June 17, 2019
You Haven’t Mastered the Internet Until You’ve Also Mastered Traffic
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This post is for entrepreneurial engineers...
I have some harsh reality for you. The following quote is a lie.
“If you build it they will come”
No. No, they will not. How do I know? Because In 2015, my startup failed.
We had raised a few hundred thousand dollars and had some minor successes, but at the end of the day, our burn rate exceeded our runway. We were forced to close the doors. At the time we said things like “our target market’s sales cycles are really slow!” to justify our failures. We blamed each other. Etc.
The reason we failed was that no one on our team understood marketing and sales, and the fact that they are actually MORE important than the product.
The reason my company failed is that I sucked at marketing.
Sure, I was the CTO, and when thinking of a CTO’s role, you probably don’t think marketing, but if you’re gonna start a company, you should be prepared to wear all of the hats.
I was not.
So I took a pay cut and started building custom marketing funnels.
I had just finished reading a book that told me “if you want to be rich, don’t work for money”. The idea was instead, learn new skills. Jobs are for learning skills to use in your own ventures.
Two friends in my network happened to be looking for an engineer at the time, to build custom marketing funnels for their video training courses. Between the two of them, they were making close to $2M yearly revenue, and I was blown away.
Their company was more marketing and sales than product.
I didn’t even know that was a thing until I saw it.
I mean, I obviously vaguely knew that marketing was important, but I have to admit, I didn’t really get it.
Not until I built funnels, analytics, split tests, and landing pages, and saw how Google Adwords and Facebook, and retargeting could be used to control traffic.
I finally understood.
Traffic is engineered.
Seriously. If you don’t have traffic, it’s because you didn’t build it. It’s your fault.
As an engineer, I didn’t get this.
The light bulb really clicked for me during a conversation with the CEO. I asked him how he got his company started, and he responded: “I’ve just always really liked building automated systems.”
Yea. Me too. But like, building systems with code.
Turns out, it’s not all that different. There are patterns and techniques that you can use to successfully engineer traffic. It’s a system that you can build.
As software engineers, we are at an advantage. All we do all day every day is build systems!
I could build full stack applications, with micro-service backends, and complex DevOps systems consisting of clusters of machines with fault tolerance and auto-scaling capabilities. I thought I was a master of the internet! I was like Harry Potter, creating distributed systems and masterful full stack applications out of nothing! But no one cared.
It was then I decided, to be a true master of the internet, one had to master Traffic as well.
If you build something, and no one uses it, you might as well have never built it.
So you may be a full-stack, distributed systems, blockchain, cloud guru. Doesn’t matter.
You haven’t mastered the internet until you’ve also mastered traffic.
* Originally published on HackerNoon by me! https://hackernoon.com/you-havent-mastered-the-internet-until-you-ve-also-mastered-traffic-8c2508eba4aa
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