Does it make sense to promote your book on Reddit.com? Is it possible to reach the top of their board? How many visitors can we get from such a campaign? Will the visits from Reddit.com convert? And finally and most importantly, can we somehow game the system? 🙂
The experiment I did on Saturday answered all my questions, and it should help you to understand whether it makes sense to promote your book (or anything else) on Reddit.com, and how to maximize the efficiency of your campaign.
Before explaining what we did and how we fared, let’s summarize the crucial characteristics of Reddit:
- Reddit is a news sharing site. We had to create some NEWS about our book, if we wanted to pass the spam/self-promotion filters on Reddit. (All big subreddits are moderated).
- New accounts don’t hold any value. Links posted from new accounts are either deleted or buried in the depths of Reddit algorithm—where nobody will ever find them.
- To test the full potential of Reddit traffic, we needed to reach the top of the board. And this is virtually impossibly (at least with a book promotion) without gaming the system.
A successful campaign on Reddit.com
- Create some news about your book, ideally an interesting article that will motivate people to check your blog, or your book page.
- Get yourself an old Reddit account with high link karma (costs about $100), or purchase a link post from someone who has such an account (can be purchased on Fiverr.com for $5). You need this to ensure that your link won’t get deleted as soon as it starts to rise up the board.
- Wait for a high time (when most people from then United States browse reddit.com), and post your link.
- Game the system and reach one of the top spots on your desired subreddit (r/books for example)
- Sit back and watch the traffic flow. . . .
Step 1: Creating the news
- I designed a simple website for this experiment: http://interviewoftheweek.press/ (Sounds like a news site, doesn’t it? 🙂 )
- I wrote a fictional interview between me and a reporter whom I called Trevor Malik (a fictional character). You can find the interview here: http://interviewoftheweek.press/week22-young-writer-reveals-controversial-practices-cia/
How much did it cost?
I bought the domain (interviewoftheweek.press) for $0.99 on namecheap.com.
Since I already had the hosting account (I own a few of them for my other projects) and since I knew how to design the website, I didn’t spend anything more. Just those 99 cents for the domain. . . .
And it took me about two hours to compose the interview, and another three hours to design the website and post the interview.
On a side note: The numbers should give you a good idea on how the “professional” web designers overprice their services. I saw many websites that looked awful compared to the one I designed in two hours, and the clients of these “professional” web designers still paid $1,000-2,000 (or even more) for their sites….
The content of the interview
I tried to make the article interesting, and related to the book. Assigning the authorship to a fictional character, Trevor Malik, I did my best to ensure that Reddit moderators won’t consider this a self promotion, and won’t delete my post.
I also decided to include Amir Hekmati in the interview, because Amir is famous in the US, he’s a great guy, and I really met him in prison. (While the interview never happened, the content of it is real and I would give the same answers if some Trevor actually interviewed me.)
Posting the link on Reddit.com
I headed to Fiverr.com, and found a gig that offered a post from a high karma trusted Reddit account for $5. I didn’t want to wait for three days (standard delivery time) and therefore I purchased a fast delivery that cost me an extra five bucks.
The guy posted the link to my interview with Trevor on Reddit at 10am EDT Saturday, and it immediately appeared in the middle of the first page on reddit.com/r/books, because of his old trusted account :).
What to do next?
Most people would wait, hoping that they’d receive genuine upvotes from Reddit users, and would not disappear to the second page after short Reddit trail period ends. But that does not happen often, and you should not take a risk waiting.
Getting to the top of Reddit.
Youtube views, Facebook likes, Reddit upvotes, retweets. . . . You can purchase them all, in any quantity of your choice. Sounds strange to you? Welcome to the world of internet marketing :)!
I found a reputable provider of Reddit upvotes (google for “reddit upovotes” and you’ll find many providers), and ordered 50 upvotes from him. I paid $19.99 for this service.
Watching the magic
Then I went out for an hour, came back home and worked on another project, and later I cooked a great vegetarian risotto 🙂 … doing other things, Reddit algorithm did all the work for us—because we made it to work for us.
Link to the interview with me received fifty upvotes in a short time (the upvotes I paid for), and Reddit.com considered it interesting because of that. Their algorithm shot us all the way up to the 6th place on the main page of reddit.com/r/books!
Since the interview with me was quite interesting (at least for some people), we got genuine upvotes as well, and stayed on the sixth place for a couple of hours (maybe we got even higher, I did not watch it all the time).
Traffic we got to the http://interviewoftheweek.press/week22-young-writer-reveals-controversial-practices-cia/ from Reddit:
2,500 people read something about my book, 2,500 people saw my name and my face, and they registered the book cover (because we included all of that in an interview). Not bad, what do you think?
But did this traffic actually convert?
As you can see, less than two percent of visitors clicked the link in an interview and headed to our book page. Some other may head straight to Amazon.com, however (we shared that link in an interview as well). 2% may look like a bad conversion rate, but to be honest, it’s a decent number in the world of internet marketing, especially if we consider the nature of Reddit traffic.
Did anyone buy the book?
It seems like a big leap to cut our sales rank to half, but one or two sales will actually make such a difference.
Side note: The two pictures above should help you to understand how tough it actually is to sell books on Amazon. University of Solitude ranked 396,000th on the best seller list, and we barely sold anything. Selling practically nothing, we still belong to the top 10% best selling kindle books on Amazon (it’s easy to find books with sales rank of 4,000,000).
Does this sound strange, or even sad to you? Welcome to the world of information overflow! 🙂
Could we improve the efficiency of our Reddit.com campaign?
If I did it another time, I would change a couple of things
- I would use my name in the post title (good for brand building, many people saw the post on Reddit, but just fraction of them clicked it).
- I would enable comments on the interviewoftheweek.press website. Actually I would go one step further, and write couple of comments myself (from fake accounts, of course), recommending the University of Solitude.
- I would order more upvotes, maybe 200, or even 300. It would make the experiment more expensive (200 upvotes cost $80), but if we reached 2nd or 3rd place on books subreddit, for even just couple of hours, we would get BIG traffic.
World of illusions
Some people may feel strange about my experiment. Interview between me and Trevor never happened, I purchased the domain and designed a website for this campaign only, I paid someone to post a link on Reddit, and finally I bought 50 upvotes, and as a result got 80 genuine upvotes and thousands of visits. . . .
I did all of this with the budget of thirty dollars.
Now imagine the big publishing companies and their deep pockets. Do you really think that they don’t use similar (but ten times more aggressive and fifty times more expensive) marketing campaigns, to promote their books and writers?
Two of the many popular techniques big guys use:
- Setting a countdown deal on Amazon and then buying hundreds of copies of their own books, just to hit the top 5 bestseller list in the category of their choice, and benefit from the snowball effect.
- Buying dozens of fake reviews, thousands of Facebook likes, hundreds of Reddit upvotes … I could continue to infinity.
The difference between us, and them, is just the amount of money we can afford to spend. Me and you, we have to use our brain, we have to work smart and try to beat the big players in their own game, spending just a fraction of what they spend along the way. It’s possible, but it takes time, and dedication.
Disadvantages of Reddit.com
Promotion on Reddit has one big downside—it’s a one time promotion. You get there to the top, you gain big traffic, you succeed to improve the awareness of your brand, but then you will fall to the next pages (new links are added all the time), and you’ll be gone. It’s inevitable.
You won’t get any recurring traffic from Reddic.com. That’s not the way this website works. . . ..
Cracking other names from Alexa top 10
In the second half of 2016, I will try to crack other websites from the top 10 Alexa list in the United States.
Youtube, Google, Facebook—you name it.
Google and Youtube interest me the most, however, because they work differently to Reddit.com, or Facebook.com, or Twitter.com.
If you manage to get to the top of Google or Youtube, for example with a video you manage to rank for certain keyword (that gets a lot of views every week), you will benefit from this traffic week after week, month after month. And the traffic will be targeted, what’s not really the case with traffic from Facebook or Reddit.
Mental and physical break
I leave Slovakia for three weeks on Monday, to walk in Portugal and Spain, to meditate, meet new people, and to take a break from everything I do at home. I’ve been super busy the last three months, working on many projects, training many hours, and also competing quite a lot (in both running and MTB races).
Before I leave, however, I hope to finalize the paperback version of the University of Solitude, and I may even make slight changes to this website. Then I will leave this project to live without any intervention from my side, and I won’t do anything to promote it in the next four weeks.
I do not expect to get any big traffic, or any sales, while I’ll be away. But don’t worry—I have big plans, and we will make many more interesting experiments like this one with Reddit.com once I am back in Slovakia!
- Reddit.com is the 9th most visited website in the United States, and you should definitely not ignore it.
- Choose the most relevant subreddit for your promotion, and get to the top of the board.
- Don’t be afraid to game a system. And don’t be naïve—everyone games the system. If you work smart, you can get to the top of Reddit with as little as $30. Not a bad price for thousands of visitors to your campaign. . . .
- Learn from your campaigns and repeat them. First time is the learning time. You may fail completely, you may make some mistakes, but for sure you’ll learn and the second time (and the third time) you will optimize your campaign and improve your conversion rate.
- Don’t forget on the side benefits of this promotion. Even if you don’t sell (m)any books, tens of thousands people will see your name, your book title, or even your book cover (if you include the picture in your post). This can be a strong boost for your personal brand, and you’ll ripe the rewards of that later, in a long run. . . .
A good month of work
We published the University of Solitude one month ago and tried various experiments to promote it. We renewed some old conversations and talked to friends, getting some FB likes and Amazon reviews along the way, we started the free banner campaign (that still continues), we got ourselves a universal offline marketing tool (“a business card”), we understood how brand building works and compared our personal brand to the brand of the most popular writers on Amazon (and understood there’s a lot of work to do :)), we paid for the press release submission just to find out that this promotion technique sucks, and finally we did an interesting experiment with Reddit.com.
I sincerely hope that our journey inspired you to try and promote your own book (or your music album, document, business, …).
Have a great time, enjoy life, do something good for the others, and see you in July! We’ll continue trying to succeed together, against all odds.
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