How To Launch With A Bang (Inside the Launch of Think Traffic)

  • March 30, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 29 Comments

If you’re new here, you might not know that Think Traffic launched just two weeks ago. Since then, this blog has already attracted more traffic, subscribers and comments than my first blog did in two months.

This time around, I studied successful launches, gave myself plenty of time and asked friends for advice and input. I’m really happy with the way the launch turned out, and I want to share some of the strategies I employed so you can use them for your next launch.

Here are my tips for launching your next website or blog with a bang:

  • Define, Differentiate and Go Narrow
  • For this blog, I knew I wanted to pick a topic that I was passionate about, that was different from other blogs and that was laser-focused. That was something I learned from my last blog, other businesses I’ve started, and from countless advisers.

    When you differentiate yourself and deliberately choose a narrow topic, people are more likely to understand what you’re about quickly (crucial for keeping new visitor’s attention). You also give people a reason they should visit your site instead of your competitors (because you’re different).

    By defining what you’re all about in a narrow way, you greatly increase your chances of having a big launch. After the dust settles and you have some momentum, you can always start to expand your topic as necessary.

  • Get a Good Design (First Impressions Matter)
  • For my last blog, I started with an amateurish initial design. It was clean and functional, but probably didn’t make the first impression I was looking for. This time around, I spend much more time and effort on the design.

    You have to make a good impression on new visitors if you want them to stick around and come back. Design is one of the things that sways someone’s first opinion of your site most.

    I’m not necessarily talking about a flashy or cutting-edge design, either. You want something that is highly usable, directs people to the information on your site that matters, and conveys the fact that you’re serious about your site and the quality that goes into it.

  • Include the Right Hooks for Sharing and Subscribing
  • If someone likes your site, don’t make it hard for them to subscribe or share your content through social media. Make sure options for sharing and subscribing are clearly visible (but not obnoxious) from the day you launch. You don’t want to miss out on some repeat visitors just because your site wasn’t totally put together by launch day.

  • Build Cornerstone Content Ahead of Time
  • When you launch, you want to have more than just a couple of posts ready for people to read. To make the best first impression, you also should have some cornerstone content for your visitors to consume.

    Ideally, the cornerstone content should demonstrate your expertise within your topic. A continuing series that goes over the basics of your topic is a great way to do this. I started Think Traffic with the 8-part Website Traffic 101 series ready by launch day. The response to it was fantastic and definitely gave visitors an idea of what the site was about immediately at launch.

  • Create a Giveaway for Subscribers
  • To get people signed up for our email newsletter, I created an incentive in the form of a free video that explains how to make a traffic breakthrough for your website or blog. Getting more email subscribers was one of my goals for this blog, and the ratio of email subscriptions to RSS have been double that of my other blog (30%).

  • Get the Word Out Ahead of Launch
  • Long before I started this blog, I got the word out to other bloggers by asking for input about the concept, design and initial content. This helped me tremendously in a couple of ways. First, the bloggers I asked truly helped me refine the idea to become something much greater than I started with. Second, many of those bloggers helped spread the word on launch day.

    I didn’t worry about password-protecting the blog or anything before launch. Instead, I simply put a welcome message (for any inadvertent visitors to read) that welcomed them to the blog, told them it hadn’t launched yet and invited them to sign up to be notified when it did launch. Conversion on that notice was over 10%.

  • Make Your First Post a Viral One
  • This is a crucial element of my launch strategy. Instead of launching with a boring “welcome” post, I wanted to give the blog a kick-start. To do that, I carefully planned a viral-ready post that included input from some of the world’s most popular bloggers.

    The strategy worked, and the post became popular on both Twitter and StumbleUpon. It also attracted a lot of initial comments. The post also caught the attention of another blogger I admire and respect who asked me to contribute to a big upcoming project.

  • Leverage What You Already Have
  • Of course, much of the success of this launch wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for what I’ve already built at my other blog and in social media.

    That’s why I encourage people to start building community now, even if you don’t have anything to promote. Then, when it comes time to launch a new project, leverage what you’ve already built to give your new site a boost.

  • Work Nonstop Before and After Launch
  • If all of this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because unfortunately it is. But preparing for a launch is one of the most crucial times for your new site, and it needs your hard work if you want it to succeed. Be ready to put in extra hours both before and after the launch. Once you gather some momentum, you can take a break and enjoy what you’ve achieved.

I hope these tips help you with your next launch. What other tips for a successful launch can you share? Please tell us in the comments!

photo by Temari 09

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Juha Liikala March 31, 2010 at 6:09 am

Great timing with this one Corbett.. Going to take all these for a serious consideration ;) Very valuable and helpful list, thanks!

Corbett Barr March 31, 2010 at 8:44 am

Awesome, good luck with the launch!

David Damron March 31, 2010 at 6:10 am

Great job on this post and the site altogether. I think your site Corbett is one of the most comprehensive and influential to new bloggers. Great job on the early success!

David Damron
The Minimalist Path

Corbett Barr March 31, 2010 at 8:45 am

Cheers, David. Thanks for the compliment.

Ed March 31, 2010 at 6:10 am

this what i need. i finished my ebook yesterday so its perfect for an opt in gift.

-To our success

Corbett Barr March 31, 2010 at 8:47 am

Another strategy to use with free e-books is to give them away without requiring opt-in. In some cases, the buzz you get from giving it away freely might be more valuable than the extra opt-ins you’ll receive. Just food for thought.

David Spinks March 31, 2010 at 8:43 am

Congrats on the successful launch and thanks for the tips from your experience. All very helpful…

One question, on the actual day of your launch, what did you do to get the word out? Did you just send out a mass email? Did you reach out to specific people personally to ask them to share it? Did you pitch to any media sources to get coverage on that day?

Appreciate any insights. Looking forward to reading more.

David, Scribnia.com

Corbett Barr March 31, 2010 at 11:21 am

Hi David,

Great question. I suppose I glossed over that part a little in the post. On launch day, I did send an email specifically to bloggers I’m friends with letting them know about the launch. I also thanked the people who contributed to my first post publicly on Twitter, and many of them helped spread the word as well. I cast a very wide net on social media and got the word out across different sites. Finally, I answered every comment that came in (and I do still as a general practice), to encourage a conversation on the site.

For this launch, I didn’t pitch any media sources, only because the launch of a blog isn’t necessarily newsworthy. You could create something newsworthy on purpose however (like a widget or a survey or a special partnership) and then contact media and put out a press release.

Walter March 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I have done some of your advices here and I can attest to their effectiveness. It is hard work indeed and one must have patience and perseverance to go through. :-)

Corbett Barr April 2, 2010 at 8:25 am

Thanks for backing me up, Walter. And yes, patience is key, especially when you’re just starting out. It can take many months before you start to see results.

Maren Kate March 31, 2010 at 10:42 pm

This is truly great :) I love all of these points and will go back over my blog to see if I am covering them as well.. thanks for the rad content!

Cindy Lavoie April 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

I only wish I’d read this before I launched my blog! But I am going to pass it on to my clients, several of whom are currently gearing up to start a blog. I come from a background in technology marketing, where product launches are always a huge deal. This blog post has helped me re-orient my thinking about blogs to a similar “launch” mentality. I think it’s right-on! Thanks for sharing.

Corbett Barr April 2, 2010 at 11:08 am

Yes, if you’re serious about building a popular site, your launch should be a big deal, just like product launches. Thanks for the comment and endorsement Cindy!

Hear Mum Roar April 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Argh! I should’ve had you there at my launch! LOL

Tola F. April 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

Wow! I’m impressed, this blog is only a few weeks old!! You’ve definitely done great for yourself… I should hang out here a bit more to get some pointers from you! I also wish I read this before I did my launch too… but oh well, this is my first blog so I’m learning…

Corbett Barr April 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Even if you’re launched already, you can still use a lot of these techniques. “Cornerstone” content, for instance, is important for any blog, not just at launch time.

Michel J. Gagnon April 11, 2010 at 6:57 am

Thanks for sharing these tips Corbett. I particularly like the one about having cornerstone content. I’m currently working on this. I was wondering if this also had an influence on the frequency at which you publish posts? Meaning you don’t have to publish so frequently, but you offer special and updated cornerstone content once in a while?
Thanks for the great blog.

Corbett Barr April 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hi Michel,

I tend to publish 1-3 times per week at both of my blogs, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule for me. The most important thing is that you’re producing valuable content. If you force yourself to write too often, the quality of your posts will likely suffer.

In the beginning, you’ll want to publish often enough (and with high quality every time) to convey to readers that your blog is a project worth subscribing to. Then, after you have established your voice and value with your audience, you can post less frequently if that helps you produce consistently higher-quality material. Look around on the web, there are plenty of examples of blogs with huge followings but erratic posting schedules. What’s important is finding what works for you and your audience.

Here is a great blog post I read over at Unmarketing on the topic just yesterday: http://www.un-marketing.com/blog/2010/04/09/frequently-futile-how-often-should-you-blog/

Stacey Abler May 8, 2010 at 5:20 am

I’m in the process of working on a few new blogs and it makes so much sense to have a decent amount of content published when the site goes live rather than that one lonely post. I wish I had done that with my other blogs before I launched. Thanks for the tips!

Peter October 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

I’ve got a quick question for you. You mentioned asking other successful bloggers for advice and input into your concept, design and what not. I’m working on starting my own blog and there are a couple of bloggers who I follow that I’d love to ask for some advice and input.

I imagine though that these people probably get flooded all the time by people asking for help and advice so I’d be interested in hearing how one would ask for help with launching a blog in such a way as to get some meaningful input without annoying anyone.

Thanks for all the excellent information.

Corbett Barr October 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Hey Peter, this is an excellent question. I’m glad you asked instead of just writing a bunch of people cold. I get a lot of requests these days from new bloggers and I don’t mind helping, but I really appreciate brevity and specificity. For example, it’s really hard to respond when someone writes with “I just launched a blog. Can you check it out and tell me what you think?” Instead, ask a very specific question or two like “how do you think this title express my intent of X?”

If you need a whole lot more help than one or two specific questions, it’s best to pay for a consulting session or proper blog critique. I offer them, as do a handful of other people. When I first got started a blog critique from Chris Garrett (http://chrisg.com) was the best money I spent.

Codrut Turcanu January 12, 2011 at 9:59 am

work nonstop — before, and after launch!

extra effort is what makes the difference between winners and losers. Look in sports, and we understand why a second (or less) counts.

Adam January 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Corbett, I have been glued to your site since the weekend. Every time I finish an article you have follow up articles that cause me to spend more time sitting in my chair! I am learning so much here about you, other industry bloggers, and what it takes to make this industry tick. Quite honestly I think this is the only time I have ever commented on ANY blog..and I even feel guilty calling it that with the quality of articles you have here. You simply have some fantastic stuff here and I can’t thank you enough for sharing it with fellow bloggers like me and others. Best regards!

Corbett Barr January 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Hey Adam! That’s very flattering, thanks so much. Happy to be helpful! Congrats on leaving your first blog comment as well :)

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