When you start a side project from scratch, you literally don't have anything. No one knows about you, google doesn't know about you and won't index you even in the 5th page of search results.
That's why you need to find ways to attract eyes, which will eventually attract users and create interest around your product.
In the last 2 months, I've been growing Open Startup List to ~1K visitors per month and 390 email subscribers. Using these tactics I will share below, you can do so to.
1. Build in the open
Open Startups build in the open, this makes their product into a marketing machine, they share numbers no other ordinary company shares (traffic and revenue). People are drawn to these products out of curiosity and tweet and share about these open startups.
Conclusion - people are curious by nature, use it to your advantage.
2. Blog posts are the missing piece
When I started with Open Startup List, I had only a list of open startups with some interesting links, but not much to support growth. I was looking for ways to differentiate myself from similar lists. I decided I would reach out to founders listed on my website and ask to interview them. Luckily, they were thrilled to be featured in my blog (who wouldn't, that's free SEO), and for me it meant - Growth. This way, once I published a blog post, they naturally shared it with their networks as well. That's free marketing 101.
3. Be human
When ever I talk with an interviewee about posting an interview, I do my best to show them my appreciation but also that I will make sure they're absolutely happy with the content piece I'm creating with them. Every step of the way until I publish it and even afterwards. This is how you nurture business relationships, this is how you keep good connections with users. This is how you grow as a person, entrepreneur and as a business.
The combination of these 3 tips is why I got to where I got with Open Startup List, and these are lessons I will take to any other side project in the future.