If you’re like me, you like registering domains. It’s exciting. But what’s not exciting is watching your hosting company or domain registrar turn your name into an ad-farm while you’re getting ready to launch your next WordPress blog. If you didn’t know it, that’s called domain parking; a way for hosts and domain registrars to capitalize on all the underdeveloped domains out there. That’s why I came up with LaunchPad, the WordPress Domain Parking Theme. To explain: if this theme had a motto it might be, “I’m not your billboard.”
Now with most hosts offering one-click installs of WordPress—I recommend Fused Network—it couldn’t be easier to park your domain in style while you get your future blog ready. Just install WordPress, sign up for FeedBurner with email subscriptions (see instructions below) and you’re set! You get a professionally designed domain parking page—for free—that serves up an RSS feed link and a form for email updates.
But why bother? Well, let’s see what web design expert Mr. Meltdown, of Design Meltdown, thinks of “coming soon” pages like LaunchPad.
This type of landing page has dropped the annoying construction cones and replaced with relevant and useful features. Namely among this is a sign up form to be notified of an actual launch, beta release, or other significant milestone. And of course this is a great way to build a nice mailing list of people to market a new product to. After all, if they actually complete the form they are likely to be very interested. Link.
Sounds like a good idea to me!
- Theme Options Page
- Integration with FeedBurner
- Professional design and typesetting
- GPL Licensed—it’s free and you’re free to mess with it.
Using LaunchPad is simple, it installs like any other WordPress theme, but there’s a couple of things you’ll need to get ready beforehand.
Get a FeedBurner ID and Feedmail
For a theme that incorporates FeedBurner to build subscriptions before you’ve even started blogging, this one is necessary. Signing up for FeedBurner is easy and you were probably going to do it anyway. Visit FeedBurner.com and follow the instructions there. Once that’s done, login and visit your account page.
All you’ll need is the name of your FeedBurner feed address. That’s the text after “http://feeds2.feedburner.com/”. Copy it into a text file somewhere for easy reference.
While you’re here, sign up for Feedmail. Click the publicize tab and look for the Email Subscriptions link under services (as I write this, it’s the 4th item). Follow the setup instructions there—but don’t worry about pasting any code anywhere, LaunchPad does that all for you.
Credit has to go to Nathan Rice for showing me how to do this with his beautiful theme Elegant Blue. Thanks, Nathan!
Write your Welcome Post
When someone subscribes to your new blog with RSS they will be able to read any published posts. You don’t want them reading your “Hello World!” post. Write a simple introduction to your new blog that outlines it’s genesis and your goals so your new subscribers will have something to read.
Set Theme Options
Simply copy your feed name into the options page …
… and You’re Done! You’re ready to launch your blog with LaunchPad!
Tips for Launching Your WordPress Blog with LaunchPad
There is really only one crucial tip for making the most of LaunchPad: let people know you have a URL. WordPress themes don’t work magic. You still have to market yourself. I recommend doing it in stages. First let your immediate friends and family know, then send out word on any social sites (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Hello Kitty Fan Club, etc.) you’re a member of. Follow that up with a link on an existing blog—if you have one. If you don’t have a blog I recommend getting one—using LaunchPad while you’re getting it ready of course!
Speaking of getting ready, make sure you read Collis Ta’eed’s two part Building a SuperBlog series on NorthXEast (Part two is here). It outlines the steps Collis took when launching FreelanceSwitch and his advice will help anyone launch their blog successfully. Without my LaunchPad theme, even. Imagine!