Most of my developer friends are building great software products but they have no idea how to let people know about their shiny side projects. I also always was afraid about marketing but then after learning more and getting some results, it starts to be interesting.
I want to share my experiences and techniques which I am using for marketing of my side projects to get traffic and users. My projects are mostly interactive websites and I am generating passive income with that websites. Monetization source of these websites is mostly Adsense Ads, Pro Memberships and Amazon Affiliate. Monetization part can be a long topic, I am planning to share it in a different post. I sorted all these tips by importance.
I think SEO is the most important thing you should apply to your project. Google is the best source of traffic and if your SEO is good you will be rewarded in the long run. Google traffic is the most sustainable source for me so far.
There are tons of SEO techniques on the internet but the most important part I think is to have really valuable content and to choose your title and description smart for every page on your website. I am spending a lot of time thinking about the good title and description for each page. Also, don’t forget to use social media tags on your pages. These tags are very effective when your content is shared on social media. For example, you don’t want social media websites to select a random image to show on shared URL. You should specify it with specific tags (like meta property=”og:image”).
I am always starting to build my projects with multi-language structure and starting it at least with two languages so I can be sure everything correctly localized. It is really not easy to add multi-language structure later so consider to do it from the beginning. You should be good at least in two languages to do that. Then you can generate translation files and use translation services for other languages which you don’t speak. You can easily find translators on Fiverr and it is really cheap.
Add language code to URL’s for extra languages to let people directly access specific language pages for example for Azerbaijani version of your website use example.com/az/about-us so people can also see translated results on Google and you will have more traffic.
Viral content is something that people really wants to share organically. I want to give some examples from my own project. My most successful project is a chatbot creation tool which people can use to build their own chatbots without any technical knowledge. After creating these chatbots they really want their friends to chat with that chatbot just because it is funny to look at chat logs after conversations.
Some people also have really funny conversations with chatbots and they just want to share these conversations by recording videos and sharing it on Youtube. Around 750.000 chatbots have been created on the website and every chatbot has its own page which is shared by its owner. I also let people use chatbots on their websites by embedding code. So I have a huge amount of backlinks, which are very important for search engines. View count of the video is 733,472 and it was a huge source of traffic for the website. I even don’t understand it because it is Portuguese 🇵🇹 😃
When I launch my projects first I am getting feedback from my close friends and doing bug fixes/feature implementations regarding these feedbacks. Then you can share your project on social media. Twitter especially a good place for this. It is a really nice feeling to get some positive/helpful feedback and with all these likes and retweets more people can see your project.
You will get a really high-quality feedbacks/suggestions and good traffic from Hacker News. Submit your post with “Show HN” prefix.
This is a really rare tip which I discovered myself while marketing my side project for youtubers. Some people can call it also growth hacking. I created a campaign on Famebit which is the website to reach Youtubers. If they like your campaign you pay them and they shout out your product to their audience. Even if I just bought 2–3 campaigns, a lot of Youtubers just made a video about my platform for free just because they liked it.
Youtube is a really huge platform and spending some money on the right youtubers can be a great way to reach your audience. For example, if you have a photography project find Youtubers which have photography channels and then send your campaign to them.
I got some traffic from Product Hunt but I believe by doing it more strategically it is possible to get really good traffic from there as well. You should pay attention to publishing time and date. Choosing an attractive title, description, and images. Also if your tool is directly for technical people you can get more engagement.
Btw Product Hunt is the great place to get inspiration and motivation if you haven’t discovered it yet. I really like to spend time there.
Many people don’t know that Chrome Web Store is a really good source of traffic. Building Chrome app is really easy. Can be done in half day. It is low hanging fruit and you can get consistent traffic from there. You can see stats of one of my apps below. The last column shows a weekly visitor count.
I think ~1200 weekly visitors is not a bad number. You shouldn’t miss this easy source of traffic. Just try to choose a good title, an attractive icon and description with right keywords.
Google Play is another great source of traffic. You can easily convert your responsive website to Android App. You can see the stats of my chatbot app below. You can easily see the quality of traffic by average session durations.
Icon, title, and description of an app are key points. Also getting positive reviews is super easy with that app (748 reviews with 4.5 average). Since it is chatbot, it is just asking for review during conversation organically. You should find some way to get more user reviews to reach more users.
Development of an app was very quick and easy since it just shows responsive website content inside an android app.
Yes this post itself is a nice way to share my projects thru my real experiences. I moved blog of the project to Medium. If you have really good blog posts you can generate a lot of referral traffic and backlinks from Medium to your project and I really like user experience on Medium. It is just awesome. I am not an expert in all fields so I am working with experts in the specific field from Fiverr and pay them for writing nice articles for my blog. It is a really low budget investment and generates really good results.
Thank you for reading, good luck with your side projects! 👍