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Goals to Achieve in a Blog’s Launch Phase

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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. Brian Clark says:

    Great tips Darren… I knew you would have some great input on this topic!

  2. Shane says:

    I’ve taken three different approaches on the three blogs I started recently. On the personal, not for profit blog, I wrote one post a day for thirty days to establish a daily readership. On my informational niche blog, I’ve written and posted as much and as often as I can, knowing a lot of my viewers will be looking for information, and the more they can read the more likely they are to return. For my not-yet-released product blog, I’m taking my time to have create enough content before “going public,” so that when people do finally show up, it looks well established and authoritative.

  3. Darren!
    thnx for amazing tips. “Look what blogging bought me” is way too inspiring!

  4. Matt Jones says:

    It’s strange, after a while ALL of those things become selt sustained by the readers.

  5. alam says:

    agree with Shane too, different approach for certain type of niche. Being network of gadget blog seem like selling product that easy to find.
    By the way, congrats problogger for quick upgrade to wp 2.2.1

  6. DerekBeau says:

    Yes, very nice tips. I am currently in the start-up phase with a couple blogs and this information is helpful.

  7. Neena says:

    I think the “finding high volumes of traffic” point is the key and also the hardest to acheive. I hope to get to the point where it is all sustained by the readers – if such a point really does exist.

  8. This is good, solid advice. Participating in a community can be a bit of a chicken-or-egg situation, since one reason to comment is to provide links back to your blog–so you have to have one, first! ;) This is where discussion forums come in, since after everyone at a forum already knows you, they will trust the link you offer for your new blog.

    The biggest beginner mistake is not having core content created and not having a specific mission or goal for the blog, which is necessary if your goal is monetization.

  9. Dan says:

    I think doing some cornerstone or pillar articles in the beginning in incredibly important. I need to work on getting some free reports and things done….now you’ve given me something to really shoot for!

  10. Thanks Darren, I really like your personal spin on Brian’s article, especially your post examples of how you completed each suggestion here on your site. I hadn’t read your post before on “the house that blogging built” and I was inspired by it (nice house, btw!).

  11. Chase Roper says:

    Well I’m far past my launch date, but these are all things I need to focus on. Maybe I should put together a binder to organize all of these ideas in. . .

    BTW, I gave you a nod (not that you need one) on my blog yesterday. I’m trying to organize my posts to be a specific category for each day of the week. That makes it easier to narrow down a subject to write about. Yesterday happend to be “Other Blogs I Like Day.”

  12. Brown Baron says:

    Great read. These tips are also important steps for blogs that haven’t done it yet.

  13. Very cool

    I am in the process of getting our work team participating in blogs and building their own blogs.

    This is a great help. At the end in comes down to solid content.

    My blog is still very “newborn” and the biggest thing I have learned is to be constant. Write a post every day, two is better. Even if you are not yet 100% on your niche topic, just start writing, get in the flow.

    This is a great community, thanks mister Problogger sir. :-)

    Regards
    Nicholas

  14. Susan Payton says:

    Darren–
    It’s great to find a single article like this! It keeps me from having to pull the same info from 12 different sources.

    The thing about marketing your own blog is that there are no rules. Where marketing and advertising has meant billboards, phone book ads and press releases, it means something completely new now. It’s exciting and frustrating, since there’s no guide book, yet each of us can come up with new ideas and pass along what works to our fellow bloggers.

    Each subscriber I add still thrills me!

  15. Armand says:

    Great tips! Right on time, considering that I’ve had a blog lauch (Yaaay!) last week.

  16. DH Wall says:

    Good tips. Another tip is to stay focused on adding quality content to your blog first. Resist the temptation to add features to your blog that will eat away time from creating content.

    Wait till the traffic comes in, then you’ll have reason to spend 10 hours adding that fancy widget or revenue source.

  17. think that was really helpful. Especially like the point about loving your first few readers to death. Shall do that now!

  18. I’m still in the launch phase. I think I need to work a lot on the networking and writing cornerstone posts.

  19. Nat says:

    Very interesting… and reassuring for me as i’m doing – or planing on doing – most of those things, so it’s nice to see i’m not totally living on a different web planet ;-)

    I’m still in the launch phase, and it’s nice to see a post dedicated to this, thanks Darren & Brian!

  20. A very timely post for me, considering that I’ve got a new blog where I’m desperately trying to build up readership.

  21. Bowrag says:

    Exactly what the other comments say. Thanks and very timely.

    I am in my 5th day of launching my blog. I am targetting a specific niche at the moment and then will branch out from there.

  22. Leo says:

    Mine was a controversy, lots of people tuned in to see the argument between the two blogs and I skyrocketed from about 4 readers to about 180 in a one-week period. The problem is, how am I going to keep those numbers? Since it’s new, and has not even been launched yet, this is kind of a big thing, because how is it going to keep this number, modest though it is, it is better than four, and in order for it to grow, it’s going to need more content, good solid content in a short period of time.

  23. Writing press releases is an excellent way to promote your blog, particularly if you are careful to optimize the press release using specific keywords.

    I’m offering a free email course called “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.”

    I explain why we should no longer be writing press releases only for the press, but for consumers who can find the releases online, click through to our websites and enter our sales cycle, even if journalists don’t think our release is worthy of attention.

    The course includes several terrific press release samples as well as “before” and “after” makeovers.

    You can sign up for the free press release writing tutorial at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips/art.htm

    It’s a very long tutorial but please stick with it. By the time you’re done, it will be like earning a master’s degree in writing and distributing press releases. And you’ll know more about this topic than many PR people.

  24. Hi Darren,

    Inspiring post for a new blogger. Thanks.

    Andrew.