If you blog it, they will come

Michael PhillipsA few of us went to BlogWorld & New Media Expo in recently, and it was a very interesting three days. A lot of attendees were people who blog in one niche or another (like us), and who are trying to find ways to monetize their blogs.

We’re in a different position than many of those people since this blog is part of our service and not something we need to try to squeeze money from. That frees us up in many ways, but it also puts an onus on us to provide a different kind of content.

What we’re trying, and hopefully succeeding, to do here are a few things; provide service-specific information, knowledge, insight, and personality. The service information is easy; “Hey, we’re offering this service now,” or “There’s a special deal on this product.” Those kinds of things write themselves.

Knowledge – how-tos, tutorials, and deeper information into specific aspects of the service – is much more difficult to produce, but luckily we love what we do around here, so it isn’t terribly difficult to come up with those either.

All of the support and development staff here use the same products that you do, and when we see that there are a lot of questions around something, or that it would benefit a lot of people to produce a how-to on a specific product or technology, we’re all over it.

Insight – now that’s a good one. How many hosting company blogs do you see that publish research? I only see one: ours. Though I may be biased. Never rule that out.

The fact that such a large percentage of our user base are hard-core .NET developers puts us in a unique position. The results of a survey of more typical (less development-focused) hosting customers would look quite different than the results of our surveys.

We have always done surveys, and always created papers based on the results of those surveys for our own use. But early last year we decided to start making much of our research public, through this blog, press releases, etc.

On the surface, doing that doesn’t particularly benefit us. Quite the contrary, since we’re effectively handing our hard-won data to our competitors. But we wanted you to have access to the data, because as developers, we know that a lot of it will be of interest to you.

Having a window into the zeitgeist never hurts. So let the competition have it too, we’re not too concerned with that. We’re thinking about these things all the time, and by the time they get a look at our research, we’re probably on to something new anyway.

But we’re the source of that insight, which gives us a critical component to the blog here, and that benefits us and you. It lets you know what we’re up to, what we’re looking at, and where things could conceivably go in the future. We think that kind of thing is important, and wish that more tech companies did the same.

Are there some things we keep under wraps until they are ready to go to market? Of course. But you can see our overall path or strategy, and hopefully that makes you feel a little more secure in the knowledge that we’re here for the long haul.

Finally, personality. Now that’s a tough nut to crack. There are plenty of corporate blogs out there with personality. Much of that personality might make you wonder why anyone would ever want to do business with the company, but hey, it’s out there. 😉

Frankly, that’s a risk you have to run. Without personality you wind up with a press release or announcements blog, and no one wants to read that.  Ultimately, it’s important to us that you know who we are. That there are real people here behind the curtain, and we’re as normal (or as weird) as you are.

We come in to the office every day because what we do interests and excites us.  So, okay, admittedly that may make us a little weirder than you are. But like a lot of you, we spend most of our waking hours neck-deep in web technology. If we’re all on a bullet train to the future, it’s good to be in one of the cars up front, right? The view is much better. You know that, we know that, and the rest of the world seems to be catching up as well.

I’ll have more to say about some of the specific things we heard at BlogWorld & New Media Expo in upcoming posts. In the meantime, here’s Jim Farley from Ford making what appears to be a painful point in one of the BlogWorld keynote speeches.

The SUV under wraps by the side of the stage there was covered with QR codes, by the way, and would be unveiled a week later at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

What is Jim Farley so mad about?

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