A few year ago I started Android Static, a tiny blog build with a cobbled together WordPress theme and a shoestring budget. In a year of starting it, I built that site’s traffic up to 20,000 users a month.
Against all odds, I created an audience based on little more than a limited understanding of online marketing and a half-baked idea for a blog.
In retrospect, it was easy. Hell, most things seem easier after putting some time between yourself and your hard labor way back when.
Let’s Talk Digital Hustling
I’m not trying to jump on a buzzword or make one, but I like the idea of “digital hustling.” The idea that, against all odds, someone can start to market their website and generate traffic using tiny loopholes in the system.
Being a digital hustler means riding the border between acceptable and spammy. Tactics that, by their very nature, are intended for people that have nothing to lose.
New sites are sweaty-desperate for traffic; the marketing equivalent of a college student looking for an entry level position.
That same desperation leads to an anything-goes level of standards that is all about hawking it with fervor. I’m talking about pushing your site to the limits of your very soul.
5 Dirty Tricks For Digital Hustling
These tips aren’t for the faint of heart. Expect rejection. Lots of it.
In some cases that rejection takes the form of simply not getting traction. In other cases, this means outright malicious and nasty comments and reactions. It’s part of the game.
1. Post Something On Reddit
Reddit is single-handedly responsible for shutting down two of my websites. Crushing amounts of visitors that, if you are able to finesse a link, can provide you with a bounty of traffic.
Whatever your topic or subject matter, there exists a subreddit that you can post your link into that has a semblance of appropriateness of topicality.
Ideally, you should already have a Reddit account that you’ve used for awhile and whose history is filled with more than just hawking your own posts and content.
As a rule of thumb on Reddit and all community-based methods of hustling, you should have an account history that reflects more than just posting-up links to yourself. It makes people in digital communities hate you less when they feel like you’re a regular contributor to discussions that, on occasion, will slip in a little self promotion.
There’s also some art to writing and framing a post on Reddit for it gain traction. I have a mixed history of success with this — having some posts bomb and other due pretty well. I personally think this post on Siege Media’s site does a pretty good job of explaining the ins-and-outs better than I can.
2. Tweet Someone On Twitter and Tell Them About Your Thing
The things I’m suggesting here could literally get your social media accounts banned. I found this lesson out the hard way when I decided to target certain users on Twitter according to their tweets and reply to them suggesting a post I had written that would answer their Android related question only to have the @androidstatic Twitter account suspended.
I did eventually get that account back, but it was scary to think about what little audience I had built up at the time suddenly gone because I wanted a pittance of traffic.
While a single post on Reddit can produce a lot of traffic quickly, for any success on Twitter you’ll need to bag a whale. The whales are the ones that have a lot of followers, are in your subject area, and have some history of retweeting content directly related to what that company or person does.
A simple “@matthewdeal What do you think about this post I just wrote” can produce some collaboration and even some traffic for your site.
Favoriting someone’s tweet is another good tactic for promoting your account as much as your content, albeit in a roundabout away; your banking on someone looking at your favorite and then looking at you. Coordinating favorites along with some tweets of your own is a good way to strike while the iron’s hot.
3. Say Something Nice About Someone or Something
The Internet is a great medium for writing your opinion about something and touting it as fact (although, I would never do this). One really good way to get in front other people is to discuss their product, business, idea, blog post, video or any other thing that connects you to them.
If I want to target for a particular company, I will write a post about that company and then send an ever so sweetly framed tweet or e-mail to that entity. Digital is egotistical and appealing to that side of people makes them warm on their insides and, thus, more likely to expose your content in the channels they own.
Posts I wrote years ago about certain companies still appear on company websites as taglines and press quotes. I’m not saying write nice things that don’t reflect your opinion; I would never fake liking someone for the sake of exposure, but there is a way to highlight your content in a way that makes it likely that the subject of your story will give you exposure.
4. Say Something Awful About Someone or Something
To play devils advocate, there’s nothing better than saying something terrible about someone and seeing the ripples throughout the digital landscape.
While there’s been some research that more positive stories end up spreading their ways across social media, everywhere, according to the old newspaper adage, “if it bleeds it leads.”
5. Ask For “Feedback”
Feedback sucks. Feedback is a way that people tell you all the things you did wrong and you have to sit there and eat it like cereal that’s been sitting in milk for too long. I’m sort of kidding.
But, people believe in feedback as a tool for improvement and perspective, and popular people especially would love to impart their knowledge on your subject. So, send an e-mail under the guise of asking for feedback. Post in a forum that you normally never would under the Question and Answer section.
People will impart their knowledge to you which opens up the doors for further conversations for sharing your content. This is more of a long-con strategy that is more about developing and grooming certain people as mentors to help you, in the end, to promote your own content.
Wow, I Feel Dirty
You should! I certainly do. These are awful things that can get people to your site if that’s the goal. You will be hated and loathed and SEO’s everywhere will cast ill looks upon you.
On the other extreme, I’ll leave you with another idea. Let’s assume that you have something amazing you want to share with the world.
You really believe in this thing.
You have to get it out there.
There are tons of people that will do these things with nothing more than dollar signs in their eyes or their own vague sense of ambition for bad work.
But for every 1000 of those there’s one person that deserves to bubble to the top, against the currents, and succeed.