Hi, my name is Pat Walls, and I am the founder of Starter Story, a website dedicated to sharing the stories of successful e-commerce founders.
I published my first piece of content in November 2017, and since then have published 80+ articles that have been seen nearly one million times (including Reddit views, which I’ll get to later).
I’ve spent a lot of time sharing my content on the web. I’ve tried a lot of things, and I’ve failed a lot. I wanted to write about it, and let you know what has worked for me, and what I learned through the process.
Sharing your stuff in 2018 is hard
Anyone who writes content knows what I’m talking about. Content overload, fake news, shitty web experiences, walled gardens like Facebook, etc all make getting people to read your content really hard.
When I published my first article, a grand total of 60 users visited my website over the course of a couple days - this was after spending hours writing, editing, and promoting it.
It’s a crappy feeling, especially when you hear stories about people that got 100k pageviews after publishing one Medium article.
My Traffic Breakdown
I have had some success on multiple platforms, notably Hacker News, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.
Top 10 social traffic sources since inception:
It’s a decent mix of traffic.
General Content Sharing Tips
Consistency/Quantity > Quality
Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.
What’s more important is consistency and quantity.
Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.
This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.
The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.
This is nonsense.
There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.
For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.
You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.
Patience & Persistence
For me, it took two full months to finally have a successful piece. I don’t know how I didn’t just quit before that.
The success of that piece was the culmination of trying a lot of different things.
Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.
Here’s a few tips on how to be more successful on specific platforms:
I have over 10K karma, and have hit the front page of reddit countless times.
Reddit is the best kept secret for content marketers, mostly because it is a very scary place. Users are anonymous, so they can (and will) say whatever they want.
If you can handle that, then you can be successful on reddit.
If your subreddit of choice allows links, then great. Otherwise, you will need to take full advantage of self posts.
This is my usual format for a self post:
Couple things to note here:
Introduce yourself and link to your site
Give some digestible information before the wall of text
Avoid links (leave one or two in the whole post if you can)
493 upvotes is great, but check out how many people have viewed this post:
That’s a whole lotta views. It shows how many lurkers are on reddit.
It’s not that much traffic to your site, but that’s OK! You are still building clout around your website with the reddit audience, and one day they might actually visit your site and subscribe.
Reddit is its own little (huge) world. Although it may not seem like it, there are a lot of really smart people on Reddit. It’s definitely worth your time if you want to make a dent in your industry. I’ve found some of my best interviews through Reddit.
The power of Reddit comments
Especially when you’re starting out, you should take advantage of reddit comments.
In general, I always check the comments of a reddit post. I love to see people’s reactions and dive into comment threads. Based on my analytics, other people do this too.
Reddit comments can drive serious traffic. Here’s my traffic from last December:
That big spike? It came from this comment on this thread:
Comments are a great way to get some traction, because you’re able to get a pulse on the community, contribute and add value, and also try different things.
Show your human side
Show your human side, show your emotions, and be yourself.
Here’s a great example:
It got 9 upvotes, and no comments.
He went back only a few days later, changed up the title to be** more human**, and look what happened!
Show your human side, and always try different titles if you’re not successful on your first try!
Treat your haters with class
If you post a lot on reddit, you will probably gain some haters. Here’s an example of what I get on the daily:
There’s nothing you can do about this, so don’t let it stop you.
As I said above, you will gain some haters, but more importantly, you will gain way more fans. So, respond to them with class - give your perspective, show you are a human like them, and keep posting!
Here’s an example of how I responded to the criticism of that same post.
I’ve hit the front page of Hacker News four times, which has resulted in monster traffic.
But, I’ve had my fair share of flops.
So, the only advice I have here is to experiment with titles and post as much as you can.
The HN audience is a bit unpredictable. For all of my posts that went big, I didn’t expect it. And many times, I thought posts would go big - they didn’t.
So, it’s just dumb luck to hit the front page. :)
I suggest having two accounts, your personal account, and your business account. Link your website/business account in your profile - people will navigate to it and visit your site.
Use your personal account to build your audience. Unless you have some big PR event, building your audience will be a slow grind, but very worth it.
The best way to build your Twitter following is to tweet every day about the interesting stuff "behind the scenes" of your business. Sharing things like revenue and metrics are great.
And when you have "mini revelations", which you always do when starting/running a business, you should share those too.
Facebook is a tough one. The Facebook feed algorithm doesn’t like links, and Facebook Business pages are almost useless.
But, there is a ton of opportunity inside of Facebook groups. I haven’t been able to totally crack it, but I have gotten some decent traffic from it.
You should join as many groups as you can (there should be a lot for any topic) and experiment by posting in them.
The most important thing to do is add value in your posts, don’t simply link. Lately, here’s what my posts have looked like:
Instagram is probably the worst platform to drive traffic if you have a blog or website, but I do think there is some value in it.
It’s great for your "brand", and some people legitimately ONLY use Instagram for their content (god bless their souls).
I automated Instagram posts with hashtags so I barely have to touch it.
One piece of advice; use the Instagram tagline to your advantage. You can fit a lot of text in there and your audience will read that instead of navigating to your site.
Experiment & Keep Trying
You should try everything:
Experiment with titles. Experiment with platforms. Experiment with timing of posts. Try Pinterest. Try Quora. Experiment with images. The list goes on.
You will learn a lot through the process.
Focus on your content & output
The only thing you have control over is your content.
You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.
So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.
Stop constantly looking at Google Analytics
If this is not a problem for you, then I’m truly impressed. It’s one of my worst habits.
You should try to check GA as little as possible. Try to do it just once per day.
Ask others to share your content
If you ask nicely, people will share your content! I ask all of interviewees to share their own interviews, and give them an easy way to do so.
Here’s what the end of my publish email looks like:
It’s all about the hustle, good luck sharing your stuff!
If you want to read more stuff like this, follow me on Twitter :)
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.
If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new interviews every Tuesday.
Interested in sharing your own story? Shoot me an email!
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