I took Makerbook.net from 0 to a server crashing 345,000 page views in just 7 days.
I make and market things for a living.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 10 key things I do before I launch a new website.
1. Establish a goal
Before launching your new website you need to establish a single, clear goal. The single thing you want to achieve from your pre-launch activity.
I recommend building a pre-launch email list. It’s a simple, easy and one of the most effective ways to reach people today.
Depending on the scale of my project, I usually shoot for 1000 email signups for my pre-launch list.
2. Find your audience
In order to build your pre-launch email list, you have to establish where your biggest, freely available audience is.
It’s best to reach out using your personal profile. Not your business account. People listen to people. Not faceless companies.
3. Create your landing page
In order to collect your email subscribers you need to create a landing page. It’s crucial you get this right.
The key to a great landing page is some simple, clever engagement.
Don’t ask visitors for an email address up front.
Prompt them a question or two first. Then tell them a little about your website. Then ask for their email address. I have found this technique to work 10x better than a static landing page.
4. Write your website ‘story’
Next, you need to write your website ‘story’. People love to hear why you’re creating your website and how it came to be. Your website story can be as simple as talking about your background and why or when you came up with the idea.
For example, I like to ask people how much they paid for a pint of beer whilst travelling abroad. So I’ve decided to make a website that lists the average cost of a pint of beer worldwide. Read my full website story here.
5. Create props to help tell your website story
To tell your website story in a creative way, you’re going to need some props.
Create these ‘props’ early and often. Mak as many as of them as you can. If you’re working with a designer ask them for some help.
Your props could include initial rough sketches, logo concepts, icon designs, colour selections, photography and even wireframes. Anything that is interesting.
People love to see the process. Show it to them.
Here are some examples of ‘props’ I used to tell my web site story.
6. Share your website story
Now you have written your website story and created your props, it’s time to share it.
The way you tell your story can take on many different forms. I create and share my website stories via email, blog posts, Twitter updates and Facebook shares.
They can be long or short, simple or complex. Be sure to make them interesting and of value to your audience. No one wants to read pure promotional crap.
Here are some examples of website stories I have shared.
7. Keep your email subscribers updated
Once you have some email subscribers on your list, keep them updated. Send them a brief email and share your progress with them. It could be your latest logo design, challenges your facing or some lovely products shot. People also like to get exclusive sneak peeks before your site goes live.
Your subscribers made the effort to sign up. Show them some love. Make them feel valued and part of the process with personal email updates from you.
I usually send one or two personal email updates before the final launch email.
8. Ask for feedback
Don’t be too proud to ask for feedback along the way. Especially if you’re working alone. Ask a top logo designer for feedback on your logo. Or a UX expert for input on your wireframes. People often point things out you may have missed. Their feedback can really help.
Here’s an example of me asking for some feedback on LinkedIn.
9. Contact industry experts
Once you’re confident your test site is working reach out to some influencers. You don’t have to cold email people. Look in your immediate network for people who have large followings on social or people who blog.
Offer them a test run of your site. Reach out to them via email. Twitter is also good.For the love of Pete don’t call it a ‘press release’. Be conversational, concise and informative.
Tel these people when you’re launching. Ask them if they could write about your site on their blog, do a post on Twitter or post it on their site.
Lastly, have attractive, unbranded, high res artwork on hand for your influencers. Stuff they can easily include in the posts and updates.
10. Send your launch email
After you’ve shared all of your stories, built your email list and your site is ready. It’s time to send your launch email.
I use Mailchimp to create and send my email campaigns. Make your email simple and punchy. And never launch your new site on a Friday! If something goes wrong everyone goes home for the weekend and there’s no one there to fix it.
Monday is when I usually launch my sites. As well as having people around, you also have a full 5 day run to get even more traction after you launch, but that’s another post which I will write.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your website launch.