Whether this is your first blog, or your tenth blog, launching a new website always requires more than just setting up an account. Personally, I learned the hard way in February of 2007 that there is way more to blogging than actually writing, and when I launched Eat, Sleep, Denim three years ago, things had changed.
Of course you don't need to have everything in check before you start blogging, you can always add new features as you grow, or change the features some things become obsolete. Either way, it's important to have the right infrastructure in place to meet your needs as a blogger.
Blog Launch Checklist
- Buy your domain name: Many bloggers decide to change platforms as they grow. You don't want to be stuck with a platform that doesn't meet your needs, while migrating is a minor headache, loosing traffic because you had to change your domain can temporarily set back your blog's growth. Be sure to buy your own domain name to minimize the damage. I've been using GoDaddy.com for years, and it's great.
- Choose your blog platform/content management system (CMS): Deciding which platform to go with can be a headache. Luckily we have a guide that helps which blog platform is best for you. My words of advice is to go with whatever platform you feel the most comfortable with, at least in the beginning. If you find a platform hard to figure out, or it doesn't have certain features you need, then it's best to explore other options. There is a good platform out there for everyone, and it's not important to have the most popular CMS if you don't like using it.
- Find the right blog design: Sometimes what blog designs will factor into which CMS you will use for your blog. Do you like Tumblr's themes? or Blogger's? Maybe you love the magazine themes available for WordPress. Either way some things you will have to consider, like what type of blog do you have, is it a magazine style, will you have enough content to fill the front page? Is it a personal style blog that requires loads of space for images? One word of advice, be mindful of the “fold” (the top 1000 pixels) as most people browsing around will judge your website by the first glance, you want to make sure it's well-branded and also shows fresh content.
- Install a traffic tracking tool. I highly recommend Google Analytics. It's robust, accurate, and the industry standard. You may not have traffic right away, but it's a great way to gauge your progress.
- Track your RSS Subscribers: How many subscribers do you have? If you don't have a RSS management tool, it's impossible to say. Feedburner has been great for years, but lately it seems like the red-headed stepchild of Google. FeedBlitz offers free services for RSS subscribers, but charges for email subscriptions.
- Set up your BlogLovin' account: Bloglovin' is an RSS reader that many fashion blog readers use. It drives traffic to your site with relatively little action on your part, so be sure to start one!
- Set up a Mailing List: It's never too early to set up your mailing list, and it's a vital way to get your community engaged. We've been using MailChimp for years and have had great results as they continue to offer new services. MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 subscribers then charges a monthly fee after. But it's relatively cheap and worth it.
- Set up your social media accounts: Even if you don't start using them right away, it's a good idea to set up your account to ensure your have the same username across all platforms. The last thing you want is for people not to find you because your Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest names are all different. The essential networks to join at this time are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Pose.
- Send out an announcement to your network: When I started my blogs the first thing I did once I got a few posts out was to announce to my friends, family, people I met randomly, anyone who would be interested an email announcing my blog. Now, don't just add these people to your mailing list, they need to subcribe for themselves, but I found it to be an effective way to get the word out that my blog was out there. After all, your friends and family are more likely to spread the news than anyone else, right?
- Let the fun begin!