“Software built on pride and love of the subject is superior to software built for profit.”
- Ravi Simhambhatla
There are over 80 million repos on Github, open stack has over 49 teams working on 1,525 project repos. Every Open Source project is trying to capture the attention and resources of the developer community in a crowded and attention-deficit world.
To rise above the noise, You need to be able to communicate what your project is doing, attract independent contributors and companies that offer material support. In Open Source, you’re selling ideas not stuff and you need users and contributors to spend their time and attention on your projects.
“In Open Source, marketing is about getting people to exchange their time & attention for your ideas.”
- Deirdre Straughan, AWS, Open Source lead.
Conventional marketing tactics, slick ads, videos and other materials don’t have the same impact when it comes to the Open Source community. Authenticity, transparency, and a real solution to a real problem carry more weight in the community.
“Everything that touches your customer, everything! Is marketing.”
So where do you begin? How can a small crew leverage content marketing around Open Source projects to grow a community in the early days? The steps are pretty straightforward, as with most things execution is the key differentiator.
Open source doesn’t have as great a set of training manuals and resources as the paid-and-packaged stuff. The OSS documentation is the SALES PITCH. It’s what will convince the engineers, at first glance that your project is worth contributing to and what will convince users of its advantages.
The documentation needs to convey
- How to install the library.
- The background behind the project.
- Code examples.
- Deep dive into underlying software logic.
- Effective benchmarking versus nearest neighbor libraries.
Product visualizations/ Walkthroughs in the forms of videos and .gifs with appropriate feature shout-outs, and accompanying use case descriptions can be an effective way to get the user's buy-in.
- Emphasis on reliability, access, and ease of use.
- Guides the eyes to moot points along with the landing page.
A chart/ table capturing the pros and cons of the OSS software in comparison with other players OSS and proprietary is invaluable to a developer's decision-making. A full picture on the product stack with features and its advantages.
Content beyond the product capabilities, useful for the ideal user profile in the form of Tips, insights, case studies, podcasts and webinars can further drive resonance and inclination to spend more time on the website...which in turn correlates to product adoption and product evangelism.
Now that you have your levers in place let's look at breaking down the different components of an effective OSS content strategy-
Building your content strategy.
- Education & Support Category
- Product Showcase
This is the most crucial aspect of the effectiveness of any OSS content strategy. There is a list of hygiene requirements here that is an absolute must. Which includes User guides, architecture guides, Online courses, documentation, and engineering blogs.
A key thing to note here is although a lot of OSS platforms make this available, the real challenge here is the seamless accessibility and user-friendliness of the content. The ‘Nudge content’ around case studies, user stories, podcasts, Industry reports, comparison charts, and webinars also come within this segment.
The most underutilized segment within OSS content is the proper visualization of the product and highlighting all its unique features, UI, and maneuverability. This can include product demos, product screenshots, product .gifs, etc
Community, user, and Industry validation is a crucial aspect of building trust and confidence in the user.
After putting together a content strategy, use content tools to execute and A/B test different content for the cohorts you're reaching out to.
Hemingway app (Text) - For Written content, it helps review your blog post and highlights readability aspects that can be useful in making your blog post or content more accessible.
Canva (Image & Video)- One of the easiest design platforms out there, making designing posts videos for quick content creation seamless.
Placeit(Image & Video) - Create logos, freebies and other content on the go from a large repository of mockups.
Nimbus Screenshot and Screen Video Recording Chrome Extension - A useful tool while you’re making ‘How-to’ and ‘DIY’ or ‘Product walkthroughs’ videos to helps users understand how to navigate your product.
Unsplash - Find usable images for your content. A great repository that's a good alternative to Shutterstock.
Picktochart - Data visualizations are always helpful when you're trying to communicate certain aspects of product usage in relation to something else.
Audacity- Podcasting tool, is an easy-to-use multitrack audio recording and editing platform that can help you get started on your first podcast.
Streamyard - A great tool for webinars and hosting live sessions that helps you to go live across Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
Carbon - Carbon is the easiest way to create and share beautiful images of your source code.
CodeImg -Create and share beautiful images of your source code.
Beefree - BEE is an email editor to build beautiful, responsive emails quickly and easily. Use it online or embed it into your application.
Tweetdeck - Schedule your content on Twitter, engage your twitter profile, messages and trends through a comprehensive dashboard.
Buzzsumo- A cloud-based platform that helps you discover new keywords, trending stories, customer questions, and content success.
Semrush– Keyword Research, SEO, PPC, SMM, PR, Content Marketing, Competitive Research, Campaign Management, Semrush is an all-in-one for improve visibility and discovered marketing insight.
Ahrefs– Ahrefs is one of the largest database for live link because it is know for its backlink checker. it helps for understanding your website so you can optimize your website for search engine.
Ubersuggest– Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool that can be used to analyze search engine optimization. Its current version is provided by Neil Patel, a well-known SEO expert from around the world.
These are a few tools to help you get started, Open Source deserves amazing content on par with it's pro-profit and SaaS equivalents.
Open source to us is the right way to build the future of the web- Transparent and empowering smaller groups of developers rather than large monolithic cooperations.
We've been building tools to help Open source projects create and manage their content, community, and code.
Check out Aviyel and sign up for early access.
We'd love to hear from you and work towards making Open Source sustainable.
May the FOSS be with you! :)