content

The team at Scripted.com interviewed me for a case study recently on how content marketing has been a big part of Creative Market‘s growth story this year. Below is the transcript from the interview.


Scripted: How did content become a role in your marketing strategy?

Zack: My background is in social network product growth and designing viral user flows. When I came onboard with Creative Market, I knew that the marketplace growth strategy was going to be much different. You’re not naturally going to invite your friends to connect with you on an ecommerce site. I knew from my experience as a designer that when I needed a new font, WordPress theme or other design asset, I would most often hit up Google as my first step. SEO was going to be a big factor in Creative Market’s growth story. With inbound links being the key driver of search result ranking, I knew that content marketing was going to drive most of those inbound links and increase our organic search traffic.

After working with the team to optimize the site to become as easily crawlable as possible by the Google-bots, I hired a writer to head up our content efforts. We invested in beefing up our company blog and increasing the amount of content we published and we optimized the type of content based on what drove the most traffic. We upped the amount of attention and focus on our social channels. We partnered with other bloggers in the design space, mentioned each other’s content and often wrote guest posts. Over the past year, we’ve grown our organic search and content channels to account for more than half our traffic.


Scripted: How did you first come across the idea of outsourcing content?

Zack: I had coffee with Ryan (Scripted’s CEO) after a tech meet-up, and we started chatting about how Creative Market was tackling writing content. We were doing it in a pretty inefficient way. Our content marketing manager, Maryam was spending most of her work week writing. After speaking with Ryan and learning more about Scripted, we evolved Maryam’s role into more of an editor role and we built a team of top writers from Scripted to take on a chunk of the writing work. That opened up a lot of time and allowed Maryam to work on other areas of our content strategy, like social.


Scripted: How do you measure your content success?

Zack: Traffic. Since focusing on our content strategy we’ve grown traffic to our blog over 10x, within the past 12 months.


Scripted: What exactly have you done to generate that growth?

Zack: We’ve done a lot of different things, but at the end of the day we aim to post high quality content. We’re looking at the data and looking at what types of posts get a lot of traffic. We look at how can we write more content in the same vein as the super successful posts. We’re looking closely at things like page title, content and the structure of the post. We’re continuing to post a lot of really cool content that our community – being a design community – really gravitates to. Those posts get shared and our traffic continues to grow.


Creative Market's Growth Team: Maryam Taheri and Zack Onisko

^ Creative Market’s Growth Team: Maryam Taheri and Zack Onisko



Scripted: What type of content have you found to have the best ROI? What have you found to have the most success?

Zack: It’s a mix. We make sure that we post a diverse array of content subject matter. Some posts aim to reach beginners, others are for the seasoned professional. Some posts cover general subjects, while others are very niche. We published over 300 blog posts last year and we saw the most page views and revenue came from posts that listed top products. Posts like “12 Creative Examples of Flat Web Design” and “10 Best WordPress Themes for 2013” have done very well for us.


Scripted: What are your thoughts on our dashboard and the quality of content that you are getting out of Scripted?

Zack: It’s been a great experience. Initially we had a little bit of a learning curve ­– getting used to the process – and now it’s almost automated. We work with some really great writers who know the design world. They do really good work.


Scripted: What challenges do you still have today in content creation, and how are you trying to solve them?

Zack: I think the challenge is coming up with fresh, new, interesting content. I think at the volume that we’re producing content we’ve caught ourselves rehashing old ideas. If we’re not writing great content, it’s not going to get read and it’s not going to be shared. We have some nice momentum going now and I just want to make sure that we don’t lose the wind in our sails, because it takes a really long time to build up that momentum.


Scripted: What advice would you give to content marketers that are starting out with a blog or creating original content?

Zack: There’s no silver bullet that’s going to start driving traffic to your blog right away. Start out by building relationships with other bloggers and writers in your space. Ask them to mention your site or content on their blog. See what you can do to write on their blog or ask them to write on your blog. Work to optimize your sharing UI on your blog. Test multiple variations until you find something that works for your audience. Test only a few share channels versus many options. For instance, if most of your shares are going to Pinterest and only a few are going to LinkedIn, kill the LinkedIn option and make the Pinterest button more prominent. Finally, optimize the content in the body of your post so that when people read the headline and view the shared image in their feed, they are compelled to re-share it. Over time, if you are carefully monitoring your experiments and optimizing, you’ll see the results of your hard work and your traffic will compound and grow.

trees

I recently began compiling lists of some of the best personal and corporate blogs on growth hacking and lean marketing. What I forgot to include in those lists are the networks and resource sites in the growth marketing community where ideas are shared, great posts are passed around, questions are answered and where folks chat about the secrets to their success growing start-ups.

If you are looking to hire a growth hacker, looking to become a growth hacker or looking to learn tips on how to grow your business, then these are the communities to become a part of.

s10

Growthhackers.com – A community for sharing growth hacking related articles. Started by Sean Ellis, the dude who coined the term “Growth Hacker.”

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Quibb – A link sharing community including members from the tech elite.

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Clarity.fm – Dan Martell’s Advisory Board 2.0 site. Schedule phone calls with experts and ask them anything.

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Growthhacker.tv – Bronson Taylor’s members only (paid subscription) site consisting of a lively community forum, growth recipes and over 100 video interviews with esteemed growth hackers.

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Quora – The question and answer network with best answers from people on the front lines. Start herehereherehere and here.

 

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Inbound.org – Rand Fishkin‘s and Dharmesh Shah‘s link sharing network.

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Slideshare – Why pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to go to conferences when you get the meat and potatoes from the slide decks after the event for free on Slideshare? See this, this, this, this and this.

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Medium  – Some of the minds behind Twitter have created the latest coolest blogging platform, attracting experts on growth and startup marketing. Start off by following these collections: “Growth Hacking“, “Growth Hacker“, “Online Marketing“, “Business & Marketing“, “On Content Marketing…“, “Thoughts On Digital Marketing.”

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Udemy  – The education platform has a ton of great classes on growth, including “Growth Hacking: an Introduction“,  “Hacking The Facebook Platform“,  “Web Scraping for Sales & Growth Hackers“, “Growth Hacking: User Onboarding” and many others.

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Hacker News – The original growth hacker community.

 

Are there any other growth marketing networks/ communities that you can think of? Leave them in the comments.

growthcompanyblogs

Last week I posted a list of 50+ individuals who write great stuff on startup growth. I forgot to mention a lot of great company blogs that are an excellent resource for anyone interesting in growing their startup’s traffic, users and/or revenue. I’m blown away by the constant quality marketing content posted on the company blogs of KissMetrics, Mailchimp, Unbounce, Hubspot, and the others listed below. Definitely worth adding to your feed reader.

If you can think of other companies or multi-author blogs who often write about growth hacking (or lean marketing, analytics, content marketing, email marketing, SEO, A/B testing, etc.), please mention them in the comments and I’ll add to the list. I’m sure there are a ton that I’m missing here…

  1. KissMetrics
  2. Moz
  3. Hubspot
  4. Optimizely
  5. Mixpanel
  6. Mailchimp
  7. Distilled
  8. Scripted
  9. Raven Tools
  10. Marketo
  11. Unbounce
  12. AimClear
  13. RJMetrics
  14. RJ Metrics’ The Metric System
  15. Zurb’s Soapbox
  16. Intercom.io
  17. Segment.io
  18. Stride
  19. Shopify
  20. Search Engine Land
  21. Inside Facebook
  22. Facebook’s Developer Blog
  23. Usability Geek
  24. iAcquire
  25. Social Media Examiner
  26. iCrossing
  27. Adverblog
  28. Copyblogger
  29. Search Engine Round Table
  30. Search Engine Watch
  31. Point Blank SEO
  32. Treehouse
  33. iDoneThis
  34. Buffer
  35. HitTail
  36. SproutSocial
  37. Colibri.io’s Growth Hacking Academy for Startups

 

DIGG

Today I finally made the migration moving my RSS feeds from Netvibes, a product that I’ve been using since around 2005 over to Digg Reader. During this manual move over I’ve unearthed a lot of great blog resources that I thought would be worth sharing. Below are a list of lean marketing/growth related bloggers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that I follow on a regular basis.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to gain traffic to your startup, acquire users, increase revenue and generally grow your business, you will find some great advice from following these growth experts.

57 Startup Growth Experts:

  1. Andrew Chen – The godfather of growth blogging. Spend some time in his archives. Great stuff!
  2. Adam Nash – Former LinkedIn exec and really smart dude. Every post is worth reading.
  3. Sean Ellis – The dude who coined the term “Growth Hacker.”
  4. Conrad Wadowski & Mattan Griffel – Growth consultants out of NYC. Young, but not dumb!
  5. Brian Balfour – Entreprenuer, Angel Investor, Growth Specialist.
  6. Dan Martell – Founder of Clarity, Flowtown and lecturer on growth.
  7. Tommy Griffith – If you’re just getting your feet wet with SEO, start with Tommy.
  8. Matt Cutts – Google’s inside man on all things SEO.
  9. Chamath Palihapitiya – Former growth lead at Facebook.
  10. Andy Johns – Former growth focused PM at Facebook, Twitter, Quora, former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock, now at Wealthfront. Just don’t call him a “Growth Hacker.”
  11. Avinash Kaushik – The godfather of web analytics.
  12. Neil Patel – The guy behind the Kiss Analytics blog.
  13. Noah Kagan – Chief Sumo. Formerly at Facebook and Mint. Founder of multiple start-ups.
  14. Seth Godin – Yes, that Seth Godin.
  15. Nabeel Hyatt – Former Zynga exec turned VC.
  16. James Currier – My former boss and one of the best brains on growth IMO. Founder of Tickle, Wonderhill, Ironpearl.
  17. Tomasz Tunguz – A venture capitalist who gets startup marketing.
  18. Jeremy Liew – He’s been working in the web game probably longer than you’ve been alive. He’s been writing about growth related topics on the Lightspeed blog since 2006. Super smart guy.
  19. Josh Elman – The guy who helped grow LinkedIn, Facebook AND Twitter… The holy moly trinity of fast growth social networks!
  20. Paul Graham – The man, the myth, the legend. Go back and read every one of his posts. Posts from 10 years ago are still relevant today!
  21. Mike Greenfield – Seasoned Facebook Platform startup founder. Growth Hacker-In-Residence at 500 Startups.
  22. Jason Cohen – Founder of WP Engine who shares his insights on startup marketing, product and everything inbetween.
  23. Rand Fishkin – My man Rand… Founder of Moz.com and the oracle of search optimization.
  24. Nir Eyal – Nir writes some pretty great stuff around the psychologies of growth and user engagement. He just wrote a book called ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.‘ Check it out.
  25. Nathan Barry – Successful independent Designer/ Developer/ Marketer hybrid.
  26. Mike DeVerna –  Growth at Hired.com, BranchOut, Pagefad.
  27. Shawn Collins – Learn everything you need to know about affiliate marketing from Shawn.
  28. 500 Startups – A great resource for all things start-ups.
  29. Ryan Holiday – Best selling author has some great growth articles on Medium.
  30. Lance and Joanna – Great tips on hacking copywriting.
  31. Sangeet Paul Choudary – A great mind and excellent writer on Platform Thinking.
  32. Tim Ferriss – Learn from the master on how to hack your startup, your mind, your body and everything else in your life.
  33. Brad Feld – TechStars co-founder, author, marathon runner. Great posts on startups.
  34. Luke Wrobeloski – A world class data-driven designer.
  35. Alexis Ohanian – Founder of Reddit talks about their growth story.
  36. Danielle Morrill – CEO & Cofounder of Mattermark. Writer of things, often growth related.
  37. Vladimir Prelovac – An entrepreneur who often writes insightful SEO tips.
  38. Elliot Shmuckler – VP Product and Growth at Wealthfront. Previously led Growth (20M to 200M+) and consumer products at LinkedIn.
  39. Dan McKinley – Big data/ growth engineer at Etsy.
  40. Ian Lurie – Founder of respected Seattle marketing agency Portent.
  41. Will Critchlow – Cofounder of Distilled, the leading organic and paid search agency.
  42. David Naylor – SEO expert.
  43. Steve Blank – Serial entrepreneur and author of multiple startup guide books.
  44. Dharmesh Shah – Cofounder of Hubspot… Has grown it into a billion dollar business.
  45. Mark Suster – VC who writes great advice for startups.
  46. Chris Dixon – Super tall dude. Also very smart.
  47. Fred Wilson – The bad guy from that Twitter book. Excellent blog.
  48. Aaron Ginn – Head of Growth at StumbleUpon, Formerly Growth Hacker for the Romney for President campaign.
  49. Stephan Miller – Lots of good advice on SEO and social media marketing.
  50. Kanyi Maqubela – A man born in a township outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, went to Stanford, has worked for Obama, a few startups, now at Collaborative Fund.
  51. Evan Solomon – Engineer and growth thinker. Previously at Automattic and Justin.tv. Now at Medium.com.
  52. Ryan Carson – CEO and Founder of Treehouse, an online technology school that teaches you how to code, start a business, etc.
  53. Blake Masters – Writing a book on Peter Thiel’s brain (http://zerotoonebook.com/)
  54. Jakub Linowski – UI Design Tips for conversion.

Additions from the comments:

  1. Peep Laja
  2. Shana Carp
  3. Jordana Moskowitz
  4. Sean Johnson

Are there any other guys or gals that I missed? Add them in the comments.

 

li2

Did you know that you could export all your LinkedIn contacts and their email addresses?

I stumbled across this feature today and it came as a bit of a shock that LinkedIn allows you to export your contacts and their email addresses and that they do not force users to communicate only within their proprietary messaging system. Kudos to LinkedIn for opening this up.

Here’s how to do it:

1) From the LinkedIn top navigation, click Network > Contacts;
2) On the right hand side of your Contacts page, click the gear icon;
3) From the Contacts Settings page, click ‘Export LinkedIn Connections’ on the right hand side. That’s it!

How is this valuable?

• There’s a good chance that many of your contacts in your Gmail or other email contact list have moved on to roles at other companies and their email addresses have become outdated. Importing your contact list from LinkedIn can help keep that list up to date.

• In a rare case, you might decide to send an email to your entire contact list. Be careful here though. You have a social contract with your contacts to not be spammy. Don’t be spammy! It’s best to send one-off emails to people on your list individually along with a personalized note. I think we all know when  we see a first name variable at the beginning of a single blanket email. Be better than the blanket email.

 

flying

Birthday’s are the one time of the year when people get a little more sentimental than usual. We start to think about the future, and where our life is headed, but we also take time to reminisce and think about the past. Today is my birthday, and admittedly I’m doing both.

Looking back, I have to say the time between my 15th and 16th birthdays was quite unique and special. During the course of that year, not only did I receive my driver’s permit, but I joined a rock band, fell in love for the first time in my life, and I formed friendships with a core group of guys that still remain my closest friends.

Ten years into the future, my life changed immensely. Between my 25th and 26th birthday’s I came to earn my bachelor’s degree, and started graduate school in the pursuit of a business degree. I made big changes, including quitting my DJing job that had supported me for over two years, and starting a design position at a start-up company called Tickle. This is a time in someone’s life that one would typically call a “pivotal moment,” and ultimately I dropped out of business school to continue my work at Tickle. It turns out I found my true calling, working at start-ups, and once Tickle was acquired shortly after I started there, I fell in love with start-up culture and life. Ultimately, this has led me to work at start-ups ever since.

Today, I turn 36 and the past year, like all the others before has been full of changes, accomplishments, hardships, new challenges, and excitement. After 10 years of working on multiple start-ups, I took on a new position as the VP of Growth at Creative Market. During this time, my wife and I moved house and home from Oakland to San Francisco, and this past November we welcomed our beautiful daughter Madalina “Madi” Azalea Onisko into the world.

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As I mentioned before, for most birthdays tend to be a time of reflection, and I am no exception to this. Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about bucket lists. (Admittedly, the two of us are getting to the age where bucket lists come up). However, I hadn’t really thought of all the things I wanted to do before my time comes. Not only did I marry the girl of my dreams, but I’ve been blessed with a beautiful and healthy baby girl, an amazing job, and a roof over my head with food on the table – what more could I want in life?

My friend’s question lingered in my head…While I have been blessed with so many things already, I have so many goals, ambitions, and things that I want to do with my life and things I want to see and experience with my family. After all, I’m not THAT old yet.

With the next 10 years, before my 46th birthday, I hope to accomplish the following 46 to-dos:

  1. Rock a sixpack (eat right, workout regularly).
  2. Be able to make a personal connection with people from around the world – Learn to say thank you in at least 25 languages.
  3. Worry less, and be happier.
  4. Start my own company.
  5. Take my wife back to the spot where I proposed to her in Vernazza, Italy on our 10th anniversary.
  6. Read and add 200 books to my library (basically, read a book every 2 weeks).
  7. Visit all 50 states…by motorcycle.
  8. Learn to speak Spanish fluently.
  9. Have another baby…or two.
  10. Learn to play the piano like a pro – I want to be able to play this, this, this and THIS.
  11. Buy a fixer-upper house and remodel it with my wife.
  12. Walk the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu
  13. Buy an old 60′s classic muscle car and restore it.
  14. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
  15. Perform stand-up comedy to >500 people.
  16. Tutor my daughter so that she’s ahead of the game every school year.
  17. Boat down the Amazon River.
  18. Plant a garden, raise chickens, pigs and cows.
  19. Record an album of the original songs my dad never had a chance to record.
  20. Run a full marathon.
  21. Write a book.
  22. Pay off my parents’ mortgage and debts and set my mom up so that she can retire.
  23. Visit the village in Poland/Ukraine where my last name originates from.
  24. Build a treehouse in the backyard for my daughter.
  25. Finish my MBA.
  26. Live and work from a tropical island for 3 months.
  27. Shoot a Bazooka.
  28. Take my mom and step dad on vacation out of the country.
  29. Up my guitar chops – Learn to play thisthisthis and THIS.
  30. Learn to dance: Salsa, Tango, Waltz, Ballroom.
  31. Make enough money to where I never have to worry about money again.
  32. Put the band back together. Play shows.
  33. Backpack from North to South Vietnam.
  34. Learn to code an iPhone app. Launch it. Grow it.
  35. Learn to cook like a chef.
  36. Learn to golf.
  37. Live in Buenos Aires for a year.
  38. Play a high stakes poker game in Vegas.
  39. Live and work in NYC for 3 months (either Spring or Fall!)
  40. Design beer bottle labels. Brew the beer to go inside the bottles.
  41. Finish building the guitar that my dad was working on before he passed.
  42. Buy 20 acres of land somewhere in Northern California. Design and build a house.
  43. Learn to fly.
  44. Buy a drum set. Play drums!
  45. Visit Petra in Jordan, the Great Wall of ChinaGreat Pyramid of Giza, Antarctica.
  46. Visit outer space.

As I accomplish these goals over the years, I’ll try to remember come back to this post and check items off this list. Wish me luck.

~ Z

grid

Yesterday I decided that I want to start writing more and so I installed WordPress on my domain. Today it’s 4am.  I just woke up in a panic realizing that I left the office last night without posting anything. And I can’t think of anything else in this world worse than a blog with no posts. Ok, maybe a couple things, but I digress.

My wife and I leave for New Orleans tonight. It will be our first time visiting the Big Easy. It will also be the first time that both of us have been away from our daughter for more than a short stint. We’re both excited for our trip and a bit anxious to be without our babes for almost 5 days. In a few hours we will make our pilgrimage to Grandma’s house (the Bay Bridge is closed by the way). Over the river and through the woods, to the East Bay in a caravan stuffed with a portable crib, high chair, walker, bottles, toys, a case of diapers and 3 weeks worth of baby food (just in case). She’ll be fine. Grandma’s got this.

We have a pretty amazing group of friends heading to New Orleans. I think there are like 13 of us. Mar and I are pumped. Our friends Chris and Sabrina, who currently reside in Sacramento, are from New Orleans. They lived there pre and post Katrina and they know what’s up. They have put an exhaustive, beautifully designed 3-page PDF itinerary together that lists out a long weekend of food, drink, swamp boat tours, alligator petting, laser puppet shows, brass band listening, po’boy eating, mud stepping, house of the rising sunning, VIP school bus riding  and other miscellaneous good times. Oh, it’s also New Orleans’ version of Pride this weekend! By the way, today is the 8th anniversary of Katrina. Oh boy. Here we go…

 Background graphic from Creative Market