I launched my first business to an audience of crickets.
It was just about as frustratingly underwhelming as the ending to Avengers: Infinity War (can I get an “Amen” for this one, please?).
Not only is it pretty discouraging to hear nada when you launch, it’s also a surefire way to kill all that fresh enthusiasm you have when you decided to start a blog.
But as anyone who’s ever launched a blog knows (I’m the perfect example, with three successful online businesses I started in the last two years), it isn’t as intuitive as some so-called blogging experts make it out to be.
You’ll get better results when you follow a few key pieces of advice immediately before or after you launch your blog – without throwing your hands up in frustration.
I dug deep into my Vault of Failures (a.k.a. learning experiences) to bring you the best advice out there before you launch your blog.
Take a seat, dear unicorns, grab some popcorn, stop watching Avengers: Inifinity War, and relish knowing you won’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Here are 5 thing I wish I had known before I launched any of my online businesses in the last two years.
1. Pick One Traffic Source (And Master It)
Go through some of the beginning blogging advice out there.
You see so many people advise beginner bloggers to be everywhere on social media.
But you don’t have to be.
It’s more realistic for you not to be.
In fact, you’ll get better traffic results if you’re not.
I want you to take a look at this post I found on Inc.com by Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s titled “How to Master the Four Major Social Media Platforms.”
Articles like these have mass appeal. They look good for the author, too, because they’re on a major publication. They’re easy to digest and read. Heck, that article may have even inspired a few people to go ahead and “master” the four major social media platforms Gary talks about.
But mass-appeal articles don’t give you realistic expectations on the kind of results you’ll get from “mastering” four different social media platforms.
As a certified marketer and conversion copywriter, I’ve written a bunch of ad copy for Facebook, run thousands of dollars worth of Facebook ad campaigns, and used Pinterest marketing and promoted pin campaigns to grow two different businesses.
I’m not mentioning my experience to brag.
I’m mentioning it because even with all the experience I’ve had on Facebook and Pinterest, I am still learning to perfect my skills, strategy, and approach to both platforms.
It takes a lot of effort to master even one social media platform. Focus on one when you start out, instead of spreading yourself thin across many.
I’m inspired by the message in the book called The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. One of the biggest takeaways of the book is this: extraordinary results are proportional to how narrow you make your focus.
Apart from a lot of other useful tidbits for any blogger and entrepreneur (or really, if you’re trying to start anything new), the book explains that you just need to do that one thing in a focused way, over and over and over again.
That’s why I recommend you start off with one social media from the start as a beginner blogger.
Start with one social media platform and master it as much as possible – the traffic and growth happens the more you fine-tune your knowledge and skills of the platform.
2. Solid Strategy Makes Or Breaks You
If you google “start a blog,” I’m sure you’ll come across a bunch of how-to guides riddled with affiliate links that are supposed to show you the ropes of launching a blog.
The thing is, there’s a fatal flaw in doing this:
Showing people how to start a blog without setting it up for growth or profitability is dangerous and discouraging.
I’ve been pretty lucky to work with companies, start-ups, and clients who’ve all taught me how to master the content marketing game.
But most new bloggers are taught zilch about content marketing. They have to learn everything by piecing together a bunch of different articles on the web or paying for uber-expensive online courses.
(By the way, how are these intro courses so expensive for newbie bloggers? I would think someone who wants to start blogging to make money doesn’t have a budget larger than $150 for a course, right? That’s a story for another day, though.)
Neil Patel, master marketer of all the things, beautifully explains blogging strategy (you can read his full post here):
You need to define your goals. You need to define your audience. And you need to define your audience’s goals.
I touch on this in my 5-day profitable blog challenge and show you a way to make sure your blog will make money.
Your blog strategy is no different. You have to know who you’re writing for, the way you’re writing, and what your audience is struggling with.
All of this, in fact, ties into your blog’s profitability because the better you get at solving your audience’s issues, the more profitable you become.
When you have a solid strategy down pat, you’ll really have no question of what to write for your audience. You’ll more than likely struggle with figuring out how to pump out the content without losing quality.
So, before you launch your blog, know these three things (and structure your blog content with these three things in mind):
- Your target demographic (who an average person looks like in your audience)
- Your audience’s language (how they talk)
- Your audience’s biggest pain points (the things they struggle with the most)
3. Your Lead Magnet Is Key
I’ll never forget how I once downloaded a lead magnet from a popular blogger.
It was a lead magnet in the fashion world and I was looking to, err, up my style.
Know what I mean.
Okay, maybe you don’t.
Maybe I was just having an identity crisis that showed up in my fashion sense.
But anyhoo, I found this blogger who looked like she was pretty reputable. She was quirky and fun and I liked her positioning.
I gave her the goods a.k.a. my email address. I was really looking forward to getting my freebie, which was a playbook on knowing how to style one simple piece of clothing.
And oh boy. Was I disappointed.
That lead magnet was riddled with so many spelling mistakes. I’m positive a first-grader could’ve done a better job at spelling jacket (not “jcket”).
She sounded like good people, this blogger.
But that really sloppy presentation in her lead magnet…well, it made me wonder whether she was just “throwing together” her fashion advice in the same haphazard way.
In other words, I started to question this blogger’s authority because of her poorly-crafted lead magnet. Your reputation as a blogger hinges on your ability to produce quality content.
Your lead magnet is what your readers take home with you. It’s the equivalent of a home owner sending a guest away with leftover coffee crumble cake.
And with 63 percent of marketers saying their biggest challenge is generating traffic and quality leads, you best believe your lead magnet counts!
Now, imagine that coffee crumble taste’s like a godforsaken concoction that doesn’t even deserve to see the light of day. That guest will probably never visit ever. Again.
Remember this: you can only make a first impression once.
So make it count!
Make sure to craft a beautiful lead magnet that:
- Solves a specific issue
- Lives up to the hype in your copy
- Prompts the user into action (even if it’s a small action)
- Provides a bunch of value (doesn’t mean it has to be complex, though)
That way, your reader will more than likely want to return to devour even more of your content and eventually, your products.
4. Killer Content Isn’t Everything
Ok, we’re going to pivot now. By like, a lot.
I just spent an entire 300+ words explaining to your how killer content (specifically, lead magnets) makes a big difference in how your readers respond to you (and how well you retain them).
Killer content does a lot. But it doesn’t do everything.
Your content needs eyeballs.
Your content lives for one sole purpose only:
To be seen by people who need it the most.
Your content needs promotion love. And, no, I’m not talking complicated advertising campaigns. I’m talking a traffic strategy to help you get the content in front of more people.
There are so many ways to promote your content.
You just have to remember this rule, though:
For every hour you spend writing content, spend four hours promoting that same piece of content.
That means if a blog post took you 4 hours to outline, write, edit, and publish, it should take you 16 hours just to promote it.
That doesn’t mean you have to sit there and link-spam a bunch of your Facebook friends and family.
That would be counterproductive.
Go back to the second point I made about mastering one social media platform; this is where you’ll spend a lot of time promoting your content (another reason why I so highly recommend Pinterest for beginner bloggers).
You’re way ahead of the game already if you write killer content. That’s more than 95% of bloggers out there who churn, churn, churn mediocrity every chance they get for the “traffic” (mind you, this traffic will never be quality traffic, and this kind of mindset isn’t set up for longevity).
You’re winning the game if you promote your killer content four times as much as it takes you to write, edit, and publish it.
Just remember this equation:
Killer content + 4x Killer promotion = Setting yourself up for ultimate blogging success
5. Launch With The Right Assets
Take a look at my own Pinterest profile exactly four days after I launched my blog:
Now, Pinterest doesn’t give the most recent data (it’ll only show you data at most two days before the current date), but take note of the large spike you see.
That traffic spike isn’t an accident.
I prepared for that spike.
I asked for those spike.
I made that spike a reality for me.
How did I do this when I launched Unicorn Copy Co.?
Any good launch needs the right tools to succeed.
Here’s the list of “assets” I had in place that led me to early success:
- Blogging strategy with 50 blog posts planned out (key: planned, not written)
- Three in-depth blog posts written, edited, and already published
- Tailwind for Pinterest pin scheduling set up and scheduling pins on autopilot
- Affiliate marketing strategy planned out
- Product launch in 3 months loosely planned out
You don’t need to go as in-depth in the planning as I did.
But the blogging strategy (what you plan to write about at least for the next 10 posts), cornerstone content (in-depth quality content you’re proud of that’s already published on your blog), and Tailwind to schedule Pinterest pins are really key here.
You can plan out your blogging strategy by taking a look at the most popular pins in your niche. This will give you an idea of what your target audience wants to hear the most about in your niche.
Publishing three blog posts is also important because readers can already get lost in a few of your awesome posts just after landing on your site. They’ll also immediately get a feel for whether they like what you’re about or not, and whether you can help solve their problems.
That’s why it’s important to make these first three pieces especially good pieces of content (the founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark, talks about the importance of cornerstone content in a blog launch here).
Lastly, I knew going into this new business that I wanted Pinterest to play a big role in my initial marketing strategy.
That’s why Tailwind was a must. It makes scheduling my pins super easy, and I spend only a few hours up front scheduling my pins so they can post throughout the week.
It’s nifty, easy to use, and keeps my Pinterest marketing on “autopilot” while I’m off writing more kick-butt content.
If you have at least your blogging strategy, cornerstone content, and a marketing automation tool like Tailwind set up before or immediately after your blog launch, you’re bound to have a lot more success with traffic and lead generation than if you don’t.
So here’s the lesson: don’t be afraid of the bit of legwork you need to take in the beginning of starting your blog. It’s completely worth it because you are priming yourself for success.
Over To You
So here you have it, dear unicorns. Five things I wish I knew before I launched my first blog years ago.
Here’s a list of these five things I wish I had known:
- Pick one traffic source (and master it)
- Solid strategy makes or breaks you
- Your lead magnet is key
- Killer content isn’t everything
- Launch with the right assets
Did any of these come as a surprise to you?
Have you heard any other advice out there about launching a blog you think is useful for others to know? Let me know in the comments below!
By the way, if you want to start a profitable blog off the bat with the right methods I picked up over the years, go ahead and sign up for my free 5-day Blogging Biz Bootcamp. It’s jam-packed with actionable takeaways, worksheets, PDF tutorials, and more.
What’s cool about the challenge is that you’ll have launched a blog by the end of the five days that you know will be profitable. Nifty, eh?
Sign up below!