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.