Interview Insider — 1000 Users And The Struggle Of Contributions

Since rebuilding Interview Insider in mid-August, and basically bringing it back from the dead, it has showed some good potential for success, but it still has some ways to go.

The good news is that I get over 1000 monthly visits to the website. The bad news is that almost no one contributes data.

Getting To 1000 Users

Mini Launch

While I could re-launch on ProductHunt, I have chosen to avoid that for now. Instead, I posted on a tech career forum and announced the website to everyone, where it was met with a positive response.

Forums

I found forums where people asked the question “What’s the interview process for facebook software internships?” and then I gave them a link to my Facebook Software Engineering Intern Interview Guide, and then boom, tons of users.

Of course, you can only do that so often, and it only leads to a temporary boost, then the user count begins to fade again. So how do you get this much people consistently coming to a website?

Google/SEO

How much do I know about SEO? Almost nothing. But that sure didn’t stop me from being on the first page of Google.

I really don’t have much to say here. All I did was adjust my meta title and description to be something reasonable, and then ask Google to index the site. No magic. No hacks. Idk how SEO works. And now around 25% of my traffic comes from Google searches.

How Not To Get People To Contribute

Getting people to contribute has been the biggest pain in the last few weeks. It has been such a struggle that for a second I was wondering if I should just give up on this project entirely. I kept going, and still haven’t solved it, but I think it could be solved one way or another. I don’t know what works, but I’ll tell you what doesn’t work.

Ask casually

My first attempt was to ask casually on the homepage. I had a small line of text that said something like “Have you done an interview recently? Share your experience to improve the process for everyone 😇”. The day after I added it, I saw that the first 3 submissions were made! I was excited. Who knew it would be this easy to get people to contribute?

The next day, I checked again, and saw 1 new submission. Okay, not bad, we’re still moving along slowly.

The next day, I checked, and saw no new submissions. For the next few days in a row, there continued to be no new submissions, even though the daily usage was the same. Asking casually wasn’t going to work out after all.

Ask Strongly

My second attempt was a lot stronger. I changed the website so that you could only view one guide before being forced to create a user account in order to continue viewing guides. I did this for two reasons.

The first was to see if people really cared about the guides. I wasn’t really convinced that the idea was validated, so if people were willing to create a new account just to see these guides, then I knew it was worth something to them.

The second reason was so I could ask them to contribute. After they signed in for the first time, they were immediately asked whether or not they would help contribute in order to keep Interview Insider alive. The message had a very serious, desperate tone.

Did people want to contribute to keep Interview Insider alive? Two people did, but everyone else did not. This popup had a 7% conversion rate.

I thought about how the flow must look in their minds. They might be trying to read a guide, then they get forced to signup, then they either get so annoyed that they leave, or they make the account. Once they sign up for their new account, hoping to read that guide, they get this super annoying, uncloseable popup. Their mind probably says I don’t care about your sad puppy, I just wanted to see this specific interview guide. Then they rapidly close it and continue to their guide.

So maybe I should give them some breathing space.

Ask Strongly After Giving First, Also Be Positive

My third attempt would be more relaxed. They could sign up and read their guide without any trouble. In fact, they could read up to 3 guides before I asked for anything. The average user thus far had viewed 2.7 guides, so someone who viewed 3 guides was a slightly above average user. Maybe those people were the ones who cared enough about the site to contribute.

I also pivoted to a much more positive and light hearted message.

Did giving people more upfront value, and showing a cute doggo and a positive message help? No. In fact, this popup had a conversion rate of 0% even though more people saw this one than the previous ones.

Well damn. Didn’t expect to fail that hard.

What Now?

I really don’t want to force people to contribute like Glassdoor does. Some people just haven’t gotten very far in their interviews yet, or aren’t ready to contribute for whatever reason. But that may end up being the most reasonable choice. We’ll see how it all plays out.

What Is The Impossible Year Really About?

Even though I said I’d work on Interview Insider for September, I started to waver a bit in the last few weeks. I began to consider other ideas again, and wondered whether Interview Insider was really the best use of my time. I had other ideas that were more likely to make money. Nothing was working to make people contribute, and the validation of this idea hinged on that, so I was losing faith.

At some point I decided that it doesn’t actually matter that Interview Insider might fail. Outside of repaying my loans, money has never mattered to me very much, and starting a business doesn’t matter either. What matters is solving interesting problems, and being as useful as I can. With that mindset, I care less about Interview Insider succeeding, and more about improving tech interviews for everyone. The interview process is broken, and there are many ways to fix it. Interview Insider is one attempt, but there are other things I can do.

That commitment to one cause made everything more meaningful, and made it clearer what I should be focusing on. It gave me a renewed energy.

While it would be nice to make my living from a business instead of a full-time job, I think I’d be happier with a job and fighting for a cause that matters, than with a successful business that doesn’t fight for anything.

So I don’t really care if I succeed at the impossible year goal and make my $5K/month or not. Sorry. I will work to improve the interview process whether it is profitable or not, because that motivates me more than money ever will.

That’s just where my head is at right now, it will probably change later. Anyway, as always, thank you for taking the time to read my story and join me on this journey. If you have thoughts feel free to leave a comment, I respond to everything.

Dmitri’s Impossible Year

Fresh college graduate trying to start a profitable business

Dmitri Kyle Brereton

Written by

learning

Dmitri’s Impossible Year

Fresh college graduate trying to start a profitable business

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