4 Weeks, 2,000 Subscribers:

How a Side Project Took Off!

(With a Nudge From Product Hunt! ☺)


Introduction


I love working remotely for Buffer — we’re a team of 29 distributed all around the world!

So, I blogged about my Remote Worker learnings on Medium ☺


Remote & Productive at the same time!

Thanks to friends & colleagues, my Medium article did well!

Yay, Medium Top 20!

It felt great to gather emails of those interested in Remote Working,

and to blog about How I built a Newsletter without having A Newsletter.

I started with a quick signup form from MailChimp:


Remotive Signup Page v.1

The first week


When I think about engaging in a side-project, I try to ask myself:

Do I enjoy this enough to commit 1.5 hour per week for (at least) a year?

If the answer is yes, I look at whether others might be interested too!

(That’s how I started my “first” side project ☺)

At this stage, Remotive had 75 signups:

It felt like an exciting space to explore: I’ll get to learn more about productivity, and to nurture a community!

Let’s start a weekly Newsletter about Productive Remote Workers!
I’ve been inspired by Hiten Shah, who created a very insightful newsletter on SaaS, it’s very helpful for me to get better at my job!

The second week


Once it felt great to commit to the concept, and thought about how to nurture the community :

I joined curated.co (same platform hosting Hiten’s Newsletter) to start curating content on Productive Remote Working, here is how the second version looks like:


Remotive Signup Page v.2

…Friends & co-workers helped spreading the word on Twitter…

Super cool to see some RT/Fav’ love on our first stats!

The third week


I’d been very lucky to have supportive people helping me share the love:

It was fun to get started and to share content with more people, we slowly grew to 400 people after 3 weeks.

Monday, 400 Subscribers, yay!

At that stage, it felt great to give the project a name and a home!

Remote + Productive = Remotive.io

I booked remotive.io and Jeremy helped getting all set up.

We kept it barebones, only populating About & Tools — redirecting Jobs & Remote Working 101 to a TypeForm (details below)


Remotive signup page V.3

Doing Customer Development

I’ve always been amazed by those who do things that don’t scale, such as Ryan Hoover for ProductHunt, to help kickstart their projects!

At Buffer, we are passionate about Customer Development, especially inspired by the Lean Startup approach of it:

I applied some of my learnings to try and figure out:

How could Remotive be helpful for its subscribers?

Capturing intent on the website

On our site, using Typeform feels great to capture people’s interest in a friendly and interactive way! Those who clicked on the Jobs section of Remotive got to see this Form:

Using Typeform for Customer Research on the “Jobs” part

Manually emailing hundreds of subscribers

When people signed up, I felt that the context to interact was great!

It was still fresh in their minds, and I had a unique opportunity to create a connection with those early users. Manually emailing the first 700 subscribers was awesome…

Gathering Insights in a Spreadsheet for Customer Research

…and a bit challenging (more details here).

It’s not scalable (I averaged 100 sent emails/hour) — still great to have a human touch and there’s an incredible amount of learning in collecting verbatim and tagging in order to find out how we can help ☺

When Remotive really took off, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by emails and decided to ease back on the “manual email to everyone”!

I still felt great to get to hear how we could be able to help… Today, new joiners now get an automatic “hello” email ☺.


Insights-based publication

As a result, I felt in a much better position to define what topics to cover. Starting with User Research and confirming with statistics

Remotive’s initial categoies

Social is Key!

Another interesting move was to add Remotive’s social networks to my manual welcome emails establish multiple touch points with users.

I always love to ask “how is this adding value?” when I start a project.

As a curation Newsletter, I get to promote content from talented writers to a community looking for advices and insights:

Once a subscribers receive our publication, Remotive is a gateway for other websites.

It’s not so easy for us to nurture rapport and keep adding value beyond curation — having our own voice and connecting people with similar interests feel like a great way to add value.

I made sure to add a line about our Social Presence — to give the ability to those interested to interact with the Remotive community more frequently.

Interested in helping with Community Management? Tweet at us☺

Adding a little Social love in my “manual email”



The Fourth week


That day, I randomly bumped into Aline, founder of The Blue House.

The Blue House made it to #1 on Hacker News for a bit — it was so great to see her buzzing with excitement and jumping on comments to make it a success!

Wow, getting your projet up on HN or PH sounds like fun!

30 minutes later, I sat in from of my computer and I did a quick “Follower check” for Remotive (also known as “Command-R”)…

…Wait, what? 20 more people just signed up! that’s cool and odd!

I haven’t promoted Remotive all that much outside of my social circles and #Nomad, I got very curious to see where it was all coming from?

I quickly checked Hacker News & Product Hunt, just in case…

Nothing on Hacker News, then I saw we got submitted on Product Hunt by Jack Smith!

Product Hunt is awesome, and I felt that it would be best to “organize” the product to be submitted — there are a few blog posts about how people had awesome launches thanks to PH!

Woah, what to do?

MRW We Got Submitted on ProductHunt

…OK, let’s make the most out of this!

I reached out to friends that expressed their support for Remotive previously, and make it sure to have in count on that very day!

Skype, HipChat, Emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, gChat, #Nomad Slack and Google+ helped me reach out to my friends.

Also, Remotive was due to be published a few hours later — Jeremy had the great idea to suggest include our presence in ProductHunt as an article in our Newsletter to make sure to get more eyeballs from our early subscribers ☺


Doubling down on ProductHunt ranking!

The Product Hunt Effect


In the first 6 hours, Remotive doubled in size to reach 900 subscribers, a constant flow of people seemed to be joining!

I got very agitated when we started nearing the 1,000 subscriber…

Just… 5… more…

I ended up closing my computer and going to bed for the day while EST and PST timezones kept subscribing away, woah!☺

Wooza!

After 6 hours, we had doubled… That was so great, I only had planned for Remotive to approach 500 subscribers by the end of the year, we had over 1,000 already!


The Day After


We ended up the day ranked #3, on the following day ProductHunt sent around their daily email with Top Hunts, we got some serious love by getting featured on this email (hat tip to Ilia for all his help!)

Loads of people that might have missed out on Remotive the first time got to see it then!


Getting featured on ProductHunt daily roundup email ☺

…We ended up growing 5x in 72 hours up to 2,000 subscribers in 700+ cities!

Hello Remotive Subscribers!


Thanks everyone that have supported us, rallied and subscribed! ☺

What’s Next?


It’s gonna be a lot of fun crafting a weekly newsletter, and making sure it’s helpful for everyone…

Remotive’s mission is still to help Remote Workers with Productivity and Motivation, it’s so cool to see how many people share the same set up!

It’s also crazy to see how featuring on Product Hunt has a bell curve distribution, now that things are back to normal, I can re-focus on sourcing great content and thinking about how to grow the community further.

It really confirms our growth structure is shaped like a staircase, can’t wait to see how we can take the next step up ☺

Any comments or feedback? ☺ Email us at hello(at)remotive(dot)io anytime!

-Rodolphe