Do These Things Before You Launch Your Blog
Today we are talking about launching your blog. I’ve been getting a lot of questions in terms of content and design and what types of things you should have ready before you launch your blog.
Pre-bloggers often want to know how much work should they have done before launching their blog. They ask questions like how much content should I have ready? How many posts should be live? Should I have a customized theme? Should I invest in a logo?
Sometimes excitement kicks in when launching a blog, and it gets launched before it is completely ready to go. Today we are going to talk about the ideal blog launching scenarios.
In This Episode
I used to be a partner in a blog network, and what we would do content wise is what I’m going to share with you today. We aren’t going to talk about choosing a blog platform, hosting, or choosing a domain today, but we have a post here on how to Start a Blog that walks you through those decisions.
- Brainstorm post topics – if you can’t come up with 20, your niche may be too narrow
- Write 10 blog posts, make 3 live and 7 drafts
- Ideally have a unique design – put your own logo and colors on a premium theme
- Setup your email newsletter before you launch – having an email list is gold
- Setup social outposts – choose most relevant social network and set it up
- You can register social accounts on all of the networks, but focus on the main one
Tools and Resources for Launching Your Blog
Premium WordPress Themes
Note: I am an affiliate for some of the tools and resources listed above.
Further Reading for Launching Your Blog
- Home Bases and Outposts – How I use Social Media in My Blogging
- How I Use Email Newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money
Hi there and welcome to Episode 95 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. You can find all of our stuff at problogger.com. We’ve got this podcast but there’s also a blog, there’s an event that we run which we will be releasing tickets for in the coming weeks, on the 27th of April. You can find information about that over at problogger.com. Follow the link to our events page where you can subscribe to get further updates about that event.
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Today, I want to talk about launching your blog. I want to respond to some questions I’ve been getting lately about what should you have ready to go on your blog in terms of content, in terms of design, and some of those types of things. What should you be doing before you launch your blog? You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/95.
Creating great content. Finding an audience. Building engagement. Monetizing your blog. This is ProBlogger.
One of the categories of questions that I’m often asked by pre-bloggers—these are people who are yet to start their blogs, they’re not pro bloggers yet but pre-bloggers—is how much work should I do on my blog before I launch it. How many posts should I have live? How many posts should I have ready to go? Should I have a customized design or should I just use a default theme? Should I invest in a logo? Some of those types of questions.
I wanted to tackle some of these today to give you some starting points, things to aim for before your blog goes live. I want to say right upfront that this is one of those do as I say, not as I do type of podcasts. I’m sure many of you as bloggers can relate to this, something happens when you’re starting a blog where the excitement kicks in and you sometimes just release it before it’s quite ready. Pretty much in every case that I’ve ever launched a blog, this is what’s happened for me. I guess there’s an ideal launch scenario, but sometimes it’s not the reality.
I want to give you the ideal, this is what I would aim for. Back in the day when I was a partner in a blog network—which I no longer have anything to do with,—what we would do before we launch a blog in our network was to pretty much do what I’m about to share with you now, particularly in terms of the content.
The other thing I will say is that there’s stuff here that I’m not going to talk about. I’m not going to talk about choosing a blog platform, or domain, or hosting. We are in the process of publishing a mega post on that on ProBlogger at the moment. I’ll link to that in the show notes if it’s ready. If it’s not, I’ll add it later.
But what I really want to talk here about is particularly the content and the design of your blog. Here’s what the ideal is, and remember this is not what I always have done myself. It’s probably somewhere between this ideal and what I do, which is just rush things a little because I’m so excited.
The first thing that I would encourage you to do before you even get the domain, before you get the hosting, before you do any of that, is to brainstorm post topics. I think this is just so important because generally, if you can’t come up with 20 or so post topics in a 5 or 10-minute brainstorm about what you would write on your blog—now you don’t have to write the post, you just have to come up with 20 or so topics. If you can’t come up with 20, it’s probably a signal that your blog topic may not be sustainable.
Having 20 ideas before you even invest in a domain is really important because it may tell you, if you haven’t got 20 ideas, that your niche is too narrow. Maybe there’s not enough to write about in your niche, or maybe you’re not passionate enough, or maybe you don’t know enough about that niche.
I would do that exercise even before you invest in anything. Can you come up with 20 or so things that you would write about? This is something I encouraged my wife to do before she started blogging, and she came up with about a hundred. I was like I think you’ve got enough, love, I think you can do this. She did invest in the domain.
Brainstorm topics. This is really important before you launch as well because it means that once the launch happens, once people start coming, once you start getting excited about your social media and all that other type of stuff, you’ve got ideas ready to go before you need them. Brainstorm post topics.
Then, I would encourage you to write, ideally, 10 blog posts. Now, 10 may be a bit too much. As I say, this is not what I’ve done in the past. I would have at least 5-10 blog posts written and ready to go before I launch the blog, and I would make three of them live, and seven of them draft.
You want to have at least a few posts live on your blog so that when a new visitor comes… Maybe you share it on your Facebook page, and one of your friends comes and maybe they share it with one of their friends, those first readers are not just coming to your blog and seeing one post which might be your “Hi, I’ve started blogging,” type of post.
You want to at least have a cornerstone piece of content there, something that is a bit meaty or something that is really useful, something that shows people what you’re on about. If you can have at least one of those, maybe two or three of those types of really good posts, those first readers are going to get excited.
They’re going to go, “Well, there’s three ideas here that are going to change my life.” That’s the type of content that you want to be live from day one of your launch, at least one, and aim for two or three live posts so that there’s more than just one article for them to read. They can click around a little bit, they can actually see that you didn’t just fluke one good post but you actually have a good couple of posts there. Those early readers are so important.
Once you’ve got two or three live on the site, aim to have another four or five, or up to seven posts written and ready to go as drafts. This will release you in the first week or so of your blog to be focusing upon other things. If you’ve already got that content there ready to go, it means you can be focusing on networking with other bloggers, engaging in forums, and writing guest posts for other blogs; some of those things that could potentially bring new traffic into your site.
The more content you’ve got ready to go, the more time you will have on your hands to promote your blog and to build community with the readers who come, to be able to email some of those early readers, to be able to respond to their comments.
If you don’t have anything in draft, you may be spending all your time trying to work out what your next post is going to be about, and ignoring some of these other things that are really important in the early days.
For me, that’s the content side of things. Ideally, 10 posts written, 2 or 3 live, up to 7 in drafts.
Like I said before, it’s not what I’ve done in the past. I usually launch with a couple live and maybe have another two in drafts, have them outlined. The more work you do in advance, the better position you’ll be in.
You’re listening to ProBlogger.
That’s content. Number two question that I always get asked is design. Should I have a unique design, should I use a premium theme, should I get a customized design? There’s going to be different approaches to this.
I’ll say, for me, most of the blogs that I’ve launched, when I first started them, started with a hacked together default theme, or a fairly cheap sort of premium theme, a theme that I might have spent $30 on and that I kind of hacked together myself.
I’m not a designer and any of you who have seen my blogs when they launched will know that they’re not always the most pretty or visually pleasing. The more unique you can make them look, the better. I would be aiming—in an ideal world—to have a unique-ish kind of design. There’s a couple of approaches that you could take.
Yes, you could probably invest several thousand dollars and get a custom design, but I would probably say until you get some runs on the board, until you get some proof of concept, until you get some readers and find that you feel an energy towards that blog, and you know that you’re going to be able to sustain it, I probably wouldn’t invest in a custom design. I’d probably take a premium design using a blog design from someone like StudioPress or WooThemes, some of these types of premium design providers and use one of those. Then, maybe put your own logo on it, change the colors a little bit so that it doesn’t look like everyone else’s.
That’s generally what I’ve done. I’ve either used those or I’ve kind of hacked together a default in the earliest days. With ProBlogger, I launched it with a custom design but that was because I already had been writing on that topic and had readers of that topic on my previous personal blog. I kind of knew that it was going to be something that I could continue to write about, I’d have the energy for, and then I knew I would get some readers over to that new design.
But with Digital Photography School, I started with a free theme that I kind of hacked together myself. Several months later, I upgraded that using a premium theme. At first from StudioPress, and then later on got a custom design.
Creating great content and building your audience. This is ProBlogger.
That’s design. The next thing I would highly recommend you do, and I talk about this a lot, is to set up your email newsletter before you launch. I know not all bloggers use them. I know not all bloggers kind of connect with their registry email. But for me, it’s just been gold.
It’s been the number one source of traffic, building community, and being able to monetize my blog. It’s the best thing I ever did. I would highly recommend you choose one of the providers we talked about, I think in episode 91, AWeber, Mailchimp, ConvertKit. You can find them in the show notes from problogger.com/podcast/91, and set up a list and use a tool like SumoMe or OptinMonster. Again, there’s links in those show notes, to start to collect those emails. It’s so important.
Those early readers, if you can get them on your list, you can speed up the growth of your blog because you’re giving yourself away to get that first-time reader back again, and that’s really important. It’s much easier to get one reader back again a hundred times over the next five years, than to find a hundred new readers and to have to find a new reader every time you want a visitor.
Set up an email newsletter list, it’s really important. I can’t emphasize it enough. It’s probably the number one thing I’d suggest you do as a result of this podcast.
The other thing I would do is to set up social outposts, and this where you need to choose which social network you want to engage with, which one is the most relevant for your audience, which one you personally would like to operate. It might be Facebook for you, it might be Twitter, it might be LinkedIn. You need to choose it and then you need to set up and register those accounts. I’d probably register the accounts on all of the major social networks, but I just choose one to be the primary one and promote that on your blog from day one.
For me, the social outposts, so Facebook on Digital Photography School is our secondary priority in terms of connecting with our readers. Number one, we want them to sign up to our newsletter. Number two, we really would like to connect with them on Facebook. And then probably Twitter is the third one. Instagram as well is one that we’re trying at the moment.
That’s kind of the priority for us. We want email, we want them to connect with us on Facebook if they’re on Facebook. We then want them to connect with us on Twitter and then on Instagram. We’re building that into an autoresponder sequence that we send them, just highlighting these accounts that we have.
It’s not a hard sell. It’s more of a by the way kind of mention in a lot of our newsletters that we have these accounts. We cross-promote between our social media accounts as well. But on launch day, secure as many of them as you can and then promote the number one one that you want.
How to build and monetize your blog? This is ProBlogger.
That’s the kind of stuff that I would be thinking about before I launch. There’s a whole heap of other things that you could do. You could invest in SEO plugins, you could really customize your blog and get a new comment system, like Disqus and all those types of things. But really if I had to just launch again today, they’re the barebones type of things that I’d be working on.
I’d be getting some content ideas, I’d be focusing on creating some content before I launch and having some ready as drafts. I’d be trying to get a unique-ish design, not investing too much until I get some proof of concept. I’d definitely be setting up an email newsletter and I’d be setting up some social outposts.
I’d love to hear what you would add to this. What did you do when you launched your blog? If you’re a blogger, established already, what would you add to that? What advice would you give a pre-blogger about what they should be doing as a bare minimum? If you’re a pre-blogger and you’ve set up a blog as a result of this podcast, I’d love to hear back from you with a link to that brand-new blog. I want to see a whole heap of links to brand-new blogs in the comments over at problogger.com/podcast/95 where I’ve also got some links to some of the tools that I mentioned in today’s show notes, some further reading, and some further listening for you to go away and do if you’re a new blogger.
I hope this has been helpful for you, pre-bloggers. Let me know how you go with it. Check out that post that we’re about to publish on ProBlogger about how to actually set that blog up as well. Looking forward to chatting with you in episode 96, we’re getting close to the big hundred and we’ll chat with you within the next few days. Thanks everyone.
You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics or subscribe to the series, find us at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us @problogger. Find us at facebook.com/problogger or search ProBlogger on iTunes.
How did you go with today’s episode?
There is always more you can do to customize a blog, but the top listed items are what I would focus on. I’d love to hear what you would add to this. Let us know what you did to customize your blog, and if you are a new blogger leave us a link to your new blog in the comments.
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