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How I got 12,000 Pageviews for $50

Posted By Darren Rowse 6th of June 2009 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

Joey Daoud is a filmmaker and freelance photographer.

Put $50 towards some ads in an AdSense campaign and maybe you’ll get a few hundred click-throughs. What if that same $50 could get you over 12,000 pageviews, plus a mention in the British newspaper the Guardian. Here’s how I did it.


Photo by vinduhl

50 to 12,000

Some back-story: I’m making a documentary on life hacking (finding shortcuts in everyday life to get the boring stuff done quicker), and with that I have an accompanying blog and podcast.

A few months back I was reading a profile on the author Will Self. He made a comment about how he still enjoys using a typewriter because it forces you to write differently and not edit yourself.

I’m always trying different ways of writing, and being in Gen-Y I’ve always had a word processor to punch out essays and articles, so I’ve never had the experience of writing on a typewriter.

I figured there must be a program out there that mimics the behavior of a typewriter, something basic like WriteRoom that wouldn’t let you delete or insert words.

I did a search and came up with nothing. However, the idea of a very minimal text editor that was so archaic it wouldn’t let you delete stuck with me. I figured it was in the spirit of the film, so it would be something cool to share on the site and see what people make of it. And like the blog posts and podcasts, hopefully it would be something people would spread around and help promote the film.

I have no programing experience, so I turned to Elance, the great freelance site where you can hire anyone from virtual assistants to graphic designers to programmers.

I posted the job for a programmer to make this minimal text editor, waited around for a bid that was in my price range, and finally got the minimum $50 bid. After hiring we went back and forth with tests and notes, and about a week later I had the creatively named program Typewriter.

I posted it to the site. A few days went by and not much activity; a few mentions here and there, but nothing big. Then the hit I was hoping for came.

It was posted on Lifehacker. In one day I got 5000 pageviews, plus mentions on dozens of other blogs (it was sad to see how many would just copy the entire Lifehacker post verbatim).

This traffic boost led to more subscribers and sales, plus a greater awareness of the film and blog. And I’m still only $50 out of pocket.

Blog to Newspaper

That Saturday night I got another surprise. One of my Google alerts showed my name mentioned in an article in the Observer, a weekly paper that’s part of the Guardian. It was about the author’s first experiences with word processors, a story prompted by Typewriter the program, which was mentioned at the end (my name popped up when Will Self’s quote was misattributed to me).

At first I thought this was just some online blog on the Observer’s site, but I soon discovered that this was in the actual printed edition, distributed around the world.

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since the post went live, and the post alone has gotten over 12,000 pageviews, not to mention traffic to the rest of the site. All for just $50.

Ideas for your Ideas

Here are some ways you can use what I did to help your own blog and projects:

  • Ideas are cheap to make into a reality. I think the beauty in all of this is that it’s so cheap and easy to implement an idea and see if it sticks. If you have an idea that you have the slightest belief that there might be something there, just do it. Throw it out into the interweb and see what happens.
  • Think beyond your traditional content. As I said I have no programming experience. Plus my blog is about a movie, yet a piece of software became a hit. With Elance and other freelance networks, if you can imagine it someone can implement it (and for not that much). Make an iPhone app. Design an eBook or cool poster as a unique interpretation of your content. Read lots of stuff, related and unrelated to your blog, and keep an open mind and eye.
  • Offer it for free. If I didn’t offer Typewriter for free I don’t think it would have been nearly as popular. Sure, maybe I could have made a couple bucks, but I’m a filmmaker, not a software developer, and goal number one of the program was to promote the film and blog.

I hope you found something useful in this post, and hopefully it gave you some ideas of your own. Now go make them a reality.

Joey Daoud is a filmmaker and freelance photographer finishing You 2.0, a documentary on life hacking. He also writes about film and photography on his blog Coffee and Celluloid.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. That a very good story. If I had $50 to spare I’d probably do something like this.

  2. Very inspiring.. hope we can come up with that kind of idea too Darren.

  3. Thanks for an inspiring and motivating article. Well impressed with your idea of the typewriter. I will take your ideas on board and fingers crossed will increase traffic to my site. Now, I just need to come up with an idea…!

  4. just wondering what type of protection do you have using this type of site to get stuff created, I read someting some time ago that a freelancer on one of the sites stole an idea they should have been working on. I have never used a site like this but have a few ideas I would hate to see walk away. Hello by the way New to the site and think it’s great full of info

  5. Good story, 12,000 pages not too bad!!!

  6. Thats great experience and beautifull idea. Ican’t delete, you can’t copy, you can’t paste. So i really write my own article

  7. Nice and inspirational story. Thanks for this post Darren and of course Joey.

  8. I am more than tempted to invest $ 50 now for my first advertising campaign

  9. Thanks everyone, glad you got something out of the article.

    Jerry, I had a friend ask me a similar question. Yes, there’s a risk there and it’s something I’ve thought about. The people I’ve dealt with just seem to be interested in getting the job done and moving on. Plus if they stole an idea they’d probably be blacklisted from Elance and other freelance sites. I’d say if possible, have them do the task or part of the task but not be clear on what the end goal is.

    Elance has an NDA option you can use, but of course there isn’t much legal action you can do with someone in another country. So hire someone from the US (or whatever country you’re based in) so if they do steal the idea you have legal options.

  10. Thanks alot, I got your blog on rss so I’ll be reading.

  11. Thank you for sharing your experience! I cant believe I missed this post until today. I am constantly trying to find new ways to market my blog and this is a good inspirational story to “think outside of the box”.

  12. I am always looking for new ways to create traffic!

  13. Hmmm, interesting outcome on that one. Something to think about and play around with.

  14. Wow…bloordy cool idea…just simply brilliant.

    It just shows that thinking out of the box can be so rewarding!

  15. I really appreciate it. Hope to know more important things regarding design from it.

  16. Amazing idea, i do have some programming experience this should easy for me , very inspiring thanks

  17. Wow, such a great ideas and count me in. Thanks for sharing and I will spend some time to read this post and try out every moves suggested,

  18. What great inspiration to go out and make an idea a reality! That’s one of the smartest ways to spend $50, that’s for sure. All I have to do now is come up with an idea! Thanks for another great article! :)

    Brenon MacLaury

  19. A very inspiring story, specially for people like me who have yet to see such traffic to ones site.

  20. Thanks for the article, fresh and great idea. However, like Dumitru Brînzan said, it’s not just the $50 you invested. You have your audience, the ressources and let’s be honest, you must have explored other mediums to attract attention to what you have to offer?

    However, bloggers be aware. Getting 12000 page views is cool, but how about the traffic in the long run? I mean, you need to have something to offer, sticky that makes your readers come back.

    The moral of the story is great, but getting a lot of visitors that will vanish as quickly as they appeared is a false sense of success. After you get visitors attention using out of the box genius ideas like this, you need to keep them coming back.

    P.S My personal blog is new, but I’ve blogged elsewhere like maniac!!

  21. Really? That is actually quite amazing and brilliant at the same time. You brought back traditional writing to an age that has almost forgot it. I mean heck just writing this comment I hit backspace a few times I really need to try this online typewriter that is so cool.


  22. hey nice story. even i wan to take my blog daily pages from 20 to 1000 atleast
    i”ll try to implement somethings

  23. I always wanted to try something like this..

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