Announcing a new blog is an exciting thing for most web-based business owners because you now have this interactive platform for your audience to engage with you from. If you didn’t have a blog before (and if you were also lacking a social media presence), you may not have any idea who is out there enjoying your work. Launching a blog opens the doors to get to know your online audience in a more intimate way.
Since you have two groups of people — those who know you now and those who don’t yet know you — the blog strategy needs to incorporate both of these groups. It is important to personally invite the people who know, like and trust you into the environment but it is equally as important to set up some things that will attract in new prospects as that is the goal of your blog.
Some Pre-Announcement Checklist Items
Before you announce your blog to the world, you’ll want to make sure that the following is set up to ensure that people can hook into your blog and share it easily. You’ll want to ensure that:
- Feedburner is set up and ready to accept subscriptions – you’ll need to decide if you want people to be able to sign up via e-mail for new blog posts or if they will just add the feed themselves to a feed reader of their choice. Once you decide that, make sure the technical pieces are set up and ready to go.
- Social sharing is set up – you’ll also want to be sure that your social sharing plug-ins are set up and have been tested. These will allow people to post your blogs to their social networking accounts and other outlets. People sharing your content is what helps you to reach new audiences so it is vital that these are in place.
- List building is in place – if you plan on building a list (and you should), you’ll want to make sure that your blog is equipped with an opt-in box in the column and your freebie / giveaway (something to entice sign-ups with) is ready to go. If you don’t want to focus on traditional list building, use Feedburner’s e-mail subscription option to at least collect some of the information from your readers.
- Your auto-post options are set up – if you want to, you can push new blog posts automatically out to Twitter, Facebook, etc. This is completely a personal choice as you can also manually share the blog post to these mediums if you wish. The benefit to these tools is that even if you schedule a blog post in the future, at least it will go out to your social networks without you having to think about it.
- All of your social networks and other profiles are updated – don’t forget to go back to every one of your accounts and profiles and, where possible, add in your blog’s URL.
- You have at least 3-5 blog posts posted - one is not enough. People are going to want to feel like there is an abundance of relevant and on point material to bookmark it or subscribe via RSS. Make them feel like there is just too much on your blog to read at once so you get return readers.
- Analytics is installed - this is going to be key in determining which of your content pieces are the most popular, where people are coming from and how long they are staying on the site. Install it from day one so you can also track your progress and see growth.
- You have a PLAN – what is the long-term vision for your blog? Do you want it to serve a specific purpose? Will this be to generate more visitors and in turn, more potential customers/clients or is the goal to monetize the blog itself? Make sure you have at least some goal for your blog so that you’ll keep up with consistent, quality posts.
Once this checklist has been followed through, it’s time for the big announcement!
Announcing the Blog
The first place to start is in announcing the blog to the world. This means telling everyone you know that you now have this space and that they can come and interact with it. To make sure that you hit all of your current network, you should:
- Announce it to your e-mail contacts – these are the contacts that currently sit in your native e-mail application (Gmail, Outlook, etc.). You should send a personal e-mail to these contacts that gives them the new blog URL and tells them a little bit about the first post and the direction / purpose of the blog. Encourage them to also provide you with ideas for posts they’d like to see and make sure they know that you are open to any and all feedback.
- Announce it via your social networks – you’ll want to create at least 2 weeks worth of updates and reminders to go out 1-2 times per day. People will not see every Tweet or every Facebook update so you want to make sure that you get the fact that you have a new blog in front of as many people as possible.
- Announce it to your e-mail marketing list – if you are already doing list building, make sure to send an e-mail out to your list to let them know that you’ve got a new blog. Since these people already subscribe to your content, they will be great community builders for your new blog.
- Add it to your e-mail signature – now that you have a blog, you want all new contacts (and existing contacts) to be reminded of it all of the time. Add your blog URL to your e-mail signature immediately.
Indexing the Blog
Since you now have a presence, you want to start getting the roots of your blog buried deep within the Internet soil. To do this, you’ll want to take some time to:
- Create an account at Technorati – this will get your blog indexed with Technorati, one of the leading blog search engines on the Internet.
- Create an account at Digg – when you post your blogs, you should also have them cross-posting to Digg to get more visibility and traffic.
- Add your blog to blog directories – a few of the places you’ll want to consider include Blogged.com, Bloggapedia.com and Best of the Web. There are a lot of blog directories out there so look to see which might offer the most strategic alignment for your industry and add it there.
Once this is complete, you will now have a much more expansive reach every time you post a blog entry.
Getting to Know Your Fellow Bloggers
This piece is less “do it for the strategic benefit” and more “do it because it’s just a nice thing to do.” This piece should also be done because you want to become part of a blogging community and not because you are looking for the sheer benefit of extra traffic alone. However, here are some tips when getting to know your fellow bloggers:
- Look for blogs that are complimentary to yours – for example, if you are a publicist, you may want to look for other media type blogs. When you find them, add them to an RSS feed reader and start reading the posts and commenting. Make sure that the URL you leave in your comment is your blog’s URL.
- Guest posts for other blogs – find relevant and popular blogs and ask if you can author a guest post for their site. If they agree, you can link back to your own blog in the author byline to see some incoming traffic. Be sure though that these posts are really high quality because people will only continue on to read more content on your site if they found that article really helpful.
Consider Using Gamification to Attract Visitors
I thought this MSN Business on Main article was particularly relevant to this topic: “Get Your Game On.” The article focuses on using “gamification” to entice website visitors, increase blog interaction and make your business generally more fun.
Here is a short synopsis:
“There are countless ways you can make doing business with your company a game, but the point is to make your site sticky — so that people keep coming back and learning about your products and services. For example, this article by Zichermann describes a game offered by the restaurant chain Taco John’s, in which consumers are rewarded with bonus points for taking a photo of themselves with their breakfast and posting it to Facebook or Flickr.”
Consider ways that you can integrate this idea into your blog and business.
Done and Done
There you have it! An easy way to launch your blog. Up next? A six-month blogging strategy to help you get the most traffic to your blog on an on-going basis.