Blogging · Early stage

When does it make sense to start a blog for your startup?

Phil Strazzulla

February 19th, 2014

I'm working with my two founders, we have a MVP up at lifeguides.me.  

We are trying to attract more users, and wondering if starting a blog makes sense to try and push out our most interesting content we create, tell the story of why we started our company, and talk about what's going on in the continuing learning space.

Our fear is that 2-3 hours/week of work will yield 5-10 more visits per day.

Does anyone have any experience starting a blog for a consumer focused startup?  When is the right time to start one?  Any advice on how often to post?

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

February 19th, 2014

In my humble opinion, don't do anything half heartedly. If you are starting a blog, know that it is going to take some time every week to post. Post at least once a week (or if not, at least stick to a schedule).
If you are busy building a lot of features, now is probably not the best time to start a blog. Just my two cents. Would love to hear what others have to say

Diego Basch Holder of Self-Referential Title

February 19th, 2014

Blogging can be very effective if you do it right. It worked great for my startup, and for others that I invested in / advised. If nothing else, it shows that your company is alive. You can't just blog willy nilly though. You need a plan, and an audience that you're writing for. You must post your content to the right channels. Some posts may be right for Hacker News, others for specific subreddits. In a nutshell: 1) Find topics that your target audience would be interested in. 2) Figure out the right tone for your posts. You can be controversial, funny, serious, anything but boring. 3) Find the right distribution channels for your posts. Measure everything. Iterate. All it takes is one Hacker News front page to get 20k-40k visitors. That happened to me at least 20 times both for my old company and for my personal blog. Diego

Jeff Axup Sr. Manager, Palo Alto UX Design Research Group at Bosch

February 19th, 2014

I'm not sure you should start a brand new blog as a way to bring new customers to your brand-new startup. There are better and faster ways to do customer development.

A new blog is like a  startup. It won't take off for a while. I don't think it's a particularly good method of bringing in large numbers of people.
It is different if you have already been running a blog for 2 years, have a huge following, and then use that blog to bring in new customers for your new startup. That might work.

On the other hand, a good reason for a startup to start a new blog is to start building a reputation as an authority in your area and to build trust with potential investors and customers you already have a relationship with.

We started a corporate blog a few months ago: http://artemisfashion.tumblr.com
At first I didn't even bother to make it public. It was more a place for me to start collecting some news stories and start writing things pertinent to the startup.

Eventually it could become popular, and we do auto-post the blog articles to our corporate twitter account, but our corporate site and our Facebook site are attracting way more new customers than our blog. That could change in the future if it gains a following, but I primarily want the blog to refer journalists and investors to, so that they can get familiar with the space we're in.

Also: if you're doing anything other than simply reposting links, blogging is extremely time consuming.

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

February 20th, 2014

Well,

To put another perspective to this awesome feedback:

Blog only because you want to, not because you need to.

Get it? :-)

Cheers!

Matty Sallin System Financial, Inc.

February 20th, 2014

I'm leery of blogging because my startup is trying to do something quite new and disruptive to our industry but we don't have a product out yet. I'm concerned about repeatedly trumpeting the wisdom of our approach compared to the status quo in a blog, knowing that if the blog got any traction, the competition might see it and get the idea to try it out themselves. Any thoughts on this situation?

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

February 20th, 2014

Matty, you can try providing interesting content that is relevant to your industry, but not your idea. If you succeed, you will amass a following and personal credibility as an expert in this field, without alerting the competition. And when you're ready, you can introduce your idea. Being an already established expert in the field will help you convince people about your idea, and if it is as radical as you suggest, you will need all the help you can get.
Also, you may want to ask questions in a separate post, and not in a comment to existing question, because this forum doesn't seem to be suitable for discussions.

Anthony Zeoli Digital Strategy and WordPress Consultant and Trainer

February 19th, 2014

I'm a little late to this conversation. Everyone before me has posted a great reason for your business to start a blog.

From my experience, I started a blog for one company I was hired to turn around. In that blog, I talked about the challenges people were facing and gave them the answers they were seeking, so they would have confidence that we were listening to user concerns and that we were making progress. I would also post new development updates with tutorials on the blog, to give our users information about those new releases and how to implement them.

A blog is the voice of the company. Tying that blog to social - post notifications to all social media accounts when a new blog post is available, is a critical marketing tool.

I have found that there are two kinds of companies:

1. companies that want to say something
2. companies that fear saying something

The companies that want to say something are eliciting trust and generating the authoritative voice that customers today want to see. Be silent and learn that silence is deadly. Today, transparency wins you good will. Be vocal and learn that your exuberant enthusiasm will generate excitement for your brand and new fans, partners and friends.

That's my advice, for what it's worth. I never again want to work with a company that wants to hide information out fear that seeing some negative replies is a bad thing. Remember, you can always control/moderate comments anyway. If you don't give your target audience any information that can be found in a Google search, then you're pretty much acting like the second example I provided.

Phil Strazzulla

February 21st, 2014

Thank you all for the thoughtful responses!

Janice Mandel Writer, Communications Strategist, Advisor

February 19th, 2014

I agree with Ryan. The campaign is important and it is good to measure what works best and leverage that direction. Sent from my iPhone

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

February 20th, 2014

I'm not talking from personal experience (yet), but according to my mentor you should (or even have to) start a blog as soon as possible (preferably a couple of years before you go to market - seriously) and post at least once a week. To this I might add that posting more than once a week is likely to annoy people (unless your content is very good, and I mean Takei-good), so once a week seems like an optimal rate.
That being said, a good content is more important than "when" or "how often". The best content is the one that doesn't mention your products directly (otherwise it starts to look like just another commercial), but gets people interested in you, so much so that they start actively seeking your products just to see what else you do or gets them hooked on the stuff you write about and they become your customers even before they realized it.
Here's a good example of this: https://www.facebook.com/shopeat
It's about a cooking aid app, but you can hardly tell that from their FB page. They just post interesting and incredibly creative examples of what people do with food. Doesn't take "2-3 hours/week of work"  - they just look it up and post a link - how long can it take? But the effect is so powerful that even I got an urge for cooking! Yes, I actually went out, bought the ingredients and recreated one of their pictures (a tropical island made of fruits), even though I hardly ever cook. That's just one step away from becoming their customer (if only I had the time with all this entrepreneurship stuff).