Let’s get real.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect” blog launch.
But, there are numerous steps every new blogger should be making before launching a new blog – if they want lasting success and to not spend years correcting things that could have been implemented in the first place. But countless bloggers are skipping most of these critical steps.
Why? Because as a brand-new blogger, how are you suppose to know?
I know I was bewildered as I scrolled through endless blog posts and tutorials that claimed to have all the answers.
But I always left feeling more confused than when I started. (Another reason I started this blog, so new bloggers and aspiring mompreneurs would have all the info they needed to start and grow their blogs, and turn their passions into profit).
It took me 4 months of solid research, every single day, before I even thought about starting this blog. Because the amount of information I came across was hard to decipher and I wanted to make sure I was informed and did my very best the first time around.
Although it’s still been loads of trial and error and many of learning experiences, I still feel that if I hadn’t invested the time researching, I wouldn’t have been able to grow my readership and income in such a short time.
Think of it as building a house:
You must lay the foundation.
When you build a home, you don’t start by putting up the walls or installing the roof. No of course not. The entire house would collapse! You lay the foundation first.
It’s the same when launching a new blog that you want to be profitable and successful. You must ensure your foundation is steady before you even think about doing anything else.
Not every blog will make money. And that’s the truth of it.
It takes a decent to a large amount of traffic, lots of hard work and late nights, and an ”I’m never giving up” attitude. Blogging is NOT for the faint-hearted or for people not willing to put in the work but expect instant results.
Here are 6 crucial steps before launching a new blog (the right way), so you can grow your blog into something profitable, without taking years of trial and error to get there.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I only promote products-services that I personally use or trust fully. That means, at no extra cost to you, if you purchase something through one of those links, I will receive a compensation. Here’s more info on my disclaimer.
1) Choosing Your Niche And Target Audience
I know, I know.. You’re tired of being told that you need to hone in on a niche to succeed as a blogger. And I get it.
So here’s the good news:
You can have a more general niche (like a lifestyle blog – as the lovely and successful Kate of Layered Indulgence does), as long as you have a clearly defined target audience. Although having a particular niche is beneficial too!
Defining your target audience is one of the most significant things you’ll do for your blog. And not one you can skip if you plan to monetize by selling your own products (like e-courses or e-books), or even if you plan to do affiliate marketing!
Before you even think about launching a new blog or writing blog posts, you need to determine who you’re writing for.
But let’s back up.
How do you decide on a niche?
Your passion + what you’re good at/an expert in + a profitable idea = your niche.
It really is as simple as that.
It needs to be something you could write about all day long for years to come, create products about, something you’re an expert in or know more about than the average person, and most importantly: it has to be a profitable niche.
An excellent way to tell if it’s a profitable idea is a quick Google search. See if others have blogs related to yours or even have the same as yours. If there are blogs in your niche out there that are making a living – then it’s a profitable niche.
And don’t worry if there are a million other blogs in your niche – everyone brings something unique to the online world, and the best way to ensure your blog stands out, is to get ultra-specific.
Instead of a ”parenting blog”, you could narrow that down to ”a parenting blog for single moms”. Or go a step further and make it ”a parenting blog for single moms of disabled children”.
Now, that’s specific!
And when it comes to your passion – make sure it’s something you can see yourself writing about for a very long time. Something you’re truly passionate about.
I made the mistake of starting a beauty blog in the beginning. Although I enjoy makeup and watching tutorials on YouTube – I found out pretty quickly it wasn’t my passion. It was more of a hobby. Not something sustainable that I could see myself making a living from.
I sat down one day and realized I couldn’t think of a SINGLE blog post to write for that niche.
And if you can’t come up with several great ideas for valuable blog posts for a niche, you can be sure that’s not the right one for you.
Now that my niche has changed, drastically, to something I’m truly passionate about, I have ideas flowing out of my head every single day.
Just Remember: Your passion + what you’re good at/an expert in + a profitable idea = your niche.
Your Target Audience
Without a specific target audience, you’ll find yourself facing trouble in the long-term, and even in the short term.
The most important thing you want to remember: You do NOT want to appeal to everyone. This is a common mistake.
I thought a larger and broader target audience would be more beneficial and profitable. Was I ever wrong!
You want to appeal to a very specific audience. This is what will make you stand out from the million other bloggers in your niche.
Otherwise, you’re simply wasting your time. And time is money.
You can’t create quality content until you know who you’re writing for. Although it will take some time to figure out what your audience enjoys and finds the most helpful – it’s critical to narrow down your target audience before you think about launching a new blog.
So, a clearly defined niche and target audience so you can market your products and content for THEM.
2) start your blog
Once you’ve established your niche and target audience you can go ahead and start your WordPress blog. This is much easier than you could imagine. I started this blog in 10 minutes and haven’t looked back.
It was the best decision I ever made for myself and my daughter.
I have a step-by-step tutorial walking you through every step of starting a new blog with self-hosted WordPress. Follow along this post to actually start your blog, and then head back here and jump to #3 once you’re a proud owner of a WordPress blog!
It is MUCH easier than I ever could have imagined. I put it off for quite some time because of fear.
Don’t let fear stand in your way of reaching your destiny.
3) get the tech stuff out of the way
Now don’t be frightened by the term “tech”. When I started this blog in November 2016 – I was weary of using WordPress because I thought it would require more technical abilities than I had.
But, it didn’t.
In fact, the ”tech side” of things came along pretty easily. (Thanks, Google and YouTube), and since then I’ve actually helped clients set up their own WordPress blogs and helped them with the technical side of things, along with everything in this section. And remember, 8 months ago, I was new to WordPress! So absolutely anyone can start a WordPress blog DIY-style.
So what are the main components that you need to set up?
(Assuming you’re using WordPress – which you should be)
- First, There’s choosing a theme. This post will give you tons of options for feminine and functional themes that give you every option you could ever need. And all of which are quite affordable for mommas who are bootstrapping it in the beginning. You can start off with a free theme that WordPress provides. But, if you’re reading this post, something tells me you want to be a serious blogger who makes serious money. And if that’s the case, a free theme is not an option. Another option is checking out Creative Market for more theme options.
- Install The Plugins You’d Like On Your WordPress Blog. A few I essential plugins I recommend: Yoast SEO (an incredible SEO plugin) , Akismet (anti-spam), W3 Total Cache (speeds up your website), Wordfence Security (a security plugin that is a MUST) , Updraft Plus Backup (a plugin to backup your blog – you should back up your blog every few weeks), SumoMe (for social sharing, pop-ups and more), Contact Form 7 (contact form), Beaver Builder Plugin Lite Verison (a page builder), and a plugin to optimize your images like TinyPNG or EWW Image Optimizer. Although, I would ALWAYS suggest running your images through TinyPNG.com before you ever upload to WordPress. Most stock images come as 1-5MG which is a large file size. When you optimize your images before uploading, you decrease the file size so it doesn’t slow down your website. An optimal file size is under 100 KB (although you won’t always get it that small). Large images can make for a rather slow site. These are just a few essential plugins, you’ll need more depending on your needs and niche – these are the just the most necessary basics.
- Set Up Your Permalinks. This is an important step, that most new bloggers don’t know about. Go to SETTINGS > PERMALINKS, and change your settings to ‘POST NAME’, as your new blog will have it automatically selected ‘day and name’, and you don’t want a date in your blog post’s URL. And if you try to fix this later, you’ll be faced with broken links on every post you have.
- Another Step That Most New Bloggers Don’t Realize They Need To Do. When you upload any image to WordPress, it stores several versions. This slows down your website tremendously. I had a serious issue with load time and this has certainly helped. (That, and optimizing my images before uploading to WordPress). Here’s how you fix that so it only stores the one image you upload. In your WordPress dashboard, go to SETTINGS > MEDIA, and change all of the numbers to zero. It should look just like this:
- Set Up The Yoast SEO Plugin. Setting up this plugin properly is a blog post in itself, so here are two fabulous tutorials to walk you through it. Here’s the first in-depth tutorial, and another tutorial. Remember – setting up the foundation for your blog is particularly important. So don’t skip this step. Yoast SEO will not only set up the foundation for your SEO so you can rank in search engines like Google and be found by readers, but it will allow you to easily do a number of tasks later on that normally would be challenging.
Once you have this plugin set up and configured correctly using one of the above tutorials, you’ll have a Yoast SEO section at the bottom of the screen when you’re writing a new post. This is so you can make sure that every post is 100% SEO optimized before you hit publish. Here’s an amazing blog post to explain how to optimize your blog posts for SEO. I can’t stress how vital it is to optimize each and every post for SEO. Fortunately, once you do it once it becomes second nature.
PRO TIP: Never ”publish” a post until it’s done. If you go back after you’ve published a post and change the URL/slug – this will create broken links for that post. Something you want to avoid at all costs!
After you’ve decided on a niche and target audience, started your blog, and made it through all of the technical tasks – it’s time to move on to a few more vital steps to get your blog launch-ready!
4) Choose your email list provider and set up opt-in forms
Creating an email list for any blog is one of the most crucial things you’ll ever do for your business.
You don’t own your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any social media account. Although it’s great to have 10,000 followers and social media is fabulous for growing your traffic and your business – you don’t own anything. And you could lose every single one of those followers in a flash if that social media platform shut down.
Now an email list on the other hand. That’s where the gold is, baby.
The only thing equally as valuable (in my opinion) is running a successful Facebook group, but more about that later.
You need to decide which email service provider you’re going to go with.
When I first began this blog, I chose MailChimp, like many new bloggers do.
MailChimp now has free automation on their free plan, so they’re a good choice in many aspects. The only issue I ever faced (but it was a dealbreaker for me), was not being able to house more than one freebie for my subscribers at a time.
So I decided to switch to MailerLite.
I haven’t changed all of my forms yet, but I’ve been playing around with my new Mailerlite account and I’ve got to say – I couldn’t be happier about making the switch.
Not only can I have as many opt-in freebies and content upgrades as I want, it even comes with a slew of features that ConvertKit doesn’t even have! And ConvertKit is gaining serious traction among bloggers – so this is saying something.
Also, it’s so much cheaper than ConvertKit.
This was also a major selling point for me. It has every single feature I could ever need ( and more) and it’s more affordable than many of my other blog and business expenses!
Do your research, and find an email provider that suits your needs.
But if you decide to go with MailerLite, they have a Forever Free plan that has every feature you’ll ever need. If you sign up using this link you’ll get $20 added to your account (and if you ever upgrade to a paid plan, I will receive $20 as well).
Whoever you choose, make sure you weigh the pros and cons of several email service providers so you don’t make the same mistake I did and have to change everything over later. Because it’s a huge pain-in-the-butt!
Once you’re all set up with an email provider, make sure to sprinkle those opt-in forms all over your blog.
You can also add what’s known as content upgrades into your posts. This is where you add a freebie like a checklist, workbook, or worksheet throughout a blog post or at the end of the blog post.
This is what my lead magnet (my main freebie) looks like..
5) Establish your online presence
This is something you may hear about doing after you start your blog, but it’s actually highly beneficial to start before as well!
In fact, I mention it as a way to increase blog traffic in another post. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used before you launch, too.
Let me explain.
Before you launch your blog, or while you’re working on it – create social media accounts for your blog and/or biz.
I recommend focusing on 2-3 social media accounts so you’re not overwhelmed. I would say the most important ones are Twitter, a Facebook page, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Try to get the same username for all of your social media accounts.
It should match your domain name/blog URL that you created when you started your blog. This isn’t always possible. Heck, mine don’t all match. But try your hardest to find matching usernames!
But I also recommend starting a Facebook group.
Facebook groups are the new email lists. Just ask Caitlin Bacher.
She’s the Facebook group guru and she often talks about how valuable they are for building your own community that loves you and will buy from you. Not just that, but she explains why Facebook groups can be money-making machines!
You can build your email list with Facebook groups, get more leads and sales, and have a community who’s basically telling you what your next project (e.i digital product) should be!
Even if you’re not ready to sell products, it’s a fabulous idea for any blogger or entrepreneur as you’ll see an increase in traffic and subscribers if you employ the right strategies.
But it should NOT be all about what your members can do for you.
Yes, it’s a fantastic way to make more sales and build your email list, but most importantly – it’s a place to build a community of like-minded individuals. It’s about community and providing your members with REAL value.
So you’ve created social media accounts for your blog and/or business, what’s next to build your online presence?
- Start commenting on popular blogs in your niche.
- Submit guest posts, again on popular niche websites.
- Be active on your social media accounts and talk about your impending launch to get potential readers engaged.
Basically, go out there flailing your arms and announcing your presence wherever you can!
I started building my online presence 2 months before my blog launch, and it’s the only reason I had any page views in the first few days.
6) Do some serious planning
This comes down to a few different factors. The most crucial would be a solid, but simple, content marketing strategy, and a blogging plan (that includes your plan of how to monetize and all your blogging goals).
You don’t have to write a business plan, but you do have to start out with certain goals in mind and have various plans in place if you want to succeed in this business.
For those of you who are spontaneous and would rather just wing it – I get it. But..
This is such a critical part of launching your blog that you can’t afford to skip it. Luckily, I’m planning-obsessed (to an OCD point) so this portion of launching my blog came naturally. But if it doesn’t for you, stick with me. It’ll make a huge difference in your end-game and is easier than it sounds.
Content Marketing Strategy
The last situation you want to find yourself in is scrambling at the very last minute to create your content. Believe me, I’ve been there – and it’s not a good situation.
This is where having a content marketing strategy comes in.
It doesn’t have to be over-complicated. A simple yet effective plan will do the job.
Before you can decide on what type of content to craft, you need to have a clearly defined audience. (We covered this in #1)
Even though it can be difficult to know exactly who your target audience is before you’ve been blogging for awhile, you can still do your research and determine your target audience.
If your niche is teaching moms how to lose baby weight, then you can safely assume your target audience will be moms. But you can get more specific than that. Will they be millennium moms? Stay-at-home moms? Millennium stay-at-home moms? Try and determine exactly who your ideal audience is. Including their demographic.
And as your blog grows, you’ll learn more about them, and you can adjust your content strategy as needed.
Next, you’ll want to create a content schedule you can stick too.
Bloggers who tell you that you must blog daily or several times a week to get traffic are just plain wrong.
Posting once or twice a week is more than sufficient. That’s pretty standard for most big bloggers, too.
But hey, if you’re able to produce quality content (preferably long-form) more times a week.. then go for it. But, it’s not necessary.
Create a schedule that works for you.
I’ve had to re-start my content strategy and content schedule a few times.
Because, well, life happens. And sometimes it’s far too easy to set goals that are just not realistic.
So don’t overwhelm yourself with goals that you know are not attainable for you.
You’ll want to create an editorial calendar or have your content planned out in some manner. Here’s an excellent post for figuring out why you need an editorial calendar and how you can create one easily.
Your Blogging Plan
This doesn’t have to be painful or long like a detailed business plan, but it does have to make your goals crystal-clear so that you have a roadmap to follow along during your blogging journey.
Google Analytics will be your best friend for keeping track of the progress you’re making on your blog.
Goals You May Want To Set In Your Blogging Plan:
- How many page views per month will you strive for? In 3 months?
- How often will you post content?
- When will you send emails to your mailing list?
- How much revenue do you plan on making one month from now? 3 months from now? One year from now?
Other Things You May Want To Consider In Your Blogging Plan:
- How do you plan on getting blog traffic? What is your strategy to increase and maintain blog traffic?
- What’s your marketing strategy?
- How will you get email subscribers? What opt-in freebies will you offer?
- Exactly how will you reach your monetization goals?
When it comes to making money with your blog, you’ll want to get specific with how exactly you plan on reaching your profit goals.
Are you going to create e-courses? E-books? Masterminds? A membership site? Focus on affiliate marketing? A little bit of everything? Write it down, and make a distinct plan.
It’s imperative to your blog’s success that you write these goals down in your blogging plan, and refer back to it from time to time.
I would suggest a quarterly check-in, to see how you’re doing. Or you could set your goals quarterly (every 3 months), and then adjust them as you crush the previous goals!
Launching a new blog can be exhausting. And in all honestly, that’s the easy part.As a new blogger you have to be willing to put the time and effort in, and live and breathe your blog at first, so you can crush your goals. And the work doesn’t stop there, but at least after you launch and get in your blogging groove, things are manageable and become a lot of fun!
But it IS worth it.
Blogging has changed my life. It not only has given me a creative outlet, something to do for myself that I look forward to every day (because let’s face it, us mommas don’t get many things that are just for us), and it’s a way to follow my dreams, passions, and help others along the way.
If you haven’t started your blog yet, no worries! Head over to my step-by-step tutorial to start your blog.
Have you launched your blog already? If not, what’s stopping you? Let me know down in the comments!
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Profitable Blog
- Choosing A Blogging Platform: Why Self-Hosted WordPress Is Always The Superior Choice
- How I Plan To Make A Full-Time Income Blogging in 2017 – And How You Can Too
- 4 Ways To Make Money As a Stay-at-Home- Mom With Your Blog
- 9 Surprising Reason Why You’re Not Getting Any Blog Traffic
- Beginner’s Guide: 12 Surefire Ways To Grow Your Blog’s Traffic
- 5 Crucial Things Every New Blogger Needs To Know