Setting up a blog is a combination of 20,000 foot vision and nitty gritty details.
You can’t have a successful blog without thinking about high level questions — What’s its purpose? Who do I want to connect with? Why am I blogging?
At the same time you can’t be successful without getting into the details. The details – once taken care of – help a blog run smoothly.
Here’s a checklist of 10 questions you should ask before launching your blog:
- Does the blog look OK in different browsers? It’s a common mistake for people to only test in the browser they use. But you need to test your blog with multiple browsers. Some services like browsershots will help with the process.
- Does the feed work? Whether you’re using FeedBurner or not (although I highly recommend it) you should test the feed. Subscribe to it with your own RSS Reader and make sure it’s coming in properly. It’s also a good idea to make the subscription options highly visible. Don’t bury your RSS feed link at the bottom of the blog or in a far-right sidebar. Get it front and center.
- Did you setup stat tracking and a sitemap? Everyone wants to track stats on their blog, so make sure you’ve got stat tracking setup properly. There are lots of options – Awstats, Google Analytics, 103bees, etc. A sitemap is equally important. It helps search engines crawl your pages faster, which is good for search engine optimization and ranking. And don’t forget: Submit your blog to Google Webmasters.
- Did you update the About page and test the Contact page? Too many bloggers forget about the About page and leave it as the default (or don’t include it at all!) In WordPress, the default About page tells you it’s an About page; which really doesn’t help you. Make sure you update it and spend some serious time thinking about what you’ll write. The same holds true for the Contact page – Do you have one? If it’s a form, does it work?
- Did you test all the links? Before launching your blog click on every link and make sure they work. This is particularly important for links to pages (i.e. About, Contact, etc.) as well as links between posts and to outside sites. You want to make sure links to outside sites are working – those other bloggers will see the trackbacks and visit (or they should.)
- Did you claim the blog in Technorati? Your blog needs to be live before claiming it, but it doesn’t have to be “launched” – where you’re actively promoting it, telling people, building links, etc. Before launching the blog, make sure you pop over to Technorati and claim it. The process is simple and quick, and it’ll help people find your blog. It’ll also help you track incoming links.
- Did you write a few posts? You can’t launch without content. I’d aim for 3-5 posts before you really put yourself out there and launch your blog. The more content you have upfront the easier it is for people to get a feel for what you’re doing. Plus you’ll get more comfortable in your blogging shoes. It takes awhile to get into the Blogger Mindset.
- Do you have a few more posts ready to go? It’ll be a huge shame if you launch your blog only to write sporadically or not-at-all for the next little while. You want to be as productive and effective as possible right out of the gate — so have a handful of blog posts ready to go. Even if they’re not completely written, it’d be good to have the ideas and basic outlines in place.
- Did you make a list of people to contact? You can’t launch your blog into a vacuum. Yes, people will find it, but you should give it a nice kick into gear right away. Put together a list of contacts that might be interested in your blog. When you launch, ping ’em all and let them know that your blog is ready for action. Encourage them to comment, send feedback, link over and spread the word.
- Do you know how you’re going to promote the blog? There are lots of ways to promote a new blog, including blog directories, various widgets, strategic linking, etc. You may not have all the answers right off the bat, but a big part of blogging is marketing – you need to market your blog. Do some research, make a list of blog promotion steps to take, and get going once you’re launched.
These 10 questions are applicable irrespective of the blog software you’re using. Lots of things in blogging at platform-agnostic; it doesn’t matter whether you’re using WordPress, Typepad, Blogger or something else. Good writing is good writing no matter what. Killer headlines are killer headlines no matter what.
Covering all the details and making sure your blog is prepped will help your blog be successful.