Nov 01

A Startup’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Blogging

I get a lot of companies and organizations asking me to write for them. Writing doesn’t have to be hard to do internally, but it does take practice and a willingness to mess up before you get it right. I remember some of the first blog posts I wrote ever, and a lot of them consisted of throwing stuff up on a wall and seeing what stuck. I’m hoping to spare you.

Here are some guidelines I’d stick with as a startup with a limited amount of time/resources for blogging:
1.) People like lists because they are easy reads. You are reading mine now, so apparently it works.
2.) Keep posts under 500 words or less. Think about it: if someone is at work, chances are their boss doesn’t give them time in a day to read blog posts. So keep it short, to the point, and useful.
3.) Use analogies and paradigms people can understand. Pick a theme that makes sense to your audience and write along with that theme. It’s easy to meander when writing a blog post. Using analogies or paradigms will help you stay on point.
4.) “Make their ears burn”. Blogging is a social activity that behaves in a way that is similar to academia and footnoting. There’s no use only referencing your own thoughts because there are plenty of good thoughts out there already. Being a responsible blogger means you are conscientious enough link to back if you use them.
5.) Copy people whose blogs you like. Yeah, I said it. You copy UI, you copy website design. Before even touching your company blog, it’s best to read a bunch of them and figure out what style works for you. I read Copyblogger, ClickZ, Problogger, SearchEngineLand and Marketing Pilgrim before even starting this blog. I read others like Kathy Sierra and Hugh MacLeod and it changed more. If you don’t even have time to do that, you don’t have time to blog. That is okay. Maybe you could sponsor a blog, buy Facebook ads, or hire an ace PR firm. It’s okay not to blog, especially if you have amazing documentation that helps your users with your product if they need it.

If you don’t have money to advertise or do PR, and you can’t do marketing in house, well, please be a realist and get more funding. I’m not saying this to say that your software is no good. I’m saying it because if your software is good, you’ll want to make sure it’s being represented fairly and the people who would love to use it at least know about it.