Musings from a Solopreneur : Follow my adventures as I detail the launch of my Craigslist Alerts App. Why Blendah? You will read articles on Inbound Marketing, SEO, CRO, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Customer Development, Lean Startup, and Product Mangement.
May 7, 2013 at 1:32pm
Craigslist Shut Me Down :(
Last week I receieved a cease and desist from the attorneys of Craigslist. I can’t say I’m suprised, I knew there was a good chance of that happening.
Some might expect a bitter attitude on my part, but to be honest I wasn’t really that distressed about the situation. I learned a ton in the couple of months that CL Alerts was active. I went from 0-800 users in under 3 months with no marketing budget.
I successfully managed the development through Odesk with a great developer I found and I managed to do it for under $500.
I am thankful for two services in particular, Odesk and Mailgun. Without them I would not have been able to build the solution to the problem that I knew many Craigslist users have.
So what’s next? My day job is in the automotive culture scene where I am the project manager of Formula Drift’s webcast product called DRIFTStream.
While working with sponsors and and our media partners I started to realize that there was a gap in connecting brands with these smaller niche media sites.
Soon… I will be launching RedlineAds, The Automotive Culture Ad Network. Once again this opportunity would not have been possible even a couple of years ago but with the help cloud based platforms I can develop a vertical ad network.
My inspiration came from The Deck Network. A vertical ad network in the design niche that only allows certain publishers in it’s network and screen’s advertisers. The focus on the end user’s expierence by allowing only one ad per page and not a very big one at that.
Remember “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates
December 12, 2012 at 9:01am
How a Rookie Got a Top Google Ranking: The Holy Grail - Part 1
See I am lean startup disciple so I used the first two months to get feedback from our users on how our service could delight them. It’s still a work in progress.. for that matter I guess it will always be.
Fast forward to the early morning hours of 12.10.12 as I was getting ready for bed I was checking to see why I was getting a consistent amount of signups for the last two days.
So I googled “craigslist alerts” to see if there had been any changes. For the past month or so.. I had been holding steady at the top of the second page. During that time I implemented a well rounded content and link-building strategy.
This was a strong keyword to rank for as you can see below.
I knew that if I stayed consistent and disciplined I would get on the first page of the Big G eventually. As a point of reference I owe much of my success to Jon Cooper’s PHENOMENAL Link Building Course! (Go buy this course now!)
Here is the thing though.. The way that I developed an inbound marketing strategy is I acted like Google didn’t exist. Hear me out, I knew from that keyword research that a good amount of people were searching for a problem that I could solve.
Twitter search: I comb Twitter search once a day and find relevant tweets that I can interact with. This is a good sniper technique and has been effective in driving traffic but is not easy to scale while still being personable.
Personal Blog: On Dec 1, I started blogging about my experiences building Cl Alerts. Topics have ranged from how I went from 0-20,000 email alerts sent in two months to link building to creating a demo video for $5 and finding early evangelists. In seven days I had over 3000 visits and made it to the front of page of HackerNews, inbound.org, StartupRev and PandaWhale I submitted all posts to Reddit, Buzzfeed,Digg and Stumbleupon. This was by far the best driver of traffic and what I think was mostly responsible for my meteoric rise of the search rankings. The best part was the content creation was based on what I have been learning throughout the past two months.
If you’re a disciple of of the Lean Startup methodology you know who Early Evangelists are. You also know that they are a key ingredient to success for a lean startup in the pre-product market fit stage. The tough part is finding them in an effcient manner. My lean startup mentor Noah Kagan really stirred up my creativity after watching these 3 videos on how to find customers.
(Stop reading and go watch NOW!)
That was awesome wasn’t it?
Ok here is where it get’s really good.
Even though a lot of the principles that Noah discusses are really simple they are also creative at the same time. You have to be able to think at a very micro level when it comes to developing a customer profile.
This lead to my eureka moment as I was trying to find potential early evangelists for my Craigslist Alerts App. I had to find users that were currently using a similar service.. but where?
Itunes has a plethora of Craigslist App’s but I couldn’t glean any user data from the reviews. So I ventured over to the Google Chrome store and found this treasure trove potential early evangelist’s.
The amazing part of this hack is that most of these reviews are linked with Google+ profiles.
So I simply followed the links over to Google+ and reached out personally via a message. Here is an example of message I sent to a potential early evangelist.
Not only was I able to reach out in an efficient manner but I could also pre-screen potential users before I ever sent a message. I could tell what type of hobbies and things they liked what type of jobs they had and if they were natural cheerleaders for brands.
The end result was about 25 early evangelist’s that really helped refine our service. Not only that but they also help spread the word about our service. Which has led to very healthy usage so far.
Ok you got it… Jon Cooper the brains behind this amazing course clearly and effectivley unfolds an effective “white hat” link building strategy from scratch.
First order of business: Competitor research - Jon laid out a simple strategy that works. He even offers a free tool that is exclusive for users of his course to do link analysis on competitors.
In my research I have noticed that there are a number Craigslist Alert Apps out of business. This was a no brainer… there had to be tons of links to these sites that were dead.
So I plugged in the expired url’s into Jon’s nifty little tool. I then sorted the results by Mozrank (Similar to Google Page Rank) Check out the screenshot below
￼I then studied the sample email templates Jon provided in his course for reaching out to bloggers and webmasters. I came up with what I thought was a relevant and personal email pointing out some broken links on her blog post as well as a tip for an awesome article she wrote on responsive sites. ￼
Not bad eh? You’re thinking big deal.. let’s see some results pal. ￼ BAM!
How’s that for a confidence booster! That is just a small sample of the success that I am having through Jon’s course for my new Craigslist Notifier App.
Oct 1 Cl Alerts soft launched. A little over 2 months later and we have sent over 22,000 Craigslist alert emails. Most importantly we have started to refine the product to our user’s needs.
It all started out about 3 months ago when I was using IFTTT to subscribe to Craigslist gigs for some potential consulting gigs. I landed 2 contracts off the service and thought to myself there must be others that aren’t as web 2.0 savvy that would love a service like this.
IFTTT is a great tool to get Craigslist alerts BUT it’s too difficult to setup and to maintain.
I started doing more research and noticed that there were a number of competitors in the market. One would think that this would be a detriment but it actually helped me validate this idea quicker.
I wanted to create a service that was super simple to use and at the same time really flexible. Our MVP focused on these two points.
Our bookmarklet doesn’t require an account, just a simple email subscription that can be edited and stopped directly from the email.
Users simply search for the thing they are looking for on Craigslist.org and then bookmark it via our bookmarklet. This allows users to use special search query’s on Craigslist and use CL categories.
With the help of some talented peeps from Odesk I was able to go from concept to working demo in about 2.5 weeks. Cl Alerts was built on top of Mailgun, Launchbit and MagpieRSS.
Can you guess how much it cost for development? Go ahead and guess below!
My next post I show you how I spent a whopping $5 to create our demo video