Why You Shouldn’t Launch a Company Blog Right Away
And what to focus on before you pull the trigger
Generally speaking, the more exposure, website visits, and mentions your startup can get, the better. Blogging can help you achieve this, but when is the right time in the life cycle of your startup to invest in creating a blog?
Teaching your prospects about your offering is one of the best ways to get quality leads that turn into great customers (and evangelists) for your brand. In my work, I’ve used blogging to grow brand awareness, engagement, and leads. Most recently, I grew a blog from 5K sessions a month to 100K sessions per month through strategy and consistent publishing. I think there is a “right time” to invest in blogging, and a risk to your fledgling business if you start too early.
To blog or not to blog?
Some marketers believe in starting a blog on day zero. I beg to differ.
Depending on where you are in developing your product and figuring out your target audience, that might be too early. For an early-stage startup, blogging may not be crucial.
Blogging is resource-intensive. Consistently publishing and promoting quality blog posts takes time and energy. Your efforts may not pay off for months, as you grow your visibility and readership. The return on blogging may take months — or even years — to realize.
As a content marketer, I believe in blogging. I also have the knowledge and skillset to build a blog. However, even when I started my own consulting business, I didn’t start blogging right away.
There’s a couple of reasons why:
- I focused on activities like tapping my network to help me earn a few clients early on to get my business off the ground.
- I needed to evaluate the focus of my business and what challenges I was solving for my target audience.
- I wanted to focus on packaging my services in a way so that it would be easy for my potential customers to understand what I did and the value of my work.
Now that I’ve addressed these areas, I’m focusing on content marketing to grow my business.
Startups are not one-woman agencies. However, they both have limited resources, and are on a quest to figure out who the product is for and why.
Focus on Product-Market Fit First
According to Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist whose successful bets include Facebook, Instagram, Oculus VR, and GitHub, “product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”
So what does that look like, IRL?
Well, in the beginning, startups are small operations consisting mostly of the founders, who need to prioritize and focus their energy. Early-stage startups need to develop their product, conduct market research, sign up beta users, build strategic partnerships, and sign up early customers.
“At the moment a startup is founded, the business is product-limited. You can’t do much without a product,” writes Tom Tunguz, a venture capitalist whose fund’s portfolio includes the likes of Stripe and Netflix. “After the company establishes a product-market fit, the pendulum swings to go-to-market,” Tunguz adds. “Now sales and marketing limit the company’s growth. Time to hire account executives and demand generation.”
Blogging and other digital marketing initiatives fall on the demand generation spectrum. Once you have a product that you can sell, and a clear understanding of who your buyer persona is, why they would choose you, and when they’ll realize they need you — then, and only then, you are ready to start investing in a blog.
Andrew Chen, who led growth at Uber and has advised and invested in dozens of start-ups, is with me on this one. He writes, “For early consumer startup efforts, it’s better to focus on the basics. Understand your users, deliver a great product to the market that grows by itself, build moats, monetize in a user-aligned way,” Chen adds. “Grow your team, work with the best advisors/investors/etc. The basics.”
In the early days of your startup, focusing on key efforts that will build your brand in the immediate future can make or break your business.
But Wait! You Have Alternatives
There are ways to grow your brand without a blog. I’m an advocate for targeted and concentrated efforts to buoy your web traffic and lead acquisition. Your best option as an alternative to blogging? Content marketing sprints. Here are a few ideas:
Do some guest post outreach
Guest posting is a marketing two-for-one. It can help you start building relationships and raise brand awareness.
Guest posts allow you to create quality content on other platforms, which in turn can increase visibility for your own startup. Best of all, guest posts get you in front of active communities that would take years to build on your own.
How about penning a blog post for a community that you’re targeting with your product? Make sure the feature acknowledges a problem that the audience faces and offers a potential solution — your offering, that is. Then, track the engagement from the post to your landing page. Voila — you have a beta list.
You can nurture this list via email. Take the opportunity to talk about the progress your company is making towards providing a solution to the challenge that you know every contact on this list faces.
Want to take it a step further? Build a guest posting calendar and game plan, similar to how you would create an editorial calendar for your own blog. This approach could be termed The Grandparenting Method. Just like grandparents get to hand exhausted grandkids back over to the parents after a day of fun, you get all the benefits of blogging without having to maintain an actual blog.
Build relationships with reporters and industry websites
Getting press for your startup has the potential to bring customer awareness, investor attention, and potential domain authority to your start-up — all through the power of linking. Building your domain value will help your website once you’re ready to start blogging. Sites with a higher domain authority (the value of your domain in search engines’ eyes) will improve your content ranking.
Review your case studies for newsworthy content and share these insights with bloggers or industry websites. Introduce yourself to reporters and writers by offering to contribute quotes on your specialty. Just like that, you could find yourself featured in an article that will be seen by scores of potential clients. These efforts again bring traffic to your website that can turn into sign-ups or leads.
Answer relevant questions in forums
Forums are the proverbial crystal ball of any industry. Gaze into them, and you can gain a clear picture of the challenges that your target customers face. Penning thoughtful responses in forums like Quora or in LinkedIn groups can help you interact with and understand your customers. These platforms can also be a source of inspiration for topics you can address when you do launch your blog.
Reach out to podcast hosts
Podcasts can provide a valuable channel to get your brand in front of your audience and give you a platform to share your message. If you can land on a few podcasts, the results can be similar to guest blogging. Get your product in front of an interested and engaged audience that you can then bring back to your website.
Blogging Effectively From Day One
If your business has found product-market fit and is now focused on demand-generation, build a blog strategy. Turn your insights into a series of compelling blog posts, not just one-hit-wonders.
Your startup blog should contain a mix of product-related posts, industry news-related posts and opinions, and posts that aim at capturing customers before they discover you. Focus on your target audience in your blog post. Before you spend energy creating each post, decide who your blog is for and why they should come to you versus the competition.
Plan your content to scale and get more mileage out of your content through repurposing, promoting, and republishing as appropriate.
Include relevant offers for readers who want a little extra. Funnel these leads into nurture and track their path to purchase.
Run remarketing campaigns to leverage your blog traffic and build awareness for your product and brand.
If you have found your product-market fit, then blogging can be powerful. If you are still working on product-market fit, then raise awareness through content marketing sprints.