If you’re a marketer, spending hours on Twitter and reading blogs, this isn’t the first time you’ve read an article about a magical post that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars, billions of subscribers in one hour, etc.
And every time you read these articles you think:
- “Oh my god they’re so good.”
- “Why does it happen to them and not us?”
- “My content strategist is the worst.”
- “What are we doing wrong?”
These posts are supposed to inspire you. But in reality? They’re a punch to the gut. Where’s the magic overnight success on your website?
So here’s a quick note: “Relax and go back to work”
We went from 0 to 20,000 subscribers in less than 2 years. How did we get such a big list? It definitely wasn’t magic.
Since the day we opened our digital doors, we only focused on one thing: Building a great product. One people love.
No marketing, no impressive blogging, no Twitter (I only just discovered Buffer).
My time was spent building the product and analyzing customer feedback to—wait for it—build a better product.
We did this for two reasons:
- I didn’t have time to blog or marketing. I grew WisePops while working full-time at Amazon.
- Amazon got where they are today with a product-focused strategy (offer All The Products, at the best price, and with the best delivery experience). I wanted to do the same.
I did this for two years.
To be fair, focusing only on the long-term isn’t the most enjoyable path
It’s like spending every day eating nothing but salad so you can be “the perfect weight” in two years, but never ever ever enjoying a piece of cake.It’s like building a step—little by little—every day. Sometimes it feels like you’re moving up, and other times it feels like you’re teetering precariously on the edge of nowhere. It definitely teaches you patience.
But overall, we made progress. A lot of it.
During this time, people still subscribed to our list and signed up for a free trial and used our product and told their friends.
Two years later, here we are with 20,000 subscribers and a recurring revenue that’s allowed me to work on WisePops full-time. Our goal now is to finally invest the time and money in a content strategy that will help us get to 100K subscribers.
That said, we’re still not changing our “product first” mentality. We just have more time to devote to marketing.
Maybe in a few months—after I’ve defined our content strategy, found the right people to work with, optimized every word, title and image of every post, and reached the right influencers—we can post a single article that will get us 18,267 subscribers in one fell swoop.
Overnight success is actually the result of years of hard work: learning your audience, investing the time and money on the right strategy, connecting with the right people and testing different topics.
So next time you’re drinking your coffee and scrolling through Twitter, remember that true overnight success is never, really, overnight.