A blog launch is exciting, but it can also be awfully lonely for up to a year as you build readership, unless you plan to begin with a bang.
So, here are my tips for beginner writers who plan on doing just that.
This strategy does not require you to have an existing audience to use as a springboard. In fact, I’m assuming you’re starting cold.
The winning blog-launch blueprint
The blog-launch blueprint we’ll cover today consists of three steps …
Let’s look at each one.
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1. Cornerstone: Start your blog on a firm foundation
In addition to a strong “About me page” page, your cornerstone content is the foundation of your website. It’s the information any visitor needs to get the most out of following your blog.
Cornerstone content enhances the user experience and should also include the primary keyword phrases you hope to rank for in search engines.
I suggest doing a series of posts tied together on a landing page, as I did with Copywriting 101 when I started Copyblogger in 2006.
Should you write this series before your blog launch?
You can, but why not just turn on the blog and post on a regular schedule? There’s no better way to start writing and hold yourself accountable to meet your business goals.
After you write each post, add it to the landing page and link to it in your future articles when you mention the topic of the post. This method gives you time to concurrently work on Step 2.
2. Networking: Create awareness and form relationships
As a beginner blogger, you may or may not have contacts with other bloggers and content creators in your niche.
If you do, let them know you’ve started blogging, and specifically point out your cornerstone series. If not, identify your competitors and blogs with related topics, and start leaving smart comments.
Eventually send over an email introducing yourself, but don’t ask for a link or pitch your content. Remember, this is the process of relationship building, not closing the deal.
You need to make sure you’re identifying potential promotional partners, but also keep in mind that if you annoy these people, you may never get another shot after your blog launch. The trust you’re aiming to build could be damaged.
Also, don’t forget about traditional websites, social media news outlets that are compatible with your topic, and email newsletter publishers.
It’s easy to dismiss publishers with small audiences here, but smaller communities are often more engaged. If they care about your topic, reaching them could be a fast way to gain new readers.
Do this research and outreach while you build your cornerstone series with your blog post ideas, one post at a time.
You may want to sprinkle in other posts that conversationally link to other sites in your niche to demonstrate your knowledge and your willingness to promote others.
3. Attraction: The big bang comes third, not first
Now we come to the big bang — a single piece of content that is designed to get people linking and visiting in as large amounts as we can manage for our niche.
It can be a PDF report, an awesome video tutorial, or an industry resource that everyone in your niche will want to acknowledge.
You’ll have figured out during the networking phase which approach has the best chance of succeeding, which is another reason to focus on research and take your time. If you rush your blog launch, you’ll likely know less about your audience, and overlook networking and promotional opportunities.
So, why not simply launch the blog with your attraction content?
You can, and successful blogs have done so.
But here’s why I advocate this three-step approach:
Your attraction content should do more than just get attention. It should also clearly demonstrate that your blog is worth reading on a regular basis.
And to do that, you’ll want to point out your cornerstone content for reference, right? Ultimately, your business blogging educates people on what it’s like to do business with you, as well as how to do business with you.
For example, I mixed in my introductory copywriting series with other posts.
Then I released Viral Copy, a 30-page PDF on how copywriting skills can help you attract links and traffic when blogging.
Viral Copy was a useful resource on its own, but it was also designed to convince the reader that copywriting skills, and hence Copyblogger, are essential to building blog traffic.
What if people weren’t familiar with copywriting?
Viral Copy pointed people toward the Copywriting 101 series. The cornerstone set in the first step supports (and promotes) your blog every step of the way as you continue to create new content.
A blog launch with a one-two punch
Taking this three-step approach can lead to interesting outcomes.
Naturally, having another prominent piece of killer content magnifies the value of your blog beyond the attraction content itself.
But more than that, you end up not only pulling in links to your attraction content, but to your cornerstone content as well.
And since your cornerstone content should be built around the most relevant keywords for your blog, you should study SEO for content writers. Those links will help you begin to rank well in search engines and grow your audience further.
In my case, the links to the Copywriting 101 series continued to pour in months after the buzz over Viral Copy died down.
Because I took the time to build a foundation for the blog launch before focusing on a specific promotional campaign, the attraction content did more than just score links — it sold reading my blog and my other content to other relevant bloggers.
This approach may seem counterintuitive, and it requires patience. For example, it was a full two months from starting Copyblogger to releasing Viral Copy.
But blogging always requires patience and dedication to your blog without any immediate reward. If you’re in it for the long haul and want to build authority, this is a strategy that’s worth a try and may work well for you.
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Reader Comments (68)
Paul Bradish says
This is a great resource – thank you!
My blog launched about two months ago with some buzz but I think that your post here will really help to steer me in the right direction. Thanks again.
Laurie (infodoodads) says
I subscribe to your RSS feed and always find your posts very informative. Along with this topic, I just launched a new website with 5 other librarians, called infodoodads. We launched the last week in February and already have 350+ subscribers. I think they key was 1) knowing the niche we were going to fill and 2) not being afraid to promote the site to listservs, other websites, etc.
Brad Isaac says
Brian, have you tested putting your cornerstone content into graphic ads vs. the links you have now? I have some cornerstone content I need to post and thought if graphics work better than links I’d start with graphics first.
Brian Clark says
Brad, I’ve not tried that, although I think it might be highly effective. It just depends… some people tune out graphics that look like ads and yet seek out text links.
You do get anchor text benefits from the way I do it, but you get more of that from cross-linking within posts, rather than in the sidebar.
Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.
James Zolman says
Great 3-step process! I love it when somebody writes a piece like this. I started my blog in May, and I thought I would have plenty of time to work out a WordPress theme that looked like it belonged to my website, and I would be writing for a year before picking up a few subscribers, but Matt McGee from SmallBusinessSEM.com picked up my first post and everything took off like a rocket!! I wasn’t prepared for that so I have been awkwardly stumbling along as a new blogger. I could have used this a month or two ago! 🙂
Joanna Young says
I think I’ve done one and two so far but not yet three.
Number two – the networking – has been a fantastic way to build relationships and encourage a readership to my sites – I haven’t felt lonely once and I’ve only been blogging a couple of months, never mind a year.
Great step-by-step breakdown Brian. I think the initial phase of participating in conversations on other properties your niche is the most important step. It introduces you to the big players in your space. This way you have at least some credibility farther down the road and that spark of recognition can lead to a fast climb up the ladder.
Patrick Altoft says
We launched a new blog at blogstorm.co.uk just over a week ago and today made number 5 on the Alexa Movers & Shakers list.
The key was having good content right from the outset.
Great site – you have some really clear and useful advice. I will refer back to your blog as I get closer to launching mine.
There is a conference called Postiecon coming up in Vegas soon. It is a bunch of pro-bloggers sharing their experience with the unexperienced bloggers.
Keep up the great work,
JoLynn Braley says
Excellent article Brian.
It sounds like it’s really not too late to take these steps even if you don’t do them immediately when you launch your blog. They can only help!
Diego Del Vecchio says
This is really a great resource. I’ve been reading Copyblogger for about a month and all I got was excellent tips. I’ve started my spanish SEO blog last March but just as an experiment, and it is now becoming a passion.
Brian, thank you very much for articles like this one. They are really helpfull.
Wild Bill says
dugg, This was information that I needed to know. I have been redesigning my site and have decide to change the topic and focus of my blog. I have been blogging for a while so I expected to lose some visitors when I fully make the change. Now I have an idea on how to attract visitors that will be interested in my new niche. Thanks for the plan Brian. 😉
Brian, I really enjoyed the points that you brought up about blogging. However, if you don’t really enjoy the subject that you are blogging on the blogging is a real chore.
These are the issues that I’ve just been struggling myself. Thanks for all the pointers! You really need to get the vision and organization done before you start the blog and keep it going.
Good points and great resources, Brian – thank you :o)
I think what launch method you choose also depends on who you are, and who you know in the industry you’re launching in, and on what your blog is about.
These are obvious points, but it’s important not misunderstand the correlation between purpose and type of launch.
I guess what I mean is, that one shouldn’t think they HAVE to go in with a big bang, and hold off launching when a slow launch would do just as good, but would have allowed them to get active long ago… (that sounds a lot better in my head ;o)
One other comment, I’ve recently launched my blog, and what’s astonishing is how many people online are so willing to help. There’s this unspoken ethic amongst bloggers of giving before receiving, and I think that is a very good philosophy to maintain – especially when first ‘diving’ in.
Thanks again for the good post.
Mark Harrison says
A very timely post Brian. I have just finished installing WordPress and adding the Copyblogger theme (You rock Chris Pearson) and now I have a very concise summary of the detail I have been reading over the last month or so.
Top Bananna mate!
A Tentative Personal Finance Blog says
Has anyone thought about doing a press release? Even for a small time blog?
Joseph Cizek says
This is one of many posts from Copyblogger that has been very helpful in shaping our website, Boldly Going. We’re still getting started, but I think we’re on the right path to the “bang.” Thanks for sharing some great thoughts.
i also think that if you are going to launch a new blog you need to treat it like cereal.
What makes my blog special? Is it sweet,good for you, or just a pretty box. Almost any approach can be successful but you have to subtley sell it everyday.
There are tons of blogs to choose from, just look at the cereal isle.
Brian Clark says
The return of the legend? 😉
actually i was reading you blog while eating Fruit Loops…
joel badinas says
Too bad I already started my blog months ago. But anyway, I can still use this techniques to gain more traffic.
Jeff Chavez says
I don’t read any blog more frequently that I read this one. You really are doing a great job, thank you. We now make CopyBlogger a standard part of our mentoring programs for new entrepreneurs–thanks for the terrific content. My recent post pointed my readers to this…keep it up! Jeff
Michael Martine says
Brian, thanks for such a great basics-with-a-twist article! I’m currently in the process of strengthening my blog and relaunching it after a time of less focused blogging, and these tips are fantastic!
Hamlet Batista says
This is excellent advice. I started my blog close to a month ago.
Before I started networking, I created several useful posts so that people would not feel the blog was empty.
I have to agree that leaving smart comments in other blogs generates great awareness. A couple of my posts were picked by large related sites such as Search Engine Watch and SEOmoz and that has made a huge difference in traffic and RSS subscribers.
I still need to move to step three.
Jonathan Fields says
I am in the pre-launch stages for a new blog and this particular post, along with a number of your other posts more specific to actual content-creation, has really been pivotal in convincing me to take a step back, allocate a bit more time to planning and preparation and really do it right.
Carole DeJarnatt says
I am glad I found your blog. This information is great and even though I started my blog a few months ago I am going to implement some of the steps I left out in the beginning.
Brad Isaac says
Brian, I have an existing blog that’s seemed to plateau on traffic.
I took your advice repackaged a series I did back in May as some cornerstone content. You might not have time to read it all, but does it meet your ‘cornerstone’ criteria?
Writing Your Way to Wealth On The Web
Thanks for looking!
Janna Berg | Prime says
This is a great resource, we have several clients who are joining the blog bandwagon & I think that this is a great piece for them to read so that they can really start their blog correctly. Great Job!!
Pete Moring says
Since signing up to NorthStarthinktank recently the level of resource recommemdation just gets better.
This blog is clearly written just for people like me who have the enthusiasm for blogging, but not really the best strategies.
Many thanks for some great content.
Aurelius Tjin says
Thanks for sharing this, Brian.
I love your blog posts. They’re always useful.
Malcolm Bastien says
Thanks for this. I like that the approach is no big secret:
– have a plan
– take your time
– provide the content
– build on the relationships
Fiona Fell - websitePROFITS says
I have bookmarked this page for future reference, especially with the re-launch of my blog just around the corner.
I currently lack some of the cornerstone content that keeps people coming back, and finding value in my writing.
Off to write some now…
Andy Fogarty says
I love how a post written over 3 years ago still has just as much power as it did the day it written. That’s like 30 years in internet time 🙂
Thank you for sharing this! I’m currently re-launching/re-starting/reinventing my blog. It’s slow going at the moment, which is frustrating, but with great resources like this, I have a better grasp on what I need to be doing.
Susan Straub-Martin says
Great article. I am just getting into blogging and I go to a weekly bloggers group. I find these tips useful for getting started.
I have started to make some impact and gain readership so I will keep it up with some new tools to help my efforts.
Hashim Warren says
Brian, is there anything you would add to this strategy if you had to relaunch today?
Alison Ver Halen says
Love this post. I was recently talking to a client who wanted to start blogging, but the rest of the content on her website was so weak I advised her to strengthen her landing pages first.
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