Launching A Website: What I Learned & What I'll Do Differently Next Time
If you read the last blog post, 4 Phases of Creating Your Website, you got an inside look at what I learned from my experience of building my website from scratch. How you choose to approach the third phase of the process–promoting and launching your site–can make a big difference in gaining momentum for your business. This week I want to give you an inside look at the way I promoted and launched my website, what I learned from the process, and what I would do differently now (hindsight is 20/20, right?). If you’ve heard the saying “launch before you’re ready” then that saying pretty much sums up exactly how I launched my website.
Get ready, it’s story time!
When I was building my website, I was working at a fast-paced, very deadline-driven job as a member of a small but mighty design team. I was spending so much time sitting at a computer and designing during the day that it made it challenging to come home in the evening and do more of the same. However, I chipped away at designing my brand identity and website little by little. I eventually got to the point where I had enough finished that I could quietly push my website out into the world. Was it perfect? No. Not even close. But launching before I was ready was a huge relief because that meant I could stop holding myself back and obsessing over all the nitty, gritty details. Perfectionism isn’t your friend, particularly in this type of situation. All it does is hold you back from making significant progress and make you doubt your decisions. Here’s where the progress over perfection strategy comes into the picture.
Sometimes launching before you’re ready and choosing progress over something being “perfect” gives you the motivation to get things done more quickly. When you’ve pushed your not-so-perfect website out onto the worldwide web for all to see, it can be just the kick in the pants you need to make it the best it can be, sooner rather than later. If you’re like me, launching before you’re ready can help you make decisions faster, be more efficient at making changes, and overall be more focused on the end product.
There are some real benefits for choosing the progress over perfection route, and at the time it was the right one for me. Looking back now there are certain things I would've tried to do differently, but I'm just going to put that knowledge to good use when I launch a new product or service in the future. If you're a side-hustler working toward being able to give your business a full-time commitment, it can be the perfect path for you. However, if you want some insight on what I've learned, keep on reading! The main thing I would do differently? Plan a clear road map for my launch that's chockfull of intention (and deadlines).
PLANNING WITH INTENTION
If I were to do my launch over again, I would 1) set a firm launch date and 2) be very intentional with how I used the time leading up to that day. By setting a firm launch date, you’re giving yourself a deadline to work under, and by telling other people when to expect your completed website you’re building in accountability. I know that I’m much more apt to stick to something when other people are expecting me to finish it.
Planning for a launch takes a lot of time, energy, forethought, and intention. Put your launch date on a calendar, and work backwards from there. Seriously, pull out a calendar right now and give yourself a tangible and realistic deadline. Next, you'll need to make a thorough list, including:
What you need to get done before you launch
For example: get a brand identity designed, finish designing your website, gather client testimonials, write blog posts for your archives, etc.
How you want to promote it
What social media platforms do you want to use?
What kind of content are you going to share?
Are you going to host a giveaway prior to your launch?
The things you need to create as promotional materials
For example, if you're going to do a countdown on Instagram then you'll need to design branded graphics to help count down the days until your launch.
From there, take that list of items and assign them each an individual deadline. When you only have a final deadline as a reference point, it can make it difficult to get a good grasp on how to plan your time effectively. The last thing you want is to suddenly find yourself a week out from your launch, scrambling to get everything done. Here's how to figure out those individual deadlines and save yourself a lot of stress:
Let's say you’re going to be launching your website in three months. What are the things you need to get done to be totally ready for that day; plus what are ways you can build hype around your brand and your new website? Break that list down into items that need to happen in the first month, the second month, and the last month leading up to your launch. From there, break those items down even further into a week-by-week basis so you have a very precise and concise list of action steps. If you have "write blog posts for archives" listed as an item to get done in the second month leading up to your launch, the sub-steps for that to reach completion would be: pinpoint target audience and purpose of blog, write posts full of valuable content, design template for graphics that is cohesive with brand identity, plan how to promote posts.
The more structure you give yourself, the less overwhelmed you'll feel. Plus giving yourself plenty of time will only help guarantee the quality of your launch. I know that when I have a huge task on my to-do list, I can get discouraged simply because I don't know where to start. Breaking down huge tasks into bite-size pieces really helps keep me on track, so I hope that will help you too!
Here are some ideas for how to prepare for a launch:
Here's a real-life example of using Instagram to promote a well-planned and intentional launch:
As I was brainstorming what to write for this blog post, I came across a wedding planner who, in my opinion, did such an excellent job of promoting her new website’s launch on Instagram. If you’re looking for a great way to promote your site and get people excited, then take a cue from Ivey Weddings. She started by announcing her gorgeous new brand identity and soon-to-be-launched website, keeping it top of mind with a countdown, and engaging her followers by hosting a fun giveaway to celebrate her launch. Click through the screenshots below to see exactly how she did it!
Have you recently launched a website or new product? What are things you learned from the process, or what things were beneficial for the success of your launch? I'd love to hear what you've learned, so go ahead and leave a comment below!
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