From one of the monthly summary emails
Building a side project is fun. Launching it is fun. Improving and measuring it is fun. But marketing it is aweful!

Marketing your side project means you're not coding, instead you're walking around the interwebs with your pants down trying your hardest to get people to not only try your little project but to also get beyond that by tweeting about it, Facebook status update about it, blog about it or use whatever devices inside it to help the viral spread. Now that! freckin hard.

I'm struggling to even get my best friends and my wife to even try my side projects. I can't blame them, unlike a lemonade stand at a farmers market it's very impersonal. When I tried to get my buddies to try Around The World several did but only very briefly and granted some few did give me feedback but it's really not much to go by.

So, today I'm launching the start of my new web marketing strategy: Begging

Or rather, politely asking people to help me. Instead of using the usual "we" or "our" language I'm referring to it in first person instead. The platform for this strategy experiment is on HUGEpic and it looks like this:

I'm recently built a feature into HUGEpic that once a month emails everyone who uploaded a picture a little summary of their upload and the number of hits and comments and boldly in the footer of this email there's a link to the /yourhelp/ page (see screenshot above).

Let's see how this works out. Mostly likely it'll be just another noise in the highways of peoples' internet lifes but perhaps it can become successful too.

Mind you, the motives of all of this is for my "insert-sideproject-name-here" to become successful. And by successful I mean popular and lots of traffic. None of my side projects make me any money which makes it easier to beg. However, none of them make any money for the people I'm asking for help. Perhaps that's what could be the version 2.0 of my web marketing strategy.


Post your own comment
Jonathan Jaeger

Ideally you want to hit upon a product that you don't have to beg people to use. Yes, you will have to do marketing, but that can be a fun (albeit arduous) process. Building product is a fun challenge, but marketing a product and getting quick and positive feedback is equally rewarding in my book. You really have to love both if you want to build a successful website/app/company (assuming that's what you want to do). Begging just comes across as desperate and is showing the world you don't believe your product stands on its own merit.

Peter Bengtsson

I'm perfectly aware that there are many facets of the issue but basically, what we're talking about is crossing the chasm [1]. A lot of products are in a chicken & egg situation even if they try to deny it. So much more fun stuff could be done with Around The World for example if more people play.

Would you have used MySpace if no one else was using it? Marketing is like analytics, it's a hell of a lot more fun and easier of there's some momentum to it.

What I'm saying is that I've tried "build it and they'll come" and even for stuff that individually people really really like they're not engaging enough to build the necessary momentum to cross the chasm.


Jonathan Jaeger

I guess it comes down to whether you're solving a problem and whether that problem is painful enough for people to want to switch services or start using a new service. It does take some convincing. AirBnB struggled for a long time with that chicken and egg problem, and even did some wild gimmicks for PR purposes (Obama O's cereal).

Hayk Saakian

With regards to around the world, the concept and mechanics seem fun, having played for a bit.

The problem I have is that for a game about travel, it doesn't feel lived in. I started in Atlanta, and there is no indication that any other player had ever been there before. I see the wall functionality, but its not been used. It'd be nice to at least know who has been there before, who is still there and what not.

Also I noticed some of the jobs seem a little too much like jobs you would find on amazons mechanical turk.

Also the modals you're using are not as mobile friendly as they could be.

Look at:

Peter Bengtsson

Thank you so much for that! Really helpful feedback (unlike the comment below).

My intention with the cities was/is to make it more "alive" with stuff like chat rooms or moving avatars but at the moment the game just doesn't have enough traffic.
I had hoped to build more interesting and interactive types of jobs other than just answering questions but without the traffic and demand I don't dare to invest the time at this point. Sorry for sounding defeatist.

Thanks for the tip regarding the more responsive modals. It's on the todo list.


you are asking too much time/effort investment without presenting any hints of pleasurable experience.

Peter Bengtsson

Thank you for you constructive criticism.

Ash Bhoopathy

That Around the World Game is totally sick (as in, l33t-awesome)! I'm often in your position where i need feedback on little things that me, or our team has created, and believe me... there have been a lot of things! (Check out

Here's my overall suggestion though. The consumer web is pretty saturated, and in order to "win" -- You have to hit people over the head with ONE, simply stated, bold value proposition and then a "taste" of the experience before going any further.

If that "Around the world" game was actually social, there were other people doing it, I could see people really getting into it. It's educational, fun, and much more engaging to me than many of the simple-minded social games that exist on the market today.

Great job building it, and feel free to ping me or anyone on my team any time you need feedback, publicly or privately.

Tim Jay

I think it's all about incentive. Why would I try your app? Maybe I'm genuinely curious or I think it might be fun to pass the time with. Not very rewarding really. Now give me a hamburger or 5 bucks and I'll do whatever you want. Hell, you could give people 10 cents each and you'll have better luck. Or do like Dropbox and give people valuable storage space for inviting people. Or give me some sort of karma. Put me on a leaderboard. Make me seem cool to the friends I shared with.

You've correctly identified the problem. One I've been thinking about for a long time. I'm still not sure what the answer is. Begging? Maybe.

Peter Bengtsson

If I had a great incentive that makes sense I think it would make it easier. But I don't. Apart from the general case that it's a good tool to have.

I really tried the (virtual) incentives with Around The World but because it's not perfect it's not working as much as I'd hoped. Because of the lack of traffic I can't really do interesting comparative/competitive incentives like FourSquare can with the "Mayor of Starbucks ..." stuff.

Charles Manfre

Hi Peter. I feel your pain, although I don't have any software projects (yet) I much prefer writing code to marketing my website, I know a lot of people in my internet marketing world would disagree with me, they'd much prefer marketing to coding :)

Peter Bengtsson

I too prefer to code over marketing but without marketing you get no traffic and without traffic you get no feedback (collected or observed) and without feedback you don't know what to code on (or what to waste your time to code on).


I remember when you announced & showed a demo of this earlier. I thought it was cool, but what do you want me to do? Upload my very large images? I don't have any.
Perhaps you want to get connected with communities that do tend to have large images they want to share. (Partner with them or offer some service.) Smaller Flikr-like upstarts? Certain forums? NASA?
Look for "killer app" uses.
Turn your site into a giant demo. On the front page create categories/folders that people would enjoy such as Celestial Views, The World in Macro (zooms on very small things), Horizons (sunsets & other panoramas of the horizon), Fractals (one person could almost fill this with beauty on their own), Nature, etc.

At first you (or someone else) maintain the categories for quality control. It's an experiment so you can feel free to spin it off or pull the plug any time.
Seek out sources of large pictures for your categories. Perhaps a Google image search for large images with the type of preferable restrictions/permissions. Same with Flickr (I don't know what size restrictions they may or may not have for your purposes). Contact the owners of the pic, cast your vision, request to host a copy, promise to link back to them.
Create a site with enough categories and high quality, interesting pics that one person can spend 15-20 minutes perusing. (Some people won't dig macro images, but will stars, or vice versa.)
Recruit friends to help make it awesome. It's a team project.
If part of the aim is to improve your tech, place a prominent way for users to report issues or ideas for improvement.
Once sufficiently mesmerizing, your friends should be willing to share/spread it through social media (Facebook, reddit, etc).
You're piggy-backing your technical idea with people's enjoyment of exploring pretty pictures.
I don't know your exact aim here. Looking under About didn't help. If what you want is people to user your site as a way to upload their large photos & share them with friends, I see some UX issues that are probably stopping people from doing so. If you'd like to discuss this more, I have some ideas & thoughts I could share. (If replying here doesn't email me, you can do some searching around Mozilla to find me.)

P.S. I don't know that sharing very large pics is a common use case/felt need that people have, so that may work against you, but getting more eyeballs on the site will expand the pool of potential users.

Your email will never ever be published.

Related posts

Go to top of the page