I’ve found myself quite nostalgic recently, referencing the late 90s / early 2000s and our collective experiences during them on forums and chat rooms quite often. Part of that is because of the startup I’m co-founding, which beckons the early days of more intimate online communication through fewer platforms and with a focus on deeper connections vs. quantity of broadcasts. It’s with this in mind that I decided to test some efforts on more community-based, interactive sites for my freelance business.
With that goal, I headed over to Quora, Reddit, and GrowthHackers.com. My sole intention was to leave them better than when I arrived, by sharing insights and connecting with like-minded peers. That’s it. No overtly aggressive self-promotion. The results absolutely validated these engagement channels.
First, here’s my blog’s stats line to which I’m referring. (Quick note: you won’t find actual views here, just percentages. That’s so I can get that advertising money, retire young, and open up a pet shop called For All Insects & Porpoises.)
The week prior to this showed an increase of 70.83% as well. Naturally, the end of December was when I began posting and interacting on those sites. Below is some information specific to my approach and the results I found on each.
I spent the majority of my time on Quora answering questions through the freelance, startups, marketing, and growth hacking tags. I also cross-posted a handful of blog posts there. I did not ask any questions (yet).
The quantity of views right off the bat were pretty staggering, particularly for answers, hitting the four-digit mark several times.
As you can see, answers accounted for the vast majority of views, between 86% and 94%. Beyond views, some of my answers also received shares and upvotes.
I question the science behind the statistics on Quora, however. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer on the method for measuring views.
Like with Quora, I spent most of my energy on Reddit answering questions and sharing insights on r/freelance and r/startups. I only started 2-3 new posts. On r/startups, I went out of my way to provide value, going so far as to offer detailed advice and feedback, like this response to a landing page critique question.
Reddit doesn’t really offer a “views” analysis, per se. Instead, you get “link karma” and “comment karma”, and upvotes/downvotes, as well as comments. So it takes a bit of guesswork to determine how you’re doing.
I’ve found the niche subreddits super useful, with an engaged community very willing to help each other out. There is no shortage of questions and conversations on specific topics; plenty of opportunity for a guy like me to offer value. But here’s the thing with Reddit – it’s know as a breeding ground for trolls and haters, so you better be prepared. The business-focused subreddits are a bit easier on posters, but I still see quite a bit of snark being tossed around. If you don’t have thick skin or if you’re a conservative brand, you might want to skip this one. I shared some research I did and it was met with some strong negative responses by a few (which I expected, given the nature of my process). But guess what? That post has been holding strong in the top 5 of that subreddit since I made it.
Love the site and its content, but it does very little for external traffic. Part of the reason is a lack of direct links in your profile and posts.
Bonus – Medium
It’s more of a publishing platform than a community, but man, the numbers here are astronomical. I haven’t done much cross-posting between Medium and my blog, opting to create new content unique to the site.
Take a look at the average post views of my blog compared to Medium (below). That’s over 5x the views for Medium, which has a ready-made audience built in.
Here’s how these sources stack up as referrers to my blog.
Clear as day, Reddit has been killing it for me. A combination of offering free and valuable insights combined with addressing topics by highlighting blog posts I’ve already written about them is proving to be a big traffic pusher. During the time I ran this experiment, the average daily views of my blog tripled, and in a few cases increased five-fold.
A 300% lift in the matter of weeks is pretty damn good, but time will tell if 1) I can sustain that and 2) I can convert visitors into leads and sales. But the experiment was fruitful, and I’m now spending more time and energy on these sites.