Anatomy of Three Writeups

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By I Done This Support

The lean startup movement disdains the big press launch, and rightfully so. However, the polemical nature of the argument gives off the impression that press should never be sought.  Quite the contrary, press should be sought ceaselessly.  That being said, it’s important to understand the magnitude of traffic that you can expect from press and of what kind.

We’ve been fortunate to have received writeups from three of the biggest drivers of traffic for a young startupLifehacker, Netted, and Business Insider.


With the tiny investment of time that it took to draft two cold emails, we got a huge payoff in getting written up by Lifehacker.  For most new startups, TechCrunch is a distant and unattainable goal, but Lifehacker will write about your weekend project if it’s got a compelling productivity hook.  To boot, Lifehacker will drive traffic on the same order of magnitude as TechCrunch with users who may actually stick around.

Lifehacker visibility attracted productivity nuts like Ernesto Ramirez to our site, who brought a strong point of view to our broad-based product.  As a Quantified Self guy, within the daily email-reminder scheme, Ernesto saw the opportunity to track “everything else” — the stuff that you can’t track with a device.  He helped us understand how to build for QS folk and evangelized our product throughout the community.

The one-day high traffic spike from Lifehacker was just short of 4,000 visits, but over the course of a month, that same content was syndicated out to Lifehacker Japan, Lifehacker Australia, Lifehacker Canada, and Lifehacker UK.  All told, we got over 11,000 visits and around 4,000 signups from investing one hour to draft two emails.


Getting written up by Netted was a pleasant surprise.  We hadn’t pitched them — they had found us through Lifehacker, tried the site for one month, and liked it, so they wrote about us.  Zach at Netted had kind words for us.  He wrote, “Honestly, I spend my days looking at hundreds and hundreds of sites… yours is well made, simple, effective and generally awesome. Well done.”

Netted drove a one-day high just exceeding that of Lifehacker — a tad over 4,000 visits — but because Netted works as a daily email, it netted very little traffic in the days that followed (on the order of hundreds of visits).

Nevertheless, the Netted cohort is the strongest of the three in terms of those users who have stuck around and continued to use the product.  It’s a testament to the Netted brand and the character of its user base that it drove thousands of signups to a “digital journal” product who didn’t just sign up to take a peek at the product.  Netted referrals had close to the highest ratio of signups to first-time use, and those users continued to use the product week over week.

Business Insider

It’s useful to follow tech journalists because they’ll occasionally tweet asking for help with stories they’re writing.  In late June, Alyson Shontell at Business Insider tweeted that she was “compiling a hot Silicon Valley startup list” and she sought “help finding hidden gems.”  I found her email and composed her a note with a short blurb about iDoneThis as a hidden gem.

I heard nothing from her for a month, and then at the end of July, she wrote back saying that we’d made the list.  A few days later, the list was up and the bump hit a one-day high of nearly 5,000 visits.

The writeup was fantastic for us in terms of traffic and signups, but the Business Insider bump was perhaps most notable in terms of the queries from VCs, angels, salespeople, and job seekers that it sent our way.  It makes sense — it’s an industry blog about startups, not a subject-matter site like Lifehacker.  Nonetheless, because the startup world is filled with high achievers and productivity seekers, we also retained a number of committed users from the writeup.

What’s your take on press?

Have you experienced press bumps?  How do you turn it into recurring, sustainable traffic?  Let us know in the comments!


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