Last week, I posted 23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Product Launching as part of our Brilliant Bloggers series. The information was overwhelming. Although I have launched a few low-cost products in the past, I learned a ton about putting together an awesome launch for my next product. Reason #1230981 my job rocks: I get to research topics that not only interest me, but help me immensely with my personal projects!
The post got me thinking about another type of launch, though – the blog launch. The vast majority of blogs launch softly, under the radar – the blog just suddenly appears online and slowly builds traffic over time. You can also turn your blog launch into more of an event, which helps you build traffic and awareness rather quickly. Either way, there are five main steps to launching a blog successfully:
Step 1: Purchase a great domain name and hosting package.
Arguably, the single most important decision you will make about any blog you launch is the domain name. Choosing a registration and hosting company is important, too, of course, but the actual URL of your blog matters from both a branding perspective and an SEO perspective. Here’s some advice on choosing the perfect domain name:
- How Domain Names are Like Real Estate (via BlogWorld)
- 25 Rules for Choosing a Domain Name (via Domain Superstar)
- The Effective Strategy for Choosing Right Domain Names (via Smashing Magazine)
- 12 Excellent Tolls for Picking a Domain Name (via Six Revisions)
- The Best Answer To The Question: “What Domain Name Should I Choose?” (via Matthew Kimberly)
And here’s some advice about choosing a registration/hosting company:
- Blog Hosting Recommendations (via Problogger)
- 5 Tips to Choose a Blog Host (via About.com)
- Choosing a Blog Host; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (via Search Marketing Sage)
Step 2: Build your social network and email list.
Yes, before you even start designing and blogging, you should start building your networks. Your social networks and email list will be helpful when you do actually launch, since you’ll already have people who are interested and want to help you promote it. I recommend focusing on two or three social networks at most, at least at first, because maintaining profiles everywhere can be a full time job. Twitter is my favorite, but others are also great.
Here’s some advice for building your social networks:
- 5 Ways to Build Your Followings in the Top Social Networks (via Gigaom)
- How We Got To 40,310 Facebook Fans In 4 Days (via All Facebook)
- How to Get More Followers on Twitter (via TwiTip)
And some advice for building your email list:
- How to Create an Email List that People Actually WANT to Stay Subscribed To (via Famous Bloggers)
- List Building Tips For Bloggers (via David Risley)
- 8 Ways to Build Your Mailing List (via Biz Tips Blog)
Step 3: Design your blog.
You could have a really simple design or a really complex one. It starts with installing some kind of content management system – I like WordPress the best – and then adding a theme, finding plugins that makes sense for your blog, creating your sidebar (either manually or with widgets), and customizing the colors, fonts, etc. Check out these links for help with blog design:
- 14 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blogging Platforms (via BlogWorld)
- 55+ Ways to Bedazzle Your Blog (via BlogWorld)
- 30 Days to a Better Blog: Consider Your Sidebar (via BlogWorld)
- 43 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid (via Daily Blog Tips)
- 26 Blog Design Tips for Non-Techies and Non-Designers (via Blogging Bookshelf)
- My Top 10 Blog Design Tips (via The Cottage Chick)
- The 15 Best WordPress Plugins to Use in 2011 (via Site Sketch)
Step 4: Fill your blog with content.
You don’t have a blog if you don’t have content. After your design is ready to go, it’s time to fill it with two types of content:
- Static Pages (About, Contact, etc.)
- Blog Posts
Most blog has written posts, but you can also use videos and podcasting if you want to take a different approach – or you could do a combination of all three. Here are a few posts that are helpful for writing better blog posts:
- 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 12 Writers Writing (via BlogWorld)
- Writing Effective Blog Posts (via Chris Brogan)
- How to Write a Blog Post People Love (via Penelope Trunk)
Step 5: Promote!
Hopefully, you’ve already been promoting your project as you were building your social networks and mailing list, but once you launch, it’s time to really promote your new blog. I like to have about 10 posts up on launch day, and then blog consistently so you build your archives. Here are some posts that talk about promoting your blog to get you started:
- 99 Ways to Promote Your Blog for Free (via Vandelay Design)
- The Beginners Guide To Promoting Your Blog (via Social Media Explorer)
- How to Announce and Promote Your Blog – Best Practices (via HyperArts)
- Don’t Listen To Anybody – The Weirdest Advice You’ll Ever Get About Promoting Your Blog (via SocialMouths)
- Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do (via Write to Done)
Okay, obviously the title of this post is a little tongue-in-cheek – blog launching is certainly not easy, no matter if you’re doing a soft launch or going full-force with a month-long launch party. The five steps themselves are rather simple, but within each step, you have lots of consider. My best piece of advice? Take some time to educate yourself, and then do what makes sense for your blog.