You’ve spent months setting up your blog, deciding topics you want to post and how to draw visitors. It can be nerve-racking and leave you pretty stressed out. Launching a blog is an enormous undertaking while being quite exciting. As you read on you will discover it does not have to leave you in a great state of stress. So let’s take a look at the steps you will have to take to get your blog up and running. The most important thing is to not get overwhelmed in the beginning. Just focus on the essential tasks for now. Below you will find 13 essential steps to take before you launch your blog.
Get Your Hosting
You are going to need a hosting for your new blog, without one, you’ll never get anywhere. The good news, it does not have to be expensive, there are many web hosts that are really very inexpensive. I’ve worked with a handful of hosting platforms and there are many out there. How do you choose? How do you decide which one to trust for the long-term? iPage has been the most reliable and the best support system I’ve seen. You can purchase your domain name and hosting all in one if that appeals to you – otherwise you can just purchase hosting. iPage has a $1.99 a month special they are running.
Choose Your Theme
Now that you have your hosting, it’s time to choose a theme. Your theme will provide you with a certain layout and appearance for your blog. Because there so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one you want. Take your time, think about the kind of blog you will be offering and then which themes will work best in your category.
When choosing your theme, take into consideration the purpose of your blog. Will you be selling products on your blog? If so, choose a theme that is optimized for on-site selling. If you are planning on being strictly a blog and offer products elsewhere, then look for themes that focus on blogging.
I’ve listed out my favorite WordPress themes in this post – Scroll to the bottom: Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Blog
Install Google Analytics
This is an important step! Google Analytics is entirely free and will give you some of the most useful information you will need as your blog progresses. It goes into depth on the viewers coming to your blog, where exactly the traffic is coming from, what blog posts are the most popular, and so much more! Install this before your site launches. If you don’t get around to it beforehand, do it as soon as possible.
Check out these posts to get Google Analytics set up and to learn what stats to look at:
Branding does not necessarily mean just having a logo, instead, it’s more about the appearance of your blog and your social media template. You should consider the fonts, colors, graphics, and your logo. That said, branding doesn’t stop there. You need to make your blog stand out from the crowd it’s about creating a great experience for your readers. This is done through connecting with people online, through your blog posts, and your feed on social media.
What do you want people to say about your blog? You can convey this to people through your colors, fonts, and logo. If you want people to experience sophisticated and modern then choose your colors and fonts that fit that mode. Understanding how people perceive your blog should be an important aspect in setting it up. If you have a pet care and products blog, overly sophisticated probably won’t work. If you clearly shape your branding image it will save you a great deal of time and energy in the future. You do not want to totally revamp your blog a month before launching.
Have Your Business Plan In Place
From the very beginning, you must consider your blog as a business. You must ask yourself important questions in order to zero in on your blog’s intent. Here are some questions you might want to address:
Why do you want a blog? If you want to monetize your blog, how are you going to do this? What is the first impression you want a visitor to get from your blog? Are you going to use email newsletters, if so, how often will your newsletter go out? Where do you see your blog a year from now?
One of the best ways to get good ideas for your business plan is to look at other blogs that are in your niche and see what is working for them. Just look for ideas, never copy someone else’s ideas. Are these blogs offering and/or selling courses or Ebooks? Do they offer online products or physical products directly from you? Checking out other blogs will help your creative juices to flow and give you a great place to start your business plan.
Stay Social Media Active
Before your launch date, you should start announcing it on social media sites. You want to build anticipation and excitement around your blog launch. Put up some previews of things to come, the kinds of posts that will be on your blog, and offer an opt-in for added incentive. One great feature that many media sites offer is a social media scheduler to post further information while you are busily working on your blog. There are many different options out there for
Board Booster – The most amazing pinterest tool out there. It has grown my followers and the clicks back to my blog have grown dramatically since starting. I spend less time on Pinterest now than I ever did before.
Hootsuite – HootSuite is a social media management platform that allows you to track all of your social media accounts on one main dashboard. There are over 35 recognized social media platforms that can merge with HootSuite. Once all of your accounts are connected, you can schedule posts, respond to mentions, see who is saying what across all of your feeds, and create lists of the people you want to monitor closely. Hootsuite is FREE up to 3 social media platforms.
Later (formally known as Latergramme) – Later allows you to plan and schedule your Instagram photo publishing through an app on your phone or through a browser on your computer.
- Easily plan & schedule your Instagram posts
- Upload images from the web or phone
- Management from the web app or mobile app
- Get scheduled images pushed to your phone
While on Facebook, join Facebook groups that are within your niche and stay active. In order to add value to a group ask questions, answer questions, and just stay involved in discussions. Become a part of my Blogging 101 Community on Facebook! A place where Bloggers come to learn, connect, and grow your blog.
Getting to know other bloggers through networking is a great way to grow your visitors while getting the word out about your launch date and making friends. In order to grow your blog, you must become a part of the online community.
Visit other blog sites, read their posts, and leave positive comments. Share other bloggers’ posts on Twitter and Instagram if you believe your visitors will benefit from them. Sharing and commenting on material that is not yours while providing helpful advice will draw people to you and your blog.
Prepare Posts Before Your Launch Date
I don’t necessarily think there is a certain number of blog posts needed before a launch. Having a few would be a great start, though. You want visitors to have something to read when they arrive. Make sure you have your About Me or Start Here page available. Once visitors have read your posts, they want a place where they can contact you and comment. Having several posts up on launch date will give visitors good content and the confidence you will be sticking around for some time.
Have a Start Here Page
Although About Me pages are popular, a Start Here page has many options. It will allow first-time visitors to see clearly where to navigate to. That’s why it’s called “Start Here”! You can direct readers to a place that is advantageous for you. If you have a certain post that you believe is beneficial to readers you might want to direct them to that post.
You can use your Start Here page to provide information about your blog. You can get readers to understand your niche and how it will be of benefit to them. Readers are there to learn why they should read your blog. You Start Here Page can convince them of that.
Have An Editorial Calendar
Using an editorial calendar will let you know what posts are going to be due and you can write them in advance. You will be able to plan out your posts on a month-to-month basis, for every other month or whatever time frame works for you. It will make life a whole lot easier and you will not miss your deadline.
Related: How To Stay Organized As A Blogger – Includes A Free Printable Blog Planner!
Setup An Email Software And Be Sure And Test It
Once your audience starts growing, you want to have a newsletter ready to send out. Newsletters give readers more information on a more personal level and will offer them extra content. In order to send newsletters, you will need an email service or a software.
My email marketing platform of choice is Active Campaign. I chose them for multiple reasons. Their pricing was more reasonable than other platforms with similar features. Plans start at $9/month for up to 500 email addresses. It is a master at segmentation and automated email marketing. It can easily target specific groups of contacts.
Be sure and test your chosen option so you will know what your readers will experience during the email sign-up option. If you discover kinks, you will be able to work them out ahead of time.
Have An Opt-in Incentive
In order to get a greater turnover of sign-ups to your newsletter, you really should have an opt-in incentive. If you choose to provide an opt-in, there are two very important factors to keep in mind.
Your opt-in must be relevant to your readers. If you have a pet care & products blog, offer a recipe to make doggy and kitty treats by sharing your family recipe as an opt-in. It must be relevant to your niche so only people interested in your subject matter will sign-up for your newsletter. Your pet care & products blog should not have an opt-in for plumbing repairs! You will not draw in your intended audience.
Make sure your opt-in is valuable. You want to impress your readers with an offer that they will find exciting and valuable to them. With a valuable opt-in, you will more than likely get future buyers of your products. Let’s face it, if you offer something for free that has value, they are going to believe products you are selling are even greater!
Check All Your Links Before Launching
If you have a lot of links this can be time-consuming and tedious but it’s extremely important to prevent readers from going off into cyberspace! Your readers will not stick around if they are continually running into errors such as “page not found”. They will be very disappointed, extremely frustrated, move on to another blog.
Let’s say you have a link that offers 5 Homemade Remedies For Controlling Fleas. Someone who is looking for a solution that really works is going to readily click on the link. Do you have any idea how frustrating it’s going to be when they come to “page not found”? Chances are they are going to look elsewhere for a solution for fleas.
Making sure your links work perfectly is extremely important for your blog and your reputation. It’s not going to look very good if this happens on launch day! It’s a fact that your first impression is imperative to your reputation. So, even though it might take some time, it will be worth it when everything works properly.
The WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker will detect links that don’t work. It will save you a ton of time!
In A Nutshell…
Getting your blog ready for a launch date takes a lot of work, research, and designing to make sure it shines. Consider all these tips and plan well in advance. You can’t just slap something up and expect people to flock to your site.
Your blueprint should include a good business plan, a design that fits your niche, easy for visitors to navigate, social media communication, valuable content, and a way for visitors to stay in touch with you. You must have links that work every time, an excellent newsletter that is sent out on a schedule, and an opt-in that will entice people to sign up to your newsletter. Don’t rush developing your blog, take your time, and make sure you have a professional, friendly blog that people want to come to, learn things from, and valuable information to help solve their particular problems. Think like your visitors when designing and setting up your site. Once you understand them you will develop a site that will be user-friendly and very informative.