I read Hacker News pretty regularly, and there is no shortage of interesting startup announcements there.  There is one thing that really rubs me wrong about many of these announcements.  It is appropriate for your startup to have a blog.  And when you make the public announcement about your product, whether it's your initial launch, or you're coming out of beta, or you just got your first round of funding, or you sold yourself to Oracle...  You have a perfect venue for writing about how your company is moving into the future.  The blog is the correct place for this.  But.  You must do two very important things on your blog that you are not doing.

Provide the easiest link possible directly to your product.

For 99.9% of the people posting about their company, the blog itself is not the product.  The product lives somewhere else.  If you have the greatest product ever and if after reading only a hint of what it does, sure, people will try to figure out where your product is.  But if you're only catching their eye for the first time - like via a venue like Hacker News - then you might need to offer a little more to sell them.  You can do this by linking to your product prominently.  I can't tell you how many times I've read a blog post about a potentially cool PaaS or SaaS and looked around the post for a link to the product and I couldn't find that link.  Sometimes, I just give up, and I never see your product, I don't write about it or even think about it again, apart from maybe to say, "You know, people should really link to their products directly." I don't understand why companies fail this very, very simple online marketing task.  In case it wasn't clear: The big logo-y thing at the top of your blog page?  Yes, the one that currently links to your blog?  Right, that one.  It shouldn't link to your damned blog! Link it to your product's home page instead.  Provide a secondary link (maybe in some menu navigation?) that lists your blog.  If you're using software like WordPress or PHPBB (What that hell were you thinking?), it doesn't do this by default.  Hire someone to spend the 5 minutes it'll take to change this! 

Tell me what your product does on every blog page

This is a danger that you just can't afford.  I came to your blog post from a news site.  I've never heard of you before, so this is my first impression of your company.  The post you wrote is about some crazy event in your company or crazy technology you used.  You make an assumption that I already know what your company does; what your products are.  Guess what?  I don't!

Remedy your error by putting a brief description in a prominent place on your blog page.  Not necessarily at the top of every post, but maybe at the top of the sidebar.  Make it your elevator pitch -- I don't need to know every last detail.  And at the bottom, include a link that says "learn more" and point it at your product's home page.  Seriously, follow these two steps and you'll be doing better than half of all the posts I see come across Hacker News daily.  You'd think these smart folks would think about these things, but man...  And sure, I'm not perfect in this regard either, but I'm not selling a product here.  You might want to take a look at Habari though, which is an Apache-Licensed alternative to WordPress that some former WP devs and I have been toiling on for quite a while.


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