The Launch Strategy That Will Give Your New Blog Unstoppable Momentum

  • October 18, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 44 Comments

Ready for another post in the Million Dollar Blog Project series? Let’s do this.

The launch of a new blog is an event that shouldn’t go to waste. Done right, a well planned launch can propel a blog forward and set it off on a growth rate that is nearly impossible to achieve with a simple “soft launch.”

I’ve had the pleasure of developing and executing strategies for several new blog launches over the past couple of years. This year I used a similar strategy to the one I developed for Think Traffic to create successful launches for both The Possibility of Today and Live Your Legend.

In the case of Live Your Legend, Scott Dinsmore was able to re-launch his modestly successful blog using this strategy and attracted over 10 times the normal daily traffic during the month after his launch. He accumulated over 3,000 new email subscribers in the first week alone.

We’ll have a full interview with Scott coming up in a few weeks, but for now, I’m going to share my full launch strategy with you here.

This strategy isn’t just for blogs, either. This formula or a slightly modified version can work for just about any kind of content-driven site.

Feel free to use this exactly as-is for your new blog launch, or modify it to better fit your needs. If you have specific questions or ideas you’d like to run by me, just leave a comment on this post below.

First, Consider Your Launch Goals

What do you want to achieve with your new blog launch?

Most people adopt the “let’s get it out there and see what happens” approach. That’s fine if you’re just playing around, but if you have big goals for your site you should push yourself to carefully plan and execute your launch.

A launch is a one-time event. Big events are a great reason to get lots of attention to your site. Don’t squander the launch opportunity.

With unlimited resources and time, I’m convinced you could all but guarantee the success of a new blog with a perfectly executed launch (and correspondingly well executed overall strategy, which we’ll get to in a minute).

Of course, you have limited resources, connections and time, so your strategy will need to fit within the bounds of what you can achieve and the timeframe within which you want to launch. In any case, even a week or two of work can pay off big time versus launching with no strategy at all.

The Basic Formula

The basic formula for any blog launch strategy is to:

  1. Build a solid foundation.
  2. Create content of unmistakable valuefor your target audience.
  3. Get your message in front of your target audiencewherever they hang out and bring them back to your new site.
  4. Connect with your new visitors and form a strong bond so they’ll come back.

The strategy I’m about to share is based on those principles. It’s a simple approach, and it works as long as you put the effort in.

First Things First

For this strategy to work, you first have to build a solid foundation.

Your blog’s foundation includes:

  • the topic you choose
  • how you focus that topic and differentiate your blog
  • how you relate to your audience
  • your branding
  • your design
  • your foundational content
  • your ongoing content strategy

Without the right topic focus, a killer brand, a well-executed design, epic foundational content and a solid content strategy, any launch strategy you employ will be less effective or even ineffectual.

If you’ve been following along with our million dollar blog project, we’ve already talked about how to choose a topic, how to find a great domain name and set up your blog and how to differentiate your blog to make it stand out. Coming up soon, we’ll also be talking about how to get a great design and how to develop an epic content strategy.

Do your best to have your foundational elements in place and as solid as possible before launching your blog. You want to make the best impression on your visitors you work so hard to attract, and the foundational elements (along with your content) are all you have.

Start Building Buzz Early

With any launch (product launch or website launch), one of the worst things you can do is to wait until launch day to get the word out. Ideally, you’ll have a group of people waiting to check out your new site on the day it launches. To do that, you need to build buzz early and let people know what’s coming.

If you already have another blog or website, it may be the perfect place to talk about your new site (like we’ve been doing here at Think Traffic about the launch of Expert Enough).

You may not have another blog or website to start building buzz at, and that’s not a problem. There are plenty of other ways to build buzz as well.

Social media is a great place to start getting the word out early. I like to get the social media outposts for new sites set up long before launch, and to start working on building an audience there.

For example, we’ve already set up Facebook and Twitter pages for the Expert Enough site, even though we’re a few weeks away from launching it. We’ll be tweeting and posting content to our Facebook page regularly to attract an audience and give people an idea of the types of content we’ll be sharing on the new site.

We may not end up with thousands of fans before launch, but even a couple of hundred will be a big help on launch day.

In addition to social media, you can also start writing guest posts at other blogs and mention in your guest post bio that you’ll be launching your new site soon. Include a link to your new site there and make sure you have a way for people to connect with you (Twitter, Email, RSS, etc.) so they can find out when your new site launches.

You’ll also want to mention your new site in conversations you have with friends, other bloggers, people on social media, etc. Don’t be afraid to write status updates about your progress or even to ask for help or opinions on what you’re working on. Asking for feedback is a great way to get other people involved without sounding too self promotional.

Develop Killer Pre-Launch Content

When someone comes to your new site on launch day, you should have some content ready (in addition to your launch post) for people to read or watch. This will give them a better idea of what your site is all about, and let them know you’re serious about creating outstanding content. Having just one post up might leave people thinking your site isn’t worth returning to.

You can decide how much content is enough to begin with. I like to aim for 3 to 10 posts that are high quality, core to your overall mission, and indicative of the kinds of things you’ll be writing about in the future. Don’t publish your best ideas in this pre-launch group, but don’t hold back either. You need to make a great first impression.

You might want to develop a mini-series of posts that cover one of your core topics in thorough detail.

For Expert Enough, we’re planning to have six posts written before launch day. They’ll cover a wide array of topics. This will get us in the rhythm of posting, and will help us work out the kinks before opening the doors up to a wider audience.

Here’s a tech tip to help you out: if you want to work on your WordPress blog without letting the world see it, install the Authenticator plugin to make sure only registered users can see your content. Then, remember to disable the plugin on launch day.

Launch Week Promotion

While you’re working on pre-launch content, start thinking about other established blogs with audiences that might be interested in your new site.

Make a list of those blogs, and narrow it down to a top 5 or 10.

Think about how you could get in front of those other audiences. Could you offer a guest post? Do an interview? Get a simple mention somehow? Get creative here. The more newsworthy your launch is the better. What’s so unique and interesting about your new blog? This is where a strong unique selling proposition is key.

Don’t be afraid to offer to write guest posts for other blogs, even the big ones. You might be rejected, but you can always use that content somewhere else. Read these 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting to refine your strategy.

Aim for big, well-matched audiences. A couple of smaller audiences that are a good fit for your new site are fine, but don’t go overboard writing for tiny blogs just because you’re afraid to ask a few of the bigger ones if you can guest post there. One big site can send 100 times more visitors than a handful of tiny ones.

For the Expert Enough launch, we’ll be working on at least a couple of guest posts, interviews and mentions on other sites for launch week.

Of course, you’ll want to leverage the social media you worked hard to build as well. Make sure you let people know your new site is coming, and don’t be afraid to make some noise during launch week.

Launch Week Content and Beyond

The content you develop for launch week is perhaps the most important part of this entire strategy.

You should pull out all the stops and try do deliver the most epic content you possibly can during launch week.

For a typical blog that will have a 2-3 posts per week schedule, here’s what I recommend scheduling for launch week:

1) On the day before your “official” launch, write a simple “welcome to our new blog” post where you explain a little of what the new site is about, who it’s for, why you started it, etc.

2) On the official launch day prepare your over-the-top epic post. Aim high and try to create something with viral post potential. Study what has made other blog posts viral and figure out a formula that might work for you.

Round-up posts also work well, like Scott Dinsmore created for his launch, or this one from Jacob at Sensophy, or the post I used to launch Think Traffic.

This “official” launch day is when you should try to schedule your off-site guest posts, interviews, etc. to run. You’ll also announce the launch within your social media outposts or other sites you might have. Ask friends to help you get the word out if you feel like it.

3) Follow up your launch post with a strong “mini-manifesto” type post. Lay out your site’s reason for existing, your core principles, your expanded “about” page. While you have the attention of all those new people who subscribed, it’s good to hit them hard with another great post. Run this a couple of days after your official launch post.

During the week after launch, you’ll want to put your content strategy to the test and keep the momentum rolling. Make sure to put in the extra effort to wow your new audience with what you have to offer.

Converting Casual Visitors to Repeat Readers

While you have all those new visitors coming to your site during launch week, you’ll want to make sure you have clear and compelling reasons and methods for them to subscribe or follow you.

Make it clear within your post, at the end of posts and in your sidebar how people can connect and get updates. Use Twitter, Facebook, an email list, RSS or other channels.

Consider creating an ebook or other giveaway to encourage people to sign up for email updates. Make a list of reasons why people should subscribe. Let your new readers know what’s coming next.

Putting it All Together

We’ll be using this exact strategy for the launch of Expert Enough next month, so you can follow along and see how it works.

For your own blog, adapt this formula as you think it will work best. Just remember the four keys:

  • lay a strong foundation
  • create epic content
  • get the word out on other sites
  • form a bond with your new visitors so they’ll come back

If you’ve recently launched a site and have some tips to share as well, please let us know in the comments.

Questions about your own blog or launch strategy?

I’m happy to answer below, just leave a comment and Caleb or I will get back to you shortly. Thanks for joining us! Let’s kick some collective arse this week.

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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Eric - College Prep U October 18, 2011 at 6:42 am

Great stuff as usual Corbett!
My blog is about a year old now and I’m really looking for something like this…a relaunch sounds like a nice shot in the arm!
My traffic was hit pretty hard by the recent “Panda” update (for those of you who know what that is), so anything to get back on the right track is welcomed!…looking forward!!!

Gregory Ciotti October 18, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hey Corbin,

One thing that I would add that you can do when launching a not yet public blog is to allow people to sign up to get notified when it launched, which also helps build your list.

I noticed you weren’t doing that on ExpertEnough, I know because I looked for the form to get updates!

I’d recommend either getting a stylized AWeber/MailChimp form done, or use a theme like this one (http://probusinesstheme.com/) from 8bit.io.

Corbett Barr October 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

Good advice Gregory, we’re just getting all the pieces together over there. Thanks for the reminder!

Conni October 18, 2011 at 8:02 am

Wow absolutely brilliant launch advice, Corbett!
Totally taking them on board for my own launch, already very excited. Should be going down beginning of November as well.

However, I think the biggest challenge for me personally is the idea of ‘guestblogging’. I mean, I don’t even have a clue what a good strategy would be to approach the big blogs to make my pitch not a complete waste. I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling with that.. I guess my biggest fear is to give it a shot only to fuck it up and then never be considered a guestposter again.I’m aware of how important guestblogging is in getting your blog’s word out there, but man, it’s scary.

Thanks again for all the great advice man.. Highly appreciated!

Gregory Ciotti October 18, 2011 at 8:18 am

Hey Connie,

I thought like this too, but I think you’ll find that if you follow certain steps when approaching bigger blogs, you really don’t need to be apprehensive or worried about their reaction.

First thing I would say is for medium sized blogs, shoot an introductory email and say how much of a fan you are (you should be if you are going to write there!) and explain that you’d be interested in a guest post.

Outline some ideas for posts that you had, and say that you would also be willing to address topics that the blog owner would site to see written about.

You can even send over some outlines for them to go over, that way you won’t have to write a full post only to get it turned down.

For big bloggers, keep things VERY concise seems to work best, and sometimes for blogs like Problogger, they usually want a guest post ready to go as soon as you mail them (since they get so many).

For big blogs that are more selective with guest posts, just keep in mind the time constraints of the author and only include really pertinent information about you proposed guest post like:

1.) What it will address
2.) Why it’s suitable for their blog
3.) Why readers will get a lot of value out of it

I’d also recommend checking out James Clear’s guide on emailing “important” (ie, ‘busy’) people, I’m submitting a guest post to his site soon so I guess they work ;) (http://passivepanda.com/how-email)

Corbett Barr October 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Hey Conni, I know how you feel, it can definitely be intimidating at first. There are plenty of articles out there about how to land guest posts. Check out this one from Ramit Sethi: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/write-a-guest-post-for-i-will-teach-you-to-be-rich/ or, this one from Glen Allsopp: http://www.viperchill.com/guest-blogging/

Mary October 18, 2011 at 8:36 am

These posts should be a great encouragement to people who are following along just getting their projects off the ground. Hopefully you aren’t too busy to really read and implement these ideas. I’ve got to make myself do it; this is good stuff!!

@Conni – I’d just write to my highest standards, make sure I pass it around to several people I can trust to give honest feedback and proofreading, and get a good night’s sleep before reading it again the next morning (is it just me or is that when the best editing happens?)

Conni October 19, 2011 at 2:05 am

Cheers, Mary!

You are right, sleeping on a written piece works wonders. I do this at work, where I have to write press releases. It’s just fascinating what a fresh mind in the morning can see what you didn’t the night before you left work.

Got a long to-do list now, let’s get started! All the best to you too!!

Christina October 18, 2011 at 8:45 am

Great post! I don’t want to shut my site down to do a relaunch, do you have any ideas on how to launch while it’s still running?

I’m looking forward to Thursday!

Caleb Wojcik October 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

@Christina – You can do a relaunch in the same fashion as a regular launch. Just have a plan to make a few weeks follow the plan laid out above and you should see some results.

Allie | Ramblings of a WAHM October 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Corbett,

I have been blogging for over a year and heard so much about launching a blog. I never officially launch my blog, it sort of evolved into what it is now. But I like Eric’s idea of a relaunch. Hmm?

Anyway, even for an established blog you have given great tips on how to create a buzz.

~Allie

rohan October 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

This was awesome, the blog is doing pretty well already but I would like to refocus in the next few weeks and relaunch. This is great help, thanks.

Jason Spencer October 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

What countdown timer plugin are you using for the expertsenough.com pre-launch page?

Corbett Barr October 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm

It’s a free theme from WooThemes called Placeholder (http://www.woothemes.com/2011/01/placeholder/). Caleb shows how to set it up in 8 minutes or less here: http://vimeo.com/corbettbarr/8minuteblog

Julz October 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Love this launch strategy. Makes a lot of sense!

As someone new to blogging I have to admit my true feeling is just to ease myself into it rather than making a big splash! It is much more scary to reach out to new people and blogs, and even the thought of sharing on my own Facebook page is scary as my friends and family will know what I m doing. I don’t mind people knowing once I have got the show on the road and feel confident about it’s success and future!

It does make a lot of sense though just to go full out and make the launch an event! Thanks you have given me food for thought! :)

Julz

Corbett Barr October 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

There’s probably a happy medium between blockbuster launch and easing into it for someone like you who’s just starting out. Good luck Julz!

Kirk Eisele October 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Thanks for this post. I’ve seen a lot of “launch” suggestions around but most were a more one-dimensional approach with a single tactic. It’s nice to have a more comprehensive plan to follow going forward. Have you found that when you guest blog you can typically choose when your article runs? I’m new to guest blogging and don’t know if I hurt my chances by requesting a particular date or if that is normal… Thanks!

Kirk

Corbett Barr October 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

You won’t always be able to specify when your post runs, but try explaining your situation and some people will be happy to accommodate.

Alex October 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Corbett,

Great advice, as always! If folks follow this, and really focus on their launch, a person can really get a significant head start with their reader base, content, etc..

Thanks for sharing!
-Alex

Chris C. Ducker October 22, 2011 at 2:17 am

Hi Guys

Great stuff… I’m in the process of planning the re-launch a blog that I purchased from someone a month or so ago. I’ve thought long and hard on the type of content, the content medium (decided to go with video and podcasts – nothing written), and will be launching after BlogWorld.

I think the one thing thats the most important here is the ‘getting in front of other related audiences’ approach. However, because my blogs niche is a VERY competitive niche (and I kinda already have it in the bag, kinda!), what do you suggest I do to get some new readers in that launch week…?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

Chris

Corbett Barr October 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Hey Chris, are you saying the niche is so competitive that you wouldn’t want to guest post on other related blogs?

Rolan October 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Hi Corbett,

Great post! I’m planning on launching my own blog soon as well. I did plan on just making my site live and posting a few articles before I actively start to market the site. I like your concept better, as it creates anticipation and excitement.

Also, I have Thesis and I installed the Authenticator plugin and it automatically redirects to the WP admin page. How do I redirect to a landing page such as yours? Technical help appreciated.

Thanks

Rolan

Caleb Wojcik October 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

Hi Rolan,

We aren’t using Authenticator on the live expert enough.com page, but instead on a “pre-launch” sub-domain. If you put Authenticator on the main domain it limits access to your site by log-ins only. We are just using it on our test site. Hope that helps!

Caleb

Raj Mehta November 11, 2011 at 2:39 am

Nice article hope my new blog get unstoppable momentum

:)

John - New York Shopping September 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Hi Corbett,

This is really great information. Thanks for sharing.

As for the techniques for creating a buzz arround the site, what is the most recomended (social, advertivising, guest posts, …)?

John

Conni October 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hey Gregory, thanks so much for the detailed advice! Very useful indeed! And thanks for pointing me to James’ awesome post! I’ve read it before, but totally forgot about it!

Christina October 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

Thank Caleb! I’ve been thinking about this and I have a plan! Since the next big “kid” even season is Christmas, I’m going to relaunch Dec 1 with something seasonal to do with your kids every day. (My site is local stuff to do with your kids.)

You guys rock!!

Gregory Ciotti October 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

No problem!

And sorry for spelling your name wrong and the numerous grammatical errors, it seems I need to start proof-reading comments as well as blog posts!

Conni October 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

Mr. Barr! Intimidating would be an understatement to say the least ;) Thanks a lot for your link tipps though. Maybe I should get Jonathan Fields book and finally turn that guestblogging fear into fuel!

Jason Spencer October 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Thanks Corbett, got it! http://iamweird.net/

Now, the bigger question, how do I work on the new non-placeholder website design and setup with this placeholder theme being active? Do I setup another domain name or something in my web host control panel and work on it there and then pull some kind of switcheroo on launch day? Thanks for the technical help.

Corbett Barr October 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

Hey Jason, this can get a little technical. Basically, you can either develop the site at your current URL, but you would need to take down the placeholder theme to do that (and maybe require log-in so people can’t see what you’re up to).

The other option (the one we’re using for Expert Enough) is to develop the site on another url (or sub-url) and then migrate the development site over to your intended url once it’s ready. Here’s a detailed article about moving wordpress: http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress

Hope that helps!

Gregory Ciotti October 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Hey Jason,

While Corbett is correct, you can also use a cool plugin developed by Nick of ElegantThemes to do the same thing, without doing anything with domains.

http://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/anticipate/

Only problem is you have to join as a whole rather than buying that plugin separately, but if you do niche sites ET is a great value anyways.

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