Marketing & Growth

Should Startups Blog? An Essay (with Data) to Decide Once and For All

Should Startups Blog? An Essay (with Data) to Decide Once and For All

Visit a startup’s website, and you’ll eventually drift towards a few standard links, from About to Team to Contact. But among those options, appearing on almost every site, is one link that simply doesn’t belong with the rest: “Blog.”

Don’t misunderstand, it’s not the fact that a startup’s blog exists that’s so troubling. Instead, it’s why it usually exists and why it gets lumped together with all those other basic navigation links — namely, because many startups launch blogs simply because they’re “supposed to.” As a result, most sit idly, gathering digital dust, perhaps getting the occasional company news article, but never gaining any traffic and never becoming what blogs really should be for startups: critical marketing assets.

So the question needs to be asked: Should seed-stage startups even blog in the first place?

To answer, I wanted to share what I’ve learned over the past few years of running various startup blogs, as well as content marketing more generally. The most successful blog on which I’ve worked was HubSpot’s, where I led the team as head of content. As of Q2 2013, when I left to join NextView, they were generating around 2 million monthly views and had over 300,000 subscribers. Today, I run this blog – The View From Seed (you can subscribe here), and my own blog, Sorry for Marketing, in addition to consulting or writing for several more.

So, should startups blog? Yes … but only if they fully and completely buy into two things: the right mentality and the right goals.

should-startups-blog-2

Content marketing, of which blogging is a subset, is surrounded by lots of noise today, so we need a simple definition. This also doubles as the mentality startups need to accept in order to succeed. My definition is as follows:

Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote.

That’s it! Jargon and complexity need not apply. Solve the same problem your product solves. Yes, you’re doing it through a different medium than the product, but the goal remains the same. Through this definition, everything gets clearer. It’s not about all that hype and rhetoric, nor is it about “being a publisher.” (You don’t sell ad space, so the mechanics are fundamentally different). It’s simply about solving problems.

And EVERY startup is built to do exactly that.

Think of it this way: Even in the seed stage, before most companies find product-market fit, they understand the problems they’re trying to solve. All founders should be able to articulate that mission in a clear, concise statement. This should be true at any company, but it’s even easier at a startup. That’s literally all you are during the first 18 to 24 months — a promise to solve a problem (your founding mission) and a commitment to finding the best way to do that (your search for traction).

Eventually, if the company succeeds, your product will succeed in solving that problem, while your blog and all content marketing should drive qualified visitors, subscribers, and/or customers to that product. Both should always align, and both must be consistently built as assets and as solutions for your customers. The lone difference is that one asset — your blog — helps your audience before they’re ready to buy. The other — your product — helps them after.

But this rarely happens. The definition gets muddied, the tools and tactics get in the way of the goals, and egos creep into this type of marketing — you now have bylines, after all.

Unfortunately, in many cases, this turns a blog into a glorified list of company news or chest-beating opinion pieces, ranging from the ubiquitous “Welcome John Doe to the Team” to product updates to attempts at being brilliant or clever rather than helpful.

These types of content are actually pretty lousy for growing audience. They don’t “behave” the right way online. (I’ll share some data to show how they behave in a bit.)

Some entrepreneurs rationalize these types of posts as investor relations or recruitment tactics instead of marketing, which is totally reasonable. However, these goals can be achieved by placing all company-centric content on a separate page and calling it Company News, Investor Updates, or Culture Hub, perhaps. Publishing a blend of content about your company and general advice articles is dangerous — not only is it confusing to the reader, you’re hurting your ability of growing a successful blog in the not-too-distant future.

That brings us to the goals of seed-stage startup blogging…

should-startups-blog-3

With the right, customer-focused mentality firmly entrenched, startups should then turn their attention to the right goals.

For context, growing a blog audience is not a direct-response approach to marketing. If you’re very young as a company and simply need to acquire 10 alpha customers or 100 free users, then paid acquisition via search, display, and social are better bets, as well as any scrappy, non-scalable means of acquisition you can execute.

Instead of immediate acquisition, blogging and building an audience are investments in the very near future (2–6 months) as well as the more distant future. That’s because, while content marketing is lousy for direct response without an established audience, it’s a much more efficient means to scale your marketing. It’s also useful in accelerating the all-important feedback loop for a young startup, since owning an audience means you can constantly learn from them whenever you want.

To gain those benefits, your goals for your startup’s blog should be: 

  1. Build an inventory of helpful content
  2. Grow an email list

I’ll explain the email part first, since it’s much simpler. After that, I’ll share some data to explain why an inventory or collection of helpful content is the most powerful marketing asset you can create.

Why Email Matters, Early and Always

When you first start blogging, your content might be surrounded by calls-to-action (CTAs) about you or your product, but those should be secondary, appearing on your site’s nav bar and/or right rail. Your primary CTA needs to ask readers to subscribe to the blog via email (and not RSS, by the way).

Building your email list matters for a number of reasons:

  1. You gain permission to contact them again: To successfully build an audience over time, you need permission to contact your target customers and to do so for free and on your own terms. With your blog subscribers, you actually own the attention and already have permission to reach out, rather than needing to pay for clicks and conversions, i.e., borrow attention, whenever you need something.
  2. You don’t need to publish as much content: Without an email list, you need to constantly appear to your audience in their social feeds and search results just to stay relevant. That requires a ton of content, which most seed-stage startups struggle to deliver. But with an email list, consistency matters more than frequency. You’re able to deliver a post to a group of potential readers and promoters on your own schedule.
  3. You’re reasonably assured of successful launches: Your email list can amplify both future marketing initiatives and future product launches. Rather than hoping someone hears about them, you know that at least some people will.
  4. You can test and learn quicker to find traction: Through surveys, split testing, and/or launching things directly to some or all of your list, you’re able to test, measure, and learn more quickly and easily. The seed stage is all about finding traction, so what your email list tells you can literally influence the entire direction and success of the company.
  5. You can grow your audience through your existing list: When you send people helpful or entertaining content instead of promotional messages, a wonderful thing happens: They sometimes forward it to others in their network. We saw this at HubSpot, as our email list — more so than social or search — was the top driver of new contacts. Interesting, right? The people we’d already reached helped us reach new subscribers. (We even added a button right in the email body to encourage more forwarding, which increased this behavior.)
  6. You can convert new users/customers: Lastly, as is the traditional use case for email, you can nurture people towards using or buying your product.

(In case it’s helpful, a simple way to add a CTA to your blog is through Hello Bar.)

Why Building an Inventory of Content Matters

The second goal of a seed-stage blog is to build a collection of helpful content.

Building an audience is like pushing a boulder up a hill. Yes, you can ask 10 people to each try pushing it one at a time, but it’s MUCH more effective if all 10 push together at the same time.

Similarly, the value of a blog is how much work each post does for you in aggregate. You want a collection of content that all has staying power and continues to drive traffic down the road. Some posts will get only a few views initially but continue to receive a few hits every day for weeks or months thereafter. Others get a lot of traffic initially, then zero next week. Still others get almost no traffic organically but might be highly effective when emailed or shared on social, acting as sales-enablement content or fodder for social follower growth.

So every time you get a moment or the motivation to blog, rather than obsessing over one article’s results that day or week, think of it as an opportunity to continue building the base of a more powerful whole.

Data: Why an Inventory of Helpful Blog Content Succeeds

In December 2013, when I was at HubSpot, I stumbled on some data that forever changed how I view business blogging.

I was checking our monthly blog report and noticed that a seemingly mundane post (How to Create a Facebook Business Page) ranked third in that month’s top 10 most-viewed articles. While it was somewhat surprising to see such a simple post generating so much traffic, it was the publish date of the article that really blew me away: October 2012. That post was FOURTEEN months old! And yet it got the THIRD-MOST TRAFFIC all that time later — and it did so for a blog that sees over 2 million views per month. It’s not exactly easy for a post to rank in the top 10 of a blog that large. That meant literally thousands of people read that old post 14 months later.

Scanning the rest of the monthly rankings, I noticed that this wasn’t an exception. It was the rule. Just four out of the top 10 most-viewed posts that December were actually published in December. The rest were much, much older.

Stepping back from just the top 10 posts, I looked at the entire blog. I found that 70% of HubSpot’s roughly 2 million views came from posts that were more than a month old. 

Said another way: That entire team could stop blogging for a whole month and still see 70% of the expected results — zero work needed.

Now that’s ROI! Show me a PPC campaign capable of doing that.

So what was happening? Exactly what we’ve been discussing today: HubSpot started their blog with the mentality of solving customer problems, then systematically created an inventory of helpful content, capturing subscriber emails along the way.

A Look at the Behavior

When I first saw that 70% number, I became obsessed with how different types of content behave. Hoping to learn more, I did a quick audit of our blog content and grouped the posts into two categories: basic, helpful articles (e.g. How to Drive Leads through Twitter) and theoretical, abstract stuff (what I dubbed “thought leadership” or more egocentric content). Without sharing actual numbers, here’s exactly what was happening and why owning an inventory of customer-focused content can be so powerful.

First, when a helpful, tactical post launches, the traffic it receives over time looks something like this:

traffic-helpful-compressor

(Numbers are illustrative and not actual results.)

Predictably, it gets the most views it’ll ever receive in the days right after it launches. But over time, it still gets some views on a daily basis — maybe 50, maybe 10, maybe two — taking days, weeks, or even months to reach zero views per day. This comes from search, social, people bookmarking it, and email subscribers returning in the future and forwarding the link to their contacts.

We’ll come back to why this matters in a second. Next, let’s compare these helpful posts to all that thought leadership/egocentric blog content out there. The way that content behaves is much different. These traffic patterns resembled either of two common slopes, shown in purple and blue:

traffic-thought-leadership

In the first case, when one of these thought leadership-style posts performed well (the purple line), it got the most traffic in the moments after its launch, just like the helpful content. But in a short amount of time — much shorter than the red line — its traffic crashed to zero.

Even more troubling, about half of the thought leadership category didn’t work at all. Looking at the blue line, you’ll notice that the initial traffic spike was sorely lacking, in addition to the crash right to zero just like the purple line. There’s almost no ROI on that post. 

So even when successful, trying to force thought leadership or write about your own company has a very finite return on the precious time you’d spend writing it. The choice is clear: Focus on solving customer problems, not conveying brilliant or company-first messages. As marketing expert Jay Baer likes to say, smart marketing is about help, not hype.

Now, let’s revisit that red line. That one post doesn’t really matter when you think about it. Who cares that its longtail of traffic gets you 12 extra views next week? That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t make a difference.

But what does make a difference is if all your content behaves like that. Publishing helpful blog posts every time creates a traffic pattern that looks something like this across the entire site:

traffic-over-time

All those posts combine to create a “floor” of guaranteed daily traffic. At HubSpot, that floor is obviously huge. At a seed-stage startup, you’re still building that foundation. Either way, the value of your blog is actually all of those posts working together in aggregate, especially in the longtail, not the head. (The head is a bonus. If there’s a big spike early, great! If not, that’s okay, so long as your content has staying power.)

Essentially, you want a blog that delivers free results from past efforts. But if you spend time today, during the seed stage, writing about something different, you hurt your chances. HubSpot rarely strayed from being tactical and helpful, and their “floor” now gets them 7 of every 10 views and leads they generate.

(By the way, all those egocentric posts that stray from this core strategy of being helpful actually benefit from your floor of traffic, so you can indeed write them — just wait. Write them when you already get some regular traffic. Additionally, any bigger, flashier projects you launch that create a one-time influx of traffic will also get “stuck” to your blog based on that helpful stuff. It’s why they subscribe. It’s why they come back. It’s why you succeed.)

“Okay, but HubSpot adopted all this stuff early. What about today, when everything is more crowded?”

Before you shrug this off, I’d point you to this very blog as an example.

We launched The View From Seed in July 2014. In December 2014, these were the three most-viewed posts (notice the publish dates):

  1. Why Startups Should Raise a Seed Round vs. Starting with Series A (Publish date: July 3)
  2. 7 Atypical Rounds of Funding: What Founders Should Know (Publish date: July 7)
  3. The What & Why of Hiring a Great Startup COO (Publish date: September 9)

Overall, in the top 10 most-viewed posts in December 2014, just two posts were actually published that month. The rest were older. The rest were “red lines” creating a floor of free traffic.

Just think about how this changes the approach to running a blog. If you judge the three posts linked above based on their first week or two of results, then it’d be easy to call them failures. But they’re not — not even close. They’re hugely valuable building blocks for our base of today’s guaranteed traffic. They’re evergreen posts that have staying power by providing help for our audience. (And since our audience is you, I have to say, I’m thrilled you find them useful!)

The View From Seed is not HubSpot’s blog. It’s a new blog that we launched less than a year ago. It started with zero audience and zero search clout. It has ONE person working on it (hi — I believe we’ve met). But just months after launch, we already saw the positive effects of building an inventory of helpful content. Bit by bit, we’re growing a useful, successful blog.

In the end, whether or not you decide to blog will depend on your specific situation and resources.

But if you do, don’t deploy it like some unimportant site page. Don’t leave it static. Don’t obsess over near-term view counts. Don’t fall in love with the idea of thought leadership. 

Instead, solve customer problems. Be helpful, time after time after time. Not only is that the key to building a successful blog, it’s the hallmark of any true thought leader.


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Jay Acunzo

Jay is the vice president of platform at NextView. At the firm, he leads the development of strategic initiatives that provide educational and business development opportunities for NextView’s portfolio companies, as well as the broader startup community. Jay began his career at Google, serving as a digital media strategist for several years before joining Boston startup Dailybreak Media, where he built their editorial team from zero. Prior to joining NextView, Jay was head of content at HubSpot, overseeing their library of educational resources and their award-winning blog covering the content marketing industry. Jay is also co-founder of Boston Content, the largest community of content marketers and producers in the northeastern US, with thousands of members turning to the group for career advice, job leads, and education. A former sports journalist, Jay was named a Murray Scholar in 2006 – awarded annually to top collegiate sports journalists in memory of the Hall of Fame and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Jim Murray.


  • Completely agree with the idea that startup blogging is a key ingredient. As a marketer, I do find it interesting that startups spend so much energy on product but have trouble allocating some to content.

    • Thanks Mark. It’s definitely a different skill despite the similar goals, and there’s a lack of education that’s crystal clear I think. (Turns out marketers are good at marketing theories about marketing — shocking, right? — so the advice and execution gets confusing.)

  • Jay, thanks for this post – very insightful! At Innovation Nest (an early stage VC in Europe) we spend a lot of time talking about blogging and content creation from a VC perspective. Your post got me thinking about a couple of things. a) how do you differentiate your content as a VC (most early stage VCs will have very similar insights) b) how do you choose between personal blogs run by Partners and a more general blog run on the site c) do you go for your own domain/site or do you live on platforms like Medium. I think growing a community around a VC is very important and we managed do to pretty well locally by blogging, own events, conferences. Now the challenge is to expand into the region (Central Eastern Europe) and eventually globally.

    Would you be able to share some numbers, where do your subscribers come from? Im really interested to see how international your audience is.

    • Thanks Marcin. While I can’t give away ALL our secrets 😉 …I can say the following: (1) To differentiate clearly, you need to be able to articulate why someone you want to work with as a VC would actually choose you if they’re a top founder and are oversubscribed. Draft that “why” statement until it’s 1 line. (2) Use that to negotiate every piece you publish, being as consistent as possible about it.

      So for us, we care about helping give founders and their companies the best possible start. That’s our “why” – so now, if we write about Uber vs Lyft as is the popular meme of the day, we have to write that through the lens of the first 18-24 months of launching a company. If we don’t, then that goes onto the partners’ personal blogs.

      • Stuart Brameld

        completely agree with this.

        @MarcinSzelag:disqus I’m sure you already follow them, but I’d consider people like Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures) and Nic Brisbourne (Forward Partners) great examples of how to do this properly.

  • kat

    Jay, A startup contemplating a blog should ask: “For this to work here, what has to be true?” For one, their target audience has to be looking for a stream of info on a theme they can write intelligently about. Hubspot is an outlier for startups in that their target audience is
    marketers who are thirsty for help in adopting all these new
    technologies. Security technology company blogs have audiences thirsty for the latest threat info. However, prospects looking for a one time purchase – like facility managers investigating sound masking for open offices are more interested in visiting websites to quickly get the info they need.

    • Thanks for the comment Kat. If someone is ready to buy now or very soon, what you say is true. But you still need to ensure they choose you and/or find you either in that moment of purchase OR beforehand through something useful you publish or deliver (e.g. ways to install sound masking or ways to build productive, modern offices, etc.). If you could simply put a bunch of product info on a site and watch the sales roll in, definitely don’t do marketing unless you want to grow. But we live in a demand-constrained world where we need to deliver qualified buyers to us, and that often happens long before someone is in purchase mode.

      • kat

        Several companies I’m familiar with have invested in high quality blogs to find their prospects were not reading them – whether in purchase mode or not. Facility managers may not be browsing blogs. When they’re ready to buy, they are just as likely to find a good case study on a website than a blog that few people were reading. It’s misleading to suggest that blogs only fail when they are poor quality. There are market segments who are not reading blogs just as there are market segments that don’t use LinkedIn. Hard to believe, I know.

  • Great post, Jay. Love the content ‘floor’ analogy.

    I have one question, based on this quote:

    “I found that 70% of HubSpot’s roughly 2 million views came from posts that were more than a month old.
    Said another way: That entire team could stop blogging for a whole month and still see 70% of the expected results — zero work needed.
    Now that’s ROI! Show me a PPC campaign capable of doing that.”

    Now, I can guess that the blog-view-to-lead conversion rate is probably pretty high at Hubspot, so I’m sure the real ROI (to actual leads or revenue) is impressive. But can ‘normal’ companies as easy achieve real ROI? If my blog-view-to-lead conversion rate is zero-ish, then perhaps PPC would be better (in terms of attaining real ROI), no?

    Take you guys, for example. You’re building a nice little floor of content there. But is it actually doing anything for your bottom line? How do you know? If it’s too early, how long do you think it will take to know?

    Thanks. And again, great post.

    • Thanks for reading/commenting Brian. The short answer is, yes this strategy can work for startups or new blogs (as I’ve seen it and am seeing it today with NextView’s). The longer answer is, content marketing is not built for immediate demand-gen, so if your 0% view-to-lead conversion rate is due to being too new, I’d say paid is a great approach, plus other channels and all those lauded “non-scalable” things early on.

      But if the 0% view-to-lead is happening on a blog with reasonable traffic and content, it’s time to insert more calls-to-action in the content and/or revisit what those CTAs are about in order to capture more demand from that traffic.

      Re: NextView, to share one data point and one more qualitative result…
      – Data: We’ve seen about a 2x uptick in daily subscribers in Dec/Jan compared to prior months. That roughly lines up with what our startups see after 4-6 months of blogging consistently.
      – Qual: This month in particular, I’m seeing a lot more tweets of old posts. What started as bizarre to me turned into the realization that this “floor” approach is starting to stick for us. People are finding older posts, sharing it, and helping drive more subscribers, which is our real ROI metric given our industry in VC.

      Re: ROI, since the VC “sales cycle” is super long and very squishy, there’s no real way to measure our content all the way down to closed deal. Too many assist points along the way, too much time in between, and VC platform/marketing is too new a discipline. This is a bit of a struggle, so I rely on anecdotal feedback, NPS, overall perception in Boston and NYC, and blog subscribers as a so-so substitute.

      But I have seen other startups, like my friend’s company Price Intelligently, which is bootstrapped, rely on 1 content offer/CTA like an ebook to convert leads and 1-2 blog posts per week from their inception, and they scaled w/o much paid advertising at all. They had to more forcibly distribute the content to get traffic to that CTA.

      Whew, that’s a lot. I’d highly recommend this playbook to start generating more audience and ROI however: http://www.sorryformarketing.com/blog/content-marketing-wheel

      • Thanks, for the response Jay. That makes sense.
        I’ll check out the playbook too.
        …and also a big fan of the guys’ work at Price Intelligenty. Some great content over there.

        • Big fan of them too – Patrick is a longtime friend, and he’s got a great story!

          • Hey Jay,

            I finally got round to reading your playbook! 🙂

            I love it. Between that and the above article on blogging, there’s some great stuff for budding content marketers.

            I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind?

            1. I’m still no clearer on whether my company should blog, or whether we should create a selection of content assets sitting at the centre of their own content wheels, without the blog. What do you think?

            I’m leaning towards the multiple-content-assets-on-our-domain-with-atomized-content-on-third-party-domains approach. We don’t have many resources, so the idea of more evergreen content without having the ever-running treadmill of a blog hanging over our head is appealing.

            2. You state that it took ~2 weeks to create your board deck templates asset. Do you have any advice on the size of the project you commit to?

            I have a few ideas for assets, but they could take a month or more to create with my resources. I’m wondering about testing traffic to a landing page MVP before building, but wanted to get your thoughts.

            You seemed to knock it out of the park with asset number one; I’m concerned that I won’t be as successful.

            3. On that note, you don’t seem to have a defined landing page for your board deck template, just the launch blog post. What are the pros and cons of that approach, versus a dedicated landing page?

            Great to see you’re still getting comments here 5 months after posting this. If ever we needed proof that it’s working for you, this has got to be it.

            Again, many thanks.

            Brian

          • 1) Yes, blog! Never just create a library. Nobody subscribes to/reads a library. But it depends on your goals, company, et al. My bias is to have a continually-read asset like a blog so I can build an email list.

            2) “How long does it take” is a weird question to answer because it varies. What are you teaching? What are you including? How big is the piece? Don’t start with that question. Start with “what’s the most important thing I can give my audience, and how much time do I have to create it?” Then freelancers, tools, etc can become more useful and strategic.

            3) We don’t have landing pages because we don’t drive leads. The blog is our hub for everything. It’s almost all wide open for the public to consume.

          • Yeah, I agree that ‘how long does it take?’ isn’t the right question.

            You ask, ‘How big is the piece? What are you including?’, and I think that’s closer to the question I’m asking.

            I have lots of ideas for ‘hub’ content pieces. One idea might be an Excel-based template that helps a prospect remove a step (to quote your other article). It can be completed in a week and may perform fairly well. Another idea is more like a web-based university course, which pulls in industry experts to offer opinions on a topic which could truly help prospects become better at their jobs. Obviously this is at the opposite end of a ‘difficulty’ scale, but you’d have higher hopes for its success.

            So you’re right, it’s not ‘how long does it take?’. Maybe my question is more along the lines of: ‘how big a project would you undertake, taking into account the (perhaps inaccurate) idea that better content + better/easier promotion will lead to much better results?’.

  • Blogging is a key component startup completely agree with this idea. As a marketer, I spend so much energy on products for startups, but it’s interesting to trouble allocations are certain to content.Essay Help Companies

  • timframed

    My favorite quote here: “Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote.”

    While we can get caught up the internal goals of building a blog (driving more traffic, building brand, getting more leads, etc.), I believe the best way to differentiate is ultimately to figure out how we can focus on external goals, which are the problems that our readers and subscribers are looking to solve.

    Bit of a mind-dump up there, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of ideas on how to how to structure and differentiate resources vs blog – and the difference needs those assets might fill.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Amen to that. We all jump to the end result, which absolutely warrants discussion. But if we focus on being better at the first part, the second part should be (and often is) better. Besides, an over-obsession with end results, especially if it’s just 1 metric, can really hurt the production of content, which in this style of marketing, is crucial not to skim through. There’s too much noise to produce crap and expect it to work.

  • Jay – great article. I see these trends at 100% of the companies we work with. I want to highlight few things. When you talk about “helpful” companies need to consider their target audience proficiency. Also I always suggest new entrepreneurs to start blogging even before they made their first round… but most of chances they will not do so. I find that the best startups in our domain (cloud computing) are the ones that publish 2 articles a month in their first year. How many per week will you suggest? What tools did you use to track your content performance? hubspot, GA, what else?
    thank you!
    Ofir

    • Thanks Ofir. The volume question is tricky — there is no one right answer. There are too many variables to say. My advice is to tackle that question in two parts…

      First, set a productivity goal you feel good about, whether that’s one post per day or per week or whatever. See if you can stick to that for 2-3 months before you try anything else. You need momentum.

      Second, look at your competition once you’ve finished that 2-3 month period. Do they blog a ton? Can you keep up with their output? If so, try it, but don’t take shortcuts and hurt quality. If you can’t keep up, try new formats that they don’t use — maybe video, or design, or SlideShares, or data-driven reports help you stand out.

      Re: tools, I really just use GA for the NextView blog right now.

  • Livio Bojonca

    Insightful article Jay! What about the distribution side? Dou you prioritize some channels in particular or have some tactics that you follow in order to maximize the overall distribution?

  • This is great, Jay. Love your simple definition of Content Marketing as well as the idea of a content floor, or guaranteed daily traffic.

    Have been “fighting” with a lot of clients lately who just want to blog about news & company culture. Glad to see the data backs me up!

  • Jessica Brown

    very impressive post! thanks alot for making it readable!

    http://www.fairessays.com/pricing

  • Gerard Sorme

    Obviously I am very late to the party. However, I wanted to add a thought that hasn’t been addressed. Sometimes you can get _so close_ to the trees that you fail to see the forest.

    Becoming so focused on the blog for all these inside-baseball reasons, let me offer a reason for every startup to blog and it’s simple — “Hey! We’re Still Here.”

    One of the first things I do when I visit a startup website is visit the blog. Why? I want to know if these guys are still committed to the project. I want to see activity. Yes, the content is important; but more than content, frankly, I want to see activity and know that this isn’t another “we tried it for a few months and lacking immediate results – we’ll just leave everything as it is.” And you know what the lack of entries in a startup blog says to me? We’ve checked out and moved along.

    That’s reason enough to blog – and not go too long without entries. The blog serves as a marketing tool in various ways. It’s also the “public press” – the public face of activity and vitality of a project for a first time visitor. Yes, social media is critical, but before anyone gets plugged in to that, they must feel this is a trustworthy and vital enterprise. When I visit a startup blog in 2015 and see the last entry was in October of 2014 – I’m out. I’m gone. After all, to me I assume *they are*.

    I believe strongly that there are a lot of people just like me. An active blog = an active project. A stale blog = a stale project. To me, this is the forest of information that clearly says: The Lights Are On! Too often, the trees of minutia (worrying about perfecting every detail before you post anything) is a dangerous road.

    • agree with your goal. Disagree with the execution. If you take valuable resources to write you should publish something that can have returns over time and also serve an audience you aim to build product for (in our case that’s “should startups blog?” – this was published awhile ago and still gains traffic but more importantly teaches).

      AND this same educational post and traffic generator/high ROI post would have proven to others that we are still active around the time it launched.

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  • I read this article earlier this afternoon and I’ve been thinking about all day. I’m the Marketing Manager for a software company and we’ve been struggling to gain traction from our blog articles.

    So as an experiment, I pulled 6 months of data from my personal photography site, http://www.calebkeiter.com, which often goes overlooked. Based on pageviews, the two most popular pages are articles I’ve written to HELP others – an in-depth camera lens review and tips for choosing a background for headshots. The 3rd most popular is my homepage, fourth is another HELPFUL article about general headshot photography tips, and fifth is my main product page – professional headshots. The next blog article appears in tenth, and it’s not helpful. It’s about me. None of the articles in the top 5 were published this year, but they constantly bring great traffic (and links) to my site.

    Jay, you’ve done some great work here. There’s only one problem. I now want to tear apart our Q3 content strategy and approach it through this lens. Thank you for the extra work and hopefully the improved results that come with it.

    Cheers!

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