2 weeks ago I posted a link to Jobs Tractor to hacker news “Show HN: who’s hiring? jobs mined from twitter”. I wanted to answer a simple question “Is this site useful?” and for myself “Should I spend any more time working on this?”. Three hours at the number one spot and 10k hits overnight answered yes to both. The immediate question of what to do next was simple enough, I had 100 people signed up to my weekly jobs email but no emailing functionality set up.
After that and a few tweaks to the interface I’ve decided to look at increasing the traffic I’ve got. I’ve currently got 100 to 150 people a day coming to the site, the question now is how to go about increasing that with the resources available to me?
My situation – bootstrapping on a shoestring
I have a day job, and in the evenings my wife occasionally expects me to spend time with her. I can get some work done each day whilst commuting as well as on the weekends and in the evenings. The main restriction on me is capital of which I have some but not so much I can spend big on advertising. If I was to monetize the site my current plan would be to grow the user base location by location, start offering featured listings in those locations to employers (no agencies, I’ll blog about why one day) and use the money from that to rinse and repeat. The obvious questions with that are:
- Will employers pay for featured listings?
- Can I get enough traffic from individual geographic areas? (at a price which works for me?)
- Which area to start with?
The answer to the third will probably come from a combination of where I have most jobs to offer and where I am already getting the most traffic from. Currently New York is a strong contender. The answer to the first will be found by putting something on the site offering featured listings and seeing if people show an interest in it (already done). The answer to the second comes down to trying it out and seeing how it works.
Below is my current plan to increase traffic on the site and importantly to start testing some of the ideas above.
- Contacting bloggers and news sites for coverage
After some research on alexa and technorati I had a list of 12 blogs to contact. This resulted in one tweet so far. Launching a new website might be newsworthy if you’re Joel Spolsky but if you’re Robin Warren, less so. I’ll keep contacting people as I find them but for now people seem to be thinking “that’s neat” as opposed to “that’s newsworthy”.
I could be posting links in the various jobs forums on Linkedin. I’m not going to start doing this yet as I’m not sure how much those forums are mainly just full of recruiters.
- Posting links to Reddit/DZone/Digg
I did this yesterday evening with minimal success (or you could call it maximum failure ). The dzone submission drove some traffic then got removed by an admin. Digg and reddit sent me very little.
- Inbound marketing
There are a number of interesting things I could do and mini sites I could build with the tweets I have. I’m looking forward to creating some of these when I get the time.
- Press releases
There are places which will issue these for free or for a small charge. Opinion seems to be mixed on their value. Given the lack of interest from sites very closely aligned with my audience I don’t think there is value in me issuing a press release. I may stick a free one out anyway to see what happens.
- Giving people something to give away
Different from giving something away, which can also work. This is giving people something they can give away. Farmville does this apparently (I’ve never played) with some items in the game which you can earn but only in that you get them to give as presents to others. This gives the person a chance to do something nice for a friend (aww, aren’t the people at Zynga nice) but also then brings the other person back into farmville on the recommendation of a friend who they then maybe feel some debt to so go and fix their tractor or something (like I say I’ve never played) and generally increasing their involvement with the game all round. My plan here would be to give away featured listings to developer groups, ie Ruby user groups etc. this relies on featured listings being something people see value in and there being enough traffic at that location to be it worth their while. This is something which will have to wait.
- Word of mouth …hint hint
Word of mouth can be very powerful, my favorite picture from this great blog post on Minimum Viable Personality is this one about the formula for win. The key is to have something people care about and want to talk about, and maybe just a bit about asking people to do that. I’m not going to put tweet links or Facebook like buttons on the site, but if you wanted to I’d much appreciate a tweet about Jobs Tractor. To date twitter has been the second largest referer to the site.
- Google ads
Thereis always google adwords, but the amount of people searching terms relevant to a jobs board is pretty slim. The content network looks more promising though. I’ll give this a go as soon as I get a chance and see how it performs. You can also target your ads geographically so this could be a source of traffic should I pick a location to focus on.
- Other ad networks
There’s also the higher class paid ad networks such as influads.com and buysellads.com. I’d also include in this category sites like thedailywtf.com which manage their own advertising. This could be a significant outlay and isn’t geographically targeted. This is one for later in the process assuming I can prove a revenue model.
- Reddit ads
Reddit ads can be pretty economical, at around $0.10 cpc or $0.20 cpm it’s 1/10th the cost of the influads traffic. I’ve set my ad up, it starts running next monday for 3 days in /r/programming. Even though it doesn’t fit with my ‘geographic niche’ plan I think it’s worth spending this money whilst the site has some ‘shiny new thing’ coolness about it. At the above estimated ppc I should get 1000 people through. I’m currently converting people to email subscriptions pretty well so I’ve some hope of retaining a small but respectable portion of this traffic.
- Facebook ads
This has the option of being pretty well targeted. Specifically if I’m planning on trying to build traction in a single geographical location. Once the Reddit ad has run I may try some ads out on Facebook.
- StumbeUpon, paid stumbles
From listening to others with more experience of StumbleUpon it sounds like you need interesting content to do well. A job site isn’t likely to be interesting enough, but some of the plans I have for inbound marketing mentioned above probably are.
That’s it for the moment. I think there is something interesting in Jobs Tractor but I’m not in a position to throw money at it. I either need to generate revenues soon to cover further spending or I need to focus purely on free methods for building traffic.