Are you ready to launch a product from your blog?
Not an affiliate product, but something you created with your own flesh and blood?
After many late nights spent honing that ebook, ecourse, or coaching program?
Whatever it is, if you’re ready to release that puppy, then it’s time to commit to it and launch it.
Launching is going to disrupt your normal blogging lifestyle. Heck—it disrupts everything, including you and your happy audience’s normally scheduled (and expected) activities.
But I’m here today to give you some good news and the lowdown on what you need to do to keep this disruption to a minimum.
In this blogging primer for launches, you’ll learn:
- how to warm your readers up to the idea of you launching a product
- ways to keep the communication non-spammy
- when and how to offer pre-launch content
- easy-to-remember basics on “email” marketing during your launch.
You’ll get to see this topic through the lens of known bloggers and marketers, but I’ll also reveal my own use of each one of these strategies and concepts.
So, if you’re ready to turn your blog into a product-launching, money-making, name-taking machine, keep reading!
1. Blogger to launcher basics
Many bloggers who have never created and sold their own products wonder how to make the leap and start offering something for sale. Even after you’ve created a product, it can still feel somehow taboo to offer something for sale.
I thought I’d done plenty to warn the world that I was open for business. I wrote an ebook, told some people about it, and then I just let it sit there.
When I was ready to launch for real—with a real program—I had to start over again. Not just because I’d been dormant since my last launch, but because I’d even shifted the focus of my site—drastically.
I went from talking about general personal development and productivity to writing primarily about launching—especially for the first-timers who didn’t feel like they could compete with so called gurus.
There’s really no graceful way to do it. The only rule I’ve seen others follow and that I also practice is this: treat your mailing list, your readers, and your followers as friends coming along the journey with you.
So that’s exactly what I did.
- I did a brief relaunch of my blog to get a boost of traffic.
- I ran one month of focused articles on launching.
- I promoted a promo webinar at the bottom of every single blog post.
- Launch of my first online training program—Fearless Launching.
I probably could have made my product sales page a blog post too, but I’ll save that test for another day!
Using this approach, I turned my perpetually inactive blog to an active one and then was able to pull off a moderately successful launch that gave a major boost to my mailing list.
The moral of the story (yes, I’m saying it again!) is: include your list during the first and every launch—and they will come along for the ride.
But what’s really happening behind the scenes? Is it as easy as just those four blog posts and a sales page?
Yes—it is that it easy, but it’s important to include a few other key actions to make sure those posts hit the hardest, and do their job to promote your launch.
Here’s how to make the switch from blogger to blogger with a business:
- Give plenty of lead time. You must warn and inform your audience. Tell them how to interact with you, and how long they can expect the launch to last. Be friendly, honest, and ask for their support. Don’t tell them to buy, buy, buy.
- Start an interest list early. Segmenting your list is a great way to make sure that if you are emailing your audience, the only people you do email are ones that have clearly said, “I am interested.”
- “Teach” your readers to take action when you prompt them. Make sure you always ask for people to hit Reply with questions about your emails, leave comments, do some homework based on your latest post, or click to read the post. Think about every communication and every post as a chance to call your readers to take some direct action—click this, comment below, share if you like, answer this question.
- If you aren’t doing this already, respond to every single comment and email you get. It’s easier to do this with a small list, but even making that effort with a larger list goes a long way.
Imagine you’re about to do a big life project. Would you keep it to yourself until the day before? Or would you tell your friends, family, or partner? Most likely, you would not be able to hold your excitement in that long.
Take the same approach with your readers and you’re likely to get a much warmer response come launch day.
2. Handling the irregular communication glitch
So what happens if you’ve warned people and they still don’t warm up to your exciting pre-launch news?
Your readers are comfortable with how often you show up in their inbox. And every single person who launches a product online deals with some kind of negative reaction or complaints about irregular communication.
People are used to hearing from you once a week. That’s it. That’s all. Then, all of the sudden, you’re sending out emails every day, reminders to grab the ebook for an introductory price, to sign up for the webinar before the spaces are filled.
It’s a little overwhelming, and it can be hard for your readers to switch gears.
The good news is there’s a super-easy way to transition your readers into the messaging and offers you are about to start making (on a regular basis, hopefully).
Here are just a few ways to transition readers and avoid communication complaints.
If you send out a formatted newsletter…
Add a section that says, “coming soon,” or simply add your free and paid offers to the bottom of the newsletter.
This way, people will always expect that you offer something. You can also add a “coming soon” section to your blog sidebar to make sure the RSS subscribers who click through see what you’ve got.
Here, you can see social media marketing trainer and consultant Alicia Cowan added two of her offerings to the bottom of her very simple newsletter template.
2. If you send a text-only, more personal email…
Add a P.S. that explains you’re working on your first product, and maybe a link to an interest page. I’ve done this with new or semi-new coaching offers and had a great response. You could even just say, “Hey, I’m working on my first ebook, and I could use your help. Want to know how? Hit Reply and ask me!”
I first learned this from Dean Jackson. I kept seeing his P.S.s and thinking they were awesome. I don’t use them every single email, but when I’m not sure how to share what I want to offer to my list, I use a P.S. and just ask people to hit Reply.
Here’s how I applied it to launch a fairly new coaching service offered on my site. No link, just a simple “Hit Reply if you want to know more.” Did it work? Yes: I booked out all my sessions for two months using this technique.
3. If RSS is the way most readers receive your message…
Make sure to write a blog post about your upcoming launch, and put messages below your post and/or on the sidebar of your blog asking people to sign up for the interest list.
Corbett Barr always mentions what’s coming soon and you can easily read about it in the RSS feed of his site Think Traffic. His messaging comes across as natural, informative, and non-pushy.
For example, in this post he talks about lessons he learned during the launch of Fizzle, an online training membership site. And he links to the sales page—smart and easy. His audience appreciates getting the behind the scenes and he likes sending people to his sales page. It’s a win-win.
4. Do all of your opening soon/open/closing soon messaging in the body of your normal communication
Marie Forleo does a great job of this by changing the bumper on all her Marie TV videos to the next event or project she’s working on.
Check out this example to see her B-School bumper.
3. Planning a minimum viable launch
Now let’s talk about the absolute minimum of emails you must send during a launch.
I’m talking here about the only ones that you should write separately from your normal newsletters or emails to your list. Here they are.
1. We’re opening soon
This is a simple email that warns and informs your audience that you are doing something outside the norm. Tell them what you’re up to, and what to expect during the launch period. They’ll thank you and won’t unsubscribe.
In this example, not only did I warn subscribers, but I used my favorite spot in the email to do it: the P.S.
2. We’re open
Chris Guillebeau does the same thing with his World Domination Summit. I went back to see if this had changed from the first WDS, but realized he does the same thing every single time. He opens it. Then he warns. Then he closes it.
3. We’re closing, or this special launch period is over
First, you may be asking: Do I need to close? What is “closing”?
Closing is simply ending your run of launch material, emails, and the push to promote your product. Sometimes it’s closing enrollment. Sometimes it’s just stopping the hardcore promotion. Whatever you decide, whether you should close your launch is a whole other topic.
Let’s say for the sake of example you’ve chosen to close your launch on a specific day. This can actually be done by sending two emails on closing day. I highly recommend it is two emails sent on the last day: one early in the morning, and one later in the day a few hours before you close.
Catherine Just, one of the members of Fearless Launching, was in the midst of her Soul*full ecourse launch. She was feeling a lag in sign ups at the mid-point in the launch. Though this is quite natural and happens even on higher profile launches, Catherine was bummed. Who wouldn’t be? So, on the day she closed, I suggested she send two emails—one super-early and one later in the day close to closing time.
First, she sent this short and sweet, early-morning email:
And here’s the longer thank you email she sent a few hours before closing:
The results were outstanding. People new to her list signed up for the program and she got several sign ups in the last 24 hours (and then some on the day after closing).
It was just the right amount of push and honesty to get her readers and new readers to take action!
The reason these types of emails work
For some reason—perhaps because they aren’t trying to pull anything, but they get a reaction and cause you to think about your situation and what you struggle with—these email types get very few complaints.
People are like, “Oh okay, you’re open. Cool.” There are only a few options for them. The emails feel nice, respectful, and non-invasive.
Use these emails and examples as inspiration for your own launch. Think about being direct, and think about how your readers are going to react. Don’t be as worried about how well the emails are written. Instead, think about speaking in the voice they know and love: yours.
Bonus: launch “email” marketing for bloggers
Throughout this post, we’ve looked at examples of emails, ways of communicating about your launch, and how to warm people up to the idea of your launch. No matter how many launches you do, you need to think about this every single time. Your approach will evolve as your readers and followers evolve.
Here’s how simple your launch can be, when your primary focus is (or has been) blogging.
Spoiler alert: What I’m about to suggest might have you scratching your head and wondering if it’s possible, or if it will even work…
Keep it on the blog
Instead of writing emails for your launch, you could just write blog posts.
In fact, instead of having a separate launch site with launch videos and special launch content, keep it all on your blog: no need for a separate site.
How can you have a product launch without email?
Well, you tell me! Some of the biggest blogger launches have happened directly from the blog.
Think non-invasive, expected, adding value—and posts that are live on your site forever!
Instead of hiding your precious launch content on a separate site, pop it on your blog for the long-term effects to your business and site. If it’s sitting on another separate site, how are you going to keep getting regular sales for your program?
Who’s done it?
- Leo Babauta
- Derek Halpern
- Corbett Barr
- Naomi Dunford
- Anne Samoilov
- Catherine Just
- Danielle LaPorte
- Marie Forleo
- Ramit Sethi
…and many, many more!
How successful was it?
This approach makes it easier to build trust, easier to get all your readers’ attention, and much easier to sell them on reading your message. If people are only on your RSS feed, they might not even see a launch email. This approach makes your launch available to everyone.
As I mention above, I did this during my first launch of a program—the first real product I offered from my site. I used the month prior to my open-cart date as a chance to focus on my topic, so I loaded my readers up with articles related to launching.
Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com has also done this for the pre-launch of Blog That Converts. When I chatted with him about it prior to publishing the series, I asked him, “So this is like an intro course to Blog That Converts? That gets them ready for the program?”
He said, “Exactly.”
Not only is he setting his customers up to be ready to take his course, he’s keeping the content on his blog, so that there’s no break in the flow of how he normally delivers his content.
He still announces each post via email, but in a very expected way for his audience.
Action point: create a series of posts that cover mini-topics within your program or product.
Don’t be afraid to test
If you’re feeling a little braver, try a mix of emails and posts. The worst that’s going to happen is that people might tell you that you’re emailing too often.
If you start to see your readers revolt or a flurry of unsubscribes, all you need to do to change your course: space out your emails, turn emails back into blog posts, and so on.
I’m definitely a huge fan of pushing your readers just a little. Don’t go to the extreme, but give them a taste of what it feels like to get these launch-devoted emails. The next time around, it won’t feel so foreign to you!
During the fall 2012 launch of Fearless Launching, I wrote a series of emails for the launch in addition to blog content. Half way through the enrollment period, I sensed it was getting too much from my readers, because they told me so.
This post started an email—and ended up a blog post only! Check it out and see if you can tell where it sounds like an email at first: http://www.annesamoilov.com/email-during-launch/.
I turned a few of the more sales-y emails into blog posts, or just cut them completely. But I wouldn’t have known to do this unless I’d tested and written a few direct emails about the launch.
Action point: Write an email and tell people why it’s important to know whatever it is you’re teaching. Why is this topic important?
Analyze your results
If you’re going to test, you better analyze the results, too.
All that means is this: watch your open rate, taking note of which types of emails get opened and which ones do not.
Watch traffic on blog posts and the response to your emails. You’ll need to use your gut at first to understand what all these numbers mean, but that’s okay. If you see that your blog posts get tons of comments and the emails get hardly any opens, you can draw conclusions about what’s best for your audience.
Watch where people click, comment, and speak up. This is valuable feedback. So listen up!
All too often you will learn new strategies for connecting with your audience, for writing a better email, for tips on selling without being schmucky … and you will try them but not spend the time to see how they worked for your business and your audience.
Action point: Make sure you check your analytics account daily during your launch. Look at the number of visits, bounce rates, and most importantly, traffic sources.
There’s a lot of action you could (and should) take from this post, but before you get into any of it, answer these three questions in the comments below. I’ll personally respond and let you know the best next step for you!
- Do you have a product that you want to launch, but you’ve been afraid to make the leap because you’ve never offered something for sale before to your readers?
- No matter what size your audience is, are you getting consistent response, reaction, and engagement from your readers in some form?
- Have you tried to launch something on your blog and got no response? Can you make any guesses as to why?
Contributing author Anne Samoilov is an online launch + business strategist who coaches overwhelmed entrepreneurs ready to launch. She’s also the creator of Fearless Launching, an online training program for first time online product launchers. Learn how to launch and build a business based on simplicity over on her blog, chat with her on Facebook, and download her special gift for Problogger.net readers: a launch email resource guide.