You may have noticed that we’ve started posting to the blog. A lot. We used to post, oh, a few times a year. We pretty much only posted about new features and how to use Workflowy. But now, we’re posting a few times a week, and often the posts aren’t about the product at all, but about topics that are adjacent to the product. Topical, but not about Workflowy.
This may annoy you. If it does, I’m sorry. I want to explain what we’re doing and why.
We are trying to do marketing
Workflowy has never marketed itself. We’ve reached a whole lot of people only through word of mouth. This is amazing. But also, I want to do more, to try to reach more people. I want to build something that touches lots of lives, and furthermore, I want the resources to build the product I envision. So, we need to try a little harder to reach people and get them interested in what we’re doing.
Blogging is one well established way of reaching more people. However, the audience for these particular posts is not necessarily our current customers, but potential future customers. There are a few common approaches to reaching new people through blogging, here’s the approach we’re following:
- Figure out what people are Googling that relates to your product
- Write articles about that
- Google starts to notice your articles, and starts sending people your way
- You have a new stream of people to expose your product to
So that’s what we’re doing, and we understand why this might feel a bit different. It’s one of many things we’ll try. Will it work? I hope so.
Is this good for Workflowy?
The Workflowy brand is about minimalism and quality. We have been very quiet for a very long time, and still done well. It’s possible that we will alienate some of you by writing about stuff other than ourselves. I hope this doesn’t happen, and I hope the articles we write are actually interesting. But we’ve already gotten enough feedback to tell that people are confused about what’s going on with the blog, and I hope explaining it will help.
What if you only want to engage on product stuff?
In addition to doing better on marketing, I intend to be much more public about what we’re working on related to the product. In fact, for people who want to be deeply involved in product, I’m planning to create a newsletter where we expose early ideas for feedback, ask people to submit their own ideas, have folks vote on stuff, and generally try to engage the community as we work.
Let us know what you think
Do you hate us now? Do you, in fact, like the new posts? Do you begrudgingly accept the situation? I want to know. I need to know.
I’ve found workflowy only aview days ago by accident as well as your blog. I like the different topics and how you show, how you can use different Systems in workflowy.
Last year I got myself a Tablet because I want to do some digital planning, since then I’ve been searching for an application where my productivity can thrive.
I think I’ve found it. Time will tell.
For me, the calendar function could use some improvements.
I started using Workflowy recently: your vision and the resulting product are absolutely great. I actually enjoy the articles already posted on your blog, even the ones that may not be directly linked to the product. If you need to diversify the blog a bit so you attract more users, ultimately allowing you to improve Workflowy, then you should absolutely do it. Do your Marketing, grow your business: we trust you. You will always have some people complaining about the blog content, the topics selected etc. But they will move on at some point. Just do what you believe is good for your vision, your product – I am sure it will all positively impact Workflowy and your user community 👍🏻
I would love it if there were separate sections of the blog so people can filter between feature updates, productivity ideas, etc
It is all about capacity. If you do these posts, how much capacity do you have to focus on working and improving the product? For example, would it be possible to instead work on the calendar feature (Monday is the only correct start of the week! 🙂 or add international shortcuts etc)? In regard to blogposts I very much would prefer something like the Roam Newsletter (albeit with less cult-like language). I have subscribed to this feed to learn more about Workflowy and how other people are using it – not about the productivity.
I’ve used workflowy on and off over the last ten years and now I am back to using it once again. I agree with those who are starving for use-case information. I actually signed up for this blog hoping for such information. The simplicity is certainly a selling point, but of greater importance for me is how well it can’t help capture a great deal of complexity with little overhead. A simple search of single term with your Workflowy document can produce an amazing visual display at little or no cost. Use case secenarios would also help sell the product. Have someone with a journalistic background conduct interviews of people using Workflowy doing X, Y, or Z. I am certain people would enjoy discussing their journey. People like to read narratives.
I kind of understand what you mean. I’ve been looking through Youtube to find more user but there aren’t many who use it. And most videos are about the basics. Things I already know.
As for me, I use a template inside a template inside a Template, it works well. The mirror function is awesome but I could use more ideas when, where and how you could use it.
I don’t find it wird at all.
If you doing it for marketing … hm, I hope it will be more as a slow interview – you find out different topics(Qs) and the posts(As) will feed us with more of Workflowy philosophy and better understanding of ourselfs. So, I am not interested of the new purpose of this blog hence I am aiming for a meaningfull and sincere Q&A. Thank you!
Yeah, it’s great that you’re so transparent. But I subscribe to this newsletter (one of, maybe 3 newsletters I subscribe to) because I love Workflowy and want to learn more about the product. There is a ton of writing on Effective Brainstorming and Distance Learning and Multitasking. With all due respect, you don’t have anything new to say about these topics. These are well-worn roads you’re traveling on. Please stick to Workflowy.
I already use and love workflowy, as do many here, so I think as admitted in this post, we’re not the intended audience. The real people to ask I guess would be those that are new?
Jesse, your personal touch and willingness to listen to your customers is so refreshing, especially compared to some other companies roaming around on the twitter-verse. E.g., CW is just a plain jerk to others, and has admitted he doesn’t care since it means their not the target audience…not great marketing in my opinion.
Keep it up! I’m rooting for your Workflowy!
I love the fact that you explain what you are trying to do with the blog. I so love the idea of a product-oriented newsletter for those interested!!
Keep up the wonderful work!
I’ve been using WorkFlowy for years and have always wished there were more blog posts, more from WorkFlowy, etc. So these new posts are precisely what I want. I believe the posts will help inspire current users as well as bring in the new. Good luck to you!!!
Echoing what has been mentioned already by a couple of commenters, connecting these topics to Workflowy would be of interest to many current users and be more likely to attract new users, IMHO.
If the blogger doesn’t have much to share that would connect a particular topic to Workflowy, they could ask for input from the readers. (The earlier in the blog article the better.) “Hey, Workflowy users, do any of you use Workflowy during brainstorming sessions, and if so, how?” This is certainly similar to the Template Contests you’re already doing, but it might be more suitable for broader topics where a template might be harder to define.
I guess this is “careful what you wish for” as I encouraged you early on to do more blogging. I should have qualified “… about Workflowy and USING Workflowy”. I don’t care for, or read, the recent generic posts. To be brutally honest, they read like someone with a quota to fill on a schedule with vague relevance to productivity. I’ll be changing my RSS feed per your suggestion.
You could do a lot better to have a writer collect stories about how individual Workflowy users are applying Workflowy to, say, the GTD methodology. THAT I would read EAGERLY. I don’t think you’re going to get more users coming in with bland, generic articles. I think you need to focus on what makes Workflowy unique, and the myriad ways to use it.
Yesterday’s blog on brainstorming is, indirectly, an interesting testament in SUPPORT of a more diverse blog. Almost by definition, WF users are thinking lot, and probably use WF to help them martial their thoughts. So a blog that offers a more varied “buffet” of topics can help with coming up with new thoughts. I’ve certainly found when relaxed and reading something off-piste from my “day job” that a germ of an idea pops into my head. Sometimes it’s as benign as reminding me of someone. But every once in a while it’s the start of something creative and more enduring.
This is great. Experiments and tests is what marketing is. Add the honesty in the mix and we have something that is genuine but looks like marketing. Way to go, Jesse.
I was pleased to see more frequent posts and the short but sweet coverage of the topics so far has been enjoyable (I don’t think I would bother with longer posts). The flip side of that is that the posts have seemed pretty generic and surface level, I haven’t really seen anything different, just a reminder of various topics. (though I suppose that can come down to ‘how much has your audience read about productivity’)
The thing that I would love to see more of is how to leverage Workflowy in regards to these topics. I really liked the bullet journal post because it had that component (and the template contests!). I love seeing how other people use Workflowy and to get ideas on what I could incorporate into my own flow. I think seeing such examples years ago really ‘unlocked’ the power of Workflowy for me. Granted, I’m a Workflowy superfan which is obviously very different from someone who isn’t a user at all and would interpret it as a transparent attempt to sell a product. So I can see both sides a bit.
I love that you’re intentionally growing, but … I worry that your new content feels just like all the other content out there that I don’t read because I’ve read it all before.
Truthfully, I think your approach dilutes your brand … because it makes you look like everyone else.
There’s something special about you, your team, and your product … and that’s not coming through – even though the new stuff is very well written.
It’s bothered me enough that I tried to track you done @jesse and send you this exact message but in private. I’m glad you asked – that was really good marketing!
Oh hey, I just finished Rolling Rocks Downhill a week ago – was not expecting to see its author in the comments on my new favorite app. Thanks for helping a new Project Manager with your book!
Agreed on the blog content too. I’ll probably still read it, but it’s very low priority, especially if writing them takes resources away from building cool features like Mirrored Bullets and Fractal Boards. Checking with the community on features/ideas is great, but “focus your productivity with 1 WEIRD trick” posts are a dime a dozen.
Love it! I noticed the increase in posts right away and it got me excited to see WorkFlowy taking a more active role in this space. Enjoying the posts about how others are using WorkFlowy. Find the other articles interesting and think to myself how I could adapt my WorkFlowy setup to take advantage of some of these great ideas.
Love what you and the team are building, keep up the good work and it’s exciting to watch it grow!
I do admit that I had been finding the blog posts kind of weird. Not as in a bad thing, just weird. When I saw this post on twitter I was like “hmm interesting, let’s see what they have to say”.
Totally worth it. The mix of absolute honesty and humor was great. I don’t have much of an opinion about the other blog posts as I didn’t actually read them, but if they have this tone I might give them a chance. Keep up the good work. 😀
Is there a stand-alone RSS feed we can follow that will just be announcements/updates?
You can add `/feed/` to any category page on the blog. So, feature announcements: https://blog.workflowy.com/category/feature-announcement/feed/
Is there a way to see the list of categories? Only place I could see the category was on a specific post.
Thanks for this. I’m a long-time customer so these generic marketing posts don’t do much for me, but I am eager to hear about feature updates and beta testing them where possible.
The way you all so honestly came out and said this and asked for opinions is a wonderful piece of marketing.
The other posts, not so much. I mean look at the sum total of how much goddamn shit humanity has written about productivity. We don’t need anymore. Really, it’s just too much. It makes me want to yeet myself off a bridge. I saw the call to action “Overwhelmed?” right below a blog post that makes me feel more overwhelmed and the cognitive dissonance destroyed the 2 brain cells I had left.
The more that’s said about it, the less is known because every possible opinion and it’s opposite have been stated. The more that’s written, the more FOMO I have about missing that one trick™ that will make me a 1000000x engineer and cure cancer.
What i want is LESS content, more conviction and consistency in a particular vision. Like you know how leaders sometimes say their job is to repeat the same 5 things over and over again? I’d want to see something along those lines maybe. If I could just apply everything written in the GTD book consistently as my entire worldview shifts every 3 tweets, I would be saner and more productive.
I hope these demented ramblings are helpful, or entertaining at least.
We are in a prisoners dilemma situation where every company is eventually forced to do things like this for the sake of growth, even as it hurts the common pool of knowledge. If the ideal way to help customers was one solid, relatively slow changing wiki, it would not be enough because new content = better SEO.
I think much bigger changes are coming – e.g announcements at Davos about stakeholder capitalism (https://www.investopedia.com/stakeholder-capitalism-4774323).
” Capitalism, as we know, it is dead. We’re going to see a new kind of capitalism—and it won’t be the Milton Friedman capitalism, that is just about making money. The new capitalism is that businesses are here to serve their shareholders, but also their stakeholders — employees, customers, public schools, homeless and the planet.” — Marc Benioff, Chair and co-CEO of Salesforce
I don’t know what it will look like yet but i feel more content is the wrong direction. Thanks.
Haha, yeah. They’re good comments 😄.
I like what you said about actually helping you be more productive rather than giving you FOMO. One of my main realizations recently has been that tools are not enough, we need process. And for most of us, following process only happens with external structure and social pressure.
So, forcing you to follow your GTD flow, and giving you an amazing tool to do it in, is exactly what I’m interested in. And if we’re able to take people from “I’m overwhelmed and organized” to “I’m calm, focused and enjoying myself as I do good work” we will be able to grow well.
At the same time, I’m curious about all this marketing stuff that I’ve never done before. And I’m curious to see where it goes. I think Rodolfo, who is running this stuff, is doing a good job and want to let him work and see where it goes.