Many coaches are launching a blog rather than a static website, to boost list building and attract more pre-qualified clients. A blog site is not limited to the blog content alone; it can include whatever static pages you want, to introduce your offerings to your market. (Just look at mine!) If you’re ready to build your own dynamic blog site, follow these five steps to prepare for launch.
Before you design your blog, be sure you’ve got a solid foundation:
- You’ve targeted one coaching market – a narrow and accessible group of people that are actively seeking professional resources.
- You have researched that market and discovered specifically what they want to solve, learn and achieve.
Need help setting your foundation? Join my workshop Champion Your Ideal Coaching Market.
Don’t build your own blog! You owe it to your sanity and your coaching biz to leave this to an expert. Blog designers know the cutting edge plug-ins and widgets to make your site search engine optimized (SEO). And while they are working on your site, you can be enrolling clients!
STEP 1: Get Your Branding Together
Ideally, all of these branding elements go into your blog’s top banner.
- Blog and company name / logo / domain
The title of your blog, company and domain name (.com) are ideally the same and are highly relevant to your market. You can have a logotype or logo created.
Domain finder tool: Bust A Name
- Your color preferences
Send your designer examples of 2 – 5 colors you want on your blog. Provide web addresses of sites you like and the reasons why.
- Your professional headshot
Headshot styles change, so if you’re using an old one, believe me, everyone can tell. Take shots in different outfits, poses and expressions. White backgrounds provide more versatile uses.
- Your tag line or benefit statement
All these elements should make it clear to visitors that they’ve arrived at the right place. Use keywords relevant to your market.
STEP 2: Set Up Critical Accounts
- Your web hosting account
I recommend Bluehost. (affiliate link) The fee to register your first domain name is included, so no need to register it separately!
- Your Aweber account
Aweber (affiliate link) is the best list management and email broadcasting system I’ve found. Create your email blog list and write your first auto responder to deliver your freebie to new subscribers.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics gives you the best tools to track and analyze the traffic to your site. Make sure your designer is experienced with setting up Google Analytics, or hire an SEO consultant to do it. Don’t try this at home (unless you’re a true techie).
- Your “Gravatar”
Use a consistent headshot for your avatar – that’s the little thumbnail sized photo of you that shows up when you post on social networks and other places. Upload your headshot once to Gravatar and it will follow you to many places on the Web.
- Shopping cart and merchant account
If you’re selling products or enrolling clients into programs online, you’ll need a shopping cart system and merchant account to fulfill orders and charge credit cards.
STEP 3: Choose 5-8 topic categories
These are the sub-topics that most of your blog posts will be about. It’s best if the category titles are 1 – 3 word “keywords” that your target market would search for.
STEP 4: Write!
- One or two posts for each category
Populate your blog with posts for each category before you launch. It’s OK to re-purpose previously written articles. Freshen them up with keyword rich titles.
- Feature post
Write one really, really good post as a “keynote” for your blog. This is not an introductory post but rather a representation of your best, most powerful message to your market. Plan to write a new feature post about once a month. (Using a feature post is optional, but it helps keep your message in front of your market.)
- Your freebie
It’s critical to offer a digital giveaway that your visitors receive immediately after they sign up for your blog, such as an assessment, an audio recording, a tip sheet, or a small report that educates, inspires or solves a problem for your market.
- Content for pages on your navigational bar
Decide which pages will be on your main nav bar and write copy for those pages. Common pages are: About You, Programs, Media, Resources, Contact
- Thank you and sales pages
Write copy for:
– a dedicated “subscribe” page with a “please confirm” reminder
– a “thanks for confirming” page
– landing pages for each social network
– product or program landing /sales pages
- Create a post calendar
Brainstorm ideas for future blog topics and plan 3 – 6 months of posts. Plan to post no less frequently than weekly. Coordinate topics with your marketing calendar.
STEP 5: Make technical decisions
- Do you want a 2 or 3 column layout?
- Will you put marketing copy on the home page? If so, keep it to 1 – 3 short paragraphs about the pain points and desired outcomes of your market. Don’t write about the virtues of coaching here. Remember a blog is about relationship building not outright selling. (But it will help you sell.)
- Will you offer both RSS and an email signup?
- Which blocks or widgets do you want in the sidebar? Social network icons, search box, tag cloud, recent posts, recent comments.
Browse my freshly updated blog to see cutting edge solutions for features, created by designer Nichole Betterley.
Having most of these tasks completed before the design process begins will smooth your pre-launch experience and streamline your designer’s task. Your designer can also interview you to help you make some of these decisions.
Have any blog task list questions? Comment below.