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:
- Build a solid foundation.
- Create content of unmistakable valuefor your target audience.
- Get your message in front of your target audiencewherever they hang out and bring them back to your new site.
- 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.
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.
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