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Brett Johnson Writing

How to Decide What to Write About

How to Decide What to Write About

Each and every day thousands of co’s around the world set up their corporate blogs but most of them fail to deliver useful and interesting content. Those who succeed usually tell real-life stories instead of posting the same old press releases and advertising their products.

Hustling for attention is hard and doing it for your company’s blog seems even harder but there’s a simple set of tips to be used in case you don’t want to waste time and resources on fruitless blogging.

Look around: content is everywhere

One of the most frequent excuses for not blogging we hear from tech co’s is “we don’t have anything significant to blog about”. Half of the startups we meet tend to believe that their potential audience is not interested in posts about anything less than graduating from YC.

It’s sort of true as you should not really pose yourself as a top selling company and try to do Apple-like presentations but there’re multiple other ways to produce interesting content. Just look around – there’s a whole world around you and your company to talk about.

You’ve got a nice office – do a blog post about it. This will not only free you of discussing your product while working in dev mode (or even stealth), lifestyle posts give an insight into your company’s life and humanize the image of it. Even a minimalistic setup can attract like-minded folks, potential co-workers, and confederates.

This is exactly what one UX-agency based in Easter Europe did a couple of years ago. They had a nice office so they just went and published a post with multiple pics of it. The piece was in a local language, however, juicy pics of their amazing two-storey workspace made it resonate with design folks around the world including John Maeda who retweeted it to his 400k+ followers. This single post got up to 25k views.


Stand out: highlight your unique features

Newcomers face strong competition as they try to enter today’s tech market. Early stage products may be relatively hard to market as they often have much more modest feature set compared to their competitors who don’t waste time bragging about their updates here and there.

This is when it’s a good time to look at your product from the jobs-to-be-done point of view and think of its features that may interest a particular client (or user) groups. You should highlight these features (or even one single feature) and see how your potential clients react.

Kato.im (team-chat for a business that was finally pivoted to Sameroom.io) did this exact thing with their Vim-like hotkeys feature and open source projects. This type of posts is something people can profit from and relate to.


React to news

People are obsessed with news, which is why social network newsfeeds are so effective in killing time. And this is also why corporate PR guys are doing their best to publish comments on hot topics from their company’s experts. This tactic is so popular because it is simple yet effective.

If you see something interesting happening in a field that is somehow connected to your business and you feel that you have something to say about it — go for it. You can prepare a comment and pitch it to journalists (there are a number of tools for doing this, such as HARO) or create a blog post or an in-depth column discussing consequences and reasons for the event. In such cases, mentions of your products, services, and experience may be quite relevant.

There are multiple industries where this approach works just fine. For example — information security, where journalists and the public need someone to explain how hacks and cybercrimes become real (here is a classic hack story with the expert’s comments).

You just need to spend half an hour either talking with the journalist or writing a comment or a blog post to become the one who explains to the public what the heck is going on here.

Post a listicle

If there is nothing happening out there, and your connections are slow with their comments on a blog post, you can still forgo the necessity of involving other people. Just create a list of something. If you work in a marketing startup, for example, then compose the ultimate list of useful marketing tools, best marketing conferences of the year, or main events that will affect your industry.

This will give readers instant value – they will find out new interesting tools, events, or market insights. All in one place, curated for them – this is something to be grateful for.

Here is an example – the guys at Buffer published a blog post with a selection of 60 marketing tools they use themselves. The piece was so useful that 1.5k people shared it and dozens commented.

Interview and comments

Journalists like interviews and expert comments because it is a great opportunity to get first-hand information from an expert. And if they can do it, why can’t you?

Interviews and comments are great content marketing tools in many ways. First of all, if you publish an interview or a comment by a well-known, trusted expert and influencer in a certain field, it immediately boosts the credibility of your blog and company.

Second, the ‘vanity factor’ should not be underestimated. Every human is pleased if his or her opinion or thoughts are considered to be interesting by someone else. And thus, he or she will definitely share a link to your piece containing these opinions and thoughts. Such industry influencers can have thousands of followers across different social networks.

You can also combine these methods and create posts where different experts answer different questions or give their advice (here is an example of how this can look). Ten experts in such a post can lead to dozens of thousands of people reached when they share your link.

So you are killing three birds with one stone — getting great content, building a relationship with industry experts (which is always useful), and maximizing reach.

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