0–10,000 subscribers in 2021

Updated on 27th December 2020

How I intend to grow Surges and the marketing tools that'll make it happen.

TLDR: turning my side thing into a slightly bigger thing

One of my big lockdown goals for 2020 was to launch Surges, this directory of marketing tools.

First job done. It’s live, albeit with a long way to go.

Why do it at all?

There’s a marketing tool for everything and Surges exists to help you to find the best ones for your business. Each tool is honestly and obsessively reviewed by me, saving busy marketers and entrepreneurs the hassle of researching them themselves.

On a personal level, it’s been good to channel any leftover energy after a day of client work into something (pandemics aren’t exactly great for your social life!) and I’ve really enjoyed discovering new tools and meeting the people behind them. I haven’t been able to review everything or interview everyone I’d hope, but the most important thing was getting started.

As we enter 2021 I wanted to reflect on the side-project and set out where I want Surges to be in another 12 months’ time, plus the marketing tools that I think will help me to get there.

Where I’m ending 2020

  • Reviews: 24
  • Newsletter subscriber count: 377
  • Interviews: 11
  • Daily visits: <100
  • Domain authority: 10

I’d toyed with Surges for a while but life took over and it was an unexpected lockdown that transformed that intent into action.

Fast-forward six months and I have a website I’m proud of and a small bank of reviews and interviews. Given each one is 2,000+ words and more detailed than those written elsewhere, it’s not a bad start. But there’s more to do…

The plan for 2021

Most people start a side-project to get a passive income stream that can one day replace their day job. Luckily, I’m not in any rush to monetise Surges, so this next year is about putting more building blocks in place, including more link-worthy and thumb-stopping content. This means…

1. Become a valuable resource

Surges currently lists 100 tools in the directory. An ok starter pack but there’s plenty more out there. Each listing also needs a review if Surges is to be a truly useful resource and one that can help visitors in their quest to resourcefully grow their own businesses via marketing tools. Doing so will also lead to more comparisons, exclusive discounts on tools and interviews – the by-product of thorough reviews and lending my tiny platform to the maker community.

But it’s not just about absolutes. For example, Surges also needs to interview more diverse makers. Look at the ‘Meet the Maker’ page and it’s a wall of white males. I’ve tried hard to correct this but with very little success so far. There’s always more I can do.

2. Get the SEO basics right

I’m very grateful to have a good-looking site that I can grow into.

That said, SEO audits throw up a small number of technical issues that continue to hold back my site’s ranking potential. I need to fix these if Google is going to send more organic traffic my way in 2021.

Once these technical gremlins are sorted, I intend to invest a lot more time in SEO. I know the keywords, content and links that will drive more traffic, so just need to put my research into action.

3. Publish once, promote forever

I’ve barely talked about Surges to friends or followers, opting to get my head down and write reviews instead. This needs to change.

I’ll be putting my social accounts to better use and committing to a monthly newsletter. My number one goal for 2021 is to hit 10,000 newsletters subscribers - people, like me, who rely on marketing tools and find Surges useful.

I’ve found some wonderful marketing tools in my many years in marketing and during the course of writing reviews. I need to make sure I put the best ones to use growing Surges.

If I’m going to have more skin in the game, I will need to be more deliberate with the time I afford each review and how I select them. This will involve a shift in emphasis from feature breakdowns to experiments, with each tool needing to contribute to the growth of Surges in some way. That’s how they’ll be judged in this next chapter, plain and simple.

This should give the project more purpose and make the reviews more interesting to read too.

My targets for 2021

So, what does this all mean for growing Surges? Given it will continue to be an evening-only hobby I need my targets to be realistic but stretching…

  • Reviews: 100+
  • Newsletter subscriber count: 10,000
  • Interviews: 30
  • Daily visits: >1,000
  • Domain authority: 30

The tools I’ll be turning to

  • Vyper – A few viral giveaways with the right prizes will really kickstart my email list
  • SUMO - Free list building tools, including email capture pop-ups and embedded forms
  • MailChimp/ConvertKit – Beautiful email templates to give review readers an exclusive AAA pass to Surges
  • FOMO - Friendly social proof notifications to nudge browsers towards subscribing
  • LinkHunter – My go-to tool for getting more backlinks (it got me 16+ links worth $3,000 at my first attempt!)
  • SEMrush – My favourite all-in-one SEO tool, for keyword research, on-page SEO and staying on top of technical performance
  • Publer – I’ve neglected my social feeds in 2019, this scheduler makes it easy to cross-post and recycle top content
  • Quuu Promote – next on my review list, this tool matches social users with compelling content (i.e. my reviews and interviews!)

…and lots, lots more!

Through trial and error, 2021 is about finding the best marketing stack for growing Surges and practising what I preach.

You never know, it may even progress from my side thing to my main thing a few years further down the line. Whatever happens, I’ll enjoy sharpening my tools and am intrigued to see where it takes me.

Hold me to account by subscribing to the Surges newsletter below and joining me on Twitter.

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