We want to share our experience about getting first stars on GitHub and avoid a chicken and egg situation where nobody will use your product until it has stars, but it won’t get stars until people start using it. In the end, we will share screenshots from GitHub analytics with sources which provided us with the most visitors.
I feel like I'm nothing without wildlife. They are the stars. I feel awkward without them. - Bindi Irwin
Usually, we choose one day and focus on it to do all the staff from this article. We call this day “Release Day”. And you can ask us: “Why do I need to do GitHub release and collect stars? I’ll better spend this time on searching a new customer.” But this kind of activity can bring you a lot of values such as the next ones.
We won’t tell you how is important to have a good product. Moreover, there are a lot of things that influence the popularity of the project too. For example, free and opensource products based on modern technology will be more interesting for developers.
But here we’ll tell you how to make a promotional campaign for your product. Here is 1 to 10 to-do list for your release campaign, which we created after two releases and Product Hunt launch. So, if you want to collect stars and make your repo noticeable, follow to this template.
On GitHub, the readme file is like the landing page of your app. A good readme needs to contain all the information for developers so that they understand what the project is about, why they should use it, and how to use it. If you don’t know how to write readme check this awesome tool for creating a cool one from Matias Singers. Don’t forget to add topics to your repository. And a nice addition for the repo might be a picture or gif (like this) with the main idea and features.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Instagram… It might be a corporate account, product or personal account. Prepare also texts and pictures for each spot and make a post everywhere, use hashtags and tag relevant pages. Grow the community and increase your reach.
Ask friends and colleagues to repost and share your info. It might be your first mentions and stars but it’s the easiest way to spread information especially if you have an appropriate circle of friends.
Ask communities for feedback. Don’t be ashamed to join new groups on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn and ask for help or feedback. But don’t be spammy. We found a bunch of relevant groups and placed there our post. You need to prepare a list of these groups in advance because sometimes it may take time to join some groups (answer some special questions and wait until the moderator give you access).
Pay attention to Reddit, it has a really active community, which gave us a lot of helpful feedback to enhance our tool.
And start to use Slack. This app put together a lot of specialists from a wide range of spheres. And check this useful website where you can find invites to Slack groups by topics.
We recommend to use an automation tool for email marketing for more possibilities. We use MailChimp, but at first, you need to grow your database. There are 3 ways which we used:
Start your email campaign at the beginning of the release day because it takes time for subscribers to receive letters and open it.
This point follows from the previous one. We install popup on our demo and place all the necessary information. We found good automation tool hellobar.com, it’s easy to use, you can choose target (call, email, announcement or social traffic), analyze and sync with other apps (MailChimp for example). If you have a landing page or demo, that is the perfect way to get in touch with the visitors.
At first, don’t forget about all the sources where you published the post. People will comment and ask the questions, so it would be a nice tone to answer and keep up the conversation. Also, we experiment with using Quora and Stack Overflow to answer relevant questions, contribute opensource community and sometimes to promote our dashboard.
Write to some popular mass media (websites, online magazines) and suggest interesting material about your product. For example, we wrote to dev.by (the most popular website in Belarus for developers and IT news) when our dashboard placed in GitHub trendings, and they created the article with jockey title about us, so we took a chance to be noticed by belarusian developers.
If you find someone who has a big audience on Twitter or Facebook, interested in your project and posts it in the personal account - you might receive hundreds of stars. Write to influencers and suggest to make a post, it’s hard but worth it. And one useful tool for this point - clicktotweet.co, with this tool you can create a ready-to-post tweet and send it with asking.
And the last one, but the most important. GitHub trending is the place where GitHub users can find the most popular projects according to the language. If your repo appears here, you will have organic interest and visitors. It might be like an aim to get into there. This list updates every 4 hours and you can find how many stars you need to get.
Once you have some stable version, that’s not the end. Ask for the feedbacks to track bugs, add features or improve the product.
Be active. Find new places, new ways and new opportunities for promotion.
Experiment! For example, we tried Facebook ads, but FB doesn’t like when their users go to the other sites, so it went to the false way. We spent 40$ to FB ad, but it was mostly promoted for video in the post. So we received a lot of views, but not the stars.
Use GitHub star button on your website or landing
And here is the insights after our releases, you can see the sources, which bring us the visitors.
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