If you’re thinking about launching a new blog, there’s more to it than just slapping some content up and saying “Hello world, I’ve arrived!” That said, a blog launch doesn’t have to take a long time either. You just have to think things through and be prepared for the different types of work involved. I hope I can help you do that.
Here are 20 tips that can help you experience a more successful blog launch, taken from my own experience of launching more than two dozen blogs over the years. I hope you find some of the tips useful in your own blog launch (note that some of these references are specific to WordPress bloggers).
Design / Branding
1. Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and that will resonate with your target audience. Do the same with your slogan.
2. Then create your logo based on your site name (and sometimes slogan as well). This should ideally also be memorable given that it’s one of the first things your visitors will see. Precious little screams “amateur” like visiting a new blog and seeing a default text-based header no one put any thought or time into.
3. Choose a theme to use or customize, or find a designer to create a custom theme for you. While free themes might be tempting, it’s better only to use them if you can heavily customize them. Your design becomes a part of your brand, and it can influence the image the blog portrays to visitors. Give them a good first impression.
4. Make sure your navigation is, well, easy to navigate. One of the biggest turn-offs for me as a reader is not being able to find links to your categories, archives, or your About page to learn more about you and the blog. Make sure your subscription links are easy to find too.
5. Think about features and design elements you want that aren’t built into your blog theme already. Find and install plugins that let you add them — related posts, Twitter subscription buttons or feeds, etc.
1. Create a blog content plan including categories, post ideas for coming months, and a post schedule so you can worry less about coming up with new ideas early on and more time on other aspects of the blog launch.
2. Skip the “welcome” post and get right into the meat of the blog with a capstone piece of content that will attract readers, subscribers, and backlinks from the get-go (more important in a niche blog than a personal blog). Also, try to have three to five posts up already by launch day — not just one. If people like your first post, they’ll want to get their hands on more immediately.
3. Write and pre-schedule at least a few weeks’ worth of posts before your launch date so you have new content going up no matter how busy you are with early blog promotion. You can also write some extra articles early on for use later as guest posts on others’ blogs.
4. Contact noteworthy people in your niche or industry and get them to sign on for a series of interviews — fresh content for you, interesting material for your readers, promotion for the interviewee. This is an especially useful tactic if you’re not an authority source in the niche yourself yet.
5. Set up your non-post pages of content carefully — your detailed About page explaining what the blog is going to cover and who you are, a contact page so people can reach you, sidebar or additional homepage copy, etc.
1. Change your permalink structure to make them search engine friendly (include the post name for example rather than just the post number).
2. Install an SEO plugin (like the All-In-One SEO Pack for WordPress blogs). These will let you add site, post, and page meta details that can help you rank higher in search engine results. Do some basic keyword research before choosing keyword phrases to emphasize here.
3. Install an analytics program that will let you see what search terms drive traffic to your site (so you know which ones need more of your time and attention because they’re not bringing in enough traffic as you move forward).
4. If you own other blogs and websites that are somewhat relevant to your new blog launch, use cross-promotion to build some initial backlinks.
5. Remember those extra articles you wrote earlier? Start submitting them to other relevant blogs as potential guest posts for the backlinks (guest posts are for much more than SEO, but there’s no denying the credit links can help out a new blog). You can also comment on others’ blogs in the niche with a link to your new blog when appropriate — don’t spam. Not all will be do-follow links, but even no-follow links have value if they drive visitors who like your content enough to link to it themselves elsewhere.
1. Get setup with social media. Start a Twitter account tied to your blog. Launch a Facebook or LinkedIn profile if they’re relevant to your niche and type of blog. Start building a well-rounded social media presence (but don’t feel like you have to use every social media tool).
3. If there’s something newsworthy about your blog launch (you or your company are already extremely well-known, it’s completely new in some way, there’s some other event tied to the launch, etc.), issue a news release online.
4. Put emphasis on subscriptions. Offer a nice big RSS button that can’t be missed. Offer special perks for subscribers (like exclusive content). Give people an easy way to subscribe not only to posts through a feed reader but also via email, and make it easy to subscribe to comments too (either via RSS for the whole blog or via email for comments on specific posts using a plugin like Subscribe to Comments).
5. Consider a contest. Launch contests can bring in a nice flow of initial visitors and links as people spread the word. The bigger the better, but if you can’t afford much see what you can come up with anyway — a gift card, a signed copy of a book in the niche donated by an author you know, free services you offer outside of your blogging work, etc.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of everything you could (or even should) do when launching a blog. These are tips to help you have a more successful blog launch experience. Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with new bloggers — things you don’t think they should forget? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.