothers and Bruce Marler are doing and they have been very open and honest with me sharing their experiences and what’s worked for them. The Castello Brothers have done a great job of working with direct-advertisers and getting people to see the value of their brands. Bruce Marler has done the same in the new-charted .ME territory, a TLD that I’m a particularly big fan of!

One of my biggest lessons was – treat the domain/site like a brand, a real business. That’s what I’m doing with Kayaking.org and the results are already exceeding my expectations. It’s important to know what you know and what you don’t know – my motto in life is, “I’m always learning!”.

I have been able to build-up a nice income stream with small 5-10 page sites but what I’m doing with Kayaking.org here is a completely different deal. So I thought you’d all be interested in what I’m doing to help turn Kayaking.org into the premiere Kayaking brand online.

Twitter
I am using Twitter to connect with Kayakers all over the world every day. I have a Twitter account for Kayaking.org as well as a contest running for a $50 Amazon Gift Card for following me. When someone is talking about a Kayaking trip I encourage them to share the kayaking spot on the site. I’m also re-tweeting articles, pictures, and videos that Kayakers are sending around. I’m hoping that as Kayaking.org becomes a major Kayaking brand so will my Twitter account and the two will work together.

Kayaking Directory
I have begun emailing and calling Kayaking stores all over the country. Soon I’ll be hiring a part-time salesperson to really start building-up the listings. There isn’t much competition in the kayaking store directory space and a lot of the directory sites are a bit out-dated and difficult to navigate. The Castello Brothers are the masters at this and I’m doing my best to follow in their footsteps as much as possible here!

Kayaking Spots
I realized that a lot of people are looking for places to kayak in a particular area, and on Twitter people are sharing where they Kayaked all day long! I’m reaching-out to people on Twitter and encouraging them to add new spots. Hopefully through user-generated content I can build-up a really comprehensive database of kayaking spots across the US.

iPhone/iPad Friendly
I will be the first iPhone/iPad-friendly Kayaking site out there, at least that I’ve found! Rather than using text-links to get to the different states I use a big map that is easy to click on. The front page has lots of easily identifiable click-areas so if someone’s looking for a place to kayak or a store to buy kayaking gear they can do it on their iPhone just as easily as their desktop.

In building online brands I think we all have to continually look at how the visitor is getting to your site. Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, droid, or some other smart phone using images as hotspots is easier than text – as a frequent iPhone browser I know!

Kayaking Pictures
One of my current projects is building a photo-library that people can add their kayaking pictures to. I’ve been noticing on Twitter that people seem to post a good amount of pictures from their trips. I’m going to make a very easy interface for people to share those pictures on my site as well.

Kayaking Blogs
I am offering a very cool service from Kayaking.org – the ability to have your own kayaking blog at Kayaking.org. This is completely free and I’m hoping it will encourage people to start a blog at kayaking.org and all the content they write will help them build the brand and provide lots of fresh unique content. I’m still working on the marketing campaigns for this as I’m planning to advertise this on several popular kayaking blogs.

It’s been exciting to get Kayaking.org to where it is now, and this is where the real fun begins! Building a brand means treating the domain/site like a company. I’m thinking about the sales, marketing, finances, etc. that are going-into this site. As I get ready to hire my first salesperson for Kayaking.org I’m excited about what is ahead!

While I’m building this brand I’m continuing to build 5-10 sites a month, that’s something I’ve perfected over the last three years and I’m very happy with the revenue my domains are bringing in. If you’ve found a way to make money in this industry never stop doing what you know has worked for you just to try something new – you can do both, just don’t go crazy and overload yourself.

For me it’s all about balance, trying new things while continuing to do things that you’ve proven to work. This is just the beginning for Kayaking.org and I’ll continue to look to my mentors in the industry that have built leading brand online, because like I said, “I’m always learning!”

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • The Fromainer July 1, 2010, 3:04 pm

    Site is looking sweet Morgan, best of luck with the business development aspect.

    Reply
  • TV July 1, 2010, 3:26 pm

    The site looks really nice, congrats.

    Do you kayak?

    Reply
  • Michael Cromarty July 1, 2010, 3:38 pm

    Will you be sharing any stats morgan?

    Reply
  • Morgan July 1, 2010, 3:58 pm

    Thanks @The Fromainer!

    Thanks @TV – I’m not a big kayaker myself but I’m a big outdoors person so definitely a fan.

    @Michael – yes, I’ll be happy to share stats once the site is a bit further along. I want to apply my SEO to it and let it run for a few months. So stay-tuned!

    Reply
  • Ed | Htmlpress.net July 1, 2010, 5:46 pm

    I think the directory and blog feature will push your rankings in Google. Do keep us updated =)

    Reply
  • Mark July 1, 2010, 6:23 pm

    Hey Morgan:

    Fantastic site!

    Any chance you can reveal what service or solution you are using for the kayaking store locator? Is it a plug in? Vendor?

    Just curious,
    Mark

    Reply
    • Morgan July 1, 2010, 6:46 pm

      Thanks @Mark – I’m actually using my own solution 🙂 However I’m not talking much about it until later in the year so don’t tell anyone!

      Reply
  • Mark July 1, 2010, 7:01 pm

    No problem Morgan. Won’t tell anyone. Our secret.

    Mark

    Reply
  • Domains July 1, 2010, 7:07 pm

    A couple of questions for you:

    1) Do you think it will be possible to recoup your time/monetary investment in Kayaking.org? Are you going to sell enough kayaks and ads to make it all worthwhile, and are you going to dedicate the time and effort to keep the site updated and current?

    2) How will the hard core kayakers who are probably your main targets going to feel about a guy running a website with limited interest in kayaking? People give enough crap to the amateur domain investors who litter the domaining.com website, but will these people think you’re just in it to make a dollar rather than having any interest in kayaking.

    Thank you

    Reply
  • Leonard Britt July 1, 2010, 7:09 pm

    A question you might want to ask – which will have the greatest impact – launching five new minisites or focusing your efforts on Kayaking.org? I’m not bashing minisites as you seem to have done well with them but it sounds like you have some ambitious goals with Kayaking.org which will require a concerted effort to achieve. The crazy thing is you aren’t even doing this full-time – incredible 🙂 I look forward to updates on the site’s progress.

    Reply
  • Aron - XF.com July 1, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Hey Morgan,
    be sure to create a site map, and submit it to Google.

    That should help a bit as well, and do a couple targeted link swaps with other industry related sites.

    Also, write (or submit ones you already have) a few well written Kayaking articles to a few major article sites with a link back to your site.

    That will give some good credibility and SEO juice too.

    Just a quick input 🙂

    I hope it goes well for you 😀

    Aron

    Reply
  • PPC Ian July 1, 2010, 9:22 pm

    Morgan,
    What an awesome case study! I’m thoroughly enjoying watching you develop this domain. Question for you: I know you were also thinking about developing HotelCritic.org into a big brand back in 2009. Is this one still on the to-do list as well? Would be really curious how you chose to run with Kayaking.org vs. HotelCritic.org (if you did make this decision) and your thought process in the prioritization. Realizing this could be a very long answer, just wanted to throw the question out there as maybe the topic of a future post. Great work!
    All the best,
    Ian

    Reply
  • Morgan July 2, 2010, 9:36 am

    Thanks @PPC Ian – appreciate the positive comment!

    Great question Ian an really good timing too! I just hired the company manager for HotelCritic.org – I think it the brand really needs a dedicated person to manage it so that’s what I’m doing.

    @Aron – thanks for the comment and sharing your suggestions. Haven’t done any SEO yet as I’ve been working on getting all the features live site. As you know I’m a big SEO geek so will be doing a lot of submission to article directories, writing guest posts on kayaking blogs, site map and much much more. Stay-tuned as I’ll be sharing all the SEO I’m doing right here on the blog!

    Reply
  • David Barrett February 9, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Hi Morgan,
    I own http://www.twomankayak.com which I am selling for $300. If interested, drop me a line at: davidb1386@yahoo.com

    Cheers,
    David

    Reply

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