When it comes to making your own website, a common question I get is how to actually launch it. The truth is, when I first created my website (roughly 2 years ago) I didn’t really do much of a ‘launch’. Sure, I had a landing page with an opt-in but, I didn’t really talk about it until it was done.
Since then, I was so focused on helping my students in the DIY Website Academy (course that teaches entrepreneurs how to build their own website), that my own website was the last of my priorities. While it was functional, my design hadn’t really changed and there was so much that could have been improved.
It wasn’t until I received some incredibly helpful advice (thanks Noah Kagan!) and honest feedback, that I realized how complacent I had been. It was definitely time to update things.
But, rather than just redesign my website and silently launch it, I thought I’d experiment with a few things to see if I could create some buzz.
In this post, I’m going to share with you everything I did, the numbers and the result. I’m going to be completely transparent with what did and didn’t work, in the hopes that it will help you with your own launch.
Here we go… My strategy for the launch:
1. Brand Prep
2. Create Buzz
3. Launch Party
Part 1: Branding + Design
Let’s start with the branding and the actual re-design process. This was probably one of the hardest things as I felt my brand had evolved in so many ways. That being said, I also wanted to keep some form of familiarity on the site for returning web visitors. I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make is completely changing your website, all in one go. You still want people to recognize that it’s you!
To start, I did my core value exercise. Take some time to think about what things make you you and, things that you resonate with. This can include brands you admire, hobbies, things that reflect who you are etc.
My new core values:
Try not to focus on your business or USP (unique selling proposition) in this step. This is all about you as an individual and what makes you unique.
Next, it’s time to create a mood board. A mood board is really just a visual representation for the feeling you want to evoke with your brand. I use Pinterest and then combine the images together in Photoshop (note: you can also use a free tool like Canva). It also helps to use the words you listed for your core values as search terms.
The trick with this step is to not overanalyze the images you are pinning. If it catches your eye and you like it, pin it! Once you start to collage them together, you will notice some patterns.
In my case, the most obvious things were marble and handwritten fonts:
After you have your images, you can select a colour scheme. If you need inspiration or help combining colours, check out Design Seeds.
When you are choosing your colours, aim for 1 – 2 focus colours (the colours most prominent on your website) and 2 -3 complimenting colours (these are used as accents but should not be competing for attention). Otherwise, your site can feel overwhelming and/or cluttered.
In the end, I chose these colours:
*The dark pink wouldn’t have been my first pick but, it was the background colour for a lot of my new photos. To keep things consistent, I decided to incorporate it in the site too.
I follow a pretty simple rule when choosing fonts: pick one heading font, one main/body font and, one contrasting font:
Once you have this set, you have created a solid foundation to start designing. Trust me when I say this, if you skip this step, it will be so much harder to finish your site. At some points, you’ll get stuck and having some form of a plan/guidance to fall back on is extremely helpful.
2. Create Buzz
Alright, now that you’ve seen the ‘behind the scenes’ for my branding, let’s move on to creating some buzz. Keep in mind, these are just the things that I chose to do. The possibilities are endless!
For this launch, I decided to run a giveaway. I used King Sumo (which was actually pretty quick to setup). The main reason for this was it encourages people to share the giveaway. Once someone enters, they are given the option to share it on social media to get extra entries. This not only increases their chances of winning but, it also helps spread the word of your launch… for free.
Looking back, I could have done a lot more to promote the giveaway. If I’m honest, part of me was actually afraid to go too big in case anything happened with the launch. Please don’t do that 🙂
I started the giveaway a week before my launch. Results were as follows:
We had a total of 602 people enter but, the total entries were over 1200. This just goes to show you how much people were sharing it after their initial entry!
I offered a bundle of Kate Spade stationary, a Making The Entrepreneur podcast t-shirt and, a scholarship into the DIY Website Academy (for students that were already enrolled, they could give it to a friend).
When you are brainstorming ideas for your prizes, just know that it doesn’t have to be as big (or heck, it can be bigger!). But, ensure that whatever you are giving is relevant to your business and website. When people share your giveaway, you want to have entrants that are your target audience and actually interested in what you do. Otherwise, you will just have people that wanted a free gift but probably won’t check back to look at your website.
3. Launch Party
I wanted the launch party to really deliver value (and not just have me talking about my new website and how excited I was. That’s boring.). So, I decided to not only announce the winners of the giveaway but also do a Q&A.
The Q&A received really great feedback and it honestly just allowed me to connect with everyone that much more. If you don’t want to answer questions, you could also share tips or have some FAQs prepared that you answer.
Also, know that it doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. My goal for the launch party was for people to see who I really was (hey, we can forget there is actually a person on the other end of those emails 🙂 ) and help as much as I could:
Here’s the launch party/Q&A replay! Excited to say… the new www.JessCatorc.com is officially live! 🚀 🎉 😃 Huge congrats to our two giveaway winners and thank-you to ALL of you for your kind words and messages on the new design! 🙂 Quick note, I actually used SumoMe for my optins (referred to it as AppSumo in the video – link is https://sumome.com/ ) And, if you don’t want to miss out on any other live streams or giveaways, join us in our free community here: www.jesscatorc.com/community <3
Posted by Jess Catorc on Friday, December 30, 2016
If you do a live stream, keep things simple and just be yourself! I’d also highly recommend outlining what you want to talk about during the stream. That way, things can move smoothly and you look prepared.
There you go!
So there you have it, my friend! To wrap up, here are a few of the most important things I learned from this launch:
1. If I were to do it again, I would run the giveaway for longer (perhaps 2 – 3 weeks?). Seeing the results from having it just a week ahead, I’m curious to see what more time could do.
2. The most valuable thing about this launch process was the public accountability. Trust me when I say this, the best way to ensure you get your website launched and end procrastination is to let the internet know it’s happening. It might add more pressure but it can definitely help!
3. Your website will always evolve and change. I truly understand the feeling of wanting things to be ‘perfect’ or worried about what feedback you are going to get. It’s so important to know, though, that it’s better to have something than nothing at all. There is still so much that I want to change with my site but had I waited until everything was done, you’d still be waiting for my launch!
I hope this helped and sparked some new ideas for your launch! If you’d like an outline and summary of all of this, you can grab a free copy of my website launch checklist:
Wait! If you have 2 mins to spare… leave a comment below letting me know what you want to do for your launch!