For the past year I've been working on a recipe-sharing startup called Fridge to Food based on the idea of crowd sourcing recipes. We went to public beta a few months ago and I've been doing rounds of seeking feedback and then implementing changes. It's still in beta, but I'm reaching a point where most of the primary features are set and I'm beginning to work on features that require more of a community (reputation based features).
So far I've seen about 3000 unique hits total in two months of slowly spreading the word. I'm running out of ideas for new places I could go to build the community. Of those 3000 unique visitors, I have about 150 users. Of whom maybe 30 consistently use it. The site has a pretty slow velocity, it's not the sort of thing you repeatedly return to in a day. Rather it's the sort of thing you visit once a day at most, more probably a few times a month. So even the dedicated users who consistently post content only return a few times a month.
I'm facing the classic chicken and egg problem with community based sites. How can I get the initial exposure and build the initial community? All of my friends who cook on a regular basis are pretty much already using the site. I'm on twitter and facebook networking and promoting like mad, but am experiencing little traction there. I've been approaching the various food-based reddits and have gotten little traction there as well (I usually get between 20-30 upvotes, a handful of downvotes and a number of comments from people who love the idea and/or have a few suggestions). I've been e-mailing food bloggers, but I have no way to measure how successful that is yet. I've only sent out a handful of e-mails to food bloggers, because I was trying to comment and build a relationship with them before I e-mailed. But I only have so much time, and that has been falling by the wayside.
What are other ways I could get the word out to help build an initial beta community? What haven't I thought of?
Nice site. One option for attracting eyeballs is to leverage your blog a bit differently or start a different one. (You current blog is of interest, IMO, to people that are already interested in your site.
Need to start blogging about topics that are of interest to the people that you want to attract, e.g., Five gourmet meals in less than 20 minutes, or raise a question that gets people wanting to respond, e.g., What's your favorite quick-fix gormet dish? You'll also need to cross-post to/from other blogs to get other bloggers interested in and writing about your blog and site.
I suggest you check out David Mehan Scott's book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR.
I got the audio version of the book and have listened to it many times.
Good luck... Craig
@daniel, it just takes time. You could pump visitors to your site by means of adverts, but without a solid business model it would be a tough nutt to swallow.
You just have to be patient as your reputation builds, adding content, and fine tuning. You have done a good job with the facebook like buttons and tweets. If you offer user registrations, you may create an Invite your friends email type system.