How to Grow the User Base of a Site Started as a GitHub Project

The following question was asked on Clarity.fm:

I started a GitHub project that got popular and turned it into a website, but the site isn’t as popular. Any ideas on how to grow the user base? I aggregated a list of engineering blogs on GitHub and made a website where users can read blog articles in one place. The Github repo is still growing in terms of the number of stars it’s getting, but the site is almost a ghost town. Is this site even worth a try?

Here is my answer:

After looking at your site, I definitely believe that you have something that is extremely valuable and can definitely be popular in tech communities. Yes, your copy needs to be more focused. I would have a landing page (or a cover page) that makes it really simple for a visitor to understand what it is and why this will help them. Include an email field and offer a free eBook. I would highly suggest that you use Optimizely or Unbounce to A/B test your copy and call to actions. (Side Note: Keep in mind how much traffic you have when calculating test significance.)

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Since you are focusing on a developers/engineers, I would reach out to 10 of your most passionate fans that have contributed or have shared your GitHub repo. Ask them if they would be willing to contribute to the site sharing their thoughts. The more influential these people are the better.

Instead of assuming they have a login ask them to create an account right on that page. Also, include Twitter login.

One point I would make regarding SEO: Include the name of the articles in the URL of the comment pages. This helps with sharing and rankings on SEO.

Use Twitter as a growth engine and tweet out all the latest posts that you are curating to your sites Twitter account. Then if you have an active twitter following start engaging fellow engineers asking them questions about these posts. This heightens engagement and starts getting your audience engaged (some of which will convert). To take this one step further find the author of the posts you are sharing and mention them in the post saying that their article has been curated on your site (better yet you could say their article is being discussed on your site). The author will be inclined to retweet and share their post with their following. Have some variability in using this tactic, variability makes it more valuable.

Use SumoMe as a really simple way to add email capture popups on the site.

In regards to strategy, you may find it more sustainable to use the closed/invite only model for commenting like Product Hunt uses. This creates a higher perceived value for those that have access to commenting which in turn increases engagement. This strategy would go nicely with the initial outreach I mentioned above.

I hope you found this valuable. Here is a Clarity VIP link to request a free call with me. https://clarity.fm/lipmanb/vip/t

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