October 3, 2019

First blog post. I'm disappointed.

Patrik Krupar @pkrupar

After 14 days of work and a purchase of brand new iPhone just for the blog post, it was finally ready. No obvious grammar errors, subscribe forms wired up, layout tested, site's live. Finally! Tired of this. Now, just share it, watch the views roll in, and I can go into my little code cave, again.

∗mouse clicks∗ and it's submitted to Reddit!

"Sorry. You seem to be a new user. Please participate around reddit before jumping straight to submitting!"

A rather disappointing start to our blog.

Any good recommendations where to share or repost dev-focused blog posts?

The blog post: https://sidemail.io/articles/dark-mode-in-html-email/

EDIT: I'm not a new Reddit user. The message says so, but I had my account for over 4 years and I even submitted to the same subreddit in the past. My guess is that I wasn't active enough recently, but Reddit being Reddit, tells me I'm a new user. One of the disappointments right there.

  1. 13

    Honestly, I am deeply annoyed people that don't contribute and straight away start asking for help or promote.

    Your content can be the most helpful article in the world but it is still promotion. When people will see that you have zero messages and your first post is self promotional, they won't react as you want them to do, especially on Reddit.

    Every time I see someone here on IH asking for help with zero messages, I ignore them. It is bad behavior and for a community to work well bad behavior has to be disincentivized.

    What's even worst is that these people, once they have what they needed, disappear until they need something more.

    So if you want to have any kind of success on the Internet and in particular on Reddit, give first.

    If you want to have the reputation of the self-promotional guy with another self-promotional post that's another story.

    1. 2

      I guess there are always two sides to the coin. Funny thing is, I'm not a new Reddit user. The message is wrong in that regard. I think I wasn't simply active enough recently. I'm back at it now, but man oh man, it's addictive.

      1. 1

        I didn't know you weren't a new user. That it is addictive it is very true, and that's one of the reasons I avoid marketing my products on Reddit and social media. Both effective channel, but I ended up spending there too much time! Good luck on your promotion ;)

  2. 5

    Hey there,

    Finally, something I can be helpful about on IH, vs all the help I get. I run a couple of blogs, and after a year of posting (~1 a week) I get around 1000 PVs/day on each of them, and I just write about things I like (languages, culture, and motorcycles, mostly). It's humble, and others have achieved far more, but sometimes those who recently learned can teach best!

    Here are some things I've learned about getting traffic:

    • In the early days, you have to promote your posts everywhere you think your audience is and where it's not "spammy". Answer questions on Quora, in FB groups, here on IH. If it's good, people will appreciate it. Tone is everything! Expect only a fraction of it to work.
    • For new sites, it takes months to get search traffic. Your blog has a relatively low DA of 16. It'll take ages for you to rank for keywords. That's normal! Keep writing. (If you like writing...)
    • For competitive posts, it takes ages to rise to the top for important search terms, and you may never reach the 1st page of the SERP.
    • If nobody is searching for your specific answer, nobody will find it. Know what people want answers to, and write for them, in their language.
    • Writing posts gets exponentially easier after the first ~20 or so extremely well-researched posts. Most people give up by then, anecdotally (or outsource it).
    • It's hard to predict what will get searched for and what will go viral until you're a very big website. I know many who are surprised (and for whom 5% of their posts makeup 50% of their traffic) and they didn't see it coming for those posts, and often put much more work into others.
    • Like building an app, putting yourself out there in written word (or video or audio) is extremely humbling, and nerve-wracking. It messes with your sense of self esteem. Today one of my posts started getting shared and I wanted to just run away.

    Learning "copywriting" is a huge endeavour, akin to mastering any profession, like coding. There's dozens of books out there, but the best one I've read is Breakthrough Advertising.

    Even as I consider hitting "post" on this I hesitate, despite the fact that I suspect someone will find it useful.

    Good luck on your writing journey!

    1. 2

      This is a great response @dana. I have tried to build audiences by blogging but wasn't all that good at promoting the posts after they were written. It was always a question of finding good places to post.

      Do you have any recommendations on how to find good places?

      1. 1

        The way I think about it is reverse... go to the places first, find out what people want but can't find out answers to, then decide if I can write them and then just drop the answer there.

        For example, I'm trying to write an article right now about the Ghost blogging platform. So I am on the Ghost forum, looking at what people ask, and what they're not finding answers to. For example: what commenting systems are best, and how to do SEO in Ghost. Then I can write about that, and post links in those threads. Heck, occasionally someone ASKS me to write a post.

        It's a lot like one way of starting a business that's gaining traction: going and interviewing a bunch of people on what they desperately need an answer to, and making something for them (works for some people, never worked for me).

  3. 4

    The article is super-interesting! Especially for me since I run https://unread.it/

    You need to work harder on promoting it

    1. 2

      Thank you! I really appreciate it. I was slowly starting to think it's garbage, glad you find it useful :) This is why I love IndieHackers community, always super positive and encouraging!

      I know Unreadit! I was admiring your site not that long ago and now it's different, isn't it? What a great idea, btw!

      1. 1

        We changed it a bit yeah, happy you like it. Your marketing site is super-polished as well I must say.

  4. 4

    Out of curiosity, I googled the title of the article and it's on the first results page, on the bottom, but on the first page! That's something. 🤩

    1. 1

      You really shouldn't be disappointed if your blog post shows up on Google's first page :D

      1. 1

        Haha! You're right! 😅 The disappointment came back, though. After a couple of hours, I checked it again and it was gone! How's that even possible I don't know. 😄

        1. 3

          I'd look into Google Search Console. Google sometimes ranks sites higher just to experiment if people are interested. Knowing which keywords bring visitors to your site you can adjust content, to fit them more precisely.

          1. 1

            This is excellent advice. You can also ask Google (in GSC) to revisit your page(s) when you make changes/updates. Speeds indexing up a bit.

  5. 3

    I have to agree with the other people here who've said this looks great. I wouldn't be too worried about not getting immediate traction. Content marketing, just like SEO (and they go together very well), takes time.

    Another place you can cross-post to is Medium, but just like with Dev.to you want to make sure that your original is set as the canonical URL. You want that SEO juice. :)

    You can probably also get some inspiration from how @harrydry promotes his Marketing Examples posts. (He's written about many aspects of it here on Indie Hackers.)

    You may also consider doing a bit of personal outreach if you know people who write about this stuff and would find this useful. And if you don't know who this might be of interest to, maybe find out. :)

    Regarding getting signups, maybe it's just me but I found your copy for the end-of-article email signup a bit vague:

    Don't miss out on high-quality pieces like this one. Topics might range from technical stuff, business, and design. One-click unsubscribe any time.

    Technical stuff, business, and design? Too vague. Also, the unsubscribe thing can be moved to microcopy under the signup, IMO. Focus on what benefit this email list will give.

    I also find the mid-article email signup oddly super specific (the one about dark mode updates) but I'm not exactly in the target audience here so I might be totally off on this one.

    Add to this the final part of the article which focuses on selling your services and you have three CTAs in connection with this article. If I were you I would just focus on one (presumably building that main email list, since it will be the most valuable to you from a content marketing standpoint over time).

    Another consideration is that people are usually more reluctant to share articles and resources (even useful ones) if they appear too salesy. Something to keep in mind. It needs a light touch.

    Once you have more content and traffic you can start testing how this applies to your audience, and how they react to different types of CTAs. Just bringing it up here as something you may want to think about. Food for thought, so to speak.

    Best of luck!

  6. 3

    Love the blog post. Love the overall theme as well, very clean. You could re-post on dev.to as someone else has said. you could also post it as an ad there. And post it on Hackernews, I think it'd be a big hit on Hackernews. I recently posted a link to my landing page for Simple Board ✔️ to hackernews and it resulted in over 1000 unique visitors and over 400 emails collected. So it's definitely a good source.

    1. 2

      Thank you! Yeah, dev.to is on. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I recently read something about dev.to ads that you need some points that you gain somehow. Do you have any experience with it?

      Look at you! What a great result from HN. Can you share the URL to your post? I always try to learn from what people use for title, etc.

      I submitted the aritle to HN on Tuesday and it went unnoticed. No points, maybe 3 visitors in total, haha 😅. I've never had any luck with HN.

      1. 2

        Yeah so you gain credits for posting threads, commenting, etc. I have 15 credits there and an ad for a product costs 5 credits.

        Yes the url is here I find it weird though as there's hardly any upvotes, but it's been on the frontpage of show HN for nearly a week now. It was at No.2 for 2 days when the traffic went mad.

  7. 3

    It's a great blog post, and it got me thinking about dark theme email. I didn't know about it before, and I don't know if Mailchimp can do it.

    It also made me consider whether I should switch from my free trial on Sendgrid to Sidemail! Could Sidemail also be used for marketing, like Mailchimp?

    Also, I love the Sidemail site. Did you design it yourself or buy a theme/template? If you don't mind sharing, could you reply or email [email protected]? I'd love to buy something similar for casterlevel.com.

    1. 1

      Thank you! It's a new thing, another to worry about.

      Surely, it could! :) You can read about here: https://sidemail.io/targeted-email-messages. Email me [email protected] if you need help setting up.

      Yes, we designed it ourselves.

  8. 3

    You can re-post in dev.to -- that might be a good place for you.

    1. 2

      Could also post as an ad on dev.to

    2. 1

      Yes! dev.to seems like a great fit.

      Are you on there as well? If so, let's follow each other, what's you username?

      I actually spent yesterday's evening migrating the article to markdown. I can tell you, tables in markdown are a pain. For anyone that wants to convert HTML table to markdown table, I used this tool: https://jmalarcon.github.io/markdowntables/.

  9. 2

    To be fair, it's the case of most communities, where you're asked to contribute/help around before promoting your own content. But there are platforms where this will be very well received I think, like Dev.to or Hacker News. Great work on the blog post, and good luck!

    1. 2

      I know, I know. It's just that I've been Reddit user for couple of years now, my account is not new and I even posted to the same subreddit in the past. My guess is that I haven't been active enough lately and they just used the generic "new user" sticker regardless.

      Thank you! :)

      1. 2

        Ha in that case I can understand the frustration!

      2. 1

        Hey, I've read that if you are active specifically on that subreddit with comments not as much as upvotes, then you should be granted the possibility to post sooner. I hope this helps!

  10. 1

    Are there any other communities where you were active in recently?
    I see that you've posted here, maybe that's one of the answers 😃

  11. 1

    It will take time and be mindful that if subreddits just let anyone post then they will be overrun with spam and self promotions.

  12. 1

    You need to work more on promoting your blog post. Or you can use guest posting to grow your traffic. Try www.wuztr.com to find websites or blogs to submit your articles.

    1. 1

      Nice, thanks for sharing! I have zero experience with guest posting, do you mind explaining how it works? Can you repost or does the content need to be unique?

      1. 1

        I have experience with guest posting. It depends on the destination.

        The main reason people guest post is to build backlinks to their website from well-respected websites in a niche, which is a strong indicator to Google to trust your website (go read about Domain Authority and backlinks from Moz, the best authority on the source).

        (Note: even though they're an authority... there's disagreement about how much you need backlinks. It's correlated with SERP ranking, not a proven causative factor.)

        The distant second reason is traffic. Unless you're posting to a VERY high traffic site where people click on links for more info, don't expect much traffic conversion from a guest post.

        The general process for guest posting is

        • Think of niche websites related to yours, but which aren't specifically competitive. E.g. you have an app that's for store management, and there's a blog about growing your flower store, you can go guest post there about ways to market a flower store. (about which you might not know, but which you'll learn... they don't know or care)
        • Research their domain authority (Moz) and traffic (ahrefs, similarweb). Look for DA of 30+, ideally 50-60+ so it's a strong backlink.
        • Write to them, saying you love their blog and showing you've obviously read it, and write a targeted pitch. No science here - just be nice, thoughtful, well-researched. Websites get many pitches a day, mostly just robo spam. (generic like "Hi! I love your site, can I guest post? Love, Randall McRandom from SmallBizMarketingExpertsForTruckManufacturers.biz")
        • Be clear what you offer and want. "I have these three topic ideas. I'll write 1-2,000 words, original content, exclusive to your site, and just want a do-follow backlink to my own blog, which is on this topic. I can finish it by next Friday." (Yes, content should be original, otherwise there's limited value to them... the site with original content is the one that will always rank)
        • You have to write a quality post, in the style of the blog where you guest post.
        • Add contextual back-links to your website. Inline. Their post will likely be picked up by bots that copy it, so you want your links inline (not just in your bio).
        • Deliver it!

        Do not just content yourself with the minority of websites that say "accepting guest posts" or have a form for it. Anyone can publish guest posts. The only ones that you should exclude are the ones that say "we are not accepting guest posts" (which I do see, but rarely).

        After they've published, you can publish on your own website, as long as your canonical link points to theirs.

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