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As a vehicle for empowerment, the Internet has no equal. Perhaps one area the Internet has fundamentally revolutionized is entrepreneurship. It’s never been easier to quit your soul-crushing 9 to 5 and launch your own startup.
Indeed, all you need is a great idea, some technical aptitude, and you can launch your very own small business. Traditionally, businesses cobbled together a multitude of skill sets, stretching from engineering prowess, all the way to business aptitude and marketing acumen. And yet, a significant proportion of tech startups are launched by people who know a lot about software development, but don’t really know much about marketing the products they create.
Furthermore, most startups operate on wafer-thin budgets. Hiring a traditional PR team is incredibly expensive. Likewise, launching a successful marketing campaign can be a massive money-suck.
Which is why blogging is such a powerful force for startups. Blogging is a way for you to express a message, and do it cheaply. Not convinced? Here are some more compelling reasons why your startup cannot live without a blog.
It Makes Technical Recruitment Way Easier
There’s a reason why Clojure, Ruby and Python developers are expensive to hire and even harder to retain. Simply put, despite the compelling technical merits of each language, there aren’t enough developers to go around. The newer, hipper languages and frameworks are usually not taught in universities and colleges, further making recruitment an expensive, difficult process.
But here’s the thing. Programmers tend to be a passionate lot. They care about the code they produce, and the tools they use. Most crucially, they love reading about how other people and companies use the products they are enthusiastic about.
By blogging about how your startup approaches difficult technical problems and how you use a specific technology stack, you can reach talented developers and make a connection. This could potentially make recruitment a simpler, cheaper process.
Creates Awareness Of Your Product
Do you know how much money Microsoft spent on marketing in 2013? I’ll tell you. $2.5 Billion dollars. With a ‘B’.
That’s hardly chump change. I’d be willing to bet a that your startup doesn’t have a marketing budget coming even close to approaching that.
And yet, you still need to market your product. You need to make people aware of the cool stuff you’re working on, and you need to create some brand awareness. This isn’t an easy task, as the traditional methods of adwords, billboards and television advertising are almost certainly out of reach.
Blogging allows you to express a vision for your product to a large audience who often find content passively, through organic search traffic. Furthermore, if people read an article which they find insightful or inspiring, they’ll often share it on social media websites, Reddit and Hacker News, further increasing the reach and awareness of your startup. Cool, right?
Shows People How Your Startup Progresses
This is possibly the most awesome benefit of blogging as a startup. It’s a good idea to to keep the copy on your company homepage as tight as possible. Whenever people visit it, you should treat it as an elevator pitch. Explain what your startup does. Keep it short. Keep it sweet. Keep it concise.
But on your blog, you’ve got a lot more freedom to go into detail with the work you are doing. You can tell stories, and weave fascinating narratives. You can paint a picture about the evolution of your startup, step by step. Beautiful, right?
As you add each new feature to your site or product, and as it transcends from a minimum viable product to something a bit more solid, you can write about it. You can gain interest from both potential customers and potential hires, with each new post representing another potential share on Reddit or Twitter.
Creates A Reputation As A Thought Leader
Let’s imagine something. Say you have a startup, and it promises to make it simpler and quicker to learn a new language. Perhaps the first hurdle you would have to overcome is showing the world that you’re qualified to run such a startup.
Blogging does that. You develop a persona of someone who knows his (or her) stuff, creating credibility and eventually being regarded as an authority. As your reputation swells, you can expect to be invited to conferences to speak, and by blogs to pen guest posts. This in turn will help raise the esteem and awareness of your startup.
Every startup should have a blog. I mean it. Every single one. But getting started can be quite a daunting task. The following are some blogs owned and ran by startups which I have either contributed to, or just enjoy reading.
Mint blog: You’ve probably heard of Mint before. It’s the site that plugs into your bank accounts and credit cards, drilling down on each frivolous purchase with the aim of making you that bit more financially solvent. You might be familiar with their blog, which offers financial advice. This blog was instrumental in the formative stages of the website, as it gave them credence in something which people are often reticent to take advice in: financial matters.
ScraperWiki blog: ScraperWiki, which we covered in an earlier article is a data-scraping company (full disclosure: I interned here in 2013 for 5 months). I also contributed to the company blog, writing posts primarily about technical matters. Other posts shared in ScarperWiki’s blog include ones about new hires, the activities of the business and book reviews. The image conveyed by the blog is of a team which is expanding, and consists entirely of smart, motivated people.
MongoDB blog: The popular MongoDB NoSQL database management system runs the best example of a startup blog I can think of. The blog offers quality, well written, detailed technical content, aimed squarely at a technical audience. If you want to write for coders, this blog will show you how to do it, and do it well.
Another great startup blog you should check out, especially if you like social media, is Buffer’s blog.
What do you think? Does your startup have a blog? Do you read any blogs ran by startups? Drop me a comment below. I’d really like to hear about it.
Image credits: Proce55ing Source Code (Niels Heidenreich), Newseum: Do You Trust Blogs? (Rogers Cadenhead), Blog Marketing Up Close Word Blog Graphi (Maria Reyes-McDavis), StartUp Britain Mini at BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)