Too many software companies and startups treat their blog as a personal journal, startup diary, a place for release notes, or an intern project.
If that’s you, stop it.
You’re missing a huge opportunity to:
- Get more leads, users, or customers
- Get more fans and evangelists
- Get more job applicants (if you're hiring)
Successful software companies know the value of blogs. Slack, Stripe, Segment, and GitHub know it. That’s why instead of treating blogs as journals, they commit serious amounts of resources, time, and effort into writing substantive and evergreen articles about:
- Solving engineering challenges (to attract talent)
- Use cases that provide business value
- Something that matters (a lot) to prospective users
- Steps to improve lives of prospective and current users
- Getting more value out of analytics tools
They’re not doing this out of boredom. They’re doing this because they’ve seen the returns and the returns are good. And you, too, can get those returns…
… If you stop treating your blog as a journal and treat it as a powerful tool. If you put in the time and effort to plan, execute, and experiment with it. If you get everyone involved: founders, managers, engineers, support staff, customers, …
Start Getting Value from Your Blog
To get started, think about the following:
- Who's your target audience? For instance, a potential end-user might care about different things than a manager or decision-maker.
- What do you want them to know about your software? Show why your software is (better|easier|faster|valuable) through stories and specific examples.
- What do you want them to do next? Give them a way to try, demo, or learn more about your software.
Once you’ve answered those questions, it will be easier to form specific article ideas.
Next, find a qualified person to write the articles. It might be you, your engineering team, a happy customer, even a marketer if that’s your target audience.
Blogs Work for Software Companies
Here’s a specific example:
One of my clients, Clubhouse, has been publishing blog posts for months with weak results. Then, as an experiment, they asked a customer to write something. The customer wrote one post about why they chose Clubhouse over alternatives. The number of signups exploded:
Why did this one post dominate?
Because it attracted exactly the right audience: Software teams that want a Trello or JIRA alternative. It was substantive, helpful, honest, and relatable. It’s clear to readers that it was written by people like them or people who understand them.
As a result, Clubhouse got a spike in signups and thousands of developers learned that Geckoboard is hiring.
I’ve seen this happen with many of my clients, most of which are software companies:
- Some of Domino's posts, written by the CEO with a specific target audience and objective in mind, helped bring in massive enterprise leads and customers.
- Netlify's blog posts are almost exclusively written by the engineering and founding team with the goal of educating developers, and it pays: The blog is one of their top sources of new users.
- Scalyr only has a few substantive articles written by the founder, but each of them brought tens of thousands of readers and many new users.
- And so on...
Whether your software is expensive or cheap, complex or simple, new or old, your blog can get you more customers if you put in the effort and stop treating it as a journal. It’s worth it.
PS - Liked this article? I write one every month or so, covering lessons learned on B2B startup growth. Don't miss the next one: