How To Drive Traffic To Your Website - Side Project Edition
You've been working on your side project for nearly 6 months now, launch date's today. You're super excited to show the world what you've been working on, you hit the launch button and...no traffic or users at all.
It's a common problem. Us IndieHackers know where to advertise our products, but not all of us know how to post our products. I've split up this blog post to two categories:
👉 How to get a huge traffic boost for a short period of time with little to no work. 👉 How to get steady traffic by using long-term strategies.
Huge Traffic Boosts
This is a great way to not only gain traffic, but also to validate your idea (if you haven't already). There are hundreds of directories all over the internet that you can post your side project to and in return get huge traffic boosts. Let me go over where to post your side projects, the pros and cons of posting on said websites, and how to post on said websites.
Where To Post Your Side Projects
- Sideprojectors, yes, you can showcase your projects on Sideprojectors.
There are hundreds more websites you can submit your side projects to, but let's keep it simple for the sake of keeping this blog post short and sweet.
Pros and Cons of Posting On Directories
- Free huge traffic boost and all that comes with it. Be it sales, newsletter subscriptions, etc.
- Short term traffic. You could very well succeed on Reddit, HackerNews, and ProductHunt and you'd be set for a good week or so, but it'll be drought season afterwards.
- Wrong audience. You're not necessarily targeting the 'optimal' audience by posting your side project on all these websites.
Should you do it? Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes. Despite the low quality of traffic, you'll still be seeing a good portion of your target audience on these platforms. You're not really paying to submit on these platforms, so do it, if it works, good on you. If not, you should have a backup plan (second category in this blog post).
How To Post On These Platforms
I've been waiting for this section. Let's assume you're releasing a website performance monitoring tool called Monitr. Things you should not do:
❌ Do not post your URL on all platforms meaninglessly.
Yup, that's it. So how do you share your product? Well, on websites such as ProductHunt, BetaPage and so on, there really isn't much you can do other than post the URL, but on community-based websites such as IndieHackers, Reddit, and HackerNews, there's so much room for creativity.
i.e. A post about website performance and its role in improving organic traffic with a link at the end of the article. More often than not, well thought out articles will rise to the top and your link will gain exposure. If not, you've added value to the community and you aren't really spamming your link. The mods will not be on your back.
Repurpose the content, you've written the blog post, will you go post that 1000+ article on Facebook/Twitter? No, try to make a simple graphic that will hook people and add your website's link within that graphic and the first comment. People on Facebook generally have low attention spans, so if you don't really grab their attention in the first few seconds they see your post, they're gone.
The point of this sub-section is to tell you to learn the platform before mindlessly spamming your links.
Steady Traffic Using Long-Term Strategies
My #1 lesson learned from my side projects which you can read all about here. What do I mean by long-term strategies? SEO.
SEO is a waiting game. You post your content, and you wait to rank on Google, but you don't just go posting about anything, you need to be smart about what you're writing about.
Pick high volume, low competition keywords.
For example, my last article 20+ Free Design Resources for Developers targeted the keywords 'free design resources'. According to Google Keywords, it receives 1k-10k search queries per month and has low competition, and well, it was a great pick. I'm currently the 10th result on Google for that keyword.
Write valuable posts
If you provide value, you will get noticed. I went ahead and posted my free design resources article on IndieHackers, dev.to, and HN just for the fun of it. I get around ~250 visitors from posting on there. Great, I head to bed, wake up and check my notifications only to find this:
So what's so surprising? Well, the traffic sources. I only posted on 3 websites. But I open up the acquisition tab and to my surprise, my 2nd most traffic source is from a website that featured my article that I didn't even know about.
174 visitors came from traffic sources I did not submit my article to. The article was picked because it received attention on the 3 websites I posted to. Here are the stats for the article on IndieHackers and dev.to
So I post the article hoping for some short term traffic, but what I didn't know is that it brought longer short term traffic. But wait, wasn't this a short term strategy? Yes, but also no.
You're also building backlinks this way. When a high domain authory website such as daily.dev features your website and links back to your website, that is great news.
Setup Search Console and Keep Track Of Your Organic Traffic
Search Console takes longer times to crawl new websites so you may find the results to be a little off at the beginning, that's fine. Set it up anyway, it's a very helpful tool. You get to see what keywords you're gaining impressions for, how many clicks you're getting, and what keywords are getting those clicks.
SEO is a long and tiring game, but once you start seeing results it's a great feeling. You no longer have to worry about constantly trying to find sources of traffic, they just roll in. Let me know your traffic game in the comments below and I hope you enjoyed this article!