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Get free traffic from communities

Nick Nikolaiev
Co-founder at
Get a pre-made project plan based on this how-to guide on
In this how to guide we’ll tell you how to get free traffic from various online groups, forums and other communities. This way you can get early product adopters and land a few first sales as well. As usual, a detailed step by step project plan comes with each story. 


Online communities are the kind of platforms where people share useful content and exchange various tips. Most of the communities have moderation to make sure that content is helpful and provides actual value. Each community has its unique rules and a set of guidelines you are expected to follow.

The Internet has a myriad of themed communities, which are useful for getting free traffic for your startup.

We are going to share our personal experience on how we’ve built traffic to our products. In this guide we will take a look at the following communities:
  • Reddit 
  • Quora 
  • FB groups and pages 
  • Hacker news 
  • GrowthHackers 
  • DesignerNews 
  • Stackoverflow

Learn general rules

To get traffic from these communities, you have to understand their rules a.k.a. the online etiquette within them. They are quite simple, but you shouldn’t ignore them.
  • Don't Be Pushy. Your ultimate goal is to attract traffic but you have to be patient. First you have to earn your trust stripes, since you're account is relatively young and you lack authority and experience in the eyes of others. Get your name out there and bring in value prior to pitching your product. 
  • Social Investment comes first. Become an active member of the community. Don't try to promote your startup straight away.  Most likely you will get banned and it will be quite hard to get rid of this ban. Invest some time into the community by contributing valuable content and developing your relationship with other users. And only afterward it’s worth attempting a soft pitch of your startup. Value comes first. Self-promotion is secondary. 

1 Create and develop your account on Reddit

Reddit is a community where people share links to articles, media and other curious or funny things from around the web. Reddit is structured into "subreddits", sub-communities within the massive Reddit community to discuss certain topics or curate specific content. The submitted links can be upvoted, and the content with most votes gets on the front page of the website. Reddit features Karma ranking system.This means you need to achieve a certain amount of upvotes first before you can share your content at certain subreddits. That's how the community knows you are not just another spammer or a shameless self promoter (Reddit users have zero tolerance in both cases) . Earn your karma by commenting on the posts of other users and publishing relevant content into relevant subreddits.

Reddit might get you tons of traffic just like in the following video:
Tip: there is a "gray market" where you can buy well-established accounts.

Use Fiverr or Peopleperhour to scout for offers.

Choose the subreddits where you can post

We advise you to use the following service to search for relevant subreddits:
Tip 1: Consider yourself lucky if your product gets picked up in one of the following popular communities:
These subreddits have more than 6 million subscribers each.Tip 2. Be sure to post about your startup in the "Startups" subreddit in the section "share your startup".

Also, don't miss out on the following communities such as Entrepreneur or Marketing

Prepare your posts:

They should not contain even a hint of advertising (or you are toasted). Reddit has a strong moderation team. Your best bet is to have a look at what kind of posts have previously hit Top/Gilded sections and try to develop something similar.

Research the main page of the Reddit. It aggregates the most popular posts from subreddits. You will definitely be able to scoop some good ideas from there. If your post somehow makes it to the front page, be ready to receive a huge amount of traffic which is also known as a Reddit hug.

Write your posts and try to get to the top

Hyping up your account artificially won’t work here. If the info/link you provide is dull and doesn’t benefit the community, it’s highly unlikely that it will make all the way to the top. But if you DO manage to get to the top, be prepared to get a lot of traffic. Apart from the traffic, be prepared to answer lots of questions about your product (positive and negative as well). Reddit users are notoriously famous for long chats over one submission.

There is a high probability that you’ll want to try spending some cash to boost your posts, but there is little chance that it’ll work.
It’s better to keep the focus on the content. Engaging relevant content is your key to winning shares and traffic, not only on Reddit. 

2 Create your Quora account and get to know the community

Quora is a Q&A platform that is super focused on 2 things: people and content. Quora has all sorts of users - from top tier politicians to music stars and even astronauts. Quality of the answers are the top priority to Quora, so you have to slowly build your personal brand with the answers you contribute to the community.You can also get popular by regularly posting into your blog (on Quora you can create as many blogs as you like).
Here’s how it can benefit your startup: find questions relevant to your niche, offer solutions, leverage your brand. You have to be careful on how you answer the question. You have to clearly indicate that you are not biased because you are showcasing YOUR product and the answer must be very informative, rather than just being promotional. Quora is incredibly harsh on people who want to use it as another self-promotion platform. Hence, you have to be very careful and make sure that your content adds value.

Identify the topics that are relevant to your startup

Speaking of, we focus on productivity and project management tools. Thus, tese are the domains where we create content and build reputation.

Collect the questions that are relevant to you

In our case, we’ve created a Google document with all the relevant questions. We can use these questions to mention the name of our product not diminishing the quality of the answer. Overall, we've collected around 40 questions, which is a pretty decent number.

Apart from mentioning the product name, you can also post links to your blog (your company blog that is). But always remember that your answers have to be informative, NOT promotional.

Tip: Google likes Quora because it provides quality content. Some questions constantly make it to the top of relevant google search results. So if you make it to the top, you’ll receive a constant stream of free traffic to your website.

Get your answers ready

As we’ve said before, quality of the content is what really matters. Make sure your post answers the question and doesn't come around as a promotional post. If you do write about your product, make sure to state that you are part of the team.

Use visuals: screenshots, videos, pics.
This helps readers to digest the information better.

Tip 1. Quora algorithm is very complex. Just shooting for upvotes won’t get you to the top.
Ranking factors include all sorts of things: your reputation, how many followers you have, etc.

Tip 2. Create an “answer wiki” and edit it.

Wiki is a short preview of all answers for the question. Not all questions need an “answer wiki”. But if the question is asking for specific products and/or for their alternatives, this is a very good example where you can create an “answer wiki”.

Other methods of promotion

You can also get some traffic through questions. For example, ask a buddy to post a question that you WANT to answer (where you will mention your product). That way the question is custom tailored to you. Then you can “ask to answer” various experts. If they do, their followers will also see the answer.

Also, you can use Quora as a networking platform. Quora is not as official as Linkedin — you’ll have a much better chance to establish a connection here, then on Linkedin.

3 Register and start developing your account on HackerNews

HackerNews is a very active community that is all about coding, hacking, startups and technology. Every member of the community can share their content with others, and the community self-moderates the site by voting on the content (or leaving it with no attention). Once registered at Hacker News, you have to build your “karma”. And yes - that’s a real thing just like with Reddit. Roughly, the number of upvotes on their stories and comments minus the number of downvotes is what makes your karma.” More on that here: FAQ.

Share your startup in a “Show” section

There is a special section where you can talk about your product or companyShow.

Monitor this section and be prepared to answer questions that users might have about your company/products.

Think what you can write on Hackernews

Usually, those are the posts related to developers and startup culture . You can post links to your blog posts (if they are useful and relevant).Tips. 
  1. Be relevant. 
  2. Timing is important 
  3. Have a catchy title. 
More on that here:

Publish and monitor

As usual, well monitored communities mean one thing and one thing only: quality is the king. Creating an army of bots that will like your content will give you no tangible results, but also will get you death banned (be a nightmare to get rid of). Even creating a new account with a new email won’t help much. It’s not against the rules if a couple of your friends upvote your submission. Definitely, we still stress that quality content is the best strategy you should be focused on. However, a few friendly upvotes can get you the initial traction on the platform. Tips. Don’t forget the timing. 8:30 am EST is considered to be the best time to post on HackerNews (as the website has the most amount of traffic).

4 Research relevant Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is a place where members can exchange content and other members will get notified if something new gets published. FB groups are underestimated by startups. In some cases you can get decent traffic for no cost at all.Firstly, think through what kind of groups might be interested in your content. For example, we had seen cases when a company that was selling notebooks with artwork had used 30 groups to generate the first traffic and landed over $5000 in early sales.

Find the groups

Searching for groups isn’t that easy. Facebook search doesn’t really work on groups that well. Here is a video that will explain how to search for groups efficiently. Create an Excel file and list all the groups that are of some interest to you.

Join the groups

It is advisable to use different accounts when joining groups. People on Facebook often join groups that have similar content. If they will see your product being shared everywhere under the same name, they are likely to tag you as a spammer. So, you might ask your friends and colleagues to post into these groups to avoid such mishaps.

Write posts

As always, remember that your posts need could not look like an advertisement at all costs. Try to bring value to each FB group. Tips. Some startups contact administrators of the large groups directly, negotiating the terms and conditions of ad posts in the group. This is a valid strategy for big FB groups that can generate a lot of traffic for you.

Check for additional prospects

# 5 Search For Other Relevant Communities

These are some other niche themed groups that you can use to generate traffic. They work very similar to HackerNews

Create a content plan

As we’ve said, these are very topic oriented groups, so non-relevant info will bring you nowhere. Make sure that you share targeted content in respective threads.


Your aim is to get to the top. This can only be done with quality content. Thebest types of content are case studies, how-to guides and tips that can benefit the members of this group. Always remember that these communities are moderated and attempting to boost your 'likes' or 'upvotes' in a cheater way will be severely punished. And some communities also have "karma" systems in place that is crucially important!

#6 Register on StackOverflow

StackOverflow is a community of 4.7 million programmers, helping each other. If your potential clients are developers, this is the place to be.But even if you don’t target developers, there are plenty of sub-groups with topics ranging from beer to airplanes:This platform is Q&A based. It has VERY strict moderation, anything that even remotely smells like promo will be immediately deleted. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get traffic from this platform, though. Besides, by answering questions you can slowly build up a reputation and find partners or experts in your respective field.

Learn where you can add your answer

After you've chosen your community, take a look at the questions that you can use mentioning your product. Remember that promotional content will probably be banned, so be careful in how your present your submission.
Once you've chosen the right questions, start adding your answers. 

Explore other potential benefits

Apart from traffic, you can find a lot of Subject Matter experts on Stackoverflow. Take this opportunity to expand your professional network.

To sum up:

Here is something that is relevant to ALL communities: 
  • Start working with these communities as early as possible. Even if you don't have the product yet, you can already answer lot's of questions and post valuable content, say from your blog.
  • Don't try to "rig" the game - it's not gonna pay off. 
  • Experiment with different content formats (posts, how-to guides, infographics). 
Good luck!

P.S. We would also recommend you checking out "How to get Free Press Coverage for Your Startup" guide. So you can generate the maximum "buzz" on the internet for your product. 
Story by
Nick Nikolaiev
Co-founder at