The Go-Live Checklist for a digital publication

In the excitement and anxiety leading up to going live with a new publication, there are many small things you can do in advance to make your launch less stressful & more successful. We have watched a lot of companies go live and then panic when things don’t go as planned and created a checklist to help companies avoid that same pain.

Here are the most common sources of stress:

1) Where will your content live?
We often talk to publishers who assure us they will be hosting their own content, only to realize on the day of the launch that their tech team is chasing a security issue and will be dealing with a support queue for days, unable to help them get their publication live.

If you’re hosting yourself, make sure you have someone on point and ready to make sure things go smoothly.

Whether you’re hosting yourself, using a hosting company or hosting through Woopie, it’s a great idea to do a test-run as soon as you are able to make sure there are no surprises or questions. Put it behind an obfuscated URL if you’re afraid it will ruin the launch or be found too early.

2) What’s the URL?
It’s not a trick question. The reason this one is here is because of DNS, or Dynamic Name Servers. Think of them like a phone book. If you need to add a new phone number to the phone book, it can take a while for everyone to receive the update. We have had customers who want to go live with a new domain or even a Woopie subdomain (something like yourmag.woop.ie) and don’t realize that it can take up to 48 hours for new URL names to propagate. Otherwise you can run into issues where some people see the content and others get a blank page.

If you’re going to be using a custom URL, get it set up as soon as you know the name so that it’s live and ready when you are.

3) [If applicable] Is the payment system ready?
If you’re using a paywall, a tweet-to-unlock solution, any kind of payments provider, have you tested it? Is it working? Make sure to upload your content as soon as you can so you can test all of the scenarios with a real publication. Situations like the following are things you should definitely test as they can be edge cases and potentially leave money on the table:

  • “buy just one issue”
  • “buy a subscription but I accidentally clicked the ‘buy’ button twice”
  • “buy a gift subscription for someone”
  • “sign up for a trial and let it lapse”
  • “buy from a different country with different taxes (if applicable)”

4) Have you told your fans/friends/family?
Nothing helps drive momentum on go day like a cheerleading squad. Make sure you or your marketing team is planning to update all of your social media channels, wherever your audience may be: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, ProductHunt, Reddit, HackerNews, appropriate forums, Google groups, etc.

If you have contributors, authors, editors, friends, family or anyone else who you can rope it to spread the word, make it easy for them! Send out an email a day ahead of time (no more or people may forget) with some sample phrases or tweets that keep it simple for them to copy, paste & spread the love.

And of course don’t forget your mailing list. You have been building a mailing list, right…?

5) [Create and] grow your mailing list
Even if it has been relatively quiet or even completely silent up until now, you’ll want to announce the launch through your fans who have been signing up to your mailing list. These are your early adopters – send them deals, early access to content, free previews to share, whatever you can do to help get them excited and reward them for being so quick to recognize your publication’s brilliance.

If you still don’t have a mailing list, you can create a free one at MailChimp or CampaignMonitor and embed the sign up form into your website, your social media accounts and even your publication itself.

6) Test your links
Take a quick run through your publication and make sure your links actually go to the right place. Or you can use a free tool like the W3C’s Link Checker to do this.

7) Check your spelling / check your grammar
You’ve probably read everything a million times so find a fresh pair of eyes: a colleague, a peer, a friend, preferably one with good spelling!
Same thing as with the grammar, if you know someone who majored in literature, English, creative writing, see if they’ll give it a quick once-over.

[Public Service Announcement :: Woopie also offers link, spelling and grammar checking for free for premium accounts – just click the “Email to Woopie Team” link as shown below and we’ll be back to you in 24 hours!]

email link to Woopie

Click this link to send your publication to the Woopie team for grammar & spell checking

8) Set up your landing page & make sure all the appropriate parts of your site are updated.
If you have a blog, make sure there’s a post there. If you have a “News” section, add a blurb and link there. If you can do a banner across the top of your site to alert visitors, that’s a great way to grab attention. Essentially, make sure that there is no chance someone can come across your site or brand without knowing about the new publication.

9) Decide how you’re going to handle updates
It happens to everyone. A misspelled name, an incorrect quote, a section you’re realizing is not getting interpreted how you expected. Digital documents are living documents (thankfully!) so you can breathe a sigh of relief that you will not be running to the printer to redo everything.

For Woopie publications, you can simply make the fix, regenerate and push your content live. If you’re dealing with Amazon, Apple, or other third-party resellers, or if you are working with a tech team that requires a good deal of advance notice for changes, it’s good to make a plan now.

How will you approach these issues, will you:

  • Resend updated versions to anyone who has already downloaded it?
  • Submit new versions immediately to third-party resellers?
  • Publish redactions or errors somewhere on your site?
  • Simply ignore it and move on to your next publishing project?

10) Think about comments
Comments can be a polarizing idea, so talk about whether you want to address them early on with your team. There are plenty of easy-to-use comments forms like Disqus that you can simply drop in to your publication, should you want to spark discussions. If you do have comments, you may want to set up a schedule or appoint someone to keep an eye on them. Decide ahead of time how you will handle contentious comments (this is the internet after all) so that you don’t have to panic when it happens.

Alternate approaches to comments include:

  • Keep them on a separate page, like A List Apart, so they don’t detract from the article itself
  • Publish “Letters to the Editor” and encourage readers to send their thoughts & feedback
  • Invite those who are interested in commenting to submit a follow-up article.
  • Post articles to Facebook and let the comments happen there
  • Create a discussion hashtag and encourage readers to participate and comment on Twitter once a week or once a month with their feedback.

 

This may feel like a lot of things to keep an eye on, but we see a good chunk of these happen with a lot of digital publications and they just create anxiety and stress when it’s completely unnecessary.

If you want to talk about your upcoming launch or want to learn more about how Woopie can make your digital publishing schedule less stressful, talk to us.

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