I'm a software engineer and I am decidedly not a marketing guy (I play one on the Internet from time to time but I really just write code). I recently launched a side project, Job Hound, that had an unexpectedly successful first day and I thought documenting it might help someone out there (and certainly help me; that's usually why I blog anything; it helps me understand things).
What is Job Hound?
Job Hound is a tool that I wrote recently as a way to "make getting a tech job suck less". I recently went out to get a full time gig and I found the process just so plain awful so I wrote software as a way to put myself in control of it. After finding it incredibly useful for my own needs, and then showing it a few friends to positive feedback, I figured that I'd throw it on a cheap Digital Ocean box and see what happened.
Timing for Metrics
I'm writing this after the first 16 hours the product was live. All marketing activities were done around 8 am EST. There's a bit in the Metrics section that gives the numbers after a full 24 hours but this was initially written at the 16 hour mark and then published a few days later.
My Launch "Plan"
Last week an article on Quartz talking about the rise in homework for job seekers took off on Hacker News with 989 comments.
Here was my launch plan:
My friend Nick: You should document your story on your struggle to find a job and then post it on Hacker News
Honestly there wasn't more to it than that. This isn't a humblebrag by any means. Someone I respect suggested it and, well, that is how it started.
I had about 500 words of a very crufty blog post in draft form right in my coding editor so I polished that up from 5 am to 7 am and that became my Ten Things I Learned from a Job Hunt for a Senior Engineering Role blog post. I also submitted it to Hacker News where over the course of the next 16 hours, it got 638 comments.
I should point out that this is the first thing I've ever submitted to Hacker News that has gotten any traction at all.
I did tweet my blog post on my personal twitter and I also made a Job Hound specific tweet and then pinned the Job Hound tweet so it stayed at the top of my twitter feed.
I honestly never even thought to put my blog post on Facebook. I did that 24 hours later so I don't have any metrics on that.
My final launch action, one I had no hope for at all, was that I also tossed Job Hound up on Product Hunt where it got 56 up votes during roughly the same period (it may have been on Product Hunt 1 day longer; the whole day is kind of a blur right now).
I did relatively little tuning of the content. My buddy Nick suggested that I emphasize the free nature of Job Hound in the blog post and that I add the Product Hunt link into the blog post. Both of these were good ideas and done around 2 pm EST.
Since roughly 8 am this morning (sixteen hours so far), Job Hound has had:
- 204 user accounts created (email / password)
- 98 jobs added
- An average of 0.48 jobs per user
After a full 24 hours, the numbers were:
- 236 user accounts created (email / password)
- 119 jobs added
- An average of 0.50 jobs per user
In terms of social media metrics, I started the day with 163 twitter followers and I ended it a full 24 hours later with 187.
Are these numbers good? I think that absolutely depends on your perspective. For a side project that I publicly launched with absolutely zero planning – I'm absolutely delighted.
Followup after 4 days: The numbers have continued to steadily grow and I've gotten quite a few emails, linked in messages, tweets and other feedback that all indicates to me that I have hit on something. My plan is that keep working Job Hound as a side project and just making it better and better. Maybe something comes of this; maybe not but helping people get jobs is a good thing.
I received a number of emails and messages via LinkedIn and I tried to respond to everyone on the same day. I've always found that talking to users is the best damn marketing you can do. This is the root of the Job Hound Thank You page.
You're probably wondering "what about the web traffic?" I'm sorry to say that my Google Analytics skills just aren't all that good so I haven't been able to dig into them with any success as of yet. I'm sure the data is there but I'm too brain dead to figure it out.
Conclusion - Content Does Work
I think my overall conclusions from all this are:
- Creating content on the Internet as a marketing tool really does work but the content has to have value of its own. You can't simply shill your product; embed it in something that is interesting all on its own.
- Telling a personal story works.
- Lucky is better than smart. I was extremely lucky in getting coverage from Hacker News.
- Timing matters. I was lucky to be able to ride a wave of hiring interest from the Quartz article. This didn't occur to me and it took the pushing of a good friend for me to put this out. Thanks Nick.