Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Site Launch Hell - Ending Soon? My 20-Point Checklist

How did I forget about this? It's so fun to dream up new online publications to launch. To dash off ideas on scrap paper. To think you're handling it great this time, so organized this time, good team on your side this time....

And then, it's no fun at all. Well, some fun. There's just all these little things I forgot about. Admin stuff, and I really hate admin. Let's just say, Not My Strength. Catch myself wishing for an admin army to sweep all operational duties off my shoulders, then remember how much I also hated it when my last company grew too big. Smaller is more fun. Right?

My (short version) checklist for launching a new online media company's first publication:

#1. Pick parent company name. Incorporate. Get EIN number. DONE

#2. Open company bank accounts & put money in them. Get company Discover card for the cash-back bonus, then discover hardly anyone useful takes discover. DONE

#3. Hire the launch team: reporter, editor, customer service/admin, freelance designers & developer. Discover to my horror my new admin guy has a long pre-paid vacation for peak of launch activity late-May through mid-June. Smile nicely and wish him well. DONE

#3. Give reporter & editor their detailed assignments, deadlines, tables of contents, potential interview source lists and editorial blueprints. Set up BasecampHQ account to manage it all. Promptly forget password. Never go back but apparently they are happily using it (shh, don't tell anyone.) DONE.

#4. Register Domains. DONE (ok, sort of ongoing, but I'm an idea person.)

#5. Pick hosting service. DONE (badly and then re-done.)

#6. Get email set up for staff. DONE

#7. Figure out how to make company email work for my own Outlook box. FAIL repeatedly. I am the only member of staff still using my Gmail account for business email. Shame. Shame.

#8. Get phone lines for everyone. DONE

#9. Buy entire landmasses of office supplies and equipment. DONE.

#10. Negotiate with key launch business partners & sign contracts. DONE

#11. Pick an email service provider DONE (aWeber, I always wanted to work with them!)

#12. Set up new lists & autoresponders and make sure it all ties back to the right forms on the publication site - not finished quite yet...

#13. Set up Twitter account for myself as well as first launch publication - DONE (So easy. Yeah!)

#14. Launch formal parent company site - random late night stabs, and finally ABANDONED. Who needs a corporate home page anyway? Maybe later.

#15. Write roughly 150 pages of content myself for first new launch publication site. Worry I've gotten some topical detail wrong, ask a world expert to review it. Get his, thankfully brief, changes. Do final doc edits. - DONE!!!

#16. Post all this content onto new CMS system. What do you mean Wordpress can't take an upload from a spreadsheet and we have to post each individual post by hand? Not done yet. Maybe tomorrow.

#17. Pick topic, date, & co-speaker for launch webinar. Also pick webinar hosting tech. Recoil in horror when it becomes clear the webinar company's registration forms are not optimized. Can we use our own? No. Grin & bear it. DONE.

#18. Edit & approve graphic design for first publication site. Hand to developer. Work with him so it looks as nice as the graphic designed version did. DONE.

#19. Create all the forms for first publication site. Spend hours trying to figure where to send the form-fill information -- perhaps SalesForce or ZOHO CRM, hate everything. It's all overkill and who wants to learn CRM program bells and whistles. Lose patience. Give up. Won't admin guy be happy when he comes back from vacation?!

#20. Answer emails and phone calls from old friends and colleagues asking what my first launch publication will be about, with a pleasant "Wait and see" (continual and seemingly unending.)


  1. Anne, you can use Gmail with your own mailbox (pop3 or imap) and send email with that address in your headers as well (though some Outlook versions will pick up the Gmail address instead).

  2. best of luck Anne and to hell with outlook! You can send from your work address right through gmail! settings>accounts>add another email address you own.

  3. Breath... Breath... and look back at your list and see all that you've accomplished.
    WOW - you're doing great!!