The Startup Marketing Strategy Used to Get iDoneThis to $500k in Recurring Revenue

In this episode of Business Systems Explored, we talk to Walter Chen — the CEO and co-founder of lightweight status reporting platform, iDoneThis.


Walter lets us in on some little-known secrets, busts a number of misleading marketing myths and shares some unexpected tactics that helped him get ahead.

The episode of the Business Systems Explored podcast, you’ll learn startup marketing strategy from an experienced content marketer who — by any means necessary — pushed iDoneThis to $500k ARR. He says it’s okay for 90% of your content to fail, tell us the kinds of marketing emails you shouldn’t bother sending, and a trick he used to leverage the fanatical readership of Hacker News.

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Quote to Tweet

“We thought we just had to work really hard. We didn’t know we had to put processes in place. When we found out is when we started getting better.” (tweet this)

Show notes

  • How to scale your company with content marketing
  • Growing to $500k ARR purely with content marketing
  • The first steps Walter took towards a content-focused strategy
  • The wrong way to think about content which will make it boring for your readers
  • How Buffer built their business on content to $7m ARR
  • Using Hacker News to bootstrap your first 1000 users
  • Why writing 9 terrible articles and 1 good one is a valid strategy
  • The reason quantity is better than quality in the early stages
  • Walter’s formula for writing hit articles
  • The key moment to start systemizing content marketing
  • The most important old-fashioned method for content distribution
  • Why style guides squeeze the life out of blogging
  • The myth about business processes in startups
  • When Walter realized he needed processes, and the first ones he implemented at iDoneThis
  • The writing trait that makes for infectious content (and ideas in general)
  • Getting over the fear of not segmenting your list when emailing content
  • How Wistia’s Chris Savage grows his list by 20% with each email he sends
  • Why people don’t read roundup emails
  • A few strategies for sending more content to your list without negative effects
  • Why ‘long vs short’ isn’t an important decision to make with content
  • Walter’s process for brainstorming content ideas
  • How to rip off popular content and get hundreds of thousands of views (and why this tactic even works)
  • The number one thing that prevents you from coming up with good ideas
  • Why to not get tempted by thinking about distribution before content
  • How to create content that compels people to share whether they’re read it or not

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Vinay Patankar

CEO and Co-Founder of Process Street. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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