With more and more businesses wising up to websites there are many individuals smelling opportunities to make money from them. As the title suggests, it usually comes about when one observes some public need that’s being unfulfilled by a website that does whatever it is, or feel like they can do one better.
The potential to make ‘real money’ (and you have to say it like a Trini), appeals strongly to a variety of interests, such as: entrepreneurs/businesses looking for a new opportunity, entrepreneurs/businesses looking to compete with established players, or plain greedy people looking to make a quick buck.
Most of these sites don’t sell anything per se, but their selling point is the traffic they get that puts them in a strong position to charge for their services or for advertising or both.
What prompts the idea may be the success of others already doing it locally, or finding some US site that one thinks can be duplicated here. Credit must be given to those who blazed the trail very early, namely a couple of car sites in Trinidad which has them in a strong position today.
That shouldn’t be comforting to them though, as I always say that ‘it’s not who’s there first, it’s who does it better’ and if you don’t believe me, you can ask MySpace for a second opinion. Like any business it’s just a matter of time but at least it’s something you can prepare for.
Types of ‘Fill a Need’ websites already in T&T
Most of these are only what I came across, not necessarily looking but just what I’m aware of, perhaps by their own advertising or what I just stumbled upon. Of course, I usually take a maco.
- The aforementioned car sites, you know who they are
- Copycat car sites doing the same thing, though not very well
- Classified Ads sites, and my are they abundant these days
- Directory sites- listing places and businesses
- Employment sites- listing jobs and resumes
- Deal or coupon sites
- News magazine sites
- Niche sites- blogs of food, fitness, reviews or other interests
Are existing ‘Fill a Need’ websites working?
The most successful one has been around over ten years now and is still the number one private site in Trinidad & Tobago.
Older sites have the monopoly in their niche
So I would say only ones around first, mainly because very few others rank at the top visited sites of T&T. The car sites, even though visually they’re nothing to look at, i.e. dated styling in my opinion, nonetheless work because they’re so entrenched after all these years and there are no viable competitors.
The evidence that they work is clear if you look at the ad spaces always full and often with big national or well known brands. One particular car site I’ve noticed lately has a full third of its homepage is chockfull with banner ads with actual cars for sale way down below.
Newer competitors lack the firepower, new niche entrants mostly struggle
Of the newer ones, i.e. those in the last say 3 years have been a mixed bag, and that includes sites I did (which I’ll review below) and overall, I think that they’re not the runaway successes as originally thought they might be.
Like above, evidence that they’re not working as well as hoped, are empty ad spaces or obscure advertisers.
How are Fill a Need sites by Forward Multimedia are faring
Believe it or not, the very first site by Forward Multimedia in Trinidad & Tobago was a Fill A Need site back in 2011. It was a used car site that didn’t last long for the very reasons why many sites in general don’t work- it wasn’t worked. However another auto site for a different client was (and still is) a success and has no direct competitor still. Here are 3 Fill A Need sites by Forward Multimedia:
1. TnT Bamboo Online
What started out as a directory of available used parts from Bamboo suppliers transformed into a different model quite by accident and at my behest my client ran with it. It’s owner, a young guy, approached me for a site that lists the inventory of used auto parts of Bamboo businesses and started to visit suppliers to build his list. In this model, Bamboo suppliers would pay to list their inventory.
One day he mentioned that a friend asked him to find a particular part for him and that hit me like a bolt of lightning. I then suggested he change his model to sourcing and selling the used parts as a service to avoid the hassle of Bamboo shopping.
Now TnT Bamboo Online not only does business in Trinidad & Tobago, but also up and down the Caribbean. But his main selling point is the way he does business- honest, ethical and treating his customers like number one, which is why Tnt Bamboo Online is at the top of Google search if you’re looking for Bamboo auto parts.
2. TT News Flash
This is a news portal site that’s doing pretty well and bills itself as the “#1 online news broadcaster bringing all the hottest news faster to you anywhere and at all times”. I’ve noticed it’s news feeds being shared on Facebook by other posters which adds to it’s credibility as a serious news source.
This site pretty much followed its original model though I think there are a few things that can be done that can take it to the next level now.
3. Appliance Advice TT
Some sites have an edge of the bat by virtue of the immediacy of the need. TnT Bamboo Online was destined to do well in my opinion regardless of the model and I’m sure all me readers will agree with me on that. The website design and execution of the chosen model is the difference between doing okay and doing great.
Appliance Advice doesn’t have such an advantage so has to work harder to capitalize on it’s niche. It’s objective: “to provide you with honest & informative answers to ANY appliance problem you may be experiencing”. With hundreds of US sites out there as credible sources to solve any appliance problem, Appliance Advice’s selling point is the Trini spin for a better connection.
The advantage of this site is that the owner has been in the appliance repair business for over 15 years so one gets honest advice from an honest person. It’s Facebook page has robust dialogue and seems to be the forum for this site, however I think the site has to complement the Facebook page some more.
Why many local ‘Fill a Need’ websites won’t work
There are four reasons why these sites won’t work as well as expected:
- Lack of online skills and business skills- it’s a business after all
- Lack of investment $ to keep improving site- expertise cost money
- Lack of commitment- it’s 100% or it’s DOOMED TO FAIL
- Surplus of greed- focusing on dollar signs instead of the site
By nature of these sites being ONLINE BUSINESS then obviously one should have a good grasp of the fundamentals of (a) the business of online and (b) the business of business. But not being online savvy or business savvy (or both) is not a barrier to your entry and don’t ever think so. It only means you have to rely on the expertise of those who are, but then that costs money of course.
Again, Trini’s are not prepared to give 100% to most everything (except their vices) and the propensity of the innate Trini approach of ‘trying a ting’ as a business model is an inevitable factor to any website’s demise.
Types of ‘Fill a Need’ websites still needed in T&T
For the year so far I’ve noticed a significant increase of local Facebook ads for websites in general. Among them are quite a number of Fill A Need sites like classified ads, employment, a new deals site endorsed by a popular local athlete, a new building services site launched with great fanfare at the Hyatt.
Including my clients’ sites, NONE of these sites are going to work optimally as I don’t get the impression that 100% effort is behind them. The local car sites are successful and popular with no competition so they’ll remain as far as I see.
So in my opinion it’s open season for any type of Fill A Need website once you’re prepared to do it right. The good news is that if YOU ARE then you’ll be the only one in T&T right now who is because everyone else is not.