When I launched The Social Media Hat and published my first blog post in 2011, I shared it to Facebook and my mother was one of the first people to read and comment on my blog.
Of course, my mom has been a stalwart supporter of mine forever. Encouraging me in both basic human skills like walking, and in more advanced areas like taking responsibility and communicating effectively. She’s always been there for me and has always been proud of my accomplishments.
So when I got the notification that my mom had commented on my blog I was excited. I couldn’t wait to read what she wrote.
That’s the kind of anxious excitement that I want you to build into your audience leading up to and during the launch of your blog. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from scratch and have zero followers on social media. I’m going to show you where you have audiences today that you hadn’t even considered, and how to grow those audiences.
Because building buzz is what it’s all about. It’s not enough to just share a link to a blog or blog post and let someone choose to read it. We need to get them excited – excited enough that not only will they read it, they’ll share it with their friends who will, in turn, share it again.
Does this require that your content is share-worthy? Absolutely. You’ll want to make sure you’ve done your homework, vetted your idea for a blog, and then taken the time to create great content for your blog. I have a resource that I’m going to share with you at the end which will help you with all of that.
What we’re going to cover today is 100% about the launch of your blog after you’ve already started it and are now ready to share it with the world. And it’s in two important parts.
The first thing I want to cover with you is your approach to your launch and for that, I’m going to teach you my L.A.U.N.C.H. Framework. This is the mindset with which you are going to tackle and succeed at every aspect of starting your blog.
The second part of launching a blog is all about some of the technical considerations.
Let’s get started.
The L.A.U.N.C.H. Framework
These are the key considerations when getting ready to take your blog public and start letting others know that they have a new, wonderful resource for their favorite topic.
L = Launch
Start with the mindset that you are in fact launching something! This is an important approach and differentiation. We will not publish something to the web, quietly, with no fanfare. It also means we will not approach this as a “soft launch” – the idea that we might just do one or two things to test the waters and see how it goes. Soft launches are a recipe for disaster.
We are going to approach our new blog and new blog posts as though they’re the amazing pieces of content that they really are. You’re passionate about your topic, you’ve spent time and energy crafting a strategy to start your blog the right way, and you’ve invested mental and emotional energy into making sure your content is interesting and invaluable.
Give your blog the launch and spotlight it deserves!
A = Audience
While you doubtless gave consideration to your target audience when planning your blog initially, now is the time to give careful consideration to who you will be talking to with the content that you have.
Suppose you have the recommended core pages of your site and a few initial blog posts ready to publish. It’s unlikely that you have content already prepared for every facet of your target audience. Recognize this fact and map out who you most likely audience will be based on the content you’re going to have initially.
This will give you a more refined focus for your launch campaign and materials. For instance, the Blogging Brute tends to have two target personas:
- New Bloggers
- Business owners that want to learn Content Marketing
Had I started this blog with only a few articles about how to make money blogging, I would have had blog content better suited to bloggers over businesses, and would have adjusted my marketing tactics accordingly.
U = Understand
Once you’ve refined your target audience, make sure that you frame your content, and how you share it, in a way that is relatable to your readers at that moment. What specific problems and pain points are you solving with the content you’ve prepared to publish for your launch? What are your readers dealing with at that moment? Are there external factors such as time of year, that might impact how that information is received?
Suppose for a moment that you’ve created a new blog that focuses on financial advice for homeowners in the United States. You’re creating blog content that helps them save money, invest in stocks, handle credit card debt, and more. A couple of your first posts are related to income taxes, and you’re launching in October. You would not start off your social shares by talking about getting ready for tax season, some 6 months away. That’s not where your reader’s heads are at.
N = Noteworthy
Noteworthy is a tricky concept but critically important. The idea is that your launch is newsworthy, particularly to you, but what makes it newsworthy to your target audience? To put it another way, why should they care?
When determining whether to create a new product using the Lean Startup methodology, this is often referred to as determining your Unique Selling Point or USP. What differentiates your product or service from others?
In this case, what we want to accomplish is a perspective for our marketing messaging that makes it clear why our audience should click to read more and subscribe to future updates. We need to frame the blog that we’ve started in such a way as to be a benefit to the readers. This is often more challenging than it sounds so give yourself time to think this through and talk about it with others as needed.
It’s worth noting that this is also a step that many marketers skip when crafting a new launch or campaign or even promoting a blog post. Instead of taking the time to consider why a potential reader would want to consume that content and framing it in that way, they proceed under the false assumption that everyone will want to read this new article.
C = Channels
One of the primary benefits of having a campaign plan for any launch or sale is that the documentation serves to remind and prepare you for every conceivable channel you might leverage.
Reading this article right now, you might already know that you can share your new blog posts to Facebook and Twitter. But if you were to consider all of the possibilities, you’d realize that you can share posts to LinkedIn and Pinterest, email subscribers, and even communities like Reddit, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups you may already be a part of. You might decide it would be a good idea to prepare a 2 minute video introduction to you and what you’re going to be blogging about so that you can share video content to YouTube and pin it to your Facebook Page.
Perhaps even more important than that, the outline of a campaign will help you see exactly how much time you need to prepare assets like graphics and email copy, and to begin planning all of your efforts accordingly.
This aspect of the framework is also important for realizing that, initially, there is no channel that is “too small” or unpopular to be considered. For a new blogger, it’s everything we can do to get eyeballs on our content so every social network, every distribution method, even offline activities like bulletin boards, are all fair game.
H = Have Fun
While this may seem like a cheat step, it’s really not. Having fun is an important part of any launch, both for yourself and for your audience. If you aren’t having fun, that will manifest as stress and potentially frustration with yourself, your partners, even your family. And that will be reflected in everything that you do, leading to a lessening of the potential experience for your audience.
Each step of this framework is designed to work together to ensure that not only is your launch successful, but your target audience gets excited about your new blog. Starting a blog is a lot of work and I want you to feel rewarded, to feel as though you’ve accomplished something. And the surest way to that is to have a launch where you reach readers and prospects and hear directly from them just how impressed they are with you and your content.
By adopting this framework and mindset, you position yourself to create a plan that will succeed.
Blog Launch Technical Considerations
Whenever I’ve had students start blogs in the past, they’ve often asked me some of these technical questions, such as how many posts should they have published before they launch? I’m going to cover all of those here.
First, many new blogging students want to know what the launch process looks like? What’s the order in which everything is done? This largely falls into four main categories of tasks:
- Test & Verify
Test & Verify is technically part of your initial blog research but it’s critical to how well your blog launch goes, so I include it as part of the Launch Process. This is the time during which you have an idea for your blog and start doing keyword research and customer discovery interviews to determine whether your idea is viable.
If you’re ready to launch, you should have already done this homework, and now that information can help you with your launch campaign and marketing plans!
Review those initial findings and make note of the key topics that resonated with your target audience. For that matter, make sure that you know who your target audience is.
Populate is the determination of which pages and posts you’re going to create and publish before you launch. Once you’ve launched, you’ll write and publish new content on whatever schedule you determine. But what do you need to have published initially?
First, when setting up a new blog using WordPress, I’m going to strongly recommend that you use the Yoast SEO plugin to help guide your SEO efforts. But before you install that and begin optimizing your content – while you’re just getting your website up and running – go to Settings in your Administrative menu bar, then click on Reading, and check the box that says, “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” This will recommend that, in the off chance a search engine spider gets to your site, it will see that you aren’t yet ready for search engines. Also, make a note to yourself to UNCHECK this box on launch day!
Second, consider the business model for your blog. If you wish to sell one or more products or services from Day One, those will need to be set up and available on the site right away. Build those out first, along with any pages that readers from your target audience would expect to see. Check out your competition if you’re not sure, but typically this would include a Home page, About page and Contact page.
A note about page length here: the text for any page or post of your site should be as long as it needs to be to help your audience. So put yourself in their shoes and imagine you were looking at your blog from their perspective – they want to learn more about you and your topic. In that light, it’s doubtful that a couple sentences on your About page will be sufficient. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking people only want stackable content. Readers are on your site to read so give them the information they’re looking for.
Third, as you brainstorm blog post ideas and map out all of the content you want to publish, I recommend picking out 4 key topics that are important to you and your topic and write those articles prior to launch. Since your site is not going to be indexed by search engines, it’s OK to publish them as soon as they’re ready. Or, if you’d like, you can wait until Launch Day to publish them all. Just don’t launch with a single blog post and have very little for your new readers to read.
Sometimes I’ll attend the grand opening of new restaurants here in the St. Louis area and I’m always disappointed when they start with a “limited menu.” That just says to me they weren’t able to get things done well enough in advance to open their business with the full menu. In the end, it’s the quality of the food that counts, or in this case, the quality of the blog content, but let’s not risk alienating our new potential fans up front.
Fourth, make sure you create social profiles on every major network. You should definitely set up personal profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you haven’t already, and start connected with everyone you know from high school, college, past employments, and more. For your blog, you will create the following additional “brand” profiles:
- Facebook Page
- LinkedIn Page
- YouTube Channel
Honestly, that’s just to start. Once you get rolling I’m going to recommend you continue to create new profiles on each and every social network you can find, present and future. That includes Snapchat and TikTok and more. Even if, initially, you don’t imagine that you’ll use those social profiles, it’s good to ‘claim’ an account and reserve your brand name, at the very least.
While you won’t yet promote those social profiles so you won’t be giving anything away in terms of your launch just yet, definitely avoid linking to them or mentioning them on your personal profiles. Don’t update your LinkedIn profile to say that you started working at your blog until you’re ready to unveil it.
Pre-Promote is your opportunity to start teasing out what’s coming. How much you actually say is completely up to you. You might vaguely refer to a ’new, exciting project’ or come right and tell people exactly what you’re working on. You might even involve your audience in helping to decide things like logo and colors and so on.
The one point here that’s not optional is making sure that you communicate with people who know you and can help you.
- Immediate Family
- Extended Family
- Friends & Coworkers
Your immediate family needs to know what you’re working on, what your commitment to it is, and to have expectations set. The reality is that this, starting and launching a blog, is going to be the focus of your reality for the next few months. You’re starting a new business and they need to be on board with that and understand there will be long days and nights ahead.
With that understanding will come opportunities to help, whether that’s giving you feedback or just giving you a sandwich when you’re holed up in your office.
Friends, coworkers, even influencers in your industry you might know or connect with, these are al people who will want to know in advance what you’re launching so that they can be in position to help when you’re ready.
Trust me. Everyone wants to see you succeed!
Promote is obviously the last phase of your launch. This is a campaign that starts with Launch Day but doesn’t stop there. It’s a campaign that should likely last a full month and be comprised of ongoing social media activity and email marketing.
I will be sharing with you the resource that I use for each and every launch and sale now, a campaign planner. This planner helps me map out all of the activities and resources available to me, and then schedule that activity for before, during and after launch day.
For a new blog, you will need to:
Before Launch Day
- Craft your promotional strategy
- Determine all of the channels you intend to utilize
- Create all graphics, copy and assets needed
During Launch Day
- Turn on search engine indexing of your website and initiate a Google “Fetch” of your content
- Notify family & friends, coworkers and influencers
- Update all social profiles, personal and professional
- Share to all social channels
- Share to existing email subscribers
- Update email signature
- Consider paid promotion such as Facebook Ads
- Launch a Facebook Group around your topic and blog
After Launch Day
- Ongoing social media activity
- Regular email marketing
- Publish new content accordingly
- Schedule guest blog posts and guest live video & podcast appearances
One tactic that works very well is to plan a Launch Party and Contest for your new blog. The Launch Party would typically consist of a Facebook Live that you host, featuring a few key guests who would likely be influencers in your space, talking about your topic and highlighting what your blog is going to be about. And you would talk about a contest you’re running for 30 days.
Your Launch Contest would give away a valuable prize, somewhat related to your industry, and encourage people to sign up for your email list, join your community, and share the contest link and details for more entries. The more entries they get, the more likely it is they’ll win so if the prize is good enough, people will come back again and again to share it with their audiences.
This is a fun, affordable way to build real buzz and excitement around your new blog! The kind of buzz that gets all kinds of people reading your new articles, including your mom.
So, on that day back in 2011, when my mom commented on my first blog post, one of the things that I hadn’t done up until then was communicate with my existing audience – my family and friends – what I was working on, why it was so important, and what I hoped to accomplish. I took the easy route, under-communicated, and thought to let my work speak for itself.
My mom had no idea, really, what blogging was or how I thought it make a living out of it. She thought it looked nice and that it was a nicely written article, so she wrote, “Nice job sonny. Does anyone actually read this?”
Does anyone actually read this?
I was devastated. I couldn’t believe my own mother would say something like that. But looking back, I realize it was my own fault! I hadn’t told her much of anything about what I was working on. I hadn’t prepared her, or my family and friends, and given them the opportunity to help me by telling them how they could help me.
You know, now, how important it is to tick off these boxes and get your launch right. The challenge of course is knowing and tracking all of these tasks. I promised you a few resources and have put together a valuable bundle for you.
First, as someone interested in starting a new blog, I want to make sure you’re getting off on the right foot, so I’ve written an eBook entitled, “How To Start A Blog: The Ultimate Guide.” It takes you step by step through the entire process of researching your keywords, thinking through how you’re going to monetize your site, and how to structure and create your content.
Second, the companion to that eBook is the Blogging Startup Planner. This set of worksheets and planning pages will help you track and record all of your research and brainstorming so that you stay on track and can plan your blog successfully.
Finally, once you’re ready to launch your blog, you’ll have access to my Launch Planner – the same resource I’ve used to launch six-figure sales campaigns, new products, and brand-new blogs. Friends and colleagues swear by the processes and tools included in this resource.
The entire bundle is available for just $25 and is about the best $25 you’ll ever invest in yourself. Learn more at Start A Blog.