51 Steps to Launching (Or Relaunching) a Hot Blog

Two people beavered away in two countries over several weeks to come up with a professional design for my very first blog  – me and our Kiwi friend, graphic designer Kate Harwood.

Kate’s been designing for the Internet for about 15 years working for advertising agencies and web design companies but she’s a social media recluse which is equally eccentric and admirable.

She probably hadn’t read a blog before I told her about mine and in the line of duty went on Twitter for the first time to see what was going on.

I needed a Twitter background. Now that’s what I call a friend.

The first blog design was thrown together in about 30 minutes as an experiment in blogging.

14 months, and many thousands of subscribers and readers later, it was time to design the blog properly and create some unique branding.

My loyal readers were shocked by the huge changes.

The Branding and Web Site Brief

When it comes to web design I’m fussy, but at least I knew what I wanted. Here’s part of the brief I wrote before Kate started work. It was a four page document which began like this:

Site Goals: To inspire and tell people on how to live their dream. To sell products such as e-books and courses.

Target Audience: 50/50 gender split. Over 50% of visitors come from the USA and Canada, almost 20% from Australia and NZ, only 5% from the UK.

Site Design: Futuristic, modern and sleek. Clean and simple without being boring.

I want to give people the feeling of excitement and passion and offer a website they’ll look forward to visiting. I’ve visited a lot of blogs and there’s a gap in the market for this type of design.

Many blogs look quite uniform and uninspiring. I want to create a design that’s unique while also being user-friendly and achieving my goals. I want to make the blog easy to navigate and make the archives easy to explore for new readers because that’s a common design flaw with blogs and a useful service for blog readers.

How Blogging Changed My Life

Successful Blogging has been a lifetime in the making.

Just 14 months before I wrote this I didn’t even have a blog and had never read one myself. I started blogging as an experiment and to launch my writing career.

I love to travel, read, and walk. I try to take risks regularly and do something scary everyday. I’ve been blessed to travel quite a bit, having dedicated my adult life to achieving my goals of travel, writing, having a family and living near the water.

This blog is the accumulation of all that yet it exists for one reason ~ because of the readers who come here and everyone who leaves comments and tells other people about it by email, on Facebook or on Twitter.

It’s a collaboration of people from all over the world, people who are determined to live the best life they can, achieve their goals and be surrounded by other positive-thinking and like-minded people.

Blogging has changed my life. A few years I was an unknown writer. Now I’ve got happy readers all over the world.

I set up my first blog to put myself in the hot spot, commit to my writing and create a hot spot for positive change. I’ve achieved that goal and more.

I’ve thrived in the hot spot and I hope you will too. Together we’re a team that changes the world starting with ourselves. I’m delighted that you’re part of the Successful Blogging team.

Blogging’s a great way to launch a career or business, meet like-minded people, learn more about yourself, make a journal or give yourself a creative outlet.

Call me a zealot but I really think everyone should have a blog. There are so many potential benefits.

(NOTE: If you’d like a PDF of this list, check out the end of the blog post for a free checklist!)

51 Steps to Launch (or Relaunch) Your Hot Blog

  1. Pick a topic. Decide what you want to blog about.
  2. Make sure your topic isn’t too narrow or you’ll get bored with it.
  3. Narrow the focus, too wide a focus will get  people confused.
  4. Come up with a great idea to showcase your skills and knowledge.
  5. Work out your unique selling point, even if you’re not actually selling anything.
  6. Decide how to explain to other people what you do.
  7. Define your goals clearly.
  8. Write them down in most two sentences.
  9. Come up with a slogan that sums up in as few words as possible what people will find on your blog.
  10. Brainstorm for sub-categories on your blog.
  11. Divide the information you’ll be sharing via blog posts into chunks of information to make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for.
  12. Work out what static information you need on your blog ~ for example about, contact and legal.
  13. Sort out what your values are and how you can share those with your readers ~ for example adventurous, caring and down to earth.
  14. Brainstorm possible names for your blog.
  15. Find a suitable domain name – not too long and easy to spell.
  16. Buy the domain name.
  17. Embrace branding. Branding has a bad reputation but it’s unavoidable and strong branding is vital for online success. First impressions count. People will be judging you and  your blog from the second they set eyes on your photo or website.
  18. Decide how you want people to describe you ~ for example knowledgeable, off beat, stylish, witty.
  19. Work out how you can convey that in your branding.
  20. Choose a photo of you that you can use on your blog and all social media.
  21. Be consistent with your reputation and chose a photo that suits your branding reputation ~ for example friendly, trustworthy, professional and interesting.
  22. Remain consistent in everything you do and say online. Inconsistency is confusing and will scare people away.
  23. Check out some websites and work out what you like and dislike about them.
  24. If you’re creating an online business invest in it and outsource jobs you can’t do. Unless you’re an experienced project manager, Internet technician, writer, graphic designer, business planner, marketer and branding expert you’ll need help in some of those areas if you want to get good results fast.
  25. You may need a separate graphic designer who specializes in logos and branding as well as one to design the web interface.
  26. Write a detailed brief for your graphic and web designers outlining your goals, target audience, site design guidelines, topic, categories, sub-categories and static pages in as much detail as possible.
  27. Consider the page layout too. People read from top to bottom and left to right. Make sure the most important parts of your blog are immediately visible to people. For example, on my blog my main goal is to let new readers know what the blog’s about and get them to subscribe. The first place people’s eyes will fall is on the logo and slogan top left. The second place they’ll look is top right. 
  28. Choose your web designer carefully, It’s an unregulated industry. Try to pick someone who’s qualified and experienced. Look at some of the sites they’ve designed and spend time exploring them. Do they look good? Are they easy to navigate? Do they have clear calls to action like contact us now, subscribe or buy now links?
  29. Outsource jobs you can’t do well. The best recommendation for choosing people to help you is often word of mouth. If you can’t find a good recommendation ask for clients you can call to speak to for a reference.
  30. Relationships are important too. Choose someone you like and trust. You should be working with them closely so it might as well be fun and rewarding.
  31. Trust your gut. If you’re not 100% sure find someone else. It may take time but that’s better than spending money on something sub-standard that doesn’t get you results.
  32. Be ready to spend time on all of this. If could take months but it’s worth planning it properly and avoiding costly mistakes and wasted time.
  33. Hand over the job to your chosen experts and give them some creative freedom. You chose them carefully. Now you need to trust them.
  34. Refine the first design until you’re 100% happy with it. Keep testing and tweaking. No matter how carefully you plan there are always some elements that have been overlooked or need refining.
  35. Develop the blog in a test area so you can play around with it before it goes live. Actually clicking on links and imagining you’re a reader looking for certain information will help. For example, test how fast can people find your email address? Your best-selling product? Your Twitter page?
  36. Watch your language and check the wording. Does the language you use show your branding and company values? Does it speak to your target audience? For example if my target audience was students I’d use different words than if I was trying to appeal to baby boomers.
  37. Have a soft launch. There might be problems to begin with. Put the new site up and try it out. Ask some friends to test it for you on different computers and browsers. A good web designer should do this for you.
  38. Make sure your blog isn’t marked as private and submit it to the major search engines.
  39. Get your technical expert to sort out the widgets and install the essential plug-ins like Akismet which will catch your spam comments and the tweet me so people can easily tweet your post.
  40. Put up your first blog post. You can use your target goals, target audience and company values to get you started.
  41. Work out a posting schedule of a minimum of once a week and stick to it. This will get you in the habit and make you commit to your blog.
  42. Brainstorm for post topics and come up with some eye-catching headlines that will make people want to read them.
  43. Start networking and find a blogging buddy who will keep you going when times get tough.
  44.  Commit to a time frame and set goals. I set myself the goal of 1000 subscribers after one year of blogging and got there even though I changed my domain name and topic three times which really set me back.
  45. Interact with your readers – reply to their comments, read their reaction  and show them you care.
  46. Sign up for Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you keep your branding consistent across all platforms.
  47. Network with other bloggers who are starting out, people who’ve been at it for a while and the top bloggers in your niche. Retweet their links, comment on their posts. Just let them know you’re around and interested.
  48. Be authentic. It shouldn’t take practice but it does. Your confidence will grow as you learn to share confidences with your readers, trust each other and feel safe being yourself. That’s the person people will love best.
  49. Have fun with it.
  50. Just start blogging, learn as you go.  You’ve set up a strong foundation, the rest will happen naturally over time.
  51. Celebrate. Have a launch party and invite all your new blogging friends.
MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION FOR YOU  Stop Telling Me About Your 6-Figure Launch!

Just click on the blue picture below to get your free checklist!

84 thoughts on “51 Steps to Launching (Or Relaunching) a Hot Blog”

  1. I LOVE the new look. It's sooooo funky!!!

    And hey, when you can. Could you repost this on AMB? No rush okies! Mwahs.

  2. Brenda – Goodie:) Will be there asap. Lots of final tweaks to be made that can only be done when site is live like resizing 120 images!! Will be worth it in the end:)

  3. Wow! Fantastic! I've been checking everyday, waiting for this moment. You have, without question, achieved your design goals. The design is unique, fun, energizing. I really like the white background with the added splotches of color. I think it's far more readable than the previous design and gives a more spacious feel too. I prefer the serif font. Since you asked for feedback, I will be honest and say that the gray splotchies on the header and side of header start getting a little too messy for me. Also, I don't know if it's just my eyes, but the lettering of your blog title looks a little fuzzy around the edges. Just some minor details! Overall, I love it. I'm so happy for you, your success, and your great redesign. I really congratulate you.

    Thanks for this wonderful gift of 51 tips for launching a hot blog. I'm reflecting a lot on number 3 because I write on three topic areas and wonder at times if that's too broad. ..but them it's also me.

    I'm in the USA.

  4. Congratulations. Looks fantastic. So glad to be a part of your thriving community.

    Great mooove! 😉

    May the cash pour in!

    Best, Robin 🙂

  5. This look is fantastic. No doubt the start to greater things 😀 By the way I noticed you removed your subscriber count – is there a reason why? I thought it is great as a quick validation to new visitors that your website has a sizable base and hence is worth subscribing to.

  6. Sandra – Thanks for the detailed feedback. Glad you like it… more or less:) It is a bit quirky which I like. Well, I've been struggling with number three myself but hope that tying a few different topics together with a get the life you want focus will work for other people as well as me.

    Robin – I'll drink to that:) Hope you can come to the party!

    Celestine – I have a bug in the subscriber count. Every day for an hour in the early evening my time it screws up. So now we've programmed it to disappear but the other 23 hours it will be there. You're right, it is good to leverage that social proof once you have a few hundred subscribers and I'm very proud of my 1300+ and counting:)

    Tiera – Lovely to see you here and great to hear the list is useful. Wouldn't the Internet be a better place if everyone took these 51 steps before launching their blog or website?!

  7. Awesome new launch – yesterday was the first time I ever I came to your blog, kind of like destiny telling: See it one last time before it changes completely.

    Grrrreat grreat work ! Your new design is much more crisp no, the banner looks stylish and slick, but still conveys that playful/creative feeling from your colorful and funky sidebars.

    Time to tweet now…

  8. Bill – Ah, music to my ears:)

    Mars – I have to say you have such a cool name. I think your parents must have know a bit about personal branding. Thanks for spreading the word, that's the best compliment of all.

  9. Carmen – Clear and bright is the meaning of my daughter's name – Kiara – the Italian version of Claire although they spell it with a Ch. Thanks for the beautiful description.

  10. The blog is looking great. I am in love with the color choices and modern design. You have done a great job putting together a wonderful web design. You should be very pleased with how wonderful all of this has turned out.

  11. Hi Annabel, I'm unsure about the splotches but I really like the readable layout and the bright colors. It seems confident 🙂

    Due to your suggestion, I've just added tweetmeme to my blog. I am in the process of finding a WordPress expert because all the plugins can get confusing.

    I am also happy to see #2 as I just came to the realization last night that I wouldn't be comfortable in a tiny niche. That's just not me. My blog isn't yet 3 months old so I still have a lot to learn!

  12. Annabel —

    I like the 51 steps. I think for me, however, there's only one step for the moment: Write great content. I've been doing that, and I think I need to spend less time fiddling with details and more time writing!

    I liked having your photo in the header before. Most of the blogs I read are written by guys, and the previous design and photo immediately told me your site was different. I do like the "splotches" though — which I'm guessing should be called spots.

    I chose the off-the-shelf theme I use for my blog for its minimalist look, but I find it so very boring. I'm not sure what my next step will be.

  13. G'Day

    As someone only a week or so away from publishing my first blog, I found your story most pleasing and encouraging.

    Your list is terrific. I notice that you don't mention "positioning" by name,
    although lots of you points reflect it. May you future be brighter than your past.

    I've always loved a good party. I'm only down the road in sensational Sydney so we keep the same hours–except for Summer. I'm in that group that the surveys usually describe as "65+" And I was male last time I looked. Of course it's Sydney in 2010…….!

    About your new design………I think that good design is very important.
    But if it doesn't support your marketing position…………

    That's an issue for another time. For now…… Congratubloodylations!



  14. Seth, Corbett – Thanks for coming to check it out. Lovely adjectives. I'll be looking forward to see if it makes a difference to my conversion rate, ie the number of new visitors who subscribe. You'd have thought so wouldn't you? Time will tell…

    Jennifer – Those splotches are proving controversial:) I like them though – I think they make it unique. Great to hear this has already helped you. If you want a hand with anything WordPress related my husband is good – we do that through our company Mucho:) Good luck with it!

    Gip – Great addition. Write the best content you can and keep doing it. I think there's been a huge improvement in my writing over the last 14 months just because I've been practicing regularly and writing as well as I can. Very interesting feedback. I do want to differentiate myself by being female but decided to remove my pic from every page because I this blog isn't all about me, it's a bit bigger than that now. Also my designer came up with a hot pink design which we nearly ran with but I was scared I'd be labeled as a blog for women, scare away men and be looked down on. Silly really as I know real, open-minded and adventurous guys like yourself wouldn't have cared:)

    Leon – Yes, name is important and it is getting harder to find a good .com domain name these days. Doesn't support my marketing position? I'd love to hear more of your thoughts and am delighted to see what a diverse group of people from all over the world we have here. It's brilliant!

    Imran – Thanks for swinging by, chipping in and adding to the cultural diversity. Superb.

  15. I thought those 51 steps were awesome! The one's that I'll be giving more thought have to do with sub-categories, outsourcing, and the launch party via the web. I thought the web party was such a good idea. I def want to check yours out and maybe even pick up a few pointers. Another big thing that stuck out to me was the consistency because it's just like real life. If you can't make good on your word with your friends and family then you create this unreliable label for yourself. The same thing can absolutely happen online so I always make sure to make good on any promises I give out!!

    • Nunzio – I think they're good too:) Of course you can start a blog in 60 seconds via WordPress but if you want to do it well it's worth spending time on. Even if you're only writing for your family I don't think they'd want to visit an ugly old website! I think I've proved my commitment with a year of blogging and by investing time and money in a sweet blog design and am excited to see where it all leads. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  16. Kelly – Lovely to have you here. It's a big post with a lot to do. I don't want to put people off but I do want them to know how much work doing it properly entails because if you do something substandard with disappointing results you can blame yourself. I did a lot of this over the last 14 months, well before I branded my blog properly so you can do it as you go along:)

    Mary Ellen – Thanks so much for joining us. Wonderful that you've been reading for a while and have found it useful. Inspiring even! I'm stoked:)

  17. I pretty flexible about time since I work for myself. I am in the US, Central Time (15 hours behind Sydney).

  18. Jennifer – Lol! That's great. I'll try and work out a time to suit as many of us as possible and let you know asap.

  19. "Submit it to search engines…?"

    In launching my home-schooling blog I did almost everything you recommend in your steps but I have not submitted it to search engines. I remember now reading about submitting your blog to search engines but had totally forgotten about that.

    Did you use a specific site to do that for you? Can you explain how it's done or point me in the right direction?


  20. Fazreen – Thanks for getting involved and being the first to notice the Thesis theme in action here. I'm hoping that this is one of the loveliest adaptation of Thesis online at the moment:) Have set myself up as a Thesis affiliate because I recommend it to other bloggers and website owners.

    Anne – Just submit it to Google using "Google add url" and the other search engines should find you. It will help if some other websites link to yours. You should concentrate on getting those incoming links to improve your search engine ranking. For a new site it can take a while to get listed with Google so be patient. I've submitted my blog to quite a few blog directories too although I'm not sure how useful that is. Sounds as if you're doing everything right:) Well done.

  21. This looks INCREDIBLE!

    You know me, but because you asked: I'm 24, from NYC, and my first impression is that the page is clean, bright, and exciting. It looks like fun things are being written here. And as it turns out, looks are not deceiving. The splashes of color are fantastic and modern, and everything looks snappy, current, and cool.

    I like that you give your readers guidelines, rather than telling them, "Just write something! Doesn't even matter what!" It's helpful to hear serious advice, combined with lightheartedness and warmth. Makes a big difference, and makes me feel that I can trust your voice and what you have to say.

  22. Stacyann- Great:)

    Kate – What glowing feedback, thank you. It's lovely for me and the other readers to find out a bit about you too. I love seeing the little images of readers when they reply, it makes a gorgeous collage:)

  23. Love the updates!

    I wish I had stumbled upon your launch list when I first launched. I recently worked out my USP (whew! much tougher than I thought!) and will be going through some of your other steps.

    Your story is an inspiring one to watch. Sometimes it can feel like all the pro bloggers came along at a time when it was easy to make a name for yourself online, as there weren't that many non-personal blogs. So to see a blogger grow by leaps and bounds really helps those of us stay on track and believe that once we roll up our sleeves and stay focused, self-employment via blogging is definitely still possible.

  24. Oh wait, I forgot the questions… I'm 30 in the US.. first impression was that I've never seen a design like this one before, your header is very unique. And I immediately wanted to explore all the parts of your blog.

    The best time for me for your launch party is after 7pm EST.

  25. Great new look!

    I have followed you since you had 350 subscribers and you have been very consistent in your approach (helping people).

    Congratulations on the new layout it looks fantastic. One of the best designs I've seen. It is so useable and everything is in just the right place! Makes me jealous.

    I think you have really nailed all of the right aspects when it comes to blogging.

    You rock!

  26. Anilia – Great to inspire you, I do try. It's my main message here – try and keep at it. I'm delighted to be doing it with a great team of people. Hope to meet you at the party. It would be great.

    Randall – Phew, glad you like it, I was worried that some of my older readers like you may feel a bit sad to see the old site go but everyone seems to be delighted with the new one. You can do it to, just follow the steps, no hurry, it took me a while. And thanks for hanging around here so long, cheering me on and following my blogging evolution. You rock too:)

  27. I agree, the site looks Ace, it has given me pause (not paws) about my own layout. Very Nice.

    (By the way, I think a couple of your pens are leaking ink, but I don't think anyone else has noticed)

  28. Hi, your new site design was well worth the effort. I really like the new easier access to your posts and for we readers, easier to make comments. Also Kate's art work will stand the test of time. Glad you got rid of the toucan but miss your lovely smile. However, it does pop up in replies, so you get a tick for that as well! G

  29. Impressive look, clean lines, and of course amazing words and thoughts. I'm particularly impressed with the new direction as I really value word-of-mouth recommendations, considering how hard it is to cut through internet clutter. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on so many subjects, it is super brilliant and very generous. I look forward to the launch – count me in! Congratulations and may your success grow.

  30. These 51=amazing. I feel like I've learned more from you in ten minutes of reading this list than I have in the past few weeks of doing blog research. Thank you!

  31. I remember coming to your site some time back…and being amazed at how much you've grown. I am so happy for your success 🙂 You inspire me.

    And this new design just adds so much of YOU and your personality to your already awesome writing. I love your energy. Keep up the great work…and thank you for those awesome 51 tips…I just re-did my blog design too 🙂

    Much Love to you,


    p.s. you are going in my blogs I love page 🙂

  32. Well I am in the 5% UK category and I think you rock so that has to count for something. Great new site design, it looks awesome. Quest post swaps anytime you want, :).

    I'll tell you what I've done. I have copy all 51 points into a word doc and will be answering them as I go about putting the final touches onto my own redesign, excellent work. Thanks.

  33. I love the design as a whole & the header, especially the simple 4 circle logo with the top right side being the hot spot in the marketing matrix. Also reminds me of stove tops being literally hot.

    The post is a great help too, it took me a long while to figure 1/4 of your points … now to work the other 33 points on the list. It's definitely a post I would revisit. Thanks!

  34. Found your site via a WeBlogBetter.com link. First thought was – Great looking site. Cool font, hot graphics.

    Great tips on this post, too. Congrats on the re-boot & continued success to you.


  35. Your blog is beautiful. I am also about a year into blogging. I liked your 17 steps. I am missing two or three and will work on getting those done. I look forwarded to reading your posts. Cheers.

  36. I have been here a couple of times before. gotta say I love the new design … really nice.


    (from the UK)

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