This post is about what you need to do before you launch your blog.
Are you thinking about starting a blog in the New Year? I was recently asked by a friend if she should start a blog and if it’s too late to start one. Honestly, I get asked this a lot especially around this time of the year. In fact, I always notice a spike in traffic in my How to Start A Lifestyle Blog post in January.
Which is why I created today’s post. Starting a blog can be a fun new hobby, a way to build your portfolio or expand your online business presence. It can be an enriching experience and the opportunities are limitless; however, it takes a lot more work to have a successful blog. It involves more than simply putting some images up on a website or signing up for Instagram.
What To Do Before You Launch Your Blog
There is a lot more work that goes into the business of blogging even before the blog is launched. The key to having a successful blog is to plan ahead. So, if you’re thinking about starting a blog in the New Year, here are 13 things you need to do first, before you launch your blog.
1. Know Your Niche
Determining precisely what you would like to blog about is the first step toward being successful. Tap into your passions and areas of expertise on which you can almost seamlessly provide profound advice. In addition, you should go for subject matters which you would enjoy writing about day after day. After this process, you should create a list of niche ideas, narrow the focus and research similar content to figure out how something unique can be created in that niche.
Before you start, conducting this background research is critical and will assist you in formulating a solid mission statement that you can consistently revisit as your business plan is crafted, editorial calendar created and posts are written. Additionally, your mission statement will assist you as your blog grows by providing you with a better concept of how to pitch your blog to potential contributors or sponsors.
2. Have a Business Plan In Place
From the very start, you should see your blog as a business. So, it’s good to have a business plan in place at the very beginning. Even if your blog is intended as merely a creative outlet, having a business plan could help in concretizing your goals and expectations for the new venture. It might start off as a creative outlet but it could one day potentially turn into a full-time venture.
So, ask yourself questions like:
- Why am I starting a blog?
- How can I monetize it?
- Are you going to send email newsletters? If so, will it be daily, weekly or monthly?
- Where do you see your blog one year from now?
- and etc.
To help you come up with a business plan, look at other bloggers in your niche and see what they’re doing. This will help get your creative juices flowing when putting together your business plan. Fortunately, there are a number of free resources that can assist you in creating your business plan.
3. Secure Your Domain & Social Media Handles
In this next step, it is important to make sure the social handles and domain for the name you have selected can be secured. Site like Bluehost makes it so easy to check the availability of a domain. You always want to choose “.com” when checking because it’s the preferred choice for website owners and is the easiest to remember. It will also allow your readers to easily find you.
Once you have your domain name is secured, create social media handles using your blog name on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube (if you plan to do video) and Tiktok. If your exact blog name is already taken on a social media platform, then add an extra character like maybe underscores or dashes in between words. You could add the word “blog” to the end of it.
When researching possible domain names, make sure it’s not too similar to another blog operating under the same or related name. The last thing you want is your audience questioning whether a website or account is yours.
4. Set Your Branding
The look and feel of your blog is very important since your blog design has the potential to leave a lasting impression on a new visitor. Your brand logo, colors, fonts and graphics are all part of your branding. When thinking about your branding, think about these things and how you can make your blog really stand out from an already crowded internet.
Think about what you want people to view your blog. What are you trying to convey through your brand colors, fonts and graphics? If you’re going for a minimal feel, go with colors and fonts that matches that feel. If you’re going for something more fun, you might lean more towards bright colors and bold fonts. Think about branding now in the early stages, so people have an understanding about your blog right from the start. Trust me, you surely want to avoid doing a redesign a month or two after launching.
Enroll in my 5-Day Start a Blog Email Series. Plus you’ll get exclusive access to my free library of blogging resources.
5. Pick The Right WordPress Theme
Blogs are visually and otherwise designed with the readers in mind to do the best job at pulling traffic and readers to the website. If navigating through your blog doesn’t leave visitors feeling comfortable, blogging success will never be yours. However, if you are just beginning and you have never had a site before, you might be wondering where to start.
Well, I for one wish I added this on my What To Do Before Starting a Blog Checklist, when I was launching my blog because the prospect of designing a blog that is user friendly is not as overwhelming and scary as I thought. In fact, there are several WordPress themes available to simplify the whole process.
When you choose WordPress as your blogging platform, you have freedom to customize your blog in any way you desire. If designing is not your forte, WordPress makes it easy with several thousand free themes and templates you can choose from and customize. Another option is to buy a premium WordPress theme if you’re looking for something more professional. These premium themes have many more features and offer support to help you design your blog. Premium themes can be any price from $15 to $100 or more.
The 17th Avenue Designs WordPress themes are among the best premium WordPress themes bloggers can use. They are ideal for beginners and advanced WordPress users alike and prices range from $35 to $69. You get a fully designed website that’s also mobile-friendly. I’m currently using the Uptown theme for this blog.
Another great feature is that you don’t need coding knowledge to use 17th Avenue; it will take on all the challenges for you. All that is required is a distinct vision of the way you want your blog to look, 17th Avenue will take on the rest. As soon as you feel more comfortable using it, you can become skilled at using more advanced features. There are tons of customization options from which to choose from.
6. Create An Editorial Calendar
When you have a new blog, it’s a good idea to jot down at least a month’s worth of blog post ideas a few months before launching. It’s always best to plan ahead and here’s where you’ll find that creating an editorial calendar comes to the rescue.
First you need to determine how many posts you can, realistically, aim to publish per week. If you want Google love, then expert quality, decent length, sensitively crafted and highly engaging is your objective here. Not short, empty verbiage just so that you can say you met your quota.
Let’s say you decide on writing three amazing posts a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Divide your niche (which should already be fairly narrow, and laser targeted) down into three main topics so that you only write on topic one on Mondays, topic two on Wednesdays, and so on.
Now brainstorm one of your Monday’s topics and chunk it right down into fine-grained sub-topic slices like ‘Green Smoothie Recipe’, ‘Blueberry Smoothie Recipe’, ‘Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe’, etc. Each of these becomes a blog post idea which you will frontload onto your scheduling software or paper calendar until you have several months’ worth of ideas to draw from. Now do the same for Wednesday’s topics, etc. Your fountain of constant fresh content will drive traffic to your new blog right from the start.
7. Write an Amazing “About Me” Page
It is natural that your readers will want to know who you are and if you would like your blog to be exceptional, you have to be exceptional as well. Create an ‘About Me’ page that is easily accessible on your site. Ensure that it is filled with information concerning who you are and what your blog is about.
They are more likely to continue visiting if they can get to know you and understand your reasons for starting the blog. Open up about your story. If you want to be seen as an authoritative in your niche, then this is your chance to mention your credentials. It should include information such as your education background, any special recognitions, awards and features that you or your blog has received, your work experience, as well as testimonials and success stories.
Be sure to also include an image of yourself as it’s just as important. People want to follow and connect with a human being, not a faceless business. Then take a blurb from your About Me page and add it to the profile of each of your social media platforms.
8. Write Your Legal Pages
When you decide to include affiliate links in your content or you start making money, you will need to have a Disclosure policy page as well. However, this can also be done from the get-go. The disclosure policy should outline that you receive a commission when the reader buys via your affiliate links. If sponsored posts are accepted, it should be stated that the compensation you receive does not influence your opinion; this should definitely hold true and not merely be a statement.
Additionally, if you have made an application to become an Amazon affiliate, a particular language should be used. To avoid being rejected, it is actually recommended that the Amazon disclosure text be added to your blog prior to applying.
9. Have a Social Media Game Plan
In today’s online world, a simple blog is a lonely thing. Without social media platforms acting as the advance scouts ringing the bell and laying down the paper trail back to your blog posts, you would be destined to fall way behind your socially noisy competitors. Not a good thing.
You need to use social media platforms simply because that’s where your future audience — and customers — spend their day. So where can you expect most of a blog’s traffic to come from, search or social? That’s a good question, but only an analytics program will be able to pinpoint where your visitors are arriving from, and where your energies are best spent in terms of the traffic response. Used tactically, social media platforms have more potential to drive a pre-engaged surge of traffic than an organic ‘passive’ search will produce. Each platform is different though and is best suited to a certain set of niche types, with much overlap of course.
If you want to have a successful blog, have a social media game plan in place. First create an account on the top 4 social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Then think about how you plan to grow your following on each of these accounts, engage with people and bloggers in your niche, how often you plan to post on Facebook, Instagram and etc. every single day.
For Pinterest, I recommend using Tailwind as it’s a great scheduling tool that all new and advanced bloggers use, including myself. To schedule your Instagram posts, go with Planoly and for Facebook and Twitter, Buffer is my go-to!
10. Prepare Blog Posts Before Your Launch Date
Before your blog is launched, ensure you have adequate content in line for a few weeks, at least. Writing a sufficient amount of articles to publish for 2 to 4 months should be added to your blog launch checklist, if possible. Having adequate content prepared and waiting is extremely useful in the first months. You will definitely have a lot of other things than writing on your mind when the blog “goes live.”
Use your editorial calendar and content strategy to produce a steady flow of blog posts for publishing. When you are finished writing a blog post, it can be scheduled for publication in the future. The scheduling option found under Document > Publish can be found in your Edit Post view.
By default, each post is scheduled to be published immediately. When the link labeled “immediately” is pressed, a calendar will pop up: you should simply select the date and time you would like the post to be published and you will be done.
Blogging will be much more structured and efficient if you have a bunch of blog posts lined up prior to launching your blog. When you are set to “go live,” you will have to be concerned about not having enough blog posts to publish. This allows you to dedicate additional time to things like generating traffic, marketing and monetizing your blog.
11. Set Up Your Email Opt-In For Subscribers
If you want your blog to become popular and potentially generate significant revenues, you have to increase traffic to your blog and more importantly, grow your blog audience. One of the most effective strategies you can use to achieve this goal is email. In other words, you should set up your email optin form before launching your blog in order to allow your blog audience to sign up to receive emails from you right from the beginning.
This is important due to various reasons. Firstly, email offers a direct and personal way to communicate with your blog audience, particularly the ones who are interested in your content. Secondly, an email list would allow you to own your own marketing channel that is not influenced by social media algorithms and policies, which tend to change from time to time.
There are plenty of themes that has an email optin form built in so you only need to connect it with an email platform of your choosing. If it doesn’t, then there are plenty of plugins within WordPress where you can easily add one. Before you create an opt-in, you need an email platform that offers the most comprehensive features available to ensure quick, convenient, and efficient email marketing. There are dozens to choose from, but the current standouts for beginners are Mailchimp & Convertkit.
Networking can be a massive aspect of launching your blog and experiencing growth in readership. Start to follow people, other blogs and companies you admire and interact with and/or comment on the content of their social media accounts and websites. Be intentional about getting your name out there. Search for other blogs that are in your geographic area or niche and reach out to suggest or ask questions about collaboration opportunities. Being a part of a network made up of fellow bloggers will be very useful as you grow and attempt to expand your audience and reach.
It is also a good idea to reach out to brands in the capacity of prospective sponsors by sending a quick DM on Instagram or message on Facebook. The more you immerse yourself into networking, the more opportunities you will get to monetize your blog content, attract new readers and build your following.
13. Invest To Learn The Business Of Blogging
As it relates to starting a blog, there is a lot to learn, particularly as it relates to starting a profitable blog. A number of remarkable online courses and ebooks are available that you can enroll in to learn a variety of blogging skills. There are courses that cover everything that is needed in one place. They cover things like creating a blog, media marketing, SEO, writing, affiliate marketing and list building.
There are also courses that teach bloggers and prospective bloggers how to generate an income right from the start, even with no or a very small following. Do your research and go for courses that provide much value and information at an affordable cost.
Now you know the things you need to do before you launch your blog. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way towards a successful blog launch!