Stuart Woodhouse is a client manager at technology firm Digital Fusion.
When and why did you start a blog for your business?
Our first foray into blogging was via a FileMaker community website back in 2008, before we launched our own blog in 2010.
We develop apps for desktop and mobile, and the software we use to develop these apps has a large community. The community is made up of professional as well as DIY developers, and it's pretty tight knit in terms of sharing information. So we set out to create a blog that would allow us to give back to the community, giving people the chance to learn from our team.
That initial reason for writing a blog is still very much true today, but we've also seen that it enhances our search rankings. We don't write blogs for this purpose but because we generate a lot of content, it's a nice spin off.
Can you talk me through the kind of content you're creating and why?
Our content is spread across four different headings, and to some degree four different themes.
What we call 'Weetbicks' is by far the largest area in terms of content and this is written by our technical lead, Daniel Wood. In general Daniel's posts are really in-depth and time consuming to create, but they're picked up by readers throughout the world because his posts are some of the best in the FileMaker community.
'News and musings' is where we talk a little more around the business of Digital Fusion and then 'dev talk' is where we put posts by our other developers, which again are more technical.
What's the thinking behind getting a range of staff writing posts? And what's involved in that for the employees?
Each of our developers has different areas of specialisation with the software we develop in, so we try to get them to share their different thoughts and ideas through blogging. In saying this, the draft blog posts are always peer reviewed before they're published and we typically put each post through a 'reality check' process to make sure what we're saying is correct.
The technical articles take a lot of time in terms of research and ensuring their accuracy, so it takes time beyond the standard hours of work to get them done. We recognise this work as part of the person's professional development and contribution to the field, so it directly helps their growth and promotion to senior positions. Those staff who blog are also given first access to attend overseas conferences and other opportunities.
We would actually love more of our team members to take a more regular approach to blog writing but I think some have a level of nervousness about being judged by their peers. That's something we try to work through by making sure bloggers are supported, and any feedback is specific around how improvements can be made to their posts.
What have you learnt over time about creating engaging content, and ultimately what benefits have you seen in the business as a result?
Because a lot of our posts are specialised in terms of the software we develop in, we have gained a huge following over a number of years. Daniel's posts are snapped up straight away and we often find we have up to 10 comments or questions on them within the first 24 hours.
Over time we've found that writing specific blog posts around subjects people want to read about is the best approach. This involves adding a lot of depth to the content of the articles, but we generally find these remain relevant for months or even years.
In terms of the benefits to the company, they're not easily measurable but we do know that our website performs really well and we put a lot of that down to the style and regularity of our blogs.