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Eric's Marketing Idea: "Blog your dev." Opinions?

Eric Sink proposed small ISVs should consider "develop[ing] in the open" by publicly blogging the development of your new product to further garner industry interest/participation:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnsoftware/html/software05072004.asp

I have to say, I like this approach and Mr. Sink does seem to be practicing what he preaches in this case by operating his own blog, but his own blog really doesn't seem to describe the ongoing development efforts of SourceGear's product like propositioned in the MSDN article. Now, there might be others within SourceGear publicly blogging on the development . . . but I'm not aware of the links.

So, what's your opinion on this method of generating awareness of your product? How much "feature speak" do you give in this blog? Wouldn't acknowledging features before release give competitors time to build said features within their products? I understand this blogging's primary focus is to create a perception of value even before release, but how can I do this without serving as a pedestal for my competitors to "get it together because X,Y,Z is coming..."

Also, do you have examples outside of Mr. Sink's and JOS' blog where there are public blogs of ongoing development products of commercial products (outside of the geek-blog-sphere (ie, open source projects)).

Thanks!

Anon
Friday, June 11, 2004

It would be lame marketing fluff.

Imagine your developers laying their stream of frustration with the lame customer requirements all out in the open.

Oh, right, that's not what he meant.  He meant a sanitized happy, happy feel good cheerleader's song.

Ummm, so what's the point again?  Just hire the marketing/sales people.

hoser
Friday, June 11, 2004

A number of upper-level developers at Borland have taken to blogging.  Here's one (which links to the rest):

http://homepages.borland.com/dthorpe/home/delphi

JT
Friday, June 11, 2004

I think a lot of the success depends on who you're target market is.  In the case of Borland, it's essentially developers blogging for other developers, and it's probably a good way to build mind-share in your target market.  But suppose it was MS Word developers doing it.  I think the blogs could be just as interesting, but worth almost nothing from a marketing standpoint.

Brian
Friday, June 11, 2004

Am I the only one who thinks that bloggers should just get back to work and do something useful? Well, except Joel of course, he does some nice articles as well (did, that is?).

If you _can_ share your (professional) life on the internet, it doesn't mean you _have_ to. Anyway, blogs are out, man. Gone. If too many people think it's cool, it's virtually already over. Rule of the Cool #1.

Janonymous
Friday, June 11, 2004

"If you _can_ share your (professional) life on the internet, it doesn't mean you _have_ to. "

I think the natural retort to this would be "if you _can_ visit a blog, it doesn't mean you _have_ to". It has no detrimental affect to your life that people are blogging about things that you don't care to read. For the writer it is often cathartic (and for technology it is a brilliant form of documentation about mindsets, limits, process, etc), and given that everyone has downtown it certainly doesn't seem worse than other options.

I don't mean this regarding your post (as yours seems good humored), but a lot of the anti-blogging vitriol is transparently envy - envy that someone else has a "louder voice" through the machanisms of blogging (though in reality most bloggers are read by at most conscripted friends who will be quizzed on the content).

Dennis Forbes
Friday, June 11, 2004

Yeah Dennis, that last thing is what I meant. If your blog is read only by your friends, who, if you weren't busy blogging, you'd have spoken to anyway, you're just not cool. And if one blogger is not cool, all the others won't be soon. It's like a trend setter that finds a new trend before everyone else gets into it.

Besides, how many people will want to read a blog from someone who should be working - on something that you pay money for? Now I know that all marketing is paid by clients/customers, but this seems a bit too obvious. It's like employees from India or Whateveristan keep a blog of every shoe they make for Nike or Whateveridas ;-)

It might work out, though - but only if the customers care.

Janonymous
Friday, June 11, 2004

1st pgph: won't be -> will not be cool

My bad. Should learn to be more precise. I'd never be good for a blog :-D

Janonymous
Friday, June 11, 2004

"Ummm, so what's the point again?  Just hire the marketing/sales people."

Well, if you're a one or a few person development shop, blogging about your product is a lot cheaper than hiring marketing/sales people.

Jim Rankin
Friday, June 11, 2004

I agree with Brian above...it really only makes sense from a marketing standpoint if the product has something to do with software development, since programmers are the only ones who are going to read programming blogs.

However, setting aside competition issues for the moment, it does have some appeal from a development standpoint.  You can potentially get some good feedback by writing a paragraph or two about what design decisions you made today, and then letting other developers comment on it.  Likewise, it's nice to read how other people are solving problems and why they are doing it that way.

Of course, most companies have non-disclosure agreements regarding their products that would prohibit you from discussing their internal workings, so it's kind of moot unless you're your own boss or doing OSS.

Joe
Friday, June 11, 2004

Making a blog about software development means that Google will index your blog, and now all sorts of searches will return you site that didn't before - free advertising.

And if someone keeps reading your blog you're much more likely to be able to sell your product to that person.

Hands up who bought Citydesk or Fogbugz because they heard about it from Joel's blog?

Matthew Lock
Friday, June 11, 2004

1. Unless you're working for a small well-managed team of competent coders with no internal politics, revealing any inner duct tape that keeps the shiny facade going can backfire. Being on the inside and seeing what goes in to a product and being on the outside and seeing the finished product are two different things entirely. Even if you talk about the development process, on a daily basis could be trouble.

2. Once you start talking about what goes on day-to-day with the knowledge that a wider audience will see it, it will impact what goes on on the inside. The classic example would be the American Family series from the 70's, where a camera crew invated a family for a few months and filmed everything. All the drama suddenly became larger than life, and the family imploded. You don't want that to happen.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, June 12, 2004

Hmm bad grammar, type-o's. I must be sleepy.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, June 12, 2004

I seeme to remember that Philo shot to fame on JoS due, in part, to his blogging efforts on a project called Camel.

Or was that someone else ?

Steve Jones (UK)
Saturday, June 12, 2004

Yeah, but if that blog ever got into the hands of the people paying money to have work done, the fit would have hit the shan. Philo shot to fame by bitching and complaining about the incompetent people around him. Not exactly a good way to build a company's reputation.

I think Philo still Blogs at MS, but I don't know if anyone reads it... (Do they Philo?)

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, June 12, 2004

Coupla hundred hits a month, but then it's just technical, not really earth-shaking stuff, and I've been slacking on my posts. I really should post more and not try to make everything uber-worthwhile...

Philo

Philo
Saturday, June 12, 2004

I don't know how much of a benefit it is for marketing purposes. However I blog my development process and have done for some time. My reasoning is more along the lines of it makes an interesting diary, even if only for me.

All arguments about coolness etc really don't bother me. The (very) occasional person who I don't really know adds a comment, some of my friends say hi. Sathyaish posts comments continually....It is nice. Kind of like my own personal diary, yet there is always the romantic notion that someone will read it one day from the view in which it is written, and that is a girl who has never developed anything before, fresh out of university, never been paid to write code...write, marketing and selling a program.

Probably no one ever will, although I know when this program is finished I will enjoy re-reading it all. I also wrote a diary while planning my wedding (though that was hand-written). For me I just love to document the process a newbie goes through when undertaking a task for the first time. I think it is something that can be learnt from.

As for marketing reasons....I really don't see it. Who would want to read my blog if they didn't know me?

Aussie Chick
Sunday, June 13, 2004

That's really noble, Aussie Chick. Trying to inspire someone else - to show them that throughout the hardship and difficulties, there is a light on the other side of the tunnel is great.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, June 14, 2004

A blog lends an authenticity and a human face to your product.

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 14, 2004

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