June 12, 2018

How do I grow a site that requires user submissions?

I'm building a product that aggregates communities/blogs and other resources to help entrepreneurs find where their customers hang out. I'm inputting a lot of the links in myself to get the ball rolling, but how should I encourage and grow a site that relies heavily on user submissions?


  1. 7

    I believe it’s a public secret that, in the beginning, the founders of Reddit added loads (most?) of the content themselves using different usernames.

  2. 5

    In my experience, while you need to create a good amount of content yourself, you should focus on gradually spending more and more of that time on attracting early users . In the time that you can create the daily content of one user (yourself) you could probably have brought in ten other folks. keep repeating that, and you'll have far more content coming in than you might on your own.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the tip! Do you gamifying the submission process will be worth implementing?

      1. 3

        People love points! I don't know what your content is, but I don't think a minor amount of gamification would hurt. For www.StripTogether.co, each comic strip of course can be "liked" and "commented" on, but going further with this, on each Strip readers can select a their favourite panel to give a star. There's then a scoreboard for "Top Strippers", which the stars contribute to.

        1. 2

          The top contributors ideas is a great idea! Thank you!

          1. 1

            Happy to help :)

  3. 2

    There is no magic pill. This is the classic chicken / egg problem.

    In the beginning you must do it yourself either manually, or by hiring someone on Upwork for the mundane parts, or by scripting as much as possible.

    But I'd ask myself this: What is the minimum amount of links you need to add to validate your idea? If it is more than what you can do (scraping and manual entry) in a 80 hr week with the above strategies, then maybe you should reconsider your approach.

    In my case (building a book reviewer directory), I found that marginal benefit of adding the 101st reviewer was inconsequential as far as idea validation is concerned.

    1. 1

      That's a really interesting way to think about it. It seems like my product will only really become ubiquitous if community owners and blogs decide they want to be listed there.

      1. 1

        I am not sure what phase you are at with your product. But I assume you have not validated the idea yet. Please correct if I am wrong.

        If I am right, then you should not be thinking about what you need for ubiquitous-ness. Focus on the minimum you need for the immediate next goal: validating the idea. Once you pass that, then focus on the minimum requirements for the next immediate goal.

        Just my 2c, I realize I am answering a question you didn't ask, so feel free to ignore ;)

  4. 1

    My food project depends on user submissions. Like others have said, you have to prime the pump with a ton of submissions yourself.

    I would also add that your landing page must focus on one CTA and that the ease with which you allow a user to add a submission has an effect on the process.

  5. 1

    Seed content yourself at the start - there's no real way to escape that. Then make it as easy as possible for your future users to do it, and provide incentives. Feature the early listees, etc.

  6. 1

    I made

    https://madewithvuejs.com

    https://madewithreactjs.com

    https://madewithlaravel.com

    (and https://hundezeugs.at - an austrian dog collection/blog :D)

    I’m heavily Relying on user submissions.. every page was started with around 40 to 60 entries .. now I have quite a good stream of incoming submissions.

    I believe it works because makers like to send me their stuff, guess on your site also the makers of those communities/blogs will be the ones who submit links?

    make it as easy as possible to leave content :) - on my sites, I only take a minimal amount of information for the submission... and create screenshots and stuff myself - it's more work but its frictionless for my users

    1. 2

      awesome sites! thanks for the advice. Do you think it's too much to require login for submissions?

      1. 2

        Yes, I would avoid requiring a login. You want to make it as pain-free as you possibly can.

        Something I did with https://vanspiration.com/ was to have a private edit URL for listings that I could share with submitters so they could edit without needing to give up email or remember a password. I make it clear that it's an edit link that shouldn't be shared.

        1. 1

          Really cool website. Newsletter maybe ?

        2. 1

          YES this! :)