I started writing a collection of articles featuring the stories behind how startups acquired their first users about a month ago. While the research got tiresome at times, I enjoyed finding out about some of the lesser-known strategies that they used- such as Airbnb’s spamming of Craigslist. Discovering a clever method like that is a lot of fun, and writing about it ensures that I have a good resource to refer back to in the future.
The reception was overwhelmingly positive. I think that the thread got to over 200 upvotes in an hour. At the time of writing, it’s at 1150. With the average amount of upvotes on the subreddit being around 20 per post, that’s pretty good. Over 100 comments too. While I put a lot of work into both the post and write-ups, I didn’t imagine that they would get that popular. Somebody actually sent me a private message, asking:
“Just had to ask a question – what’s in it for you to write all that and share it with us? Most people are trying to get people to their site, get email subscriptions, or something.”
Maybe a part of the reason that the post got so popular is that I wasn’t trying to advertise anything. In the end, I think that the positive replies (and Reddit gold!) have been totally worth it.
The real question is, where do I go from here?
One choice would be to settle for having created a resource that helped people for the time that it was on the front page of the subreddit. However, replies such as these are making me think that this might not be the best course of action:
And a lot more people asking for more content. People seem to really like these posts, and I enjoy writing them. Thanks for all the responses by the way!
Another option would be to continue posting them on here. The problem with that is that I intended this to be a personal blog. While I’ll be writing about startups almost exclusively here, I wouldn’t be free to segment into other aspects (design, what current startups could do better, etc) if I built a following of people who want inspirational stories about startups.
That brings us to the third option: setting up a website that features these stories. I always love new projects, so that sounds tempting. But before jumping in, I should probably take some time and think about whether now is the best time to start something big like that. I’d write about two articles a week, each one taking from 2 – 10 hours, depending on how much research needs to be done. I’d also need to spend a lot of time preparing for the launch and marketing. If I did this, I’d want to reach a lot of people. On top of that, I would want to design a professional-looking website. The whole minimal thing is ok when it comes to this blog, but it wouldn’t really suit a resource-style website about startups.
How I would go about starting the new website?
So assuming I decide to go for it, how do I get started? If I were to dedicate a lot of time to this, it would either have to reach a lot of people or make money. Making money isn’t really something blogs are apt for (from what I hear), and I wouldn’t want to advertise Viagra on the sidebar, so that’s out. The goal then would be to build a wide audience. Some thoughts on how that could be done:
- Write good content. No getting around this. I had around four extra write-ups for the Reddit post, but decided not to include them because they weren’t up to par. I wouldn’t want to release bad content, especially if I have people looking forward to the weekly articles.
- A few weeks to a month before launching, set up a landing page to collect emails. To give people an idea of what kind of content the website will have, I could include a preview of upcoming content (featuring summaries of some interesting marketing lessons), followed by a “get notified when these articles are available for reading!” I think the conversion on this would be much better than a typical signup page.
- Make a list of blogs in the startup/entrepreneur niche and ask them for a guest blogging opportunity. Publish a “here’s what these 3 startups did to gain traction” kind of post, with a link to the landing page at the end. If the guest post is as well-received as the Reddit post was, whatever website I was guest blogging on would probably allow that kind of link? I see a lot of guest bloggers doing it at least. I could also mention how well received the original post was if they aren’t sure whether or not they want to give me a chance to write for them.
- Let everybody who liked the Reddit post know that I’ll be launching a website with a lot more of the write-ups. Although, this brings up an interesting point. I also want to keep posting these on /r/Entrepreneur. Perhaps I could post a collection of the best 3-4 lessons at the end of each month, in a similar format as the original post.
- Similar to the previous idea, I could post a collection of 2 – 4 stories/strategies on /r/Entreprenur every few weeks. At the end of each post, I could link to the signup page. After all, people were asking where they can sign up for more posts in the last thread. I think that if I did this for a few months before launching the website, the initial reader base would be quite substantial.
It would certainly be an interesting project. I think I’ll start looking into it. Does anybody have ideas for names?