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The Pre-Launch Success Phase of a Blog

Scrivs has a good post on some of the things to consider before you launch a blog.

He talks through issues of:

The Design“For a blog a great design is good, but isn’t as key as the content that is already present on the site. For more web-based application sites, the design goes a long way into attracting and keeping those first customers.”

I’m with Scrivs on this – design is important but not the be all and end all what I’ve seen. My own blogs have all been launched with pretty basic designs and an emphasis upon content (including ProBlogger which didn’t have a custom design for months). Having said this – ProBlogger took off in terms of traffic once I got my design worked out!

The Content - “People bookmark sites with great content. People add sites to their RSS feeds with great content. Not too many people can remember a site with one entry welcoming them.”

This to me is the key thing to be working on before you start a blog. Like Scrivs says, there’s nothing much more of a turn off than a a blog without content. At b5media we always try to have a week’s worth of posts (at least) up before we go live with them.

What is It?“Initially when you launch, I think it is a good idea to have a visible description of what your site is about. It’s probably better to always have description of what your site is about on the homepage, but over time some people choose to discard it and put it on the homepage.”

First impressions are important – especially when you’re attempting to establish yourself in a niche. People make decisions about your new blog and whether they’ll come back to it (via bookmark, RSS etc) within seconds of arriving at it – as a result communicating what it’s about is really important.

The Review“Before you launch you should ask a couple of people to review the site to help point out anything blatantly wrong or missing that you may have overlooked.”

I always show a new blog to a number of people at different levels of web savvy-ness ranging from other experienced bloggers through to people that have very little knowledge of blogging or blogs. In this way I get a range of opinions but also a test to see what does and doesn’t work.

Of course no matter how much planning you do before you start a blog there comes a time when you just need to launch it. Some new bloggers feel the need to get it perfect to the extent that they take weeks and months to get to launch day. While I like to get things working well I take the attitude that blogging is a journey and that most blogs evolve over time. There’ll always be something to improve and tweak so don’t let your pre-launch stage go on too long – set yourself a launch date and work towards it to ensure you get it live.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Good stuff… also, one should not add adsense to their blog till there’s good content in place or they will be plagued with bad ads for weeks to come….

  2. Ian says:

    Good post. I made sure I did a lot of pre-launch work before I put my blog up. I had a list of 20ish posts written and ready to post before I launched my blog.

  3. Craig says:

    I do agree that “content is king”, but I don’t really see the reason to prepare weeks-long for a blog before launching it. A blog is in my opinion, by definition, a site that evolves daily, with daily reactions, and daily twists.

    Preparing a bunch of evergreen articles beforehand might be good for keeping up with continuity of the blog. But other than that, I am a believer of blogs growing organically and being shaped with reader/writer interaction.

  4. Erik says:

    I recently started a blog network with 9 sites in the intial launch. Some had been up for 5 months and others only 1.5 months. I did make sure I had at least 10 posts on each before the launching of them.

    The way I went about it was I have a main blog with about 50 RSS subscribers and an equal amount of uniques per day. I then made a basic design and wrote for a month or so on each. Then I used my traffic on my main blog to promote the site and gain a few readers.

    Things I did wrong:

    Didn’t have enough posts on all blogs.
    Should have had at least one series per blog where applicable.
    Should have done like Ian and had at least 20 posts backlogged so I could have a steady 10 -20 days of posts, post-launch.

    Things I did right:

    I just went for it. The blogs are doing well and gaining more traffic every week. I even was able to get a guest author on one of them and I’m working on another.
    I had a simple design that gives the blogs some type of blog network recognition. It’s a basic design but is working well.

  5. Incredible amount of preparedness. I though most folks were winging it.

  6. I think design plays a large part in the sucess of a good blog. As some who is not technically able or artistically inclinded to be able to proceed a good blog design is there any help?

  7. Craig, I’d say that many people think that blogs grow naturally, but in fact many bloggers find they have to start digging deep quite soon to find new things to say. I certainly will.

    Unless you have an especially fertile imagination, having a backlog of posts is a great idea. You can run the site instead of writing content for the first few weeks, which means you can fix up the inevitable mistakes, go promoting and so on.

    Of course, if a new good idea hits in that time, you should feel free to write and post about it. If organic growth does happen, good. But if it is slow, a store of new posts will be handy.

    I started my site with only the first article, and am now realising how hard it can be to turn out a long-ish (maybe 1500-4000 words) feature article once a week (my goal). I might announce a hibernation of 6-8 weeks with only occasional short posts to give me time to make a list of feature ideas, do some writing, build up the local event calendar in my sidebar so that it is a selling point in its own right, and so on.

  8. Craig says:

    David, I got to admit that I agree with everything you wrote.

    I just don’t think you have to write up tens of articles before you actually launch a blog. Having a backlog is every blogger’s dream. But I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to start a blog.

    I have my own backlog of short how-to posts and news items. But I wrote them after I launched gridbuzz, not before.

  9. Ian says:

    Having a backlog of 20 posts has been the best thing that I have done with my blog so far. I have no pressure to write because I know I have lots of articles sitting there to be published.

    I have also written plenty of posts since my launch. In fact, I’m not having any problems reaching my 5 posts a week goal.

    In addition, I have a running list of post ideas. It currently is about 30 posts long.

  10. Bald Man says:

    Timely advise for me as I’ve just “soft” launched a new blog. Probably time to just get it out there and refine it as I go.

  11. Kanwal says:

    I found sometimes its best to start with a blog design that inspires you. From their, work on your content and weekly tweak the design. I have quite a huge to do list.

    I have also started asking people on how to improve the site, its always good to get a second, third, tenth opinion. I’m always surprised at how people think and interact with a site. Its intriguing to know visually how we all percieve things differently and collectively how we view them so similiarly.

  12. Brad says:

    I agree with Jim, the first to comment – don’t add adsense until you have some good content.

    I made that mistake with my current blog and I got some horrible ads running on my site. They were so bad (also had nothing to do with my subject) that I considered pulling them until my content improved.

    Luckily for me I never had to delete my adsense ads. But I wonder what effect that had on my reader/s, having bad ads and all.

    Just a thought!

  13. Craig, it’s is certainly not a pre-requisite. But its something that people should think about. Depends on workloads (I work in a day job, full-time), how spontaneous you feel you can be, etc.

    Some people would benefit from the sense of security, others might be far more willing to just write things on the fly.

    Brad, I had to get rid of Adsense (a href=”http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/06/22/do-you-advertise-your-blog/#comment-363346″>see my comment on the Do You Advertise Your Blog thread for more)

    Kanwal, if only I could wait a whole week between tweaking my blog’s design. I must have made a dozen big changes to my design, each time getting more ‘minimalist’. Several ideas have been inspired by Problogger, including having all subscription info (email and rss) ‘above the fold’ and my very simple explanation of what RSS is good for.

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  1. [...] ThatMatt – Launching a Successful Blog – Tips and TricksWisdump – The Pre-Launch Success PlanPerformancing.com – Pre Blog Launch ChecklistProblogger- The Pre-Launch Success Phase of a Blog    Posted in Blogging and Blogging Tools     [...]