7 Basic Things You MUST Do Before You Launch Your Blog
I have had countless blogs. It never really bothered me when they failed because I wasn’t trying that hard to make them succeed. They were just hobbies I didn’t feel like doing anymore, just like when I got bored of the clarinet. Most of these little blogs were required assignments for school and that's it. I just didn't really care.
After my last blog silently fell off around 2014, I knew I was going to eventually begin another online presence but I just didn’t know where to begin and how to push through and make it succeed. Before starting this blog, I realized I wasn’t passionate about my prior blogs and I figured out why.
Not only was I not passionate about it, I was unprepared. This is a list I needed and didn't have at the time.
These are things that will get your blog started on the right foot:
1. Choose your brand color scheme
Maybe it’s because I have a design background, but there’s not much I hate more than an ugly website. It’s overwhelming and if your readers are anything like me, they will automatically become uninterested and find the red x.
Avoid patterned backgrounds, busy illegible logos and rainbow color schemes. Stick to 2-3 colors and fonts and use them for everything. More info can be found here.
2. Choose your platform
If it’s not Wordpress or Squarespace, I suggest you choose a different platform. In my opinion, Squarespace is the best for beginners and WordPress is also a great option. I blogged about the differences between SquareSpace and WordPress here. In my opinion, Wix and Blogger scream “hobby.” Will your blog turn into more just a hobby? Will you put it down and never post again in a month? Your platform decision isn't in stone but it may be a pain to move your whole site later on.
Quick tip: If you find a website you love and wonder which platform they used: right click on the page and click “view page source.” Scroll through the code until you see if it says SquareSpace or WordPress or another platform. If you can’t pinpoint any platform, which is highly unlikely, scroll to the very bottom of their homepage and see if there’s a designer link or a “powered by ___” statement. The designer’s website will usually state what platform they use.
3. Buy your domain name
For a long time, Squarespace didn't even give you the option of “yourwebsite.squarespace.com” and for good reason. It’s a lot easier to remember TheBronzeHustle.com whether than TheBronzeHustle.wordpress.com. Buy your domain name because for one: it makes your brand look so much more professional. Trust me, that Wix wallpaper badge isn’t cute. And for two: because of better branding and consistency. There are some branding coaches who buy multiple domain names for their projects and products- it’s a good idea to have a website where people can find what you offer easily.
4. Get your social media handles together
Secure your handles on social media (regardless of if you plan to use them right away) just so you have them to share your posts on.
For starters: a Facebook page for people to like and to share posts and an Instagram page to catch those people who either aren’t on Facebook or don’t care to check it. You need Facebook because it's still the biggest social media platform and at some point you may want to run ads.
Don't go the "I'm just going to use my personal page to promote my brand." route because Facebook will demote your posts because they are not genuinely entertaining to your friends. The annoying thing is that Facebook updates their algorithms often and you'll want to follow Social Media Examiner and other similar brands that keep up with all of the updates. The Social Media Examiner site looks like it's stuck in 2007 but it's constantly updated and full of gems!
Once your site is up, make your social media handles easily accessible in either the top navigation bar, the sidebar or the footer at the very bottom of your website. Don’t discourage followers before you even get them.
5. Build anticipation on social media
Prior to your launch, it’s a good idea to build up anticipation to your brand. Sneak peeks of your website, a countdown and engaging your audience early will secure them as readers when your website is fully up and running. Having a social media following early means that there will be people already in your audience ready to read your blog posts when you put them up. For more insight on successful launches, check out this post from Elle & Co.
You can start going live and challenge yourself to post often to give your followers a better glimpse of who you are and what your brand consists of.
6. Sign up for a Google Analytics account
Google Analytics is so helpful. It tells you where your website visitors are coming from, how long they were on your site and even what kind of device they are on.
When you sign up, you’ll be given a tracking code to paste into the backend of your website and for WordPress users, there’s a bunch of Google Analytics plugins to make it work with your site. Because Squarespace doesn’t use plugins (thank God), you’ll need to insert the tracking code through your settings.
SquareSpace Main Menu- Settings- Advanced- External Services- Google Analytics Account Number (provided when you sign up on the Google website)
7. Write blog posts
This is a no brainer! Have something for your visitors to look at. A good amount of posts to have is at least five prior to your launch. You can promote those five posts and hyperlink them to each other within the bodies to get your readers to stay on your website. The hyperlinks are especially important in the beginning because they’ll get a better insight on your brand rather than clicking off after one post. It’s a really good idea to plan and write your content ahead of time and make changes as time goes along, so you’re not scrambling to find something to post. Write ahead of yourself and you’ll always have content.
Since you're a new blogger, there are a few posts (most of them really) that will help you to create amazing content and get momentum going: