How I did 5-figures in revenue with my bootstrapped startup through reddit.
At the end of 2015, I closed a company I had been working on for the last few years — there were a lot of mistakes made and it was time to move on.
I emerged from that adventure with a mountain of experience and a desire to establish a steady income while I planned my next big moves. At the beginning of December 2015, I launched www.SAVONBOX.com— A bath & body company with a soap subscription box. My Mother and I developed nearly three-hundred formulas over the last twenty years, and I saw a great opportunity re-monetize our product line.
I decided that I wanted to bring this product to market on my own in order to see how much of the business I could automate. I’ve had the chance to see how these products perform in sales over the years, so I’m fortunate that I’ve cultivated a fair amount of domain expertise, and had years of sales data to sort through.
I started SAVONBOX with about $400. The bulk of the time was spent researching competitor pricing, locking in my unit economics, and dialing in the website. I planned the launch for December and I wanted to see if I could create a viral launch for free — which lead to my viral reddit post that resulted in over 10,000 hits to my site, and solid five-figures in revenue in a 36 hour period. I was getting five to seven orders a minute and had to hire six people to help me fulfill. We had an entire mail truck to ship our launch orders.
Here’s how I did it.
I started off by looking through reddit for any posts related to soap, bath & spa, beauty products, and aromatherapy. I found a few relevant subreddits like r/soap (More focused on soap making) and r/wicked_edge and then I cross referenced my findings with redditlist.com. What I found was a series of high-performing posts in r/pics that had over 1000+ up-votes.
SUCCESSFUL POST ANALYSIS:
I looked through the high performing post titles for both soap posts and other “high performing” human interest posts to understand the type of content they focused on, the timing, and the psychology. What I found was that the most successful posts on reddit included story, timeline, place, or shocking/emotional statements in the title.
I also found that the most successful posts were high-quality imgur photoalbums that had concise story-driven captions — check out r/DIY for the best examples. Pictures that were too professional performed poorly, but high-quality pictures with an amateurish feel performed the best.
CRAFTING THE POST:
First I came up with the title —timeline is already a key part of our brand story, and so I included that in my post. I settled on “When I was a kid [EMOTION], I got a soap making kit [STORY], and now 20 years later [TIMELINE], I’ve started a soap company [PLACE/STORY].
SAVONBOX has a high-performing Instagram Account so I chose the images with the highest engagement and like counts for the imgur photo album, and mixed those in with a few lower-quality action shots to keep try to balance professional with relatable. I used a very bight and high-contrast image as the cover photo.
THE BEST TIMES TO POST & REDDIT’S RANKING ALGORITHMS:
After I uploaded my imgur photo album, I started researching how reddit’sranking algorithm worked, and looked into reddit’s traffic trends. I came across this article by Charlie Warzel and saw that there was a strong correlation between performance, posting time, and time zone. I also realized that the first ten upvotes a post receives within a certain amount of time counts nearly as much as the next 100.
My first attempt at posting the article was 11am EST on a Wednesday. It failed abysmally. It topped out at 10 upvotes and was buried. The second time I posted it was around 4:30pm EST on a Wednesday. My goal was to catch the east coasters on their commute home, and be on the front page for the west-coasters.
*UPDATE 1/19/16 In a previous edit, I wrote about how I front-loaded my post using ghost accounts and a VPN. It was brought to my attention by the moderators over at r/pics that this is in DIRECT VIOLATION of Reddit’s Terms of Service — this will result in a ban from the r/pics subreddit, and it’s not acceptable for any post on reddit. There is a reason reddit has a TOS, and it’s to protect content so we can continue to enjoy reddit as a platform. Now that it has been brought to my attention, it’s a practice I will discontinue, and discourage anyone else from doing as well.
SAVONBOX hit the front page with 4,000+ upvotes, and over 900 comments. I had over 10,000 people come to the site, and started receiving orders at 5pm EST and still continue to see orders from that post in January 2016 — including returning customers. Our orders spiked for a 36 hour period, and I saw an overwhelmingly positive response.
To keep the post alive, I shared it across my own personal social networks, and shared it in a number of Facebook groups, telling my story, and asking for their support.
Reddit has given me some of the most supportive and engaged customers, and I’m really grateful for their business.