Can You Build a Kick-Ass Blog in 3 Months?

on March 25, 2014 in Blogging, Goals and Planning

blogging challenge

In the discussions around my recent series on WordPress for writers, I mentioned that I might take on a blogging challenge to demonstrate how successful blogs get started. It's happening.
In April, I'll kick off a three-month blogging challenge which will be documented here at All Indie Writers.

Background in Blog Launches

I've launched more than my fair share of blogs over the last decade. Some were duds (mostly because I gave up on them early). But most have done very well for me, from direct income to promoting my business writing services to becoming recognized industry outlets.

All of my blog launches over the years haven't been approached in the same way. And because of that I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, sometimes learning the hard way.

The Goal of This Blogging Challenge

I know how much work it takes to launch a successful blog. I also know that there are different measures of blogging success. Perhaps most importantly, I know you can build an amazing foundation for a new blog in just a few months.

This challenge will give me an opportunity to show you how.

Some of the things I'll share with you include:

  • My blog business planning process;
  • The tools and other resources I use;
  • Details about my content strategy and writing;
  • My monetization plans and later results;
  • Details on traffic, referrals, engagement, and other success metrics that might matter to you;
  • And anything else that comes up along the way that might help you build a better blog of your own.

My goal is to use this blogging challenge to create a road map you can follow with your own projects.

My Approach in This Challenge

I had a difficult decision to make when I chose to pursue this challenge.

Should I launch the blog under my name, or should I launch it under a pen name to keep it completely anonymous?

The Case for (and Against) Blogging Anonymously

My first instinct was that blogging under some new name was the only "fair" approach. This way I couldn't use any of my existing sites, or my general platform and network, to promote the new site. After all, I figured, a brand new blogger wouldn't have these things.

Then I realized that approach would pose some unfair challenges of its own. For example, I would have to set up and manage completely new social media profiles for every network I wanted to use to promote the blog. That would take an absurd amount of extra time.

The reality is that most new bloggers probably already have social networks they can tap. If they have any specialized expertise they plan to base the blog around, they also probably have some level of professional network. And my goal here isn't to teach you how to start from nothing. It's to help you realize, and make use of, all that you already have going for you.

So I'm sticking with my usual name and I will in fact put my platform, network, and other Web properties to use.

Open to Other Options (Later)

That said, I do understand that everyone is coming from a different starting place. And if this challenge works out, I have two potential follow-up challenges in mind. One would involve working under one of my existing fiction pen names (which aren't a secret, but which also offer me far less reach at the moment).

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The other would involve trying that from-scratch approach. If I pursue those challenges, I expect to do them in that order, and you wouldn't know about the anonymous one until the three months are up (as I wouldn't want it promoted here during the challenge period).

About the New Blog

I'm not ready to share the name and domain of the new blog just yet. My plan is to release that information in about a week when the official pre-launch period begins. But I will give you some background on its niche.

This blog will focus on marketing.

It will be a sort of cross between two of my now-retired blogs: (which was rolled into my small business blog) and (one of my most successful launches, which I retired when I left PR and social media consulting behind to focus on writing and blogging full-time).

There will be plenty of attitude and thoughtful analysis, but with far more resources than either of those former blogs offered.

The Plan (and the Schedule)

I'm taking this week to hash out my blog business plan and content strategy. I'll also get my base WordPress installation set up and make any customizations I want to my new theme). Then there will be a two-week pre-launch period where I'll start sharing the domain and promoting the upcoming blog. Normally I would want a longer pre-launch promotional period, but I don't want this challenge to drag out any longer than it has to.

I also plan to use those two weeks to put together the launch content. If I do decide to extend the pre-launch phase it will be a matter of how much content I decide to launch with. So there might be changes before the official three-month growth and evaluation period starts for the challenge, but I'll let you know of any changes. In the meantime, the planned schedule looks something like this:

Date Plan
March 25, 2014 Planning & Design Phase
April 15, 2014 Pre-launch Promotion & Content Development
May 1, 2014 Official Blog Launch
August 1, 2014 End of the Challenge
November 1, 2014 Six-month Check-in (to see how things progressed over a longer period)

* Schedule edited April 15th. I decided against launching the week a major WP upgrade was expected. I wanted to give theme and plugin developers a chance to get all their updates out so we didn't run into compatibility problems right after launch.

One thing I haven't decided yet is how often I'll share updates here. I expect to give you a run-down of what I've been working on and what's happening on at least a monthly basis.

There probably won't be much info to share during the first month as far as income and traffic stats go, and I don't want this site to become littered with challenge updates that can't teach you much.

So for now, expect to see updates when I have something of value to share -- new resources, a sneak peek of the new blog before launch day, etc.

I hope you'll join me on the new blog, as marketing is an integral part of running a successful writing business. In the meantime, keep a look out for an update next week when I'll share more details about the blog name, address, and exactly what kind of content and resources you'll find there.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers,,, and numerous other blogs.

Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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  1. Cathy Miller March 25, 2014 Reply

    Can’t wait to see this, Jenn. I have a new blog in the infancy stage and haven’t “launched” it per se so this will be invaluable to me. Thanks for tackling another challenge on my behalf. Oh, wait, did you expect you & others would gain something, too? 😉

  2. KeriLynn Engel March 25, 2014 Reply

    This is perfect timing! Can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I’ve also started many blogs in the past, and have had some fail and fade away, and some become big successes. I’ve learned a lot along the way, but I’m very interested to see your process, too. Especially since I also have an idea for a new blog I’d like to launch in the next few months! Looking forward to learning more about your project 🙂

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2014 Reply

      Thanks KeriLynn. I certainly hope it doesn’t disappoint. Way to put the pressure on! 😉 No matter how it turns out, I figure folks will either see some things that work, or they’ll see some things that don’t. Either works as a learning experience. But I’m still hoping for the former. 🙂

  3. Katherine James March 25, 2014 Reply

    Interesting… I’ll definitely be following this challenge. 🙂

  4. Kerry Jones March 25, 2014 Reply

    This is such a great idea, looking forward to watching the new blog’s progress!

  5. Anne Wayman March 25, 2014 Reply

    Really looking forward to peaking under the hood of your new blog, Jenn! Exciting…

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2014 Reply

      You have more access to the plans than most. My task list at AWS details a lot of what’s going on. Shhh. 😉

  6. Paula March 25, 2014 Reply

    I’m just a casual blogger so I’ll be interested to see what I can learn from your challenge.

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2014 Reply

      Hopefully there will be a few tips and tricks to help out folks, whether or not they’re blogging to make a business out of it. 🙂

  7. Prudence Shank March 25, 2014 Reply

    Go, Jenn, go! I’m looking forward to following the challenge.

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2014 Reply

      And I’m looking forward to having everyone on board! 🙂

  8. Melanie March 26, 2014 Reply

    I better hop on your list, Jennifer — I don’t want to miss a minute of this fun adventure! 🙂

    I’ve been blogging for eons and I love every aspect of marketing. You could say I’m a marketing junkie. LOL! I’m interested in following your challenge because I want to work toward launching a brand new blog, totally unrelated to topics I’ve been blogging about forever. Unknown to my current loyal readership, I’m a musician with a very talented long-time musician who’s my partner. We plan to release our first album this year … and I’m in charge of marketing and promos … which means I’ll need to blog up a storm!

    Off to sign up to receive your posts in my inbox. Best of luck with the challenge!

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 26, 2014 Reply

      From one marketing-junkie to another, I hope to see you around. 🙂

      I don’t have a default email subscription option on this site (but should some time next week). In the meantime, you can subscribe via email through the old Feedburner feed if you don’t have another option you send feeds through:

  9. Christine Mitchel April 10, 2014 Reply

    Hello Jenn, I’ve been following your blogs for a couple of weeks now, and I think you created this post challenge just in time. I just started blogging, (a total beginner), but I’ve been gathering info on how to begin.
    I came across this post and found it to be very helpful. I just wanted to let you know that I’m cheering for you and I look forward to seeing how you complete this challenge. You are my new mentor! I just created a site, but haven’t launched it yet, I am really nervous about it, but I will not give up. You give me hope and inspiration to keep faith. Thank you for your blogs and site. It’s so helpful!

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Christine!

      For this new blog, the pre-launch period is longer than anticipated because I decided to go all-out on it. But later on I’ll have tutorials and courses here on setting up a blog of your own, even if you aren’t looking for a bigger launch or to make it a direct revenue stream (there are already some posts in the archives to help with that actually). 🙂

      Don’t be nervous. The worst that can happen is that you learn something from the experience, right? 🙂

      I’m hoping to be able to share my first updates in a few days with a sneak peek of the design of the site and the ability to sign up for updates, posts, and freebies. 🙂

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