startup-growth

Traction List: 50+ Places to Promote, Validate and Grow Your Product or Startup

Note: I will be continuously updating this guide with new sites and recommendations. This is a collaborative effort so if you know of a resource that should be added be sure to mention it in the comments or send me an email

The Startup Workout Traction List began as a little internal spreadsheet used for various startups I’ve been involved with. As it has continued to grow, I realized that making it public and adding some context could be a major time savor for other entrepreneurs and innovators who are looking to find traction, validate ideas and grow a product’s user base.

I know that it’s tempting to run down this list systematically and promote your startup everywhere, but I *highly recommend* using this to identify one or two key platforms for validation / traction and focusing most of your effort on identifying what works, creating value, and scaling on those platforms.

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Table of Contents

  1. Websites
  2. Social Media
  3. Ad Networks
  4. Crowdfunding
  5. Local Promotion

1. Websites / Apps

product-hunt

  • Product Hunt With such a genuine, passionate, and positive community of creators and innovators, ProductHunt has quickly become the place to promote your new product.
    I know quite a few people who received hundreds or even thousands of new users almost overnight after having their product listed.

    If you think your product is a fit for Product Hunt, my friend Clay Zug is a great person to talk to. He seems to manage to get his new products featured on a weekly basis. You can also check out this new book by Kiki Schirr, which made it to #1 on Product Hunt a few days ago!

  • Hacker News – This is another one of my faves. Hacker News is a bit developer heavy which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your willingness to be surrounded by ridiculously brilliant technical people.
  • Crunchbase – Originally started by Michael Arrington as a database for all of the companies featured on TechCrunch. Still a great place to list your startup and build some street cred.
  • AngelList – If you’re looking to raise money from accredited angel investors, this is a good place to start. Creating a profile for your startup is free and they now have a jobs platform to help startups recruit talent.
  • Help a Reporter Out – As Larry David would say, this service is pretty…pretty…pretty…good. HARO sends you a daily curated lists of inquiries from reporters seeking sources in your niche / vertical. I’ve been featured on Fox Business and other media sites through connections made with HARO.
  • Press.Farm – Find journalists to write about your startup. Saves you the hassle of having to track down journalists. Free for twitter handle and bio. Paid accounts get access to email addresses as well.
  • Bootstrapped.fm – Active community of bootstrapped startups + a podcast. Get startup questions answered and share what’s working. via Brandon Hilkert.
  • Bootstrappers.io – Another active community of bootstrappers and founders. via Brandon Hilkert.
  • BetaList – If you’re looking for users to test your product, BetaList gives you access to 25,000+ early adopters. There are a few requirements if you want to have your product featured: “Your startup should not be live yet. It should have a ‘coming soon’ page where visitors can subscribe to a mailing list. Your site should have a custom design and not use a template such as LaunchRock, Unbounce, etc.”

2. Social Media

facebook-launch

Facebook

Facebook groups that revolve around startups can be hit or miss – some are very active with great discussion while others are a wasteland of spam and self promotion. In many cases, the best way to use Facebook is to find groups in your specific niche / vertical or to run a targeted ad campaign… but more on that in a bit.

With that said, there are still great pages that are focused on startups / entrepreneurship and many awesome regional pages, which I’ve included below:

Regional Facebook Groups

North America Europe
South America Asia / Australia

Note: If you know of an additional startup related Facebook group that should be added, please leave a comment below.

Once you get some general feedback, you can use the same approach to find groups that target your niche. Some groups are open and let anyone post, others require a moderator to approve your post.

For launch promotions, I like to make a list of the top 100 Facebook pages within a niche and then reach out to all of them. If your content is compelling with this approach you should usually be able to make it onto 10 per 100 contacted. I know this sounds low but it’s all a numbers game. Many topics have thousands or even tens of thousands of related pages.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a vital tool for me when collecting validation and feedback for B2B / enterprise products and ideas.

I’ve landed many valuable meetings directly through LinkedIn – simply because it makes it extremely easy to find domain experts and decision makers at companies you are targeting. I know this sounds like a paid endorsement… and maybe it should be… but it isn’t.

linked-in-example

There are many active groups on LinkedIn, but I’ve never managed to get a large amount of traffic this way. I think it’s due to the fact that people check LI less than Facebook and the feed algorithm is a little wonky…. So in my experience, identifying and messaging potential customers directly is a more effective approach.

The template / technique provided in my previous post, writing effective emails that convert, is what I use for LinkedIn messages and works very well.

Reddit

reddit-startups

Reddit is another great place to gather valuable feedback and advice. If you’ve never used Reddit, fear not because we’re going to cover some Reddit 101 right now.

Reddit is made up of thousands of subreddits, which are essentially individual categories / communities. Each subreddit has it’s own posting guidelines and moderators. Some subreddits will only allow you to post text posts – meaning that you can’t directly link to a post or website and will instead need to provide a summary with a link.

You also may be required to have a certain amount of karma before being able to post. To can earn karma by commenting on other submissions and adding to the discussion.

There are 500,000+ subreddits but there are few tools out there to help you find ones in your niche. I like to use the metareddit tool and RedditList.com which shows you the top subreddits by subscribers and growth.

Here are some of my favorite Startup related subreddits:

A successful post in the /r/Startups subreddit usually looks something like this:

1. Introduction
2. Our idea / product
3. Problems we solve
4. Problems we face
5. We would love feedback + a special bonus for helping us out.

reddit-example1-580x477

Posting on Reddit is–in many ways–similar to posting in Facebook groups – you don’t necessarily need to focus on startup related subreddits and can instead live within your niche.

So for example if you have a new exercise product, there are many ways that you could use r/Fitness and others related to your niche to validate your idea and gather feedback.

Also, it’s important to avoid anything overly promotional. If you do post something super promotional it will most likely end up being deleted extremely quickly.

Instead, focus on sharing and creating content that adds value for other Redditors. If you create real value it can pay dividends for months or years to come.

4. Ad Networks

facebook

Self serve ad networks have been a godsend for entrepreneurs and startups. Less than a decade ago, advertising online would require in many cases a $5,000 – $10,000 minimum media buy. With Facebook Ads and others, the barrier to entry has been reduced to almost nothing.

The truth is that many ad networks will give you $50 – $200 to test their platform with. Available promos and offers change frequently but you can usually find something that works with a bit of searching.

  • Facebook Ads – This is my favorite ad platform to test and validate ideas. There are hundreds, actually probably thousands of posts that will tell you why Facebook ads are amazing but it can be summed up with one word: targeting.With Facebook ads, you can reach almost any demographic big or small and in many cases in a much more effective way than comparable contextual ad platforms like Adwords.
    A few additional notes:
    • Facebook allows you to buy ads on a CPC (Cost per click) or CPM (Cost per 1000 impressions) basis. I’ve experimented with both quite a bit and CPC always seems to do better for me personally. If your ads have a high CTR (Click through rate) it may be worth experimenting with CPM.
    • When constructing an ad, the image that you use will make the biggest difference in CTR so it’s worth testing many different images before you start experimenting with ad copy.
    • Facebook has an insane amount of volume so make sure you are targeting hyper relevant interests and pages. I like to keep my initial ad reach below 200,000 people.
    • Facebook wants to keep users on Facebook so sending traffic to a Facebook page vs an external website can dramatically reduce your CPC.
  • Google Adwords ($75 free for new accounts when you spend $25) – Adwords is still a viable option and has improved targeting over the years. Learning to use retargeting can also yield some great results.
  • Twitter Ads – This is a platform that I’ve had limited time testing but have heard good things about, still less targeted than Facebook simply because Twitter profiles are more sparse but there are quite a few promotional coupons floating around.
  • Bing Ads ($100 in free clicks for new accounts) – Basically the same as Adwords but in many cases cheaper. The tradeoff is less volume.
  • Linkedin Ads ($5 activation fee) – Ideal for B2B & Enterprise. Targeting via job title, job function, industry, geographic area, age, gender etc.
  • Amazon Product Ads ($75 in free clicks for new accounts) – Drive traffic from Amazon to your products. Ideal for physical products or products that would be sold on Amazon.
  • Sitescout ($500 minimum deposit) – Self serve platform for banner and mobile ads that can be targeted by site or category. You can reach some of the sites through Adwords without the large minimum deposit.
  • Stumbleupon Ads – Cheap traffic, and lots of it. Interest based targeting.

5. Crowdfunding

kickstarter-campaign

In addition to raising money, crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for validation and marketing your product or idea. I personally haven’t used crowdfunding with any of my projects yet (although it’s been a viable option multiple times) but know quite a few people who have launched incredibly successful campaigns on Kickstarter and Indigogo and speak very highly of the experience.

Some of the more popular crowdfunding sites include:

  • Kickstarter – The 500 pound gorilla in the room.
  • Indigogo – The 300 pound gorilla in the room.
  • Fundable – Largest business crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to helping companies raise capital.
  • GoFundMe Business – GoFundMe is in many ways similar to KickStarter and Indigogo but appears to be more flexible with funding goals.

6. Local Promotion

Local-Traction

You need to be in Silicon Valley to get local startup help, right? Wrong. This was one major misconception I had when starting to build my own products. I had no idea that my region had many amazing groups and resources like Philly Startup Leaders and Technical.ly Philly.

The vibrant startup community in Philly and the surrounding region is what inspired us to start Walnut St. Labs, a startup accelerator and co-working space. Local co-working spaces and meetups are a great way to collect feedback and validate your idea before building and launching.

It’s also easy to find valuable PR opportunities at the local level. If you’re based in the U.S. and on the east coast, the Technical.ly network is focused on providing regional coverage of startups.

Conclusion

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel alone and a little bit crazy when starting to work on a new product or idea. I’ve found that it’s extremely important to surround yourself with a group of supporters that will provide honest feedback while also pushing you forward and providing the necessary motivation you when times get tough.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and feedback – embracing honest feedback and validation can save you days, months or even years of your life and help guide your startup idea to success.

Note: I will be continuously updating this guide with new sites and recommendations. This is a collaborative effort so if you know of a resource that should be added be sure to mention it in the comments or send me an email.

Want More Ways to Promote Your Product? Get Updates with My Newsletter:

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  • Rick Mason

    One regional Facebook group is Hackers and Hustlers with 2100 members. It’s for entrepreneurs who either live in Michigan or have a connection to the state.

    The name by the way came from this blog post http://archive.learntoduck.net/micah/hackers-hustlers/

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    This is great – thanks for sharing. Will add it to the list of regional Facebook groups.

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  • Kranthi Kiran

    This is a really awesome list.

  • http://www.cloudways.com/en/ Muhammad Saad Khan

    This is one great list @disqus_g97TfY0hAK:disqus.

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Hope it helps – thanks for reading!

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Thanks Kranthi

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Added!

  • https://instagram.com/nicholeelizabethdemere/ Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

    This is AWESOME.

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Thanks Nichole – so glad that I stumbled across Inbound today. You may have found a new power user =)

  • http://www.doz.com/ John DOZ

    For the French readers, I would suggest looking at the “French Tech” groups.

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Are there specific groups on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook or is this just in general? Thanks!

  • http://www.doz.com/ John DOZ

    French Tech is a label awarded to 9 cities in France and I believe each have their own Facebook Group. For example, Lyon French Tech’s group (where DOZ offices are based): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1486114911639031/

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Excellent – thanks for clarifying.

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  • http://www.yotpo.com Udi Ledergor

    Awesome list! I’ll be bookmarking this one :-)

  • sebasoffia

    Startup Chile @disqus_g97TfY0hAK:disqus with 1320 members https://www.facebook.com/groups/startupchile.entrepreneurs/

  • http://startupworkout.com/ StartupKevin

    Added!

  • Ranjita S

    We created online marketing tool for tech startup, to help founders get early users for free

    a) Pitch your startup to 100+ top tech publishers – list here – http://pitchmantra.com/publisher-list

    b) Submit your startup details to 25 top startup listing sites – http://pitchmantra.com/publisher-list

    all the above are for free if you do it yourself to get SEO and early users benefits.

    however we can help you list your startup and send your pitch to publishers with email tracking information for a small fee – http://www.pitchmantra.com

    we have just launched the product, I would love to get some feedback
    on the service, any other sites we should add to the list and anything
    else you would like to see more of?

  • Michael

    I’d say Indigogo is quite popular in the United States and they are doing fine. I am wondering what could be the best source of information start a crowdfunding campaign and works well especially in the UK?

  • http://smblaw.co.il Eli klaiman

    For Israel you can check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/TechJLM/
    Almost 3,000 members and actively monitored by its admins for spam.

  • http://startuplister.com crixlet

    Great list! For the lazy founder, I built a service that will manually submit to some of the sites you listed under the Websites/Apps section http://startuplister.com.

  • http://bechimp.com Vladislav Melnik

    Hey Kevin,

    thanks!

    I just launched a similiar blog like you – so this list helps to get some traction! :)

  • http://startupbuffer.com John Romen

    Thanks for listing these directories! We have also a project called startup buffer: https://startupbuffer.com – Which I recommend you to add here. We are committed to provide extra coverage for your startups. We have more than 50,000+ followers on social sites to promote your startups.

  • Launching IO

    In the past few years, it seems like many new blogs popped up wanting to help startups grow, but these blogs only get a few thousand visitors a month. Instead of adding yourself to the hundreds of blogs out there, focus on the top ones: Betalist, ProductHunt, Launching Next and Launching.io. You may not get listed by all 4, but if you’re listed by one or two, you’ll start seeing your startup shared across Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and tech blogs.

  • Startiew

    You may also promote your startup @ startiew.com for free.

  • Evan Buhler

    Nashville Startups should be on the local list ! – https://www.facebook.com/groups/NashStart/