Weekly update : 7 May 2011 – First update

What’s all this then?

I’ve decided to write something every week about my progress building Jobs Tractor. I’m learning a lot as I go, this is my first time building something like this myself so there’s a lot to learn. I’ll benefit by writing my experiences down as I should then remember the lessons better and hopefully it could be of use/interest to others doing similar things.

If you want to know more about Jobs Tractor, head over to http://jobstractor.com and take a read. Right now I need bloggers interested in being part of the initial group of publishers and employers interested in advertising their jobs on those blogs. I’ll not writeup the history of the idea here or what it’s about, I’m going to concentrate on my experiences in the previous week. I may drop a few bits of history in as well in time.

Weekly update : 7 May 2011

My focus this week was on getting some feedback on Jobs Tractor and to start talking to some bloggers about being part of the network. I’d had the site up for about a week and was keen to start getting some feedback before making any decisions to spend more time developing it. I’ve been on holiday from my regular fulltime job last week, but I had some freelancing in working in Cardiff at the BBC for my old boss. It was a good week, but time consuming. I was in London all day Saturday, Cardiff on Tuesday and then back in Cardiff Thursday evening through to Friday afternoon (3 hrs sleep). This did leave me some good time for pushing Jobs Tractor on a bit as well though.

Similar offerings

I found a couple of similar offerings (both now defunct) which I’ll write more about another time. At first this left me feeling a bit down as I was wondering what I was wasting my time for when others had already tried and failed. On closer inspection one turned out to be fairly different from myself but still worth learning lessons from although they had been in business for a very short period of time. Another was very similar (same pricing, similar revenue structure for bloggers) and had operated for at least two and maybe as long as 3 years. Both companies closed their doors in 2009 citing the downturn in recruitment as a cause, although not exclusively blaming that in the former case as there had been other issues. I guess if you operate a business relying on providing revenue to bloggers then a downturn in revenues of any longer than a month or two can be enough for them to start looking elsewhere and start impacting the attractiveness of your service.

I’ve emailed a few of the bloggers who were using each of the services above and heard back from one already. I’ve made one decision about the product based on this but I’m hoping to get more responses in future.

What I learned

  1. The way back machine is a very useful tool for researching companies which no longer exist.
  2. Short polite emails to people can really work, not everyone responds but it’s nice when they do.
  3. If your website has a load of stuff about how recruitment agencies are a pain in the arse, don’t email a blogger whose day job is as a recruitment consultant asking what he thinks of your idea ;)
  4. The MVP for Jobs Tractor is I think going to need location targeting, so readers see jobs relevant to where they physically are. I’d dropped this from version 1.0 in an attempt to speed things up. I don’t think this will be a big problem to implement as I’ve already looked into it a bit.

Marketing/Launch plan

A bit over a week ago I went along to Thirsty Thursday intent on picking some brains for how to get started marketing Jobs Tractor. I had a few conversations but ended up mostly a bit downhearted that I didn’t really know what I was doing and probably had a mountain (range) to climb. Over the weekend I did some reading, watched this great interview and started making notes. I ended on a bit of a high that I at least had a plan, or probably more like a plan to get to the point where I could create a real plan, but hey!

I’m not sure about AdWords yet as I’m not sure how to target the people I’m after, after an hour or so tinkering with the keyword tool I’d got some notes on possible keywords to target but wasn’t sure of how it’d work for me at this stage. I sketched out a Reddit ad, Reddit seems like it could be worthwhile for attracting employers. StumbleUpon looks interesting but I think I’d need something entertaining to submit and then direct people over to the main site if I could. I’m keen to try to validate the publisher side of the proposition first if I can, I don’t think any of these approaches are the best way to go about that.

I decided to put any ad spend on hold for now and start contacting some potential publishers directly. I’ve heard back from one already so need to ramp up efforts a bit. Once I’ve got some publishers interested I think advertising to try to bring in employers will make sense.

What I learned

  1. Marketing is fun, or at least learning new stuff is interesting. Reading up about similar offerings and hatching plans for getting the good word out there is interesting. Turns out I like scheming.
  2. Working out who to contact and contacting them directly is more work than creating an ad but a whole lot cheaper and at least you know the right people have seen your pitch.
  3. I can see how if I had money to spare I’d probably be burning through that right now rather than doing something I don’t enjoy (emailing people I don’t know) which is going to be more useful right now.

Useful resources

  1. The 5 Minute Guide To Cheap Startup Advertising
  2. Gabriel Weinberg’s Reddit ad writeup
  3. Winning the web Reddit ad experience
  4. Search YC for lists of popular blogs
  5. Alexa to check out how popular sites you’re thinking of contacting are

Fear

I was scared of a few things this week. The election system I was supporting going tits up on Thursday night was high on the list. On Thursday afternoon I submitted Jobs Tractor to hacker news as a ‘Show HN’ and watched it disappear off the bottom of the new page having gained no up votes, not sure why but I’d been nervous before I submitted the link. I also submitted a blog post about my recruitment process on my personal blog to HN, again it disappeared. Obviously neither of these were interesting enough, maybe next time. I’d had the fear when I first emailed someone about Jobs Tractor but now it’s not a problem, just shows you get over these things pretty fast.

Next Week

I’m back to work next week and back on the train so can start getting some work done on the commute. I need to continue contacting bloggers who might be interested and see what I can find out from bloggers who had used the two similar offerings to check I’m not making a mistake. It’d also be good to get some work done on the location targeting and maybe get some blogger/s to try to put my ad code on their site to check there aren’t any issues doing that…

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