Business Blogger Spotlight: Jeremy Hurst, Slightly Different

Jeremy Hurst - OfficeJeremy Hurst is the Executive Director at Slightly Different. In this week’s Business Blogger Spotlight, he tells us what it’s like to write about business and technology for the Slightly Different blog (when he’s not hanging out with Brad Pitt, that is).

Describe your blog in one sentence.
A Slightly Different blog of social and business comment, with a strong focus on things that we find interesting related to technology and the Internet, stuff that we think is amusing, articles about things that we like, and the occasional plug for Slightly Different just in case someone might want to commission us to do some work!

How long have you had your blog?
Probably around 5 years in its current form.

What made you decide to start writing a blog?
We felt that as an Internet development agency we should practice what we preached to our clients and we have used the blog for all sorts of purposes, including search engine optimisation, profile raising, or just saying a public hello to a new member of the Slightly Different team.  It’s also a good way to add lots of content to our website so that we come up in search for a variety of weird and wonderful phrases.

What was your most popular blog piece?
I wrote an article recently about the pace of change in technology and gave the UK Government’s Business In You campaign a plug.  The Department for Business Innovation and Skills shared the link on their own website, and then they pushed it out in the Business In You newsletter which really boosted our traffic.

What was your most memorable comment or share?
We had some interesting feedback about our article related to turning KitKats into chocolate drinking straws, and I know there’s a few people out there who are watching our 2012 world event predictions quite closely as we’ve managed to get a few things right.  Hopefully I won’t have the men in black coming through my windows any time soon though!

What are the biggest challenges in writing your blog?
Finding the time to write something is probably the toughest challenge.  I suppose deciding on a topic is also tough as the Internet is such a broad subject, but there are always interesting things happening in the online world and something catches my eye pretty much every day.  Most of this gets mentioned on my Twitter account @sdcomms, but a few deserve more detailed commentary and that’s what makes the Internet such a great topic to write a blog about.

How do you promote your blog?
Through speaking to people like yourself!  We also push the content out to various other sites as appropriate, use LinkedIn quite heavily in relevant areas, and through social media.  We don’t do a ‘one size fits all’ promotion as so many others do, because of the diversity of the subject matter on our blog, so we do individual promotions for each article.  It’s all fairly low key, and if anyone finds something we’ve written interesting or useful and they share it, that works for me.

How much traffic does your blog generate?
It could do with more regular readers, but because we promote different articles in different places depending on the content the traffic varies from post to post.  On average we get around 5000 unique visitors per month.

What difference has your blog made to your business?
I think it shows who we are as people, and our new site coming soon will also focus much more heavily on that, with far more integration of our blog into the main site which I suppose demonstrates its importance to us.  People like doing business with people they can associate with,  who they like and respect and the blog allows us to talk about ourselves in a human way.

Which software do you use for your blog and what do you think of it?
We use WordPress. It’s easy to use without a computer science degree, and I’d recommend it to anyone.  It’s also eminently customisable.

What advice would you give to businesses that are thinking of setting up a blog?
Just do it.  There’s loads of stuff to talk about and if you can dedicate a particular block of time to writing then you’ll soon have a well-populated blog that almost takes on an identity of its own.  I wouldn’t say ours is there yet, but it is interesting for me to go back in time and read some of the posts from 2008 for example to see how things have changed.  There’s no need to make it too complicated or too clever, and ultimately people are only there to read the articles that you’ve written, not to see whizzy technology that really doesn’t have a purpose.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not blogging?
I make a point of reading the blue plaques in London.  Not enough people do this.  Films are also a big passion of mine, particularly those with a good story, and I take this interest to the next level through doing occasional film extra work.  Spending six days shooting with Brad Pitt was an interesting experience.