Sforce Maximizer

Buyan started the blog Sforce Maximizer in 2013 and has covered a variety of Salesforce topics for over 10 years.

How did you get started?

In 2012 I delved into the Salesforce ecosystem. My initial approach to sharing knowledge was through participating in Salesforce chat communities and answering questions. That was my go-to method until the concept of blogging caught my attention. People suggested that I start a blog, but at that point, I had little understanding of what a blog was or how to begin one.

So, the suggestion was simple: write about what you do every day. I was hesitant at first, questioning whether I was the right person to share such information. There were doubts about the relevancy and usefulness of the content I would produce. However, I decided to give it a shot and launched a blog called Salesforce Maximizer. The aim was to help organizations maximize their investments in Salesforce. For the first three months, I wrote indiscriminately about various projects. To my surprise, people started reading my blog and engaging with the content.

Fast forward a year or two, and my blog evolved from a monthly to a weekly publication. I began to write consistently and more people started to take notice. My approach was to answer common questions and then spin those answers into blog posts. The blog eventually became my personal brand. My ultimate goal is to assist admins in becoming proactive and to preemptively address issues within Salesforce.

Currently, I have around 500 subscribers to my blog. On average, my blog receives between 200 and 300 views per week. The number of new subscriber sign-ups varies, but generally falls between five to ten per week. In terms of daily traffic, I receive around 40 to 80 unique views, as verified by Google Analytics.

To clarify the timeline, I started the blog in 2013, so it’s been running for approximately 10 years now. While my aim is to maintain a weekly cadence, life sometimes intervenes. However, I make it a point to publish at least two articles every month.

Do you have anyone else helping you with the blog?

Yes, I now have several guest bloggers contributing. This shift occurred about four years ago. Initially, I was the sole author, but then I started reaching out to Salesforce admins, architects, and IT executives for interviews. Recently, professionals in marketing and operations have also started writing for the blog. If I had to estimate, over the last four years, there have been close to 50 guest posts.

What do you offer to those who write guest posts? What’s in it for them?

Initially, the contributors were primarily from the Salesforce community. They would solve a problem, discuss it in a community forum, and then I would approach them to expand their solution into a blog post. This was an easy way to involve them, as they already had content and screenshots. Gradually, Salesforce MVPs and marketing champions also began to contribute. These individuals often need to publish content as part of their roles, so contributing to my blog offers them a platform for that. Additionally, there are contributors who simply want to expand their brand. They might be seasoned admins or professionals who see value in sharing their expertise. In some cases, I assist them with the content. Currently, about 20 to 25% of the blog consists of guest posts. My aim is to increase that figure to between 30 and 50%.

Did you find any particular type of content that resonated especially well with your audience?

Initially, my content ranged from development to marketing cloud and beyond. However, I later focused on releases. Nowadays, most blogs cover new releases, but my approach is unique; I tailor my coverage to specific industries like manufacturing, marketing, and higher education. Recently, I’ve been targeting architects, as I’m an enterprise architect myself.

It’s true that release-focused content has a specific lifespan, but that ensures I write at least three blog posts a year on that topic.

If you were to ask me about my most evergreen content, it would be a post about community login user experience for developers. It was a workaround I developed for Salesforce about eight years ago, and it still garners attention. I’m not sure why it’s so popular, but it’s a very detailed, problem-solving post that has stood the test of time. It was originally published in 2014 and continues to receive significant attention to this day.

How do you get the word out about your blog and attract new users?

I employ a multi-pronged strategy for promotion. First, I have a newsletter via Mailchimp. To be completely transparent, I haven’t been consistent with it; it’s a quarterly newsletter. By that time, I usually have at least 12 new blog posts to share with my subscribers. Second, I participate in speaking engagements across various platforms and events. During these talks, I always include a link to my blog. I focus on optimizing my blog for search engine results, which helps people find specific articles. Once they’re on my site, they often explore other content and may even sign up as subscribers. Finally, each week I promote my latest blog posts on LinkedIn and Twitter, which are my primary channels for social media outreach.

What is your process for creating content?

There are two distinct processes. For my own articles, I rely heavily on Evernote where I jot down various topics. My routine involves dedicating an hour every Sunday afternoon to sift through the 90 emails I receive from Salesforce’s Trailblazer community, to which I subscribe. I look for threads of questions and answers that could make compelling blog topics. After identifying potential topics, I bookmark them and reach out to the individual who posed the question, asking for their permission to write a blog article on the subject. Once I get the green light, I already have blog articles lined up for the next three months.

For guest contributors, the process is relatively straightforward and involves two meetings. The first meeting helps finalize the topic, which has often already been discussed within the community. Contributors can either write their article in a Google Doc, which is then published under their name, or I can write the article for them. After they approve the draft, it gets published. This process typically takes four to six weeks for each article.

Has technology, like ChatGPT made the content creation process more efficient?

Initially, it took around six weeks to complete a guest article, but with ChatGPT, that’s been reduced to three to four weeks. Here’s how it works: I record our conversations on Zoom, then transcribe the audio and input it into ChatGPT. The model helps generate a draft article, which I then send to the guest for review. While I still need to spend a few hours refining the draft, the overall process has become significantly more streamlined. I’ve reduced the back-and-forth with contributors, and the content is ready much faster, usually within a week or two.

What keeps you motivated to continue your blogging journey, especially given the amount of dedication it requires?

My primary motivation is to build a community of professionals who are committed to sharing knowledge. Consulting has always been about sharing expertise and growing that shared pool of knowledge. This is what fuels me to go on, week after week.

Is there a business benefit to the blog?

Certainly, there is a business upside, and I’m completely transparent about that. In the consulting world, sharing knowledge is vital. Some consultants hesitate to share too much, fearing that if they give away all their secrets, what will clients pay them for? I take the opposite view. By sharing generously, you attract people who realize that they still need help in implementing what they’ve learned. This leads to business opportunities, and my blog has been a significant channel for lead generation for me.

How does your blog set you apart in a competitive market like Salesforce consulting?

In the Salesforce community, there are experts with 10, 15, or even 20 years of experience. They’re highly certified, just like me. So what differentiates me from them? My content is my brand. Many consultants don’t realize the power of leveraging their expertise through a content platform. It can be a differentiator, whether you’re negotiating higher pay or trying to carve out a unique space for yourself in the industry.

How do you recommend someone should start their journey in blogging, especially when there is so much content already out there?

The first piece of advice is to start somewhere, focusing on one topic. Many people may know a lot but might not have the time or interest to write it down. Starting with a monthly cadence is a good way to ease into it.

How do you select topics to write about?

The simplest way to come up with blog topics is to write about your current projects. Each project usually solves a specific problem, and that’s a perfect blog post waiting to be written. Don’t worry about whether there are already 10 other blogs about it. Your unique perspective is what counts. If you’re not sure about what to write, explore communities like the Salesforce Trailblazer Community. There you’ll find many questions that could serve as the basis for your articles. Some might already have answers, but those answers might be lacking details, providing a great opportunity for a deep-dive blog post.

Any specific advice for newcomers?

If you see a question that interests you in a community forum, reach out to the person who asked it. Get their thoughts and see if you can write a blog post expanding on the answer. It’s about proactive engagement with the community and adding value where you see gaps. This will not only help you come up with useful content but also position you as an expert in the field.

How do you generate leads through your Blog?

I typically get about three to five leads a month. The frequency can increase when I attend events and speak on specific topics. Sometimes someone will read a blog post and give me a call asking to walk them through it, which I’ll gladly do via a presentation.

Initially, I had a more overt message about offering help, but I’ve toned it down to be more subtle. I’ve received mixed feedback about this, including some annoyed emails about the pop-up CTAs. The primary focus of the blog has always been to share knowledge, which is also how I brand myself. I’ve realized that there’s room for a more straightforward approach to say, “If you need help implementing this, then contact me,” at the end of each article. I aim to strike a balance between offering help and providing value through educational content.

What’s drives you to continue your work?

My larger mission is to give back to the community. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why I chose Salesforce over Microsoft Dynamics as the CRM for my consultancy. My aim is to create a legacy that encourages people, especially consultants, to give back and make a meaningful impact. I want to offer a model for others to emulate, where giving time to others serves a greater purpose. That’s my biggest driving force. There are business benefits to what I do, the overarching goal is to contribute positively to the community. This drives me in my professional life and helps me stay consistent with my efforts.

Having a strong sense of purpose is what keeps me going. It’s not just about the business or the money; it’s about the impact that I can make on the lives of others and the community as a whole.