Chowed or Dugg, what’s best

We’ve not done all that much by way of promotion with Self Made Minds and are instead using a long term strategy of quality content will bring traffic over time. That being said we’ve still tried a few traffic generating ideas when the opportunity presented it self, so in this post I want to share them.

The first two promotion methods we tried cost a bit of cash, the others cost our time.

Press Release
We paid a pro to write us a press release about the site and distribute it via PR web. The total cost of this was around $200 and a bit of time was spent by Scott sending it manually to various related sites. Traffic on the day was up slightly and we picked up a couple of decent links including one from But I don’t think it created anything like the traffic we were hoping for. It’s a difficult one to get exact figures for but the link on did bring us 476 visitors.

Paid review on John Chow
We forked out $300 to get a paid review on John Chow, we did approach John direct with an offer of $200 but after John’s polite reply we had to go via the $300 Review Me route.

The review we received was very positive and as it was on a very related site any traffic it sent our way should be well targeted. In total the review on John Chow sent us 1,441 visitors. We were going to go for a review on Shoemoney but as those cost $3,000 a pop it was over the budget for this experiment.

Chow Graph

Digital Point forums
We announced Self Made Minds over on the webmaster forums Digital Point, it received a pretty decent response and generated a bit of traffic. Shortly after the launch of SMM I enjoyed my first 5 digit Adsense month (I did it last month as well (just) so that’s 2 in a row :) ) which I posted about on DP hoping to inspire other people (I know when I first started I enjoyed reading posts like that) as well as promoting this place a bit.

The $10,000 Adsense thread received a lot of attention (~230 replies) and sent a fair new visitors our way (3,122 visitors to be precise) and unlike all the other methods this traffic didn’t consist of just one peak. This was the cheapest promotion strategy we tried, both financially and time wise.


When we wrote the top 100 subscribed feedburner sites we did it with both Digg and link bait (more to follow in a future post on that one) in mind. It took about 10 man hours to research and write and then a similar amount of time to maintain as more and more suggestions came in

The post achieved a front page on Digg and a crazy amount of traffic but more importantly put us on the radar of many of the blogs we mentioned, a number of which also linked back to us (thank you). The Digg traffic alone totalled 8,434 visits but the links and mentions on other blogs in the long run will be a lot more valuable.


The first obvious conclusion is that the most traffic was generated by a bit of hard work rather than paying cold hard cash. I’d also like to share how many of these sources became repeat visitors or readers, the best way I can do that is by means of a poll. So if you’re reading this please let us know how you first found us by voting (if you are reading via a feedreader you’ll need to visit the site to vote). Thank you.

How did you first find Self Made Minds?
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About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. I cannot remember which exact place I found it as I saw it on DP and CG around the same time if I remember correctly. I then read the review recently on John Chow… so it’s really the DP or CG route I followed to get here :) I have visited every day since.

    Looking back it seems I found the site on 18th March when you did your first posts.

  2. I got to know this great blog from the thread on dp. :-)

  3. I found the site via Scott posting at

    Back in the early days! Ha Ha

  4. Nobody found us directly from digg, I probably shouldn’t be jumping to any conclusions just yet though.

    I never realised we’d be going that long, thanks Matthew.

    • I used to use LiveStats a few years back. I seem to remember it had a nice tracking tool which showed you the path of the visitor from where they linked through to the site, what pages they viewed (in order) and what they clicked to leave the site. I havent seen this in Analytics yet. It would be interesting to look at all the visitor paths from each referal source and see how many page views they did and where they left the site and if they were repeat visitors afterwards.

  5. You should maybe use Google Analytics to track where your feed subscribers are coming from.

    • Can you do that with Analytics?

      Also mad, any comments you leave Askimet labels as spam, I always despam them but thought you should be aware of it especially if you’re leaving comments on other sites.

    • Just add javascript:urchinTracker(‘/newsubscriber’); to the link you want to track and look at the stats for the newsubscriber page in your Analytics logs.

      Basically every time somebody clicks the link it registers the same as somebody visiting the newsubscriber folder.

      Thanks for the heads up on being a spammer, I have seen (or not in this case) a lot of comments I make deleted, now I know why.:)

  6. Sounds cool,Matthew.Can you give me a url?
    Is it ?

    • Thats the one. I paid for a 500 user licence as it was for a business I ran at the time and I provided stats as one of the resources available to clients.

      The licence was about $1200 if I remember correctly. I am not sure if they offer a web based service. Also the version I had was from 2002 and I havent used it for about 1 - 2 years now, so it will have been updated to a later version and I do not know if the later versions have this feature in.

      Just make sure you do your research first as the version I got was geared towards ISPs to resell stats.

  7. I found this blog originally through the Bloggeries forums.

    I’m curious about the use of Digg. My understanding of Digg is that it’s best for technology related articles or news. I’d considered other subjects off-topic (so much so that I don’t have a Digg button on my blog).

    The list of Feedburner sites includes some popular tech-related blogs, so it seems to fit.

    Have other people had luck with Digg and non-tech related posts?

  8. mad4,I didn’t know GA could do that.Any guidelines?

  9. 8.5k visitors in ONE day! That’s about the number of visitors I get in a month!


  10. I found you guys through the review on John Chow. There are only a limited # of sites I add to my feed reader, and I added you guys :)

    Based on the results breakdown so far, JC readers have are the highest…maybe it means that traffic was much better, even though it was lower?

    • Great yo have you here Dave and you’re right I also think the review on JC certainly brought the most targeted traffic.

  11. I would definitely expect Digg to drive that kind of crazy traffic, but to a large extent, the promotion in DP forum does capture my attention. I believe it’s the fact that SSM is very well-maintained and oraganised, with absolute quality content, coming from personal experience and point-of-view, which actually attracts a lot of readers, including myself. Hope that it keeps coming… I love to see statistics!

  12. The most effective way (depending on how you value your time) would have been to pay someone to do the RSS linkbait 😛

    • Very true and a lesson I’ve learned for next time. I must admit I never thought it would be that time consuming, I started it on Saturday morning and then noticed my day had gone, I did find myself reading a load of posts on other sites when I was making it.

  13. Good article. Thanks.

  14. I too experiment with various sources of traffic. I learned that getting extra traffic is one thing, but converting it is another.

    For example, I once got over 6000 visitors from in one day. The traffic returned to almost normal levels in a matter of few days, and kept on sending me 200-400 visitors/week for several weeks. Unfortunatley all this traffic literally converted ZERO in $$. Not even adsense revenues increased.

    Later I learned that this is common for social media networks. Their users don’t like adds and commercial sites in general. The common way of thinking here is that the ROI will come later in the form of links, etc. that the original submission resulted in. Unfortunately I have not experienced that.

    Do you guys track how much these traffic spikes convert for you per traffic source?

    • I track conversions on other sites but as we’re not selling anything here or trying to monetise yet I’ve not been tracking anything. Though tracking subscribers would be interesting, thanks for the idea (and thanks Mad for explaining the implementation).

  15. Got here though John Chow. Praise from him, even paid praise, is worth a lot. Certainly enough to give your site a good read for a while.

  16. Great article my question would be how much would it have cost to have someone create the top 101 post ? & what would it cost to have someone posting over on DP ?
    Comparing your time or mine against a paid submision is hard hence the questions 😉

  17. Paying somebody to do the 100 post probably wouldn’t cost that much as it’s a very menial but fairly time consuming task, finding somebody trustworthy to do it though is another matter. I don’t think you could really pay someone on DP to do the post as it needs to be by somebody involved with the site to make sense.

  18. I am cheap. I found a link Al left at the greatest free host in the world ;).

    I don’t read RSS. I don’t add stuff to favourites. I don’t read blogs. But I made an exception for this one. 😀

    I visit whenever I get a chance!

    Al, me thinketh you’ve got a winner here. (If the bloody comment textarea will just stop quaking on mousein and -out!)

    • I think that must be just you nafi (for a change) as nobody else has reported that quaking issue. Very odd though.

  19. Found via DP thread.

    Added to bookmarks because great content.

    Keep up the darn good work!

  20. Read your post on DP which lead me to this wonderful blog, it is really nice to see you both sharing this invaluable information with us aspiring web/content developers.

  21. I stop by and on a daily basis. I also bookmark other blogs that are interesting to me (I have this one bookmarked). And I visit them maybe once a week. I visit this one maybe about once a week.

    I find a lot of good blogs through John Chow. =]


  1. […] get traffic and how well the traffic generation faired. To illustrate this, they have a post titled “Chowed or Dugg, what’s best?”, that basically goes over whether getting dugg is better than paying for a review from John Chow […]

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