July 19th, 2017
25 min read
How exactly should you launch a new blog these days so that it doesn’t flop? Well, it starts out by NOT doing what everybody else does. Namely…
- Set some far off launch date for the blog, as if building a blog takes that long.
- Tweaking the look and feel in a quest for perfection (when you really don’t know what “perfect” is)
- Writing a bunch of “pillar posts”
- Then removing the wall and letting the blog be LIVE!
And, of course, you were imagining the masses just flocking to your blog and melting your servers. Or, perhaps, you were being a realist and knew it’d be a slower buildup. But, then you watch those stats and it seems your new blog just barely gets off ZERO.
Well, maybe one visitor. Your mom. 😉
The reality of launching a new blog today isn’t nearly as sexy as your imagination may think. Truth is…
Nobody was waiting for your blog. The world didn’t really care.
So, this obviously begs several questions we must answer:
- How exactly do you go about launching a brand new blog to the world?
- How do you gain exposure without it taking the rest of your life?
- With the Internet becoming more clogged up with new sites every day, how do you stand above the noise?
Well, let’s get to it, shall we?
How Do You Get Traffic Online When Blogs Are Just A Commodity?
If we’re going to launch and grow a new blog in today’s world, we have to do it like we mean it. The alternative is to remain relatively unnoticed and be continually flat-lined when it comes to your traffic.
Most bloggers “launch” their blog (which, to be honest, is more of a mental switch than anything else) and proceed to begin blogging their little hearts out. They’ll blog, share on social, blog some more, share, blog, share… ad infinitum. Perhaps they’ll participate in social media groups, try to find guest posting opportunities, try to satisfy the Google gods to get some SEO love… but essentially their main traffic strategy is to blog like there’s no tomorrow.
And while it can work, it is usually slow going. If it works at all. If you don’t throw your hands up in frustration first.
That’s the game most bloggers play.
But, things have changed. The Internet is a far busier place. The social media platforms are a lot noisier. The quality of online content has increased. Being online today is like wrapping your lips around a firehose. Almost whatever you want to find, you can get it in spades.Now, how are you, with your new blog, supposed to get noticed?Click To Tweet
The truth is, you have to realize that we live in a “pay to play” environment today.
Traffic is EVERYWHERE. There’s no shortage of it. It is like rice. It is, quite literally, a commodity. A commodity is some common resource that you can simply go out and buy. Like rice or coffee. Web traffic is exactly the same way.
You, with your new blog, want some of that commodity called traffic.
Now, the “old” game would be that you would go off into your little corner of the Internet and proceed to try to GROW your own “rice”. You literally sew the fields, plant the stuff… do whatever manual labor is associated with growing rice (I really have no idea). And MAYBE you’ll get something to grow. If you have a “green thumb”. 😉
The “new” game – the SMART game – would be to simply to go the store and buy a box of rice for a couple bucks.
On one hand, you’ve got your rice in a box in about 2 minutes flat… on the other hand you’ve spent months on end growing it yourself, only maybe to have little to show for it.
Traffic is a commodity. It is everywhere. You’ve got stores everywhere which sell it to you. Those stores go by names such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest … and a ton of others.
All you’ve got to do is be willing to walk in and buy it.
Well Crap, Dave. You’re Busting My Bubble Here.
I know… I know…
Everybody wants to build a blog and spend nothing. I get it. Somewhere along the line, people got this idea that you could start some blog, spend absolutely nothing on it, and then monetize it and make a lot of money and do it full time. Reality, though, is usually different.
Your daily life consists of the purchases of tons of commodities. You probably buy groceries, right? You likely don’t grow every single thing you eat in your own garden… right?
You buy groceries and goods all the time and you think nothing of it simply because you’ve been “trained” to understand that they’re commodities. You just naturally “get it”. The idea of manually creating all your own goods just doesn’t occur to you. This is what economies are built upon.
And if you were to start any normal business, it would be considered completely normal and expected that you would need to invest a little money into advertising to let the community know it exists.
You haven’t yet made that mental “switch” to understand that internet traffic is pretty much the same way. Once that switch is made, it becomes second nature.
Don’t think I’m coming at you here from a place of no experience, either. I’ve been blogging for 18 years now, and it has only been in the last 18 months or so that I’ve actually paid to acquire traffic. But, my original technology site that I began in 1998… I’ll be the first to tell you that building that site up in TODAY’s world the way I did back then would be very, VERY difficult. I’m not sure I could repeat it again in a completely organic way.
But, let me also make a couple of very important points here:
- It is this reason why proper business foundation and monetization strategies I teach inside the Blog Monetization Lab are so important, because it literally FUNDS your growth. You aren’t just throwing money at it without any return, because you’ll have a funnel in place that means that the money you spend on traffic is utilized to build your email list and generate sales. Done correctly, you’re not just “spending” money… you’re breaking even or even profiting WHILE you grow your blog.
- We’re not talking about huge budgets here. There are people out there who grow their blogs on as little as a dollar per day. Personally, I was spending $5/day to grow my RV blog.
So, trust me…
Any thought that you have about how bad it is to have to spend money on this when you’re not making it, know this…
The problem isn’t spending money. The problem is your lack of monetization. The solution is to make money, not to avoid spending it.The problem isn't spending money. The problem is your lack of monetization.Click To Tweet
If you’re making money, you won’t have a problem spending a little.
Especially when you can clearly see the results.
The 14-Step Blog Launch Plan
So, I’m now going to walk you through the bird’s eye view of how to launch a new blog, in TODAY’s Internet.
I’m not going to cover every little nitty-gritty detail on this post, since I have a ton of training and blog posts that cover some of this stuff much more specifically. What I’ll do is simply link out to further reading and training where needed.
Boom. Let’s go…
#1 – Pick Your Niche
Now, the big, BIG key here is that your “niche” is simply what you intend to blog about. This isn’t your topic.
What we’re looking for here is a MARKET. And the final goal here is to arrive at a product/market fit.
We’re skipping right over all the blogging stuff here and we’re going right to the heart of the matter, which is…
- A market of people who are actively seeking a solution to something.
- An offer you create which is designed to fit that hungry market, and is proven by way of actual sales.
Now, you have that, you can build one hell of a killer blog around it, huh. 😉
#2 – Acquire Real Web Hosting And A Domain
You intend to make money with this whole thing? Then don’t screw around with free web hosting like Blogger or WordPress.com. Absolute waste of time.
You need land you can control, where you own everything, and you can do what you want. To do that, you need to pay for your hosting.
The guys I recommend for hosting are SiteGround. They’re an excellent place to start and they can grow with you as you do.
I know there are many “blogging gurus” out there who recommend Hostgator or Bluehost, but I do not and there’s a good reason for it. For more information, check out these 2 posts:
- Why I Can No Longer Recommend Bluehost Web Hosting (I Owe An Explanation).
- Why So Many Bloggers Recommend Bluehost or Hostgator Hosting (And Why I Don’t)
#3 – Acquire A Landing Page Solution
Remember, we’re being very targeted in our launch strategy. Going off into setting up your whole blog at this point isn’t the proper sequence of actions. All we need to begin testing product/market fit is a few landing pages.
In The Online Business Roadmap, I call this the Minimum Site Framework. It is a simple 2-stage funnel you build to test, tweak and prove product/market fit. It is made entirely of landing pages (and really only about 3 pages). So, you definitely need a landing page solution.
Thing is, your standard WordPress themes aren’t suited for landing pages. You need a dedicated solution for that.
Thrive Content Builder works right on top of WordPress and your existing theme. There is no need to switch to a completely different theme. Plus, it is designed to allow you to create professional landing pages without knowing ANY coding. It is very easy to use.
Yes, I do earn a small affiliate commission if you choose to get your Thrive Themes license via this link, however I highly recommend it. I use personally, almost every single day. And every landing page on this very site was built with Thrive Content Builder. So, I stand behind it fully. I used to use OptimizePress, but truth is it has been outdone by now. And LeadPages, while a nice solution, is overly expensive, in my view.
#4 – Conduct Your Market Research
Market research is more of a process than a simple to-do list item. Many people equate it primarily to keyword research, however it is much more than that. Quite frankly, deep-diving into keyword research is enough to make many of us go cross-eyed. 😉Deep-diving into keyword research is enough to make many of us go cross-eyed. Click To Tweet
Market research involves a lot of internet surfing, asking questions, talking to people… and taking notes the whole time. You’re looking for things like:
- Where is your target market hanging out now? What blogs do they already read? What news sites?
- What kinds of questions are they asking?
- What are they buying?
- What social media groups are they using?
- What are their basic demographics?
You’ll learn this stuff by looking at summary data on various sites, but also by getting involved in that market directly, interacting, reading.
We have a whole process for this inside the Lab, in the Business Building Bootcamp. The end result will be a large market domination file, a customer avatar profile, and a developed transformation. It is all a guided affair inside the Lab.
But, why is it so important?
- You’ll discover what kinds of lead magnets you can create to attract your target market and get them onto your list.
- You’ll discover what kinds of offers you can create that they’ll want to buy.
- You’ll discover their “buttons” so you can talk to them with the most reality.
Of interest, at this point, might be that nowhere here have we written a blog post yet. 😉
#5 – Set up a Basic Lead Acquisition Funnel
If we can’t get people to subscribe to our email list, we have nothing to build upon. Your email list is your leverage. It is what gives your new business momentum and makes you less dependent on paid advertising.
So, first off, you need an email list provider. For this, I highly recommend you go with Aweber if you’re first starting out. I know the freebie Mailchimp account is attractive to some, but you’re going to need email automation in short order. And if you’re going to pay for one, Aweber is better than Mailchimp.
Next step is to create your first lead magnet. For further information on this, check out the Ultimate Guide To Building An Email List: List Building That Works And Makes You Money. The most appropriate training from the Lab is the Creating An Effective Lead Magnet.
Note, we’re most definitely not talking about some massive giveaway offer. Often, the best lead magnets are the shortest and easiest to make.
Next, you’ll need to create two landing pages:
- A squeeze page to offer the lead magnet.
- A “thank you” page for them to view once they opt in for it.
This will be on top of WordPress, using your landing page solution (whichever you chose). And, temporarily, you simply make your domain’s homepage be your squeeze page. No blog at this point. Go to Settings > Reading and…
For those of you who will do this while you already have a blog in place, that’s fine. There’s no need for it, but if you already have it, there’s no need to redirect your homepage. Simply have your squeeze page on your domain somewhere, since we will be directing an ad right to it.
#6 – Set Up Your Tracking Scripts
You have to see real metrics here in order to make judgement calls. So, don’t fly blind here without any tracking.
I recommend you sign up for Google Analytics (it’s free) and then set up the code site-wide on your whole blog. If that seems confusing, check out the MonsterInsights plug-in (also free) and it can make this quite easy for you.
Lastly, I would recommend that you install your Facebook tags on your blog so that you can begin building a retargeting audience. This is yet another point of leverage for your business and will allow you to maximize all returns on any paid traffic you send to your site.
#7 – Set Up Your Social Accounts
This might seem like a side-step – and it is. But, it is a good idea to reserve your brand name on social media early. Go to Facebook and set up a page for this new business. Reserve a Twitter handle, Instagram, Google Plus… wherever you think you’ll be active.
No need to do much with it at this point. We’re just ensure we have the names we want.
#8 – Set Up Your First Ad
Time to turn on some traffic. Thing is, instead of letting it be a little trickle on your blog’s homepage and letting it scatter in an uncontrolled way, we’re going to laser focus it. That’s one of the beauties of paid traffic is that you can send them exactly where you want them to go. In this case, right into our 2-step funnel.
So, you’re going to set up your first paid ad and when they click that ad, they’ll go right to your squeeze page for your new lead magnet.
Personally, I’m partial to Facebook. I like Facebook ads. And in terms of how to target your audience, this is where all that data from your market research will come on.
In some markets, Google Adwords may be a better fit since it is search-driven. That’s fine. Whatever works for you.
I would recommend a small budget at this point, seeing as we don’t yet have a monetization strategy in place. What we want here is to test the lead magnet and get one that converts. We’ll run enough traffic to the squeeze page to get a result (maybe a few hundred people)… then you can turn it off if you like. We’re simply massively speeding up the testing process by turning the traffic valve on and off.
I’m not going to go through how to set up a Facebook ad here. This is one of those topics that goes beyond a single blog post. But, the Blog Marketing Academy has you covered…
The Facebook Ads Blueprint is our in-depth training on how to put Facebook Ads to use in your online business. And, of course, if you follow along with The Roadmap step-by-step, we’ll guide you through the whole thing so you don’t get overwhelmed. Also, by joining up with The Lab, you get the whole Roadmap, plus you get the Facebook Ads Blueprint training included with your membership rather than buying it separately.
#9 – Test/Tweak Your Opt-In
Using paid traffic, you can turn traffic on and off like a water hose. So, you turn it on and run a few hundred people to the squeeze page. What you’re looking for is the conversion rate… the percentage of people who come who opt-in to get your lead magnet.
And you’re shooting for a 30%-40% conversion rate on the opt-in.
Might seem high to some, but that’s actually pretty easy conversion to get if you are indeed targeting the right audience with a lead magnet that is right for them. And therein is the key and why this is such an important component of product/market fit.
The very act of tweaking until you get that target conversion rate is going to have you learning about your market and making adjustments… until it works. Once you get one that works, that’s a major piece of valuable information for you.
Plus, you can now acquire leads in a predictable way. And that’s huge.
Now, if your lead magnet fails to reach this threshold, then you make changes until it does. If it is WAY off, then you probably need to go back to the drawing board on who you’re targeting and the nature of your lead magnet. There’s an obvious mismatch.
If, however, you are getting action but you’re not quite at the 30% mark, then just tweak and see if you can increase it. Can you make the lead magnet title more interesting? Better headline? Better copy on the squeeze page?
You also want to pay attention to your cost-per-lead. The higher your conversion rate, the cheaper each email subscriber will be. Make sure your ad is also compelling and getting a decent click-through rate. Your CPL (cost per lead) makes all the difference in what your targets will need to be on the monetization side so that you at least break even on this.
#10 – Craft An Initial Offer
Now that you have a lead magnet which is working, it is time to craft an offer for them. This means that, yes, you will be attempting to sell something and generate sales before you even begin blogging. Imagine that! 🙂
Let’s be clear about something, though…
I’m not expecting you to go out and make some big product here that is untested. In fact, I would encourage you to make this a pre-sale. You will create an offer for something which does not exist, and you will only create it IF it sells.
What I like to do is position it as a “live class”. There isn’t an expectation of immediate access when they know it starts later. Then, you could either do it live via webinar, or simply pre-record and release to them as they’re complete. Whatever.
So, go back to all your market research, all your interactions with your market. Take everything you know about what they need and want, what they’re struggling with, and what would most effectively deliver the transformation they seek in a predictable way…. and sit down and CRAFT an offer which includes it.Design the offer to fit your market, not the other way around.Click To Tweet
During this process, you may need to strip things down a bit so that it is something you can actually create. That’s OK. But, there’s a lot of power and flexibility that comes with selling something BEFORE you make it. You can make adjustments to the offer along the way to increase sales and arrive at that sweet spot. Then, you make the product which fits the sweet spot.
Keep in mind, you’re not limited to the usual suspects of ebooks or courses. Think outside the box. Even services are fair game. You can use the Product Idea Generator to get the juices flowing.
#11 – Put The Offer Into Your Funnel & Test
Create the sales page for the offer you’ve crafted and then place that sales page into your funnel right after the opt-in. In essence, your “thank you” page for the lead magnet is now a sales page. Build this page with Thrive Content Builder.
Turn the traffic back on and test the funnel and see what the conversion rate is on your product.
Ideally, you’ll get around a 10% conversion rate on the sale. Which means, 10% of people who opt-in at step #1 of the funnel will buy the offer at step #2.
Now, the 10% is arbitrary. The real number will depend on your cost-per-lead because you’re looking to at least break even on the ad and recoup your ad cost. If your price means that you can convert at less than 10% and still break even, well that’s fine.
The goal here is that this funnel – this simple funnel – can predictably attract qualified leads and put them on your email list without ultimately costing you any money. Ideally, you’ll MAKE money while you do it. 🙂
#12 – Build Your Blog
At this point, you have an email list being built and you’ve generated your first sales. You are already WAY ahead of the vast majority of bloggers who are still struggling with all that.
Now is the time to begin building your empire and making yourself less dependent on paid traffic. Now is the time to build your blog.
Only now, you’re doing it with a clear goal. You have a lead magnet which works, so now you know what all your blog’s opt-in forms will be offering. You have a funnel which sells, and your blog’s job is to send people into that funnel.
#13 – Create Pillar Posts
When you begin blogging, do it with a strategy. Most bloggers just start blogging and they get onto a hamster wheel of publishing according to the calendar. It is one way to go, but entirely unnecessary.
A more effective way to go is to concentrate on creating pillar posts over time. These are major, developed resources on major topics of interest to your target market. This isn’t your typical blog post which sees the light then disappears into the archives. These are super posts. They take much longer to make. In fact, you should definitely circle back and edit/maintain these posts over time.
Each time you publish a new post or make a new update to a pillar post, you spread the word. This would involve:
- Emailing those new leads you’ve acquired through your funnel
- Sharing across social media
- New paid ad campaigns direct to those blog posts
Now, that last one is a great strategy, but it means you need to be quite focused with those blog posts so that they effectively add people to your funnel.
Essentially, you’re taking everything you’ve already done with your funnel, but you’re leading with value. Instead of asking for an email before you give them anything cool, you’re now leading with a stellar blog post, THEN funneling them into the lead magnet.
As this strategy develops over time, with more blog posts and even more lead magnets, your blog will become a major part of your sales funnel and it will take place on autopilot – and without having to rely on paid ads (although, at this point, you’ll probably love the paid ads so much you won’t turn them off).
#14 – Expansion
At this point, you’re launched! You probably won’t have those groundbreaking numbers that the big gurus have. While they talk about thousands of people on the list, you may have a few hundred. While they’re talking about how many thousands of dollars they made that month, you might have made a few hundred… just enough to pay for your ads.
But, this is how you start. And it grows from here.
The point is, your product/market fit is PROVEN. You KNOW it is working. At this point, it is all about scaling.
So, you will create new blog posts, new lead magnets, new offers. You’ll build new funnels so that your one original one isn’t your whole business. You’ll build in more autoresponder followup emails to put things on autopilot.
That’s all the fun stuff. 🙂
How Long Does This Take?
As you can see, this is a process. We’re not talking about something which happens overnight here.
If you have nothing but time and your budget isn’t limited, you could probably knock these steps out quickly. After all, if you can throw more money at your ads, you’ll get more traffic and can test faster. It is all a matter of what you’re willing to put into it – both in time and money.
The more important thing here is the sequence you do it in.
Even if you have a day job and a lot of things going on, if you spend what time you do have concentrating on the right things, you’ll still make headway.
If you’re loaded with time and not worried too much about budget, you could probably knock this whole process out and be working on #13 and #14 within a week or two. And we’re not talking about spending thousands of dollars here, but if you have a few hundred to invest in it you can make things happen.
If you’re short on time and can really only work on this for a few hours per week, well, it will take longer. You’ll probably spend some time making the landing pages, since it is always tough the first time. Once the traffic is on, that can run on automatic while you’re working all day. But, still, few weeks, you should be good here.
Ready To Travel This Journey?
Ok, it is great to read about this blog launch plan. And I hope you’ve found this post valuable. But, actually DOING this takes more detail and more guidance so you don’t get lost along the way.
If you were expecting something different…. well, sorry. I’m not going to sit here and falsely tell you that launching and growing a high-traffic blog and online business from scratch is something you can do for free and not have it take years. I mean, that’s just the reality. It is better that you know, right?
Blogging and sharing, rinse and repeat, is a recipe for burnout for most bloggers. Not saying it can’t work and build traffic, but it is usually a long, hard slog. That’s why most give up… even before they hit the payment threshold to get paid from those Adsense ads they had all over their site.
That’s just not the right launch formula. It is massively outdated and most just haven’t caught on yet.
If you want it to work and not take forever, the answer lies in being able to operate in a “pay to play” world. And, in order to do that, you tackle monetization right at the get-go. You start a business, not a blog.
Inside The Lab (the training area of the Blog Marketing Academy), we have The Online Business Roadmap which will guide you step-by-step through all of this (and beyond).
The Roadmap is a 5 stage process:
Everything we’ve just covered in this blog post is simply the guts of Phase 2 – The Startup Phase – of this Roadmap. But, I guide you through the whole thing so you won’t get lost along the way.
And I look forward to, perhaps, helping you launch your blog and, more importantly, your income-producing business behind it. Because, as you’ve seen, they go hand in hand.