Atlanta Tech Blogs was never intended to be a business.
It was a side project, a way to stay in the game, a tool, a digital publication that might be helpful to a few people, including me. But then it got me a couple of paying clients. Then a few more. It has turned into a business. Along the way, as I began to flex my content marketing muscle (a muscle I did not know I actually had), I started to realize that I really enjoyed telling the stories of local startups. I also came to the conclusion that every startup has a unique and compelling story, even if that startup never actually becomes a real repeatable profitable business. Unfortunately, most founders and early execs don’t have the time, bandwidth, resources, knowledge, ability, or desire to tell the story of their startup consistently and repetitively.
But I do. And I enjoy doing it. And my clients, while still startups, have enough traction and budget to pay a fair price to create the content that drives their inbound marketing efforts. Atlanta Tech Blogs has become a content creation, content marketing, and content strategy business.
Is there more to it?
During this time of transitioning from project to business, I got a Twitter DM from Brett Hagler, one of the founders of New Story, the Atlanta startup now backed by YCombinator. He was as giddy as a school girl as he told me that fantastic news. That conversation left me elated for Brett and his team and the future of New Story. It also left me wondering what I can do with my gifts and talents that could help those who need help.
But that’s kind of broad: help those who need help. Doesn’t really meet any criteria or provide for any sort of focus. But I kept that conversation going in my mind, reminding myself of New Story, and then Tom’s Shoes came to mind. You buy a pair of shoes, and a really poor kid gets a free pair of shoes. Brilliant. Giving is built into the business model. Now they’ve expanded way beyond giving shoes, proving that their model works.
Who needs this kind of help?
I didn’t see how such a model would apply to Atlanta Tech Blogs. Clarity came when I realized Tom’s was giving away the core product that it creates: shoes. OK, so what’s my core product? Content. Telling your story, day by day, as it unfolds. But how can I give that away? Isn’t that just called “blogging”? OK, more thought: whose story needs to be told? Who is not able to tell their story?
Well, there’s startups. But they can tell their own stories, or at least they should. Most just choose not to, despite Mark Suster’s consistent advice to startups. No, there’s another group that needs to tell its stories, but struggles to get the work done that they are called to do every day: nonprofits.
Who, and what, but how?
Knowing what I can do and for whom I can do it is a good start, but what would that look like? I reached out to Jeff Hilimire, who runs Advice for Good, and told him I needed some of that Advice for Good and shared my initial idea of writing one blog post for a nonprofit for every client blog post we write. Instead, Jeff suggested picking one nonprofit that fit with my core values, and blogging for them pro bono.
I dug around my network, and learned that two friends who go to my church are on the board of a very well established nonprofit here in Atlanta. It turns out I used to do some volunteer work for them a few years back, so I was already familiar with their work. I reached out to one of those friends, Mark Newton, who runs irunurun in Atlanta Tech Village, and he quickly introduced me to Jim Reese, the CEO of Atlanta Mission.
Mark, Jim, and I met at ATV a few days later. Unbeknownst to me, Mark had not told Jim anything about what I had in mind. “I wanted him to hear it from you,” Mark later told me. So Jim was coming in blind, with no idea what I was all about or what I wanted to do.
A Good Match
I gave Jim a quick backgrounder on who I am and what I’ve done, and then told him about Atlanta Tech Blogs becoming a content marketing firm, and what I wanted to do: “I want to tell the stories behind Atlanta Mission.”
Jim wept. I’m not kidding. He cried. He explained his emotion: “I’ve been struggling to figure out how we can tell the hundreds of stories of lives being saved, having friends…having hope again.”
It was a very good start.
What It Means
For every employee at Atlanta Tech Blogs, we will adopt one nonprofit and tell that organization’s stories, once a week, for as long as it takes. Our goal is to thoroughly make known that nonprofit’s mission, team, goals, needs, and amazing stories of lives saved.
To this end, you’ll notice a few minor changes that we’ve made to the Atlanta Tech Blogs web site recently. One of those changes is what looks like a Google banner ad below the new menu bar. That’s not an ad. Well, actually it is an ad, but it’s not a Google ad. It’s the poster for each week’s Atlanta Mission story. Each week, that story will be refreshed, as we tell the tales of lives saved, lives changed, people going from being called “homeless” to being called “friend” and “brother.” We’ll dig deep into the staff, donors, leadership, and volunteers that make Atlanta Mission tick, because they’ve seen the stories of lives changed…and lives lost.
Right now, I’m a one-man show. It’s just me, so that “for every employee” mantra has just a small meaning today. But we get new clients every week, and, at some point in the near future, I won’t be able to handle the volume of work, so I’ll bring on an employee. That employee will adopt a nonprofit, and we will tell their stories.
These nonprofits are the ones whose stories need to be told, and we can and will help them do just that.
You Can Help, Too
I’ll make it really easy. Just share these stories from Atlanta Mission with your social networks. That’s it. A click of the mouse, and you’ll be spreading the word about how Atlanta Mission is ending homelessness. You can start by clicking the box just below here, and sharing the first of many stories to come.
This new direction for Atlanta Tech Blogs is going to be a great adventure, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.