Let’s be honest, starting a new blog or business is a LOT of work and the learning curve is steep. You might even be wondering—where do I start, right?
I remember how overwhelmed and confused I felt before launching this site—I honestly didn’t know if I was ever going to get it. The terminology alone was enough to make my head spin.
Once I decided which platform to use (at the time I chose a self-hosted Wordpress site but have since switched to Squarespace) I was able to get busy and start writing content (my favourite part and the thing you’re probably most excited for, too, right?)
Unfortunately, while I was busy working behind-the-scenes creating content for my new site, I missed some vital things I should’ve been doing to fully optimize the “in development” phase.
Well, my friend, you’re in luck because I’m about to share my top 7 things you should do before you launch your website so you can avoid the newbie mistakes I made.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
CREATE A COMING SOON PAGE
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was developing this site was that I didn’t create a coming soon page as soon as I secured my domain name (eventually I got the memo but that was 2 weeks before I went live and 5 and a half months too late).
One of the benefits of having a coming soon page is that you can promote your new website before it goes live.
If done properly, you’ll be sending traffic to your site while you’re working behind-the-scenes and building your email subscriber list from the get-go.
For the relaunch of this site, I created a coming soon page to let visitors know that changes were happening and gave them an incentive to sign up (in an exchange for their email they got an immediate download of my free creative project planner and workbook).
My opt-in also gave readers a taste of the content I’d be offering and helps them decide if HLH is right for them.
Here’s a look at the coming soon page I used for my web relaunch (PS. this coming soon page and opt-in converted at 36.8%). That's pretty darn good!
I continued to promote my site through social media and engaged with my newsletter list during the 2 months it took to fully redesign and migrate from Wordpress to SquarespaceII
I optimised the time it took to redesign my site by continuing to build my email list even though my site wasn’t public.
INCLUDE AN OPT-IN (AN INCENTIVE)
Okay, now that you’ve got a coming soon page on your website, it’s a good idea to offer an incentive (a free offer) to entice people to sign up and get on your list.
This might sound harsh, but, you’re launching a website—who cares? (okay, your mom probably does but that’s beside the point).
There are different schools of thought on whether you should include an opt-in on your site since it could lead to building a list of people who just want the free goods as opposed to creating a loyal following of people who are genuinely interested in your offerings).
In my opinion, you should make it a no-brainer for them to choose to sign up. People are reluctant to turn their email address over to someone they don’t know unless there is something in it for them.
Yes, one could argue if you’re posting engaging content that should be incentive enough for people to want to follow you—and I don’t disagree—however, when you’re starting out, no one knows who you are so the best way to get them to care about you and your business is to offer them something of value.
Last but not least, keep it simple.
There’s no need to offer a free eCourse, PDF download, audio series, or anything just yet. If you don’t have an opt-in offer that complements your services, try offering a secret code for those who sign up with a discount on your products or services once you're live.
ANNOUNCE YOUR LAUNCH DATE
The first time I launched this site, it took me 6 months longer to complete than was necessary because I didn’t have anyone keeping me accountable. I wasted a lot of time tweaking and re-tweaking things that were not necessary and lacked direction when it came to launching my site.
What are your launch goals? I bet you haven’t considered this until now (I certainly didn’t when I was getting started). I recommend creating a web launch plan to keep you on track throughout the development phase.
Before I relaunched Happy Little Hummingbird, I created a web launch plan using the free project management tool, Asana.
I kept it very simple and created a new project, titled Web Launch then scheduled a number of tasks and goals to avoid procrastination and to help keep me focused. Guess what? It worked.
The launch of your website is an important day for your business. Setting a launch date builds excitement and helps you prioritize the key things that need to happen before your website goes live.
So you’ve put all this time and effort into creating an attractive coming soon page and now you’re wondering how the heck do I get people to visit it?
I definitely missed the mark in this area when I built my site the first time. I worked on my website quietly behind-the-scenes but was terrified to show it to anyone (and that’s a whole other story).
There are many things you can do to build excitement around your launch (and you definitely should). This is a milestone—it’s like cutting the ribbon for your online business—an event worthy of a grand opening!
How to build excitement?
The first place you can start is with your friends & family. Send an email blast describing your new biz venture in an exciting way and ask them to visit your website (reminding them to leave their email address to snag your awesome freebie) and be the first to know when your new site is live!
Continue to build excitement by sharing behind-the-scenes shots on social media of what’s happening (take a photo, do an Instagram story, share tips, and microblog to give an inside look at what’s to come). But don’t give away everything—the idea is to build anticipation and get your followers excited about your launch.
You can take this one step further and engage your followers by asking for feedback or posting questions to the group that will get them involved.
When I redesigned this site, I posted tips and gave insight into my process because it was relevant for my audience, plus it was a way to keep my launch fresh in their minds without being pushy.
The above pic from Instagram is an example of how I offered value and reminded my audience I have a launch coming without it being overly pitchy.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR SUBSCRIBERS
So, you’ve got them on your list and now you’re wondering what to do with them, right? Well, you’ve gotta talk to them and provide value.
To make it easier, treat your newsletter as if you’re talking to just one person. Be personable and show your personality to start building that know, like and trust factor.
A pro tip is to write valuable content in your newsletter before your website goes live, then convert those campaigns to posts for your blog (see the next point).
WRITE 5 TO 10 QUALITY BLOG POSTS
The last thing you want to do is build a lot of excitement around your web launch but have nothing for your viewers to see when your site goes live!
I recommend writing a minimum of 3 quality blog posts to get you started. I recommend 5 to 10 so that you have content to push out after you launch so you don’t just fall off the face of the earth and your subscribers are left wondering, what happened?
Sadly, that’s all too common for many new blogs and websites—they get abandoned.
Remember to recycle content that you’ve pushed out to your newsletter list and convert it to a blog post (this may require a little formatting and tweaking) and then decide how often you’ll post then stick to that schedule.
TEST YOUR WEBSITE
The last step is to test it. You should make sure that it’s working and responsive meaning it looks good and adjusts to the screen size of any device.
Don’t forget to test your hyperlinks, spelling and grammar. It's a good idea to have someone review it for you because it’s easy to glaze over simple errors when you're looking at it a lot.
Psst... don't forget to download the Website Pre Launch Checklist below to ensure that everything is in good working order.
Okay, now I’d love to hear from you.
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND TELL ME:
- Are you preparing to launch a website, and if so, what’s your biggest challenge?
- Are there any pre launch steps I missed that you plan to do before you go live?