Four years ago today, we took down our blog to re-imagine it. Here’s why we’re doing it again.
I was terrified.
There was no way this was a good idea.
I knew that we needed to be out there, doing marketing, to get customers.
And yet, here we were, about to make a decision that went against everything I believed about marketing.
It was 2013, and we were about to wipe our blog off of the internet.
“This is crazy”, I thought.
To just stop doing marketing?
But doing that—and what we did in the months that followed—ended up being the best marketing decision we’ve ever made.
What Happened In April 2013
We were trying to do content marketing at the time.
But frankly, it wasn’t working.
We threw together some list posts around a few different themes, built a cheap Tumblr blog, and put them out into the world.
We waited, and waited, and waited…but the payoff we dreamed of never came.
Instead, our traffic didn’t budge:
It just seemed so easy on the surface.
How could HubSpot, Copyblogger, Unbounce and the rest of the content marketing “winners” get real growth from content, while we did—what we thought was—the same thing and got nothing?
We decided that to learn how the top content marketers were succeeding, we’d go straight to the source: the marketers themselves.
We spent the next several weeks talking to experts, reading articles and studying everything we could find about what the winners were doing in content marketing.
It quickly became clear that we needed to do things differently.
But we couldn’t keep up with a weekly publishing schedule and devote ourselves to re-imagining the entire brand of our blog, and we already knew that the blog we’d end up with after this process would look very different than what we had at the time.
And so, we did one of the scariest things imaginable for a startup about to run out of money: we stopped everything, and we went into a hole to regroup.
We stopped blogging for 3 months, and when we returned, the blog you’re reading today was born.
What Happened In Those 3 Months
We decided to rebuild our content marketing strategy from the ground up with an eye towards what could actually help our market, rather than what we thought might look nice on a blog.
We spent the first few weeks doing very little other than research; trying to learn as much as we could about the challenges our audience was facing in their businesses. And then we debated, at times in very heated exchanges, how we could actually turn our learnings into a successful content marketing brand.
Those debates slowly began to shape into a plan, and two months later, our blog, “A SaaS Startup’s Journey to $100,000 in Monthly Revenue,” finally launched.
And right away, things were different.
Within 24 hours, the blog had 1,000 email subscribers. Within a month, we had 5,000.
People were engaging with our content. They were commenting and sharing at a level we’d never seen before.
We finally had the early traction that we ached to see—but never got—with our earlier efforts.
And most importantly, after a little while, people begin to sign up to use Groove. People were reading our content, and then paying us money for our product, just like those other content marketers we looked up to.
It was an important early lesson: when you see somebody doing something that’s working really well for them, it’s not because they’re half-assing it. It’s because they’re working hard—and likely in a far more sophisticated manner than it may appear on the surface—to achieve that success.
What This Blog Has Meant to Our Business
In the last few years, millions of people have read our content, and that number is growing quickly, with nearly 250,000 visitors each month.
Content is the only marketing channel we’ve invested in, and over time, it has helped us grow to $500,000+ in monthly revenue.
We’ve done that by helping as many people as we possibly can get through the same problems that we’ve struggled with.
We’ve built relationships with amazing entrepreneurs who have helped us grow our business.
We’ve been written about and featured in hundreds of articles, blog posts, and case studies.
People who have never used our product in their lives love our content so much that they recommend Groove to their friends.
And most importantly, in a world where almost every product is a commodity and can be copied quickly and cheaply, we’ve built a brand—and a level of trust—that nobody can rip off.
But it’s time to take a break.
Why I’m Taking A Break From Blogging About Our Startup Journey
When you’re just getting your startup off the ground it’s all about hustling.
About trying as much as you can, throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks so you can build some early traction.
You do a lot of things that don’t work. And in the name of learning and, frankly, staying alive, you do a lot of things that don’t scale.
That was the stage we were in when we launched our Startup Journey blog. We were “the company that’s sharing everything on it’s journey to $100K in monthly revenue”.
The story was powerful because it was relatable to new startups and the transparency with which we shared that journey struck a chord.
And when we eventually hit the $100,000 milestone, we had to rethink the story.
We decided to simply move the goal post, and changed the blog’s title to Our Journey To $500,000 in Monthly Revenue.
But soon, we hit that.
And today, we’re chasing a number that seemed unthinkable when we first launched the blog: $10 million in annual revenue.
The problem, though, is that the approach readers have come to expect—new stories published weekly about the wins and fails we’re going through—doesn’t scale.
We’re not making big new bets every single week like we used to. We’re focused on scaling many of our existing processes, and most weeks, we simply don’t have an update to report that would be interesting to anyone outside of the company. Those kind of insights come less frequently—more like monthly—these days.
Still, we’ve kept up our commitment to the publishing schedule. And to be completely honest, the quality of the content has suffered for it.
The articles we’ve published recently haven’t met the high standard we set before, and that’s not acceptable.
The time has come, once again, for us to rethink how we approach content…
And so that’s what we’re going to do.
Here’s What’s Happening
For the next couple of months, I’m taking a break from blogging.
This only affects our Startup Journey Blog. Our customer support blog isn’t going anywhere. It’s still going to be a killer weekly resource for customer service tips for businesses of all sizes.
We’ll be re-imagining this blog and building something bigger, better and even more useful than what we have today.
We’ll be recommitting to transparency by digging deep into the new challenges we’re dealing with now while being as actionable as possible.
And while we’ll share our learnings that can help startups at any stage, we’ll work to reach an entirely new audience of larger startups in the same growth stage as we are.
Our goal with the Journey Blog has been to build the resource that we wished existed when we first started.
And as far as that goal goes, I’m proud to say that we’ve been successful.
That success has, however, created an interesting challenge: we’ve published over 200 posts, and our growing library of content has become harder for readers to navigate.
And so, we’ll also be working on re-organizing our older content to make it more accessible and valuable to those who need it most.
You’ll still be able to access all of our Startup Journey content right here. We just won’t be publishing anything new until we relaunch the blog early next year.
Until then, thank you for reading, sharing, commenting and helping us share our journey with you.
It means the world to me that you’ve found our work worthy of your time and attention, and I’m grateful to every reader who has dropped by the blog over the last four years to see what we’re up to and engage with us. Your support is the biggest reason that we’re committing to building a better blog for you.
Finally, I have just one favor to ask.
If this blog has been at all valuable to you over the last five years, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to answer this question: what’s one growing pain you’ve had to overcome in your business?