Write Your Own Story

Every milestone is an opportunity to attract attention to your startup because you have a piece of “news” — a new piece of noteworthy information that no one else but you has.

When you have something to announce, conventional wisdom says to go to the press and blogs with your story because they (1) have distribution and (2) are expert in crafting a story.  In the past, we’ve offered nuggets of news to journalists as exclusives, and we’ve gotten written up by Betabeat and The Next Web this way.

However, we’ve recently experimented with writing our own story on our own blog, telling a narrative that’s personal and shows how we work behind the scenes, harnessing the power of social news for distribution — and that has resulted in our all-time one-day high for traffic and 1,000+ signups, more than double the signups resulting from our press piece.  Through that experience, we’ve learned the importance of writing your own story and turning transparency and narrative into a competitive advantage.

 
 
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How We Got Our First 5,000 Users

Celebrate — this week we got our 5,000th user!  This is the most users either of us (Rodrigo and I) have ever had for any web project of ours.  In the past, we’ve taken the “build it and they will come” attitude towards web development … and they never came!  Here’s the story of how we did it by constructing custom narratives for influential communities.

Hacker News.  At 9am PST on January 3rd, we posted a “Show HN” article on Hacker News with the hook that we built the site to keep our New Year’s Resolutions.

Note that our Show HN post was made as an external link to idonethis.com and we made a comment on that post that described the project.  We decided to do that instead of submitting a text story to HN with the first comment as a clickable link.  We had anecdotally observed that posts without external links were not making the front page too often after HN added “Ask”, and some of our friends had observed this also.

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