March 16, 2011 - No Comments!

Zero to 100,000 Visitors in 30 Hours

I think Yellow Pages are kind of silly. I’m amazed that people even spend their money to advertise in them. But what bothers me the most about phone books is the environmental impact. On a recent walk with my wife, we saw Yellowbooks littering the ground everywhere we went. The company knows this is a big problem, but you never see Yellowbook trucks driving around, cleaning up their mess.

So, like any good 21st century citizen, I took a bunch of pictures with my iPhone and started a website. YellowbookStopLittering.com went live the next day, and within 30 hours I had over 100,000 visitors. So is Google now showering me with lucrative offers to acquire the Next Big Internet Craze? Er, not quite. Traffic dropped off, and steeply. But here are some things that I learned along the way:

Diversify your traffic sources

Reddit is a traffic generating beast, but once my submission fell off the front page, my traffic totally disappeared. The site received 104k visits in the first 30 hours, and 77 visits since.

Keep it simple

My original thought was to build things so that users could email their own photos to the site, where a script would automatically check their email addresses and download, resize, and post their shots. It wasn't until I’d spent a couple hours trying to code this functionality that I realized it was a bad idea.

First off, I wanted editorial control over the site’s content, so I could ensure the relevancy of submitted photos and keep the best ones up top. Second, and more crucially, it turns out there’s no demand for this functionality. Whoops. I had a hundred thousand people visit the site, and not a single one submitted an image.

After several hours of wasted effort, I scrapped the automation idea and went with the strategy of creating a minimally viable product (MVP), where I could then build additional features only as they were needed.

Socialize your site early

My biggest regret is that I didn’t add the Facebook "like" button until about 20 hours into the experiment, thus missing roughly 80% of the traffic. I also never threw in buttons to tweet the site. It would have been interesting to see how much referral traffic I could have received by making it easy for people to share the site with their friends.

So, the upshot is that I will not be retiring (as yet, anyway) on my brilliant Shame Yellowbook idea, but I did learn a few things about throwing up a new site with a pretty simple concept. Next time, I’ll be better prepared to keep that traffic flowing.

Published by: Greg Baugues in Developers

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