Brian has put together a Blueprint for a Brilliant Blog Launch which I think will be helpful for bloggers in startup mode.
Brian’s 3 step process of starting a new blog is pretty simple:
- Cornerstone – before launching writing some ‘cornerstone’ content that will be a great foundation for your blog. This means that when you launch your blog will have something solid for readers to read when they come and visit instead of just seeing a blog with a handful of flakey posts.
- Networking – becoming networked within your niche is important if you want to grow your readership via other blogs and sites in it. This means connecting with other bloggers, building relationships with them and becoming a part of the niche.
- Attraction – doing something to get attention will accelerate your blog’s growth. I’d suggest doing a number of things over a number of weeks. Like Brian says it could include writing a free report, writing some link-bait content etc
The launch phase of a new blog is one where you need to perform a balancing act between a variety of tasks and attempting to achieve a variety of goals simultaneously.
To put it slightly differently to Brian – here are some of the goals I attempt to achieve in the early days of a blog:
1. Establish Credibility/Expertise
In the early days of your blog you need to prove yourself as someone worth reading in some way. There is a variety of ways you can achieve this including:
- tell your story - tell your readers how you have grown in your topic, highlight your achievements and share what you’ve learnt (here’s an example of a post in which I told my ProBlogging story) – read more on using stories on your blog.
- showing your success – if there’s some way to prove yourself as an expert (here’s an example of a time I did this).
- cornerstone content - perhaps the best way to establish credibility is simply to provide content that is solid and helpful to reader. Write a series of posts that shows your knowledge and ability to help people and you’ll find people start to look to you as an authority on your topic.
2. Get Reader Buy In
One of the best things you can do in the early days of a blog is to work very hard on building ‘community’ on your blog. If a new visitor comes to your blog and sees comments being left, you answering reader questions, people learning from one another and a sense of community – they will want to buy in. On the flip side, if they see tumbleweed blowing over your comment section and hear the chirping of crickets they’re less likely to hang around. People like to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
As a result you need to work hard to building a sense of community on your blog. This isn’t easy in the early days when you might only have two or three readers – but it’s possible. Love those 2-3 readers to death, draw people into conversation, use your own comments section and build a warm and inviting blog and you’ll find it will attract others to it.
As part of this you’ll want to work hard on making first time readers loyal readers. Make your blog sticky, get people subscribing to your RSS feed and/or newsletters. Do everything you can to increase the likelihood that first time readers will want to come back again.
3. Become Active in the Wider Niche
Brian is right when he says that networking is a central part of the launch of a new blog. It’s vitally important to the success of your blog to put yourself out there.
I’ve used the idea of ‘dating’ a number of times as an analogy for finding new readers for a blog and one of the first pieces of advice most dating counsellors give is to put yourself in a position to meet new people. Most bloggers find out very quickly that the idea that readers will find your blog and come to you in droves rarely happens. You need to go in search of readers. This means identifying those places that your potential reader is already gathering and going and participating in this spaces.
Another part of becoming active in the niche is building relationships with other bloggers. This can actually be a tricky thing also because in effect you’re competing with their blogs by starting one on a similar topic. Some bloggers will feel threatened by you starting up in the niche while others will be quite open to interacting with you. The key is to be generous with others and to find ways to genuinely help out others with their blogs. In doing so you’ll build trust and show that you’re not just in it for yourself.
4. Self Promotion
One of the things that I always struggle with in the launch of a new blog is that I’m not naturally a showy person or someone who is into pumping myself up. However there are times, particularly in the early days, where a blogger needs to step outside of their comfort zone and sell themselves a little.
This might include writing a press release about your blog, pitching a story to a larger blogger or mainstream media, writing something a little more sensational or controversial etc. One of the first times I did this here at ProBlogger was in writing a post about how I’d bought a house with my blog earnings. This wasn’t really a post that I wanted to write (as I’m naturally private about such things) but it was an opportunity that I knew I had to take in terms of getting noticed and establishing some level of credibility in the niche of making money from blogs.
I think that the key in these types of posts is to attempt to keep a level of humility in your self promotion and not to fall into the trap of being too hyped. Be real, stay true to your values – but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
5. Find High Volumes of Traffic
While I’m a firm believer in building your readership one reader at a time by writing compelling content and loving your existing readers to death – most highly successful blogs experience periods of rapid growth and bursts of traffic from other sources. Whether it be by getting to the front page of Digg, being linked to by a high profile blog or being mentioned in mainstream media – these bursts of traffic are very useful and can really accelerate the growth of your blog if you’re able to harness them cleverly.
The key is to be a little strategic about this and to think carefully about what type of traffic you want, where that potential traffic is already gathering in high numbers and how you can get your content in front of them. I’ve written more on this in my post Grow Your Blog’s Readership by Targeting Readers.
The other key to plan for is to think about how you’ll convert this influx of traffic into regular readership. While you’ll not capture everyone – if you’re able to convert even a small percent of these new readers into regular readers you can see significant increases in traffic over time.