Manage by Blog Post

3 min read

Any frequent visitor to DoltHub knows we publish a lot of blog posts. How many? Three per week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Everyone at the company writes them. Why do we do that? This blog post will answer why.

A blog post about writing blog posts? Come on, Tim?!? Well, it's the day before a long weekend here in the good old USA and based on prior experience this blog post was going to be shouting into the ether so it was this or nothing. I always prefer something over nothing.

Happy July 4th

How did we get here?

Early in the DoltHub history we decided that publishing blog content about what we're doing and putting it on social media was a good, cheap marketing strategy. We published our first blog post on Oct. 9, 2019 talking about the motivations for building Dolt and DoltHub. Still relevant but we're focused more on making a modern, more feature rich, OLTP database now.

We started on an adhoc schedule. Whenever we had something interesting to say, we would write a blog. In the first three months we published twelve blog posts or about one per week. We started to have some success driving interest in Dolt through some moderately viral blog posts and Zach suggested we publish three blogs per week. I like committing to numerical goals as a shipping forcing function. So we made a Google Sheet with a schedule, filled the next few slots and we've been shipping three per week ever since. We're up to 210 blog posts counting this one:

pages % ls -1 | grep .md | wc -l
     210

We have one member of the team, who shall remain unnamed, who is really passionate that we write too many blog posts and burn people out on our content. This blog would be an example of one that he or she would cut, for instance. I'm of the opposite opinion. It's really hard to tell what kind of content will resonate before you publish it. If it's interesting, publish it. The cost is about a day of employee time (~$600 excluding equity). The median reward is low but the upside tail reward is very high. When you go to #1 on HackerNews, it's a fun couple days.

Who writes them?

Everyone at the company writes blogs. If we are shipping something, we write a feature announcement blog. If we meet a numerical milestone, we write a blog about why it's important. If we start a data bounty we write a blog to tell the community about it. If we finish a data bounty, we write a blog telling the community how it went. It focuses everyone at our company on telling stories about why we are doing what we're doing. We think the DoltHub story is important.

Some people start out writing really bad content. We have a couple good writers who do thorough review and this review process helps those people grow into at least mediocre blog writers. Everyone has their own style and content niche. It's really fun to watch people develop their own content style and voice.

Business Benefits

The first business benefit is marketing. We have people who are fans of our blog. They read it and spread our message either by sharing links or word of mouth. We post our blog content on our social media accounts and occasionally Reddit and HackerNews when we think the content is worthy. This blog post won't go on either of those places.

The second benefit is documentation. Often, before we publish formal documentation on our Documentation website, we have a blog post explaining the feature or answering the technical question. Once the product or concept matures, we publish formal documentation. So, the blog acts as a staging area for documentation.

The last benefit is customer focus. How are you going to tell the story of your feature or project? You're at least forced to consider this when you write the blog post. But because you know you'll have to write a blog post about it, you start to think about the story you want to tell the customer as you're doing the project.

That's why I called this post "Manage by Blog Post". Let the stories you are going to tell your customers influence the products you build. Force that into your company by keeping to a strict blog writing schedule. Have a great long weekend (if you're American). If blog posts or Git-style databases interest you, swing by our Discord and we'd be happy to chat about either.

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