My Understanding of the Market

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This is going to be a longer post. Recently some significant things in my personal life have happened which have freed up some time to chase some goals. I really need some advice. I am convinced there is something I am missing here, or a mistake in my thinking.
  • I'm a Software Engineer by trade. I do webdev everyday at my day job. It has helped me develop some high end skills. Everything I do is custom (react, angular, etc.)
  • I really like Fantasy Football and fantasy sports in general.
I've often thought about starting a website that provides stats, rankings, tools to the world of fantasy sports. Not really an article based site as that really isn't my skillset. Definitely not a unique idea in the slightest. A site I visit from time to time: 'Fantasypros.com', sorta plays in that niche.

I know I can build a better site. Not that site is bad, its wonderful, but quicker, better looking, better tools, perhaps less (or none at all) behind a paywall. Obviously it'd take me some time (hence why I really want to have an understanding of if my time investment makes sense before I dive into writing code). IF similarweb is accurate ( https://www.similarweb.com/website/fantasypros.com/#overview ), that site does somewhere in the ballpark of 20 million pageviews during peak fantasy football time. Even if I use the calculations of a $1 RPM, (20m/1000) * 1 = $20,000 dollars. Which obviously as a company isn't incredible, but for an individual it would be.. this is cart before the horse though...

So my questions are:
  • Even if I have a better website in a niche, is it winner takes all? Say I offer a similar tool that is better, if another site simply has a better ranking in google, I can't see why someone would go out of their way to go to the second page.
  • Is ranking at this level going to take a long time regardless? It seems some of this stuff simply just takes time.
FantasyPros could be a bad example. But even if I scroll down the leaderboard for that category on similarweb, there are even worse websites pulling in significant pageviews (which if the calculation holds are solid side money).

I guess what I am trying to understand is if my significant time investment would be worth it and how achievable would my end goal be (manage the software fulltime for a strong salary). I hope this dosen't come off as an arrogant post, part of why I am thinking these things is I have a lot of respect for the grind of this whole entire game.

Appreciate any advice!
 

Ryuzaki

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@joemost, welcome to the forum. Great questions, lots of details. Thanks for the quality post.

This is a four-prong issue, as I see it:

1) WebDev
You've got the chops to make a faster and technologically better site. Do you have the front-end skills to make it look better? Do you have the interface skills to make a better user experience? Do you have the back-end skills to create the database to help people track their teams and all that. Do you have access to some kind of API that keeps your data updated? What's that cost? Do you have the funds for it?

2) SEO
You're obviously interested in this being an SEO play. That should always be a part of the equation. Do you understand on-page SEO? You've got speed and can certainly figure out stuff like cumulative layout shift and other tech SEO stuff.

But what about link building? Are you ready to attract, build, and/or buy links? Can you spare the expense? This is likely going to be fairly stiff competition with sites that have existed longer than you and have a head start in this region. You won't beat them by ignoring this part as many people hope to d.

3) Marketing
You aren't going to attract links without marketing some. Can you afford to do some PPC ads? Can you create awesome resources and get them out there in front of eyeballs? You'll need to get a userbase if you want free links and free traffic and the snowball of increasing in Google's SERPs which will lead to more of a userbase, rinse and repeat. But not just that, you need to be out there on social media, on forums, etc. Do you have the interest to do this or can you afford to hire an agency?

4) Time
All of Google's algorithm has time as part of it. Nothing is trusted for the first year, really, at increasing amounts as time goes on. If you start on a brand new domain you aren't going to see much traction in the first year after indexation. This is how they block out spam. Can you stomach that? The domain ages, the pages age, even the links need to age.

I think this deals with most of your questions. You did ask, essentially, can a worse tool rank better. Yes, if they've existed longer, have links, have better on-page, and people know and trust their worse tool and give them great click through ratings in the SERPs. Google doesn't know if a tool is good, it just measures what people do, what they link to, what they click in the results. Bad crap outranks good stuff all the time, because "if you build it, they will come" is nonsense. Be prepared to do all kinds of marketing to get links, social signals, and visitors, and some early SERP exposure that hopefully starts to net you some free, natural links, etc.

This is the same conundrum we all face every time we start a project: Will it work? Is it worth my time? Can I do it better? Can I get people to know about it and then know it's better, and talk about it and share it? Can I usurp SERP positions from my long-lasting competitors? Can I take their loyal userbase? Can I get the new people that haven't yet become loyal to any tool?

All I know is, this sounds like one of those projects where it needs to consume you. It needs to become your life, at least for the first while (years?), or you probably shouldn't even bother.

I've known and watched countless developers create awesome tools and services and then fail to promote them because they're shy or whatever. The development is truthfully maybe half of the battle, possibly less. You'll become a marketer or fail, is what I'm trying to say. If you (not you specifically, but the reader in general) thinks they can avoid becoming a marketer or paying for one, the rightful expectations should be failure.

That's my piece, and I wish you the best of luck if you go forward.
 
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@Ryuzaki Excellent post.

From my experience distribution and customer reach is the ultimate competitive advantage.
 
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@joemost, welcome to the forum. Great questions, lots of details. Thanks for the quality post.

This is a four-prong issue, as I see it:

1) WebDev
You've got the chops to make a faster and technologically better site. Do you have the front-end skills to make it look better? Do you have the interface skills to make a better user experience? Do you have the back-end skills to create the database to help people track their teams and all that. Do you have access to some kind of API that keeps your data updated? What's that cost? Do you have the funds for it?

2) SEO
You're obviously interested in this being an SEO play. That should always be a part of the equation. Do you understand on-page SEO? You've got speed and can certainly figure out stuff like cumulative layout shift and other tech SEO stuff.

But what about link building? Are you ready to attract, build, and/or buy links? Can you spare the expense? This is likely going to be fairly stiff competition with sites that have existed longer than you and have a head start in this region. You won't beat them by ignoring this part as many people hope to d.

3) Marketing
You aren't going to attract links without marketing some. Can you afford to do some PPC ads? Can you create awesome resources and get them out there in front of eyeballs? You'll need to get a userbase if you want free links and free traffic and the snowball of increasing in Google's SERPs which will lead to more of a userbase, rinse and repeat. But not just that, you need to be out there on social media, on forums, etc. Do you have the interest to do this or can you afford to hire an agency?

4) Time
All of Google's algorithm has time as part of it. Nothing is trusted for the first year, really, at increasing amounts as time goes on. If you start on a brand new domain you aren't going to see much traction in the first year after indexation. This is how they block out spam. Can you stomach that? The domain ages, the pages age, even the links need to age.

I think this deals with most of your questions. You did ask, essentially, can a worse tool rank better. Yes, if they've existed longer, have links, have better on-page, and people know and trust their worse tool and give them great click through ratings in the SERPs. Google doesn't know if a tool is good, it just measures what people do, what they link to, what they click in the results. Bad crap outranks good stuff all the time, because "if you build it, they will come" is nonsense. Be prepared to do all kinds of marketing to get links, social signals, and visitors, and some early SERP exposure that hopefully starts to net you some free, natural links, etc.

This is the same conundrum we all face every time we start a project: Will it work? Is it worth my time? Can I do it better? Can I get people to know about it and then know it's better, and talk about it and share it? Can I usurp SERP positions from my long-lasting competitors? Can I take their loyal userbase? Can I get the new people that haven't yet become loyal to any tool?

All I know is, this sounds like one of those projects where it needs to consume you. It needs to become your life, at least for the first while (years?), or you probably shouldn't even bother.

I've known and watched countless developers create awesome tools and services and then fail to promote them because they're shy or whatever. The development is truthfully maybe half of the battle, possibly less. You'll become a marketer or fail, is what I'm trying to say. If you (not you specifically, but the reader in general) thinks they can avoid becoming a marketer or paying for one, the rightful expectations should be failure.

That's my piece, and I wish you the best of luck if you go forward.
Hi @Ryuzaki,

I really appreciate your reply. You have no idea how helpful that was (well you might but still).

1. WebDev - Yes. Costs are pretty insignificant, it would however be a pretty significant time investment.
I'd be doing all the work myself which I don't mind, but that means its in off hours after work and on the weekends.
Hosting it and other database costs are actually pretty reasonable.

2. SEO - Thats a good point. I'm completely new to this region of it. And really have no clue what the attract, build, buy links process would be like.

3. Marketing - We'll see. I need to figure this out. I've put out an iOS/Android application before with a friend when we were in college,
and by the time we had reached market we were so burnt out developing it that we did a very poor job marketing it.
You can imagine how the applications success went.

4. Time - This was really well written. I have to figure this out. I'm so afraid of going down back into a rabit hole and then not succeeding.
If I'm being honest, I'm not sure part time it is really feasible. Might be just an excuse, but what you say about marketing really scares me.
I guess the whole point is the upside if it works out is really incredible.

I've never been this conflicted about anything in my 25 years on this earth haha. I just don't want to make the wrong decision but I am also just tired of trying to find side hustles and failing.

@Ryuzaki Excellent post.

From my experience distribution and customer reach is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Thanks for the reply! So really marketing... damn. Part of me just hoped the "if you build it they will come", "great tool" could be my key to success. Between these two posts here, there is so much more to it than that.