many startups get
‘Hey, wanna write a blog post?’
‘Screw you guys - I’m
Got a bootstrapped startup? Get your
blog in order!
• Everybody wants to hear your
You wouldn’t be starting a
company if you didn’t know
Open knowledge sharing is the
name of the game
Gain a good reputation for
engaging with your users
Your users will become your
• …and you’ll look smart
Source: Charmaine Li, Venture Village
What is content marketing?
• “Creating high-quality
SEO-d content with
good links which,
through social sharing,
gains your startup
attention and improves
your reputation as an
expert in your niche”
Fun fact: that quote was
totally by me
• Content marketing can
be for your company
blog, your personal
blog, or made into
guest posts for other
blogs or websites
• It is a form of low-cost
inbound marketing that
can generate B2B and
B2C visitors to your site
time to write –
and it’s hard
Writing blog posts is not hard if…
• You make it a habit
• You make a skeleton plan of a
month’s worth of posts at a time
• You co-write with your team for
• You think to yourself “would I
• Make it either a) useful, b)
interesting or c) entertaining
• … or all of the above if no shit’s
too hard for a smart-ass mo’fo
What should I blog about?
When you’re comfortable
• Top X lists
• Compilations of useful tools
for attaining a particular
• Step-by-step guides to get
• Challenges you are facing
starting out, and how to
deal with them
• Best sources of information
• Detailed advice on how to
do/make something specific
• Things [not] to do when you
start a company
pieces that have an
important business lesson
Grow to topics
Begin with what is
specific to your
• It will help you grow a following
• It will give people a reason to
stick around on your website
• It offers you a way of getting ROI
on the learning you’ve done
• Your company blog shouldn’t
just be a bulletin board for
product updates (boooring)
• People will feel more connected
to you/feel like they know you
• BACKLINKS!!! (draw in users
and improve search engine
Resources to inspire you
*hint* copy the format of posts you like
*hint hint* just make your content a little bit better than what’s already out there
Tips for you:
The Huffington Post
This Week In Startups
• Search Engine Journal
…or… outsource it!
• Ghost Blog Writers
Is there a template I can use to construct
a blog post?
But I like this one by Michael Hyatt.
1. Compelling title (catchy, original)
“Stuck in that social media matrix? Pop that red pill”
“The Vaginal Entrepreneur” (Vice)
2. Lead paragraph (get to the point of the article)
3. Relevant image
4. Personal experience
5. Main body (use breaks, bullet points and numbers to make it
6. Discussion question: “Which tools and techniques help you to
get the most out of your day?” (Incomediary)
Yes, yes, oh
…skip to slide 28
*I’ll miss you until then* #sniff
Let’s analyze a popular
startup blog article
I checked out www.growthhackers.com and noticed that this bad boy was trending:
“How I went from idea to product (with paying customers) in 7 days”
Telling a personal (and successful) startup experience
• People can’t refute personal stories
• There’s no need to go searching for much scientific data to back your
• You can use your own metrics to back up your claims – it advertises your
success as well as informing other entrepreneurs
Day-by-day steps (Day 1 to Day 7)
Today, HappyLetter is the simplest way to
launch & manage a paid newsletter. It has paying
customers with subscribers who are paying them.
A week ago, HappyLetter didn’t exist.
I live-blogged the creation of HappyLetter. In one
week and 26 posts, I discussed everything from
mission and vision to technology, marketing and
As I was reviewing everything I’ve written so far, I
realized something. By documenting every detail
over the last week, I now have a rough blueprint that
I can follow to think through and develop a minimally
viable product for any ideas I have in the future.
Here is a summary of the first 7 days:
WHERE I GOT THE INFO
FOR THIS POST –
THIS IS WHY IT IS
Day 1: Genesis
Patrick Rhone begs for a Letter.ly replacement. I had never thought
about building a simple, paid email newsletter service, but it seemed
liked a fun exercise in constraint and simplicity. I decided to spend my
free time building what Patrick was asking for.
Patrick and I discussed names for a few minutes and I purchased
I’m fascinated by transparent companies, so I decided to live blog
I defined HappyLetter’s mission. Missions are mocked these days
because corporate America has turned them into an exercise in jargon
and nonsense. When you’re starting out, missions are different. Missions
should tell the world what you are doing.
I shared HappyLetter’s Roadmap and the technologies and services I’d
be using to build it.
I shared my first post about HappyLetter’s business model. Letter.ly was
loved, yet it was abandoned anyway. That told me they probably didn’t
charge enough. They charged 3.5% of transaction volume. I decided I
needed to charge more and I worked through what that meant in The
HappyLetter Business Model: Unapologetically Sustainable.
By the end of Day 1, I had a registration page and started integrating
TONS OF LINKS –
Paragraph 3 – 4:
Day 2: Refinement
I woke up and refined my roadmap. I called it the pixelated
roadmap because it wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to guide
me for a few days.I pontificated about who my ideal customer
is and wrote about them in this post.
Day 3: Breakthroughs
A key feature was the ability for publishers to send an email to
HappyLetter using a secret email address. HappyLetter would
then send that email to the publisher’s list. I got that feature working.
I often blogged about issues as a way to break though mental roadblocks.
If I found myself stalling because I didn’t want to make a decision, I wrote
about it here. Magically, my writing uncovered a solution and removed my
excuses every time. Working through the publisher signup process was a
prime example of this at work.
I discussed whether not I should allow publishers to change the price of
subscriptions. I decided not to. I later found out that Stripe doesn’t allow
it either, so it was kind of a moot point.
I finished up what happens when subscribers reply to emails. By
default, publisher emails are kept private. Writing my way through the
publisher sign-up process enabled me to quickly get it done. I came
up with the form to create the newsletter and get a mailing address.
HE DID IT
Paragraph 5 – 6:
Day 4: Philosophies
I finalized the basic UI for the publisher sign-up launch sequence.
I didn’t actually finish it until Day 5, but it gave me the framework I
needed. I decided early adopters should be considered co-founders
and rewarded with a discounted service fee as long as they were
willing to pay annually instead of monthly. This is another example
of using writing to work through an issue.
I defined HappyLetter’s vision. Maybe it seems hokey, but before
you have a “feature complete” product people are buying what you
have because of how your ideals make them feel, not what it does
A strong vision tells the world why I’m building a simple newsletter
publishing service. It gives people who want to support you “why”
an opportunity to vote with their wallets to help make it real.
Day 5: Getting Ready
Publishers could sign up and launch a newsletter, so the next step
was to give subscribers a way to sign up for newsletters. I built the
form for subscribers to enter their name, email and credit card.
I wrote my favorite post so far about the swampy 20% where ideas
go to die. I’ve been there before. I didn’t want to get stuck again.
MVP READY +
REALITY IN THE
Paragraph 7, 8, 9:
Day 6: Devilish Details
I got subscriber receipts working, which means subscriber charges
were working as well.Everything from the day 2 “Pixelated Roadmap”
was finished, so I came up with a new roadmap to help get through
the swamps. I decided on a scalable, reliable and affordable hosting
environment, then I got it set up. I have no idea what I’ll need, but
I’m flexible. I refined the landing page for the private beta marketing site.
Day 7: Deliciousness
I activated Stripe so HappyLetter could accept real credit card payments.
I wrote a post to help me decide who I am responsible for supporting.
My relationship is with publishers. Stepping in between publishers and
their subscribers isn’t in anyone’s best interest.
2 Paying Customers = Revenues!!! I have others now. One was obviously
Patrick Rhone. The other were followers of this blog and the process.
Today is Day 8. HappyLetter is open for business.
I have a handful of customers already collecting subscription fees for
their newsletters. I’m already helping talented writers get paid for their
art. This blows my mind. For a limited time, you can sign up using the
link below to become a private beta, co-founding publisher.
STARTUP – THEY
HappyLetter’s unapologetically sustainable cost
while in private beta is $120/year (50% discount)
+ $0.25/subscriber/month. Get it here.
Again, $120/year is only for a limited time. Once
we leave private beta, the base cost will be
DEFENDS COST +
SIGN UP BUTTON
If you sign up and find that HappyLetter
isn’t for you, I’ll refund your $120. No
* Since HappyLetter deposits funds
directly in to your Stripe account,
you’ll need to be in a country where you
can sign up for Stripe and accept USD.
REFUND – SHOWS
AVAILABILITY (at the
This example was for a home
company blog post. A guest
blog post will be different
(i.e. less shameless selfmarketing!).
Curate a newspaper or a magazine to send to your groupies: