So you’ve decided to launch a new blog. Congratulations! You’ve come up with a great title, found an attractive layout and maybe even brainstormed some blog post topics.
Unfortunately, your work has only just begun. Blogging is an ongoing commitment that requires planning to achieve the traffic and attention your content deserves. Before you make your business blog available to the public, read through this list to make sure it meets the following standards:
Do you have an “About” page? Make it easy for readers to find more information about you and your business. One way to do this is by including a short snippet from your “About” page in the sidebar with a link to the actual page.
Do you have a link to your RSS feed on the home page? You should. This comes standard in most blog design templates, but it’s worth double-checking to make sure the RSS feed is in a prominent place. Also consider adding a button that allows readers to subscribe to the RSS feed by e-mail. (Feedburner lets you do this for free; simply create an account and then follow the instructions on the site.)
Is your layout compatible with all browsers? Your blog may look great in Internet Explorer but lousy in Firefox. The only way to tell is to load it in a variety of browsers. Your web designer should be able to test this for you, but you can also do a free test at BrowserShots.
Do you have at least five blog posts up? An empty blog will scare visitors away faster than you can say “Boo!” That’s why it’s important to launch with at least five high-quality blog posts already loaded onto your site. If you’re smart, you’ll have six to 12 more in reserve should you ever need to skip writing one week.
Do you encourage social bookmarking? You’ve probably seen blogs that are cluttered with links to social bookmarking sites such as Digg, delicious, and Technorati. While it’s easy to go overboard with social bookmarking links, it’s still a good idea to encourage readers to “bookmark” your best posts. ShareThis offers a free widget that lets readers share your content through social bookmarking and other methods.
Have you asked others to proofread your site? Mistakes that seem obvious to others may be hidden to you. Before launching your blog, ask a few eagle-eyed friends to proofread the content for misspellings, grammatical errors and other typos. Also have someone click each link to make sure it works properly. (If you use WordPress, the Broken Link Checker plugin will do this automatically.)
Have you installed analytics? Don’t put this off until later. By setting up a user tracking system as early as possible, you’ll be able to start seeing the data immediately, and using it to improve your site. Try Google Analytics or Clicky – both offer free versions with tons of data.
Once you’ve completed each item on the pre-launch checklist, you’ll be ready to take your blog public. Traffic will probably be slow the first couple of months – don’t get discouraged. With regular love and attention, your blog will become your single best business-building tool on the web.
Bloggers – what do you wish YOU had done before blog launch day?