October 7, 2019

Idea Validation: Side Project Marketing As A Service

Dmitri Kyle Brereton @dkb868

I’ve been thinking about starting a side project marketing service. It would work similarly to content marketing services, except instead of content, I would work with the company to make a side project that will help drive traffic to their main product.

Side project marketing seems to have a high potential to bring in traffic compared to content marketing, and I know companies spend money on content marketing services.

Would you be interested in using a service like this?

  1. 7

    only one question. who drives traffic to the side project?

    1. 3

      That would be a part of the service. I would handle the initial launch on things like PH, HN, Reddit and whatever launch channels are relevant to that company. Of course, they could drive traffic to it with their own mailing list / content as well since it's something that helps their audience for free.

    2. 2

      You do. The side project should give you more to talk about in your content marketing efforts. It works very well if you are able to tell stories around your main product and how the side project can better service more niche needs of your target audience.

    3. 1

      That was my first thought as well. In my experience, these kinds of things would need to go viral or have some kind of novelty that makes people want to share or tell their friends about it. And virality is hard to nail consistently.

      1. 1

        I don't think it necessarily needs to go viral to drive traffic. A small project can rank highly in SEO just like a piece of content can. E.g if I search "SF Takehome Pay" because I want to figure out what my salary would be after taxes, I find a takehome pay calculator (a small side project), which puts me on a website that connects people with financial advisors.

  2. 4

    I love this idea. I've been doing it for my own platform with built in infrastructure support for quickly adding new projects that solve problems related to my main product for my target audience. It works very well, especially when you can build something that becomes popular enough to rank atop Google.

    Ideation is hard and getting traction can be hard, but that's where content marketing comes into play. If you can explain why you built the side product and what problems it can solve for your target audience, it shouldn't be hard to build up traction for it through consistently telling the story.

    1. 2

      Thanks Lincoln! Good to hear that it's been working for you.

      Didn't think about using content marketing to get traffic to the side project. Sounds like a strong combination.

  3. 4

    I like this. You need a portfolio of some one's you've smashed yourself. Showing the top of product hunt, traffic generated, seo merit etc ...

    In theory this is a good idea.

    The objection will be, "will companies trust you enough with their brand ...". So you'll need a lot of social proof and reputation to make this work.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the feedback Harry!

      I was thinking of finding some initial companies I can work with for free, then using those as case studies to make sales later + making content about everything I do to build up that reputation.

      I do have some small accomplishments like #3 product on PH and frontpage of HN, but it would probably be a lot easier to gain trust when I have real case studies.

      p.s. I listened to your quick chat on the IH podcast and loved it.

      1. 1

        Sounds good.

        Perhaps, instead of working for companies for free just make great side projects yourself. That way you will get the credit / followers / recognition instead of your clients. And it will be easier to execute.

        Good luck. And thanks btw

        1. 1

          Perhaps, instead of working for companies for free just make great side projects yourself.

          Yeah I was thinking that might be a better move as well. Would be much easier to execute, and probably more enjoyable anyway.

  4. 1

    Pretty interesting concept, not sure if it’d become a bit hard to quantify so offer a clear path with regards to costing? Interesting idea for sure

  5. 1

    This is a great idea if you can productize the concept properly. What exactly you offer to your potential customers? And how much would it cost?

    1. 1

      Yeah I'm not sure exactly how I'd productize it but probably something like "We'll build a product and launch it for $X then charge a monthly maintenance fee of $Y for as long as you want to keep the project up and running."

      No idea what pricing would be like.

  6. 1

    Interesting idea! I'm not sure what the budget for that would be, but I has a lot of side-projects ideas I never developed for Datananas but I'm pretty sure they would drive traffic

    1. 1

      If you're interested, I would love to chat more. Budget is completely free so I can get some initial case studies (assuming I succeed).

    1. 1

      This seems like another cool way to get traffic to products. Though it would only work for products targeted to the maker community.

    2. 1

      MakerAds seems to have stopped working.

  7. 1

    I would be interested but you’d need to charge side project prices. Not hundred of dollars a month. Not even a hundred dollars a month.

    1. 1

      What do you mean by "side project prices"? Side projects can drive significantly more traffic than content marketing, and for a longer period of time, so if anything they should cost more than content marketing agencies.

      1. 1

        What I mean is most people running side projects won't have budgets to pay standard marketing agency prices.

        1. 1

          My clients would ideally be online businesses making over 10K/month, not people with side projects.

          1. 1

            AH ok! your title "Side Project Marketing As A Service" reads to me as "marketing as a service for side projects" - which I actually think is a great idea and there would be a lot of demand for.

            1. 1

              Ah I can see where the confusion would come from if you weren't already familiar with the concept of 'side project marketing'.

              I think "marketing as a service for side projects" would be a much lower value business, as you mentioned above. So not sure if it would be worth my time to work on.

  8. 1

    I like the idea. A few questions.

    1. The name makes it seem trivial in my opinion, perhaps something like Demo/Example marketing might work.
    2. What makes you the person to offer this? Do you have a profile in any tech communities?

    I am in the process of generating just such content for my passwordless service. But for me it's important that not only does the project exist but that it is adequately promoted, to get maximum value.

    1. 1
      1. I call it Side Project Marketing because that's what I've seen it called by others. That being said, maybe there is a better name to describe it.

      2. I've done a lot of side project launches. Best I've done is #3 product of the day on ProductHunt and I've also made it to the frontpage of HackerNews. I certainly have a lot to learn about launching still, but I think I know enough right now to be useful.

      1. 1

        Both good answers.

        I'm still curious about the specific technologies that know.
        Also perhaps it's not fair I'm asking in a void. https://trykno.com/ is what I am trying to promote. There are some integration docs there but they probably need improving. How would you approach something like this?

        1. 1

          Well for starters, did you launch that product? I didn't see it on PH or HN or anywhere. I wouldn't pursue side project marketing if you haven't marketed the main product yet. Would just focus on my main product launch if I were you.

          1. 1

            I have been promoting it within individual tech communities, to see if I have product market fit. And those discussions could value some more example content

  9. 1

    It's a really good idea.

    The problem I see is that it is a lot easier to come up with content marketing ideas (you know from google what people are looking for and how strong is the competition) than with a good side-project. There is more guessing in the latter.

    Overall, I still believe it is a good idea and can work.

    1. 1

      Yeah that is true. I think for side project ideas it will be more about looking into the existing audience and figuring out what problems they might have. I would expect the company founder to be knowledgeable about their audience as well, so they may have a good insight into what a good idea will be for their target users.

  10. 1

    Hi Dmitri, fellow maker here 🙋‍♂️. I think it's a good idea and businesses would pay for it, but this assumption has to be validated with the target market (businesses). This would be something that I would also offer as a service to make some money while building a product that would bring me monthly recurring revenue. If you need any help or just someone to bounce ideas with you can find me on twitter: @RautaAlin. DM's are open.

    1. 1

      Hey there! Yeah I'll be emailing some companies to see what they think. Followed you on twitter so I can get in touch if needed.

  11. 1

    I think that people starting side-projects generally don't have a really large budget allocated for marketing, especially ones that need help with marketing.

    Why not focus on companies or people who are spending money on marketing? Perhaps you can do it more effectively.

    1. 1

      Oh perhaps the wording was unclear. Side project marketing means building side projects for companies to help drive traffic to their product.

      I don't mean helping people market their side projects.

      1. 1

        Gotcha, that makes more sense. What are your go-to examples of companies already doing this?

        1. 1

          Invisions side project muz.li

          Unfolds side project grabient.com

        2. 1

          The biggest example of side project marketing success is probably Unsplash (https://medium.com/who-what-why/how-side-projects-saved-our-startup-a83a80f3b3ae). Other cool ones are https://pablo.buffer.com and https://www.producthunt.com/posts/trendy-404s.

          I think one issue may be that a lot of people are unfamiliar with side project marketing. So I'll have to educate them on what it's about before I can even sell to them.

Recommended Posts