Although it's not recurring revenue, the income from the book advance is way more than I could have ever hoped to generate by placing ads on the site.
One unorthodox way I've driven traffic to the site is by including it in an iframe at the bottom of a little Excel-to-HTML converter I whipped up a few years ago:
I use a similar technique here:
It's a service that allows you to convert ALL CAPS text to mixed case, and it includes a sidebar that promotes Correlated by pulling in the most recently published statistic.
I guess the general technique could be summed up as: Make something useful (even if it's boring), get traffic, promote something completely useless but fun, and hope that it piques their interest.
For LiberWriter, I've found that the right forums can drive a lot of traffic. Any old traffic is useless - I've got the site up on the front page of HN before, with 0 conversions. HN readers are not our target market at all. Forums also put you in contact with people to just chat about what you offer, which might give you some ideas... Don't let naysayers get you down, either. There's bound to be someone who says they would never pay for that, could build it in a weekend, or whatever: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8863
However, I'm assuming what you really want is users/conversions. In that case, you need to think about your project/site/business as a relationship between 2 parties with the internet simply being a more scalable medium for communication between you.
To get people interested in a product/service, it has to fix a pain point, be really interesting, or you have to be the best. You can "be the best" by showcasing your knowledge of the problem with blog posts, interviews, helping people out on forums, and becoming involved in communities that would be in your target demographic (forums, meet ups, irc groups, etc).
Fixing a pain point or being really interesting is a product /market fit problem so if you've shown your site/product/service to a lot of people and it's not sticking, you need to do in-person interviews to figure out what's not good enough.
In general, if you're trying to build up traffic, that's really building up a community of people (who are the source of good traffic) so you need to approach that in the same way you'd build up a community offline: be interesting, be a good community citizen, and give without asking much in return.
Memes As A Service
The example linked at the top works, but when I try to construct one, I get a "We're sorry, but something went wrong." error. For instance: http://maas.rohits.me/boromir/One%20does%20not%20simply/serv...
How much traffic does it cost? If you put ads on it to pay for the traffic, and added some usage statistics and "top N served" (by traffic and by unique referrer) to get people to browse the site directly, you could probably keep it going pretty easily. It'd be handy.
Also, have you considered directly serving the image in response to the request? That way, people could use your URLs directly in the img tags rather than the imgur URLs, which would let you get the traffic statistics for the images, and promote the use of your service.
I bet there are a lot of other up and coming products that just get drowned out/fail to get traction, yet these are the ones that are really trying to innovate.
I have been able to get very good traction with it, and my app has not been featured on any main stream tech blogs yet.
I read a lot on this topic (SEO) at the moment but never heard about your spp. So you probably should reach out to top SEO blogs and post on forums. I'm sure they will be thrilled :)
I am building more SEO tools to sell with a freemium SaaS model. The existing tools will remain free.
I have reached out to many blogs, some has written about us but many haven't. The SEO community is also spreading the word about RankSignals on SEO & webmaster forums.
Otherwise you expose your company (make sure you are incorporated!) to significant financial risk. See the discussion here, which relates to why Paypal hates conference organizers:
Unfortunately I don't think I can hold off on payment collection until after the race because organizers need the registration money to actually pay for the race facilities. Any suggestions there?
my 2 cents: I suggest you contact your local running clubs/athlete associations, and race organisers to help them out with this + remove the need to signup (give the user the option to do so during registration, but not before). This sector needs an Eventbrite for sport events. Best of luck.
Any commentary on making your SAAS with Haskell, where you thought it helped, where you thought it hurt?
Almost every successful entrepreneur recommends content marketing as an effective means of marketing so I'm planning on blogging much more often this year. Hopefully that will help too...
This leads to tons of word-of-mouth referrals, and I'll sometimes watch as an entire school comes on board, one class at a time, over the course of a few weeks.
People tend to write about this (and they like the product), so it finds its way onto the radar of companies who do Online Tutoring. We have an API they can use to create and embed our whiteboards for use as online classrooms. That's the bit that costs money. It's a tiny fraction of our userbase, but it accounts for nearly all the revenue.
Apple does a lot of my marketing for me but I also rely heavily on word of mouth. I make sure to have a screen in all my apps that allow users to tell their friends through texting and email about the app. I'm also an apple affiliate so all the traffic that goes to the app store through my site nets me another 7% of all that user's purchases during the session... it makes up for the gigantic chunk of change that Apple takes from my sales.
Recently, I've started branching out into more generic apps that are useful to a wider market, but my niche apps make way more money than the broad-audience apps.
We launched into an audience we knew well, and already worked for. The product is pitched at web designers, as a consultancy the majority of our clients were web design agencies. Our main initial tactic - and something we still do - was to write content that appealed to that audience. Not necessarily anything to do with content management, but anything that might appeal to designers and design agencies and then link back to Perch.
I've experimented quite a bit with BuySellAds (http://buysellads.com/). There are bargains to be had that convert well if you look at the smaller sites, and find those that are well matched to your audience. They might not send through huge amounts of traffic but if they are really well selected then the conversion rate can be better than the expensive high traffic sites.
The surprising success for us in terms of advertising has been sponsoring relevant podcasts. In our case that is podcasts that target web designers. The trick is to sponsor those who actually take the time to talk a bit about the product during the show - rather than just read out your name at the beginning. We've also managed to find podcasts where the hosts use Perch - that's even better!
Mostly it is just working on incremental gains in terms of traffic and visibility. An article here and there, some well placed ads, sponsoring podcasts. None of this causes a crazy rush of traffic but we're in it for the long game, so a steady growth that is sustainable is really more interesting to me.
Can you help, you understand web designers, would this suit the web designer market: An easy way of creating/editing web applications, lets people who have basic excel skills build sophisticated web applications. http://www.cellmaster.com.au/AppBuilder.html
Great Ask HN. Thanks for posting.
This is the site: http://www.istorical.com
I accidentally Panda'd myself I'm pretty sure. When I put my site up I had thousands of stub pages that got indexed with the thinnest possible content.
I removed (they now 404) a bunch of pages and added 'noindex' meta tags to most others so eventually Google will hopefully only be indexing hundreds of my pages instead of 70,000. So hopefully I won't have Panda penalty / thin content.
Beyond that though, do you have any advice for SEO on user-generated content like this:
Do you think having keywords actually influences SEO these days? I thought that Google and others just extracted keywords themselves and ignores ones you define yourself?
CSS galleries, Dribbble postings, trust, sharing on social media, being followed by designers/developers/marketers, etc.
Great design is truly appreciated and breaks down massive barriers when someone first comes to your sites.
It also happens to be a great traffic generator - so don't neglect it!
I run http://hookfeed.com and http://minimalytics.com. And I'm writing http://howtobuildarocketship.com
http://www.eventwax.com is an online event registration tool that uses several techniques for increasing traffic.
1. We use a freemium model and about 75% of our users use the free service to host their free events. This helps us because of #2 below.
2. Our built in viral mechanism is that when one hosts an event, everyone who signs up for an event sees a "powered by eventwax" logo at the bottom of the registration pages. So, even for free events, we are getting a tiny bit of passive exposure to all event's audiences. That means 10's of thousands of people a month see our logo.
3. We have a semi-active blog that brings in some high quality traffic.
4. We've had success at targeting a few keyword phrases that bring in a bit of traffic but SEO targeting has also been one of our biggest disappointments. Online event registration is a very competitive field and we've "wasted" a lot of time trying to improve our keywords.
5. We do run very limited Google Adwords and Linkedin PPC campaigns but haven't optimized them yet. Our current combined budget is only about $100/month. The next think we need to do is "bucket" our keywords into semantic groups and then create custom landing pages for each group to increase relevancy.
We're going to release a list of our submission sites so that bootstrappers who have more time than money do it for free but those who have some cash or are funded might find our service useful.
We weren't really going to post on HN because most of the audience will think this is SEO spam. It's not and we would never do that. We're only interested in promoting your startup to sites that are interested.
Firstly, we reject and refund low quality sites that don't meet our criteria.
Secondly, to give you a few examples, if your site has a great design, we will post to DesignerNews. If SEO is your thing, we'll make sure it gets exposure on Inbound.org. However, it starts to get more interesting when we move outside of the 'known niches'. So, if your startup/site is doing innovative things with data, we'll post to DataTau; if it's food related, we'll post to FoodNews (hypertexthero); if it's travel related, we'll post to outbounding.org.
We also promote on paid, premium sites such as betali.st, erlibird and KillerStartups.
Happy to provide more information if you like.
We promote pretty heavily on Facebook (poetry & literary fiction readers are a seriously niche audience), which we use to drive traffic to the (free) side projects. From there it's just straightforward cross-promotion to convert e.g. podcast listeners into magazine subscribers.
I have two side projects, and rarely promote them at all - the occasional plug on HN or r/startups where its relevant. The lack of promotion would explain why neither has any traffic! One - nerdy bookmarking at http://linkthing.co and Two - I'm working on a feed reader, you can see its output in action at http://techwatching.com
I've always like the Reddit "SYS" tradition - a monthly thread where anyone can post whatever their doing in blatant self promotion without the usual guilt & karma penalties.
I would say engaging with communities that might be interested is the most effective way to get good traffic (& feedback) in a lot of sectors.
1. Filter by color. Allow users to pick a color on a palette, and select all the images with that primary color.
2. Categories. A simple dropdown in the navigation to select nature, architecture, water, abstract, etc.
Lastly, why don't you branch this concept out into other areas? This would be a beautiful showcase for general photography. Allow users to upload their work, 'like' photos, and display the best on the homepage. Mix in profiles, and the ability to comment on images you select, and it would be an interesting site. Somewhat of a behance, pinterest, logopond mix geared towards photographers.
Site was put together on a weekend (runs on KirbyCMS + some custom PHP for likes), so any serious add-ons will likely require a re-build.
I can see both being useful though, now that it has ~120 images. I started out with 25, so I really didn't feel like I needed it at the time.
As for the idea, I definitely agree. In my head, it's the design and lack of compromise that make the concept work, so that'd likely carry across well to a different area. Photographers however have 500px (http://500px.com/popular) which I wouldn't set out to beat with a side project :)
It's made using Kirby CMS and a custom PHP script for counting the likes (horrible code). The overlay offset effect (visible only on desktop) I've wrapped in a plugin and put on github here: https://github.com/miloszfalinski/jOffset
I know it sort of goes against reason, but I'm tired of sites riddled with ads, so was hesitant in making any sort of move. Only option I'd be considering was approaching good android developers myself in hope for some ad based sponsorship. That way quality wouldn't suffer, I'd get something out of it, and users could find out about actually good apps. Then again, monetizing was never a goal, and I'm slowly running out of nice things to add, so I'll probably keep it as it is.
With RPM's around a few dollars for AdSense isn't that the most he would be looking at in revenue, or am I missing something ?
Edit: And yeah, it made me, personally, > 1000/month last year. That's after my X% cut of gross. There are < 10 people involved.
the most traffic I got were from giving signs away as prizes on crafting blogs. It seems obvious in hindsight, but you have to be careful when cold emailing with "free" and "prize" in the body, I think more than half of my emails were filtered out as spam.
* I had also tried adwords. It did give me a bunch of clickthroughs, but was not cost effective in the end.
oops: spoke to soon. It doesnt (yet) have much monthly revenue :(
Getting traffic by participating only on reddit (subreddits about litecoin and litecoint mining) and just by helping people, I'm getting new members and very interesting organic search results. (+1000 new visits from Google on keywords related to the topics).
I'm currently messing with d3js for some data I have on my F150 for the past year. (Fuel, mpg, odometer, fuel price, etc).
EDIT: I would recommend a "browse/explore" feature. I don't know audio equipment so I don't know what to search for. Your initial hint helps but doesn't keep a non audio expert around very long.
The dirty little secret why the UI is so sparse: this is a purely static site generated once a day by a Haskell program. The is no real browse feature, although you can click to some other "random" pages from actual price pages (e.g. http://kruipen.com/wyred-4-sound-dac-2-5.html). But those links are more intended for search engine crawlers than humans - that's why they appear "random" <g>.
Hacker News - http://news.ycombinator.com/
StartUpLift - http://startuplift.com/submit-your-startup/
Springwise - http://springwise.com/tipus/
CrunchBase - http://crunchbase.com/
Appvita - http://www.appvita.com/
Techattitude - http://techattitude.com/
Minisprout - http://www.minisprout.com/
Emily Chang - http://emilychang.com/
Rev2 - http://www.rev2.org/
Ziipa - http://www.ziipa.com/
On The App - http://www.ontheapp.com/
Next Web App - http://www.netwebapp.com/
DIY Startup News - http://www.netwebapp.com/
AppUseful - http://appuseful.com/
Startup Booster - http://www.startupbooster.com/
Paggu - http://www.paggu.com/
Robin Speziale - http://robinspeziale.com/
Submit Startup - http://www.submitstartup.com/
TechHotSpot - http://techhotspot.com/
YouNoodle - http://younoodle.com/
Lovely Pages - http://www.lovelypages.net/
Generation-y Startup - http://genystartup.com/
Netted - http://netted.net/
Killer Startups - http://www.killerstartups.com/
GotoWeb2.0 - http://www.go2web20.net/
StartupMeme - http://www.startupmeme.com/
SimpleSpark - http://www.simplespark.com/
VentureBeat Profiles - http://venturebeatprofiles.com/
FeedMyApp - http://www.feedmyapp.com/
BigStartups - http://www.bigstartups.com/
GreatWebApps - http://greatwebapps.com/
Wwwhatsnew - http://wwwhatsnew.com/
Best Websites - http://101bestwebsites.com/
MakeUseOf - http://www.makeuseof.com/
LaunchFeed - http://www.launchfeed.com/
MoMB - http://momb.socio-kybernetics.net/
Demo Girl - http://demogirl.com/
WebDev 2.0 - http://www.webdevtwopointzero.com/
DzineBlog - http://www.webdevtwopointzero.com/
Sociable Blog - http://www.sociableblog.com/