Launching a brand-new blog 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 thoughts 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 blog-launch blueprint consists of three steps:
1. Cornerstone: Build your blog on a firm foundation
Your cornerstone content is the foundation of your blog — the information any visitor needs to get the most out of following your blog.
It enhances the user experience and should also be one of the primary search terms you hope to rank for.
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.
Also, make sure you’ve written a strong “about me page” page before you launch.
Should you write the series before you go live?
You can, but why not just turn on the blog and start posting on your own schedule? This gives you time to concurrently start working on Step 2.
2. Networking: Create awareness and form relationships
You may or may not have contacts with other bloggers 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. You’re trying to start a relationship, not close the deal.
Don’t forget about traditional websites, social media news outlets that are compatible with your topic, and email newsletter publishers.
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.
Do this while you build your cornerstone series, one post at a time.
You may want to sprinkle in other posts that conversationally link to others 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 take your time.
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?
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.
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 traffic.
What if people weren’t familiar with copywriting?
Viral Copy pointed people toward Copywriting 101. The cornerstone set in the first step supports (and promotes) your blog every step of the way.
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, those links will help you begin to rank well in search engines and grow your audience further.
In my case, the links to Copywriting 101 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 before launching a promotional campaign, the attraction content did more than score links — it sold my blog and 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 if you’re in it for the long haul and want to build authority, this is a strategy that may work well for you.