This is another in a series of case studies from people I interviewed in 2005 about their blogging efforts. Now as we move to 2013, I find it interesting to look back at the early days of business blogging. I will only include cases from people who are still blogging now. These cases have not appeared on this blog before
Pito Salas, head of BlogBridge, writes Pito’s Blog – “Some stuff I just figured out.” BlogBridge is a blog and RSS reader that allows you to find and filter a lot of content quickly and effectively. In 2005 two of the unique capabilities were a set of heuristics to filter out old feeds based on a variety of factors that the user ranks and the ability to tap into a variety of web-based indexes to find and evaluate potential resources.
Pito started his blog in May 2003 before BlogBridge got started. He had heard about blogs for a while but was skeptical. Pito appreciated the deep thinkers who provide their expertise for free through blogs, so he understood the benefits for the blog reader. He was just not sure of the benefits for the blog writer.
Pito’s blog was noticed early on by some well-known bloggers and their links drove a lot of traffic. He did find value as a blog writer in several ways. Like many independent consultants and small business bloggers, he found that blogs provide a community of people with similar interests. This was something that Pito had when he worked for a large software company before coming independent and something he valued. His blog now gave him access to a new virtual community that meets this need. It also provided a place to store his thoughts for future reference and gain feedback from others at the same time.
After the start of Blogbridge, his blog provided a place to have informal conversations about the development of this product offering. When we spoke in 2005 supporting BlogBridge remained a secondary motive for his blog and he refrained from any overt marketing through his blog. He linked from the blog to the BlogBridge site and from the web site to his blog. The two communication channels complemented each other. The blog offered longer, more informal conceptual pieces. The site offered facts and other self-contained product information. As his thoughts became more formal, he migrated them from the blog to the web site.
Pito faced no special challenges in maintaining his blog. He wrote his blog as ideas emerged and time permitted and did not try to maintain a regular publishing schedule. His content came from other blogs and his own ideas that seemed interesting. He also drew on BlogBridge work that was relevant to the blog format. He was not concerned with building a large readership with his blog. It was more of a place to store and share things that interested him.
Blogs provided Pito with much of his news. He read little in the mainstream news media except newspapers. Blogs pointed to news and items of interest. They provided Pito with his main way of keeping up with the world, along with email and email news groups. He also got opinion and analysis of leading edge topics in technology and politics. They gave fresher and more in-depth coverage than other means. Blogs offered new voices and provide first hand accounts that are not available any other way. He liked blogs that provide deep expertise and interesting points of view such David Weinberger and Dave Winer. He also liked blogs that linked to interesting stuff such as Boing Boing.
Pito advised prospective bloggers to be provocative and interesting. Make sure you write with personality and not simply provide press release style content. Offer regular updates and make sure you are not seen as overtly selling. Microsoft supports many employee blogs because they recognize the value of this informal, non-sales oriented content for establishing better customer relations. Blogs offer you an easy and useful way to become known. They complement other means and provide exposure to what you really know. You can provide links to your blog to prospective clients in a competitive situation as it will offer much more than your resume.
Remember that blogs are just one more tool to support your business. Look at how they might complement your other means. Blog are not necessarily right for all businesses. In 2005 he felt that a web site is essential for any business and a blog is optional. Some businesses used their blog as a low cost way to provide a web site and this was certainly acceptable. As the business grows, it might be necessary to have two modes of web presence and add a formal web site to complement the blog. If you start with a formal web site, then as the business grows it might be useful to add a blog.
Pito added a technical lesson that he learned the hard way. It is difficult to move your blog from one software package to another if your web address is tied to a blog software package (e.g., TypePad, Blooger) because you lose all your incoming links. Start with a generic URL that relates to you or your business (e.g. johnsmith.com, joesshoes.com) then you can easily move your links to another tool if you want to make a change. This is a lesson I learned too late myself.
It is great to see that Pito is still blogging.