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).
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: FadMarketing.com (which was rolled into my small business blog) and NakedPR.com (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:
|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.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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