You’ve just set up your startup or maybe you have an idea.
You’re sitting there and the money’s going to start rolling in right?
Unfortunately, a business doesn’t sell itself.
Getting your initial users or sign-ups is the first step towards finding product market fit as well as your future customers.
Especially if you want to test an idea or get feedback on it, being able to get your first 100 sign ups to your product is essential.
The strategies below were how we got our first 100 early access users.
We are still in alpha so these are the steps we took to get our initial early access users (shameless plug: join us here!)
1. Blogging Strategy
The most obvious one that many mention but is still gold.
Blogging is a long term strategy and requires time and effort to make it successful. In order to understand who to blog towards, you need to understand your target market.
If your target audience is around the financial industry, then you have to write content in that area.
What you do after you create your content is what truly counts.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Some strategies I have used for blogging in the past / current include:
- Your Own Blog
- Optional: Guest Blogging / Sponsored Posts (This definitely works but as I didn’t do this for Yought this time around I am not going to talk about it)
A great way to discover topics to write about is to simply go on Quora and research questions people are asking. If the volume is high, most likely it’s a hot demanded topic.
The benefit of doing this is you can easily then reference your own article through that question as well as become a thought leader in that space.
It’s important though to provide actual value to the reader before referencing anything so you don’t come off as spam.
Medium (of course)
Another simple way of leveraging other platforms is through Medium itself! The ability to either import your article directly from yours or start writing directly on Medium are quick low hanging fruits.
One fact that beginner bloggers tend to ignore on Medium is the use of publications.
There are some great tools to request contribution. You can either go on Smedian or reach out the publications yourselves!
Your Own Blog
There are many free and paid tools to help you find keywords to write content for.
Without going into the SEO details, going for longer tail keywords (those with around 3–4 keywords within the search phrase) are less competitive and thus easier to rank via Google.
Although it is a long term strategy, you can easily start promoting your articles through your own content networks, social media as well as forums.
There are many sites that give an opportunity for startup founders to share their product through their network and get early sign-ups.
Many of them, however, require an actual working product for you to post your own.
From the ones that allow pre-release products that I tested, Betalist provided the most coverage (over 70 sign ups!).
The only caveat is that you need your own landing page and it does take around a months time to wait for your submission to go through if going through the free option so plan ahead!
3. Ship By Product Hunt
Similar to Betalist, Ship is a tool by Product Hunt that allows for you to build your own customized landing page and collect sign-ups.
Once launched, Ship will then help you collect subscribers through their own promotional channels and network.
From being able to direct message your subscribers to surveying them, it’s a great tool to really get into the crux of getting user feedback and understanding their thoughts.
Ship is a paid option, however, they do offer a free trial so it’s up to you if you want to test it out!
It’s also a great way for you to transition to an actual launch through Product Hunt’s platform when your product is ready.
As a note, Ship is definitely a better option if your audience consists of techies, marketers, and founders but if you’re looking for more specific audiences, it may not work as well.
4. Go to Relevant Meetups
For those who don’t like to be stuck behind a computer screen, there are always a tonne of meetup opportunities, especially ones that are industry specific (great for audience targeting!).
The ones I personally have used include:
- Facebook Groups — This is great if you join relevant Facebook Groups. Many host their own events through their Facebook networks.
As they say, the best kind of user feedback is directly from the people themselves. As a note, it’s always important to listen to others as well as you shouldn’t go purely for the sake of selling your idea/product.
Being able to create future partnerships with other fellow entrepreneurs is a great way of helping your product later down the road!
Additional: University or College Tech Hubs
If you have the luxury of still keeping up with your university or college network, many of them have incubators or a tech hub. There are some great contacts and services they offer to help build and scale out your product.
Take a look around, you’d be surprised!
We managed to get a few paying customers for my first startup through this network.
5. Your Own Network!
This is an obvious one but honestly not used that often.
Especially for first timers, the fear of using your own network and the thought of ‘screwing it up’ is the reason I see why most don’t reach out to their networks immediately without a product.
“Let me perfect the product first and then I will announce it on Facebook”
There is no perfect product and your own network is often the most honest network you have since many of these people can be your friends.
Think about this, would a random you have just met give immediate constructive feedback about your product?
Many businesses and startups get their first users through their initial network and it goes from there.
Everyone has ideas.
But in order to get somewhere, you have to act on them.
This means not only creating the product or an MVP but also getting your first users.
This usually requires you to utilize a bunch of strategies from both physical to online methods in order to promote and launch your product.
Once however, you get your first users, that’s when the road really begins!