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Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Business and product blogs - one or many?

I am getting deeply into the design of "A Little Management" and as well as keeping my normal design decisions diary have decided I'd like to open this up and blog about it. I think from a community-building point of view this makes sense.

I have one existing blog for stuff I think about, over on Artima http://www.artima.com/weblogs/index.jsp?blogger=andydent but have been wondering how much sense it makes to mix blogs.

If you have a blog to discuss the design of a product, should you JUST focus that blog on that product?

In the next few months I expect to be working on some very widely divergent products in rather different development environments. There's not a huge overlap between the developer base using those tools and probably even less overlap between potential users of the applications I'm developing.

I thought the agonising might be useful to other people as much as I may get help from the list so, here's the issues I'm currently breaking things into.

DECISIONS TO MAKE
1) BLOG SEPARATION
a) one blog
b) one blog with grouping using a feature like the blogger labels http://help.blogger.com/bin/topic.py?topic=12459 which allow for separate RSS feeds if people are interested
c) multiple blogs with only the main page providing any hint of the other blogs' existence

2) BLOG HOSTING
a) on a well-known and indexed site like blogger
b) on my own site(s) depending on the decision above, to associate traffic with the site
see the thread earlier on BoS "Blog Hosting: Which is Better?" http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.574220.12

3) BLOG COMMENTING
This is mainly an issue if I run my own blog on my site as opposed to using blogger.
a) comment via inline comments
b) comment via separate forums as in Artima
c) comment only by encouraging linking (I've seen this done a few times) and trackbacks
d) no commenting at all, not worth the grief


4) ADVERTISING
I'm such a fascinating guy that I may end up making a chunk of money out of it <cough>. More seriously, at least one of the products I'm developing has a strong ecosystem of books and other software around it so could bring in many ads.
a) AdSense it and my competitors may well show up (not necessarily a bad thing)
b) just advertise by targetted links, with the management overhead of thinking and picking alliances but at least an ability to block
c) keep my "purity" by not advertising - how many people get positively turned off by ads on technical blogs?

Can anyone else think of issues or aspects of the above I've missed?

Looking forward to your feedback!

Andy
Andy Dent Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
 
 
Your mileage may vary regarding blog separation.  Personally, I think it depends on whether you want a regular base of readers or not.  If yes, then don't confused the bejeesus out of them with a million themes unless you expect them to find them all interesting.

Blog hosting is a pretty clear choice: Wordpress (or your favorite competing software) on your own site.  This gives you much more room to grow than the alternative of hosting offsite does.  Don't worry about getting your blog crawled -- if someone with a blog so much as sneezes in your direction Google will give your site a crawling more thorough than my annual physical.

Advertising is another clear choice: don't put AdSense on any blog you want to be read.  Even discounting the fact that it is fast being associated with untrustworthy, your user are much more valuable to you than anyone is prepared to pay you for them.  (And, when you get use out of them yourself, you don't have to give Google a 60% cut of the value.)

(Same story for advertising on any site which sells a product.  Ye, goodness, I don't know what folks are thinking... but I can't say I mind when my competitors do it.)
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
 
 
Andy - I think you've got about 6 questions chasing each other here, but here goes the short version:

DECISIONS TO MAKE
1) BLOG SEPARATION
Are you blogging to promote/connect with people about a particular product? Thats' one blog. If you're promoting yourself as a developer, that's another. The key isn't what you want to do, it's what creates the most concentrated value for your readers - which will drive traffic.

2) BLOG HOSTING
Forget blogger. Go Wordpress if you are prepared to host it yourself, TypePad if giving up that last 20% of control is a good trade for not spending time tweaking bits.

3) BLOG COMMENTING
If you don't have comments organically connected to your post, you are not blogging. It might be useful, but it's not blogging. Comments are the lifeblood and visible indication of life of a blog. Blogging software handles this for you - and that's a very good thing.


4) ADVERTISING
If you are going to put the work in to run a professional blog, this is your lifeblood. If you are running a blog about a problem topic your software addresses, advertising is poison.

my 2.5 blogging cents.
Bob Walsh Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
 
 
I agree with Bob, particularly on the blog separation stuff.

My advice is:  Solve for your audience.

If you are going to write primarily about your product, releases, features, usage scenarios, etc.  That's a blog with one audience.

If you're going to write about lessons you've learned in creating a startup, software development, outsourcing, or anything else (little of which your customers care about), that's a different blog.

Unless the audiences overlap (as is the case with Spolsky), the two audiences usually warrant two separate blogs.

Having said that, blogs are a lot of work.  I'd focus on one first.
Dharmesh Shah Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
 
 
I have only one blog where I discuss my small business operations, programming topics, and post teasers and updates on upcoming projects.
Business Blogger
Monday, December 17, 2007
 
 
1. Try to set up a plan for the posts for the next couple of months. If you have enough of those to keep two different blogs alive, then go for the two. Overwise you could do as secretgeek does - mention your product in every other post of the personal blog))

2. +1 for the Wordpress on personal hosting. I've done that a couple of days ago for my blog on http://rabdullin.com. Everything has worked out like a miracle. Just make sure you have sitemap plugin and auto-ping all the blog trackers about the updates. This will make Google index your posts in 10 minutes.

3. People like to comment and to ask questions. Taking that right from them might push some visitors away.
Rinat Abdullin Send private email
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
 
 

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