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.