How have you gotten better at this? What do you recommend other developers do to successfully grow their projects?
1. Commit to spending at least 50% of your time on marketing. For every hour of coding, do an hour of marketing.
2. I used the book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth to build a marketing plan.
3. The first exercise of the book was to focus on the outcome you want (for example, I want 1000 paid subscribers by end of 2018) and then figure out how big of a funnel you need to build. That helps you be realistic about what types of marketing to do.
4. I took a Udemy class on digital marketing -- It was about 20 hours of material that was on sale for $12. I found about 1/3 of it useful.
5. I am focused on marketing ideas that are repeatable and scalable. I do a lot of work up front to setup a marketing idea, but then I can keep it going with minimal new work. For example, to do blogger outreach, I first built and tested a drip campaign in Mailchimp. Then I harvested the first 50 blogger emails myself and determined my campaign would work. After that, I outsourced the blogger email collection. Now, the free lancer collects the contact info and loads it into my drip campaign.
I've read traction as well, and am currently using the Bullseye Framework  with some success.
At the end of it, it still feels a lot like "throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks".
Personally, I don't have a lot of clarity around how to repeatable test and measure.
Also Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis (formerly Dropbox) is worth reading.
And checkout this course >> https://justinjackson.ca/marketingforproductpeople/
You must know your existing numbers before you can improve them.
Next, look into things which drive traffic (AdWords, Paid Search) or can recapture traffic (Remarketing). You should also consider a Tag Manager, such as Google Tag Manager, or Tealium.
If your traffic is high enough, you could learn how to run valid AB tests, but if your just starting out, chances are you do not have enough traffic to do this effectively.
In addition to the above, learn the vocab. Analytics, especially in a marketing context, can be very dense, and you'll need to understand the terms to get the most from other more marketing focused resources (books / forums, etc).
1. What does tag manager do that simple analytics can't?
2. What is the lowest traffic amount needed to effectively A/B test?
Generally, you need something on the order of 1,000+ conversions in the test period to have enough traffic to generate a statistically significant result. There are a lot of articles about AB Testing and you should read up on it before deciding it's for you. In addition to the traffic, you need to be able to define a non-biased test, and be able to analyze it effectively.
Marketing/selling is not a learn-by-night thing. You need to be invested completely in it to get results.
However, it is a full time job to improve in.
It's like code - many people can make a MVP, but trying to scale it needs dedication, and the great ones can do 10x the mediocre ones.
As developers, if we can learn how to market our software, we can unleash our internal value. Instead of creating value for others, we can build equity for ourselves.
Do you really think learning to market is going to be as hard as learning to code well?
What if it takes you 5 years to become a master marketer? But you are learning to market while growing your own business -- was the time well spent if your business is grossing $1M and netting $300k a year at the end of that 5 years.
I learned to program to build a product, and learning the basics of online marketing follows the same vein.
Marketing is very time intensive work. Your time is probably better spent improving features. You should be understanding marketing principles, but the grunt work should be done by someone else.
Marketers are, in general, cheaper than programmers. That doesn't mean they are worth less, just that the supply is higher and less training is needed.
Even if it's more expensive, programming is also very mentally consuming work. You don't want to be spending 4 hours programming and 4 hours marketing. It's better to spend 8 hours on one or the other.
However, don't get freelancers unless you plan on engaging them long term. Like UX designers, a good marketer needs to understand the product and user inside and out.
A few marketing companies I've talked to are either (1) we'll write a blog post for you every month for $100 or (2) pay us $60K a year and we'll take care of everything.
Neither of those sounds appealing. Working one-on-one with a competent marketer, however, sounds doable.
If the product is mature and generating income, you might be able to work out something like a 5% deal or less, with minimal payment.
But if you don't know anyone, I'd still take all the blog posters I could find. We used that as our main marketing medium because of cost effectiveness and it worked out really well for us. You might end up partnering with a blogger too, like I did.
1.) I went back to University in my late twenties and completed a degree in marketing. I was already good at building shit and long stints in sales had shown me that if a qualified person came to me, I could convert them into a paying customer. Alas, I sucked at generating leads, so I went back to school, hoping that I'd learn.
In retrospect, the business degree was mostly useless, but I picked up some good lessons. The best lesson was about measuring and reporting success. The second best lesson was that the world's most respected marketers often release dud campaigns (to start with), measure everything, and correct their course.
As part of my business degree, I took electives in social and cognitive psychology and research methods/stats.
The business degree had some unintended benefits too. For one, on average I did between 10-15 presentations a semester. Over the course of the degree, I went from hating giving presentations to absolutely loving it. Also, oddly, I wrote way more useful code over the course of finishing my business degree than I did in a computer science program. And, I founded a company right out of my program, mostly because of encouragement, advice and (crucially) introductions from professors and especially mature students in my program.
2.) I internalized a lesson from University and made a habit of releasing dud campaigns, measuring them and learning how to correct my course. This is still my secret weapon and I'm successful at it because it uses many of the same skills I use writing code.
It's odd to me that so many people treat marketing more like a liberal art/creative process when it deserves to be treated more like a scientific process.
If you start with a hypothesis "ie - people with purple hair will like my product most", run experiments to validate/invalidate that hypothesis and meticulously record the results, you will learn some very interesting things about your product and customers. You'll also likely learn that your product needs a bunch of help to appeal to enough people to make a living. And, you'll often learn that your initial hypotheses about who your customers will be are often wrong. So, fuck it, release duds, measure everything and go from there.
Feel free to email me if you'd like some examples of this. I know some people think it's a little weird to treat marketing like this, but it not only made it fun, it helped me learn and develop myself into a good marketer.
The host has some really fantastic guests and advice.
Cryptocurrencies are a great example of this. If you visit sites such as ethereum.org. You will see they share a certain design aesthetic.
If you can provide a unique service. Private blockchain development and hosting, for example. You immediately have an "in" with which to begin the conversation.
I'm in such area (ketogenic diet). However, that's not a magic bullet.
There's competition still for eyeballs. How to get some of those eyeballs on your product consistently is the question.
Were you not able to get an ROI on paid ads?
It was a good thing in the end though. We met someone who was spending huge money on marketing the same things as us, but were paying really high costs and had to really increase the prices to compensate. They acquired us, partly because of our really low, organic marketing costs.