I am frustrated. I am a software engineer, not a marketer. I recently launched a website called Trivlike, and online matchmaking site that uses trivia to match compatible people. I spent 6 months from concept to product launch, using nothing but my own sweat and personal savings.
I launched in February, and had some positive blog coverage right away that drove a few hundred signups. But since then, traffic is dwindling. I've tried contacting several blogs and even local newspapers with no success, no replies, nada.
I'm beginning to wonder if an investor-partner is critical to success. Sites like TechCrunch seem to want nothing to do with you or your startup unless you are raising Series A funding with venture fund X, Y and Z.
Fellow bootstrappers, have you encountered this? How do you push forward?
It sounds like an investor isn't the right answer here.
If you manage to get a round of investment you may get covered by TechCrunch, but this isn't going to get you more than a story or two. As you've seen before, a single media spike doesn't really solve your acquisition problem. You need something more sustainable.
Plus there are easier ways to get media attention than going through the rigamarole of convincing an investor to give you many dollars and give up a share of your company. Odds are if you have a serious customer acquisition problem with few ideas, big-name investors won't want to give you money.
To get the attention of media you more-or-less need to do something noteworthy, something you might want to tell someone else about (if you were in someone else's shoes). Running a contest is almost a cliche example of this, but a line of thinking to consider.
Another way is to generate interesting content. OKCupid does this by publishing various studies on user data. They're not actually pitching their product, just giving something interesting for people to read, and I've seen links to popular posts float around Twitter. Blog posts can have lasting value -- they draw users to your site (now and forever), they build SEO when you get linked, and you build yourself as a thought-leader in your space. What can you write about that's interesting to trivia lovers, or people looking for dates, or your general demographic?
Just because you have an investor does not mean they will give you creditability or exposure. You have a classic marketing problem that a lot of companies face -- how to get the word out without breaking the bank. I don't think it's a "I need a big shot" for creditability thing but rather you need to build your value proposition so it's obvious.
I would suggest you look into Inbound Marketing techniques that build your creditability about your method of dating. It will take some time but that is the most effective way to do marketing on a budget. It might make sense to hire a marketing person to help with your overall marketing plan just so you know what to work on.
For your situation, you really need to focus on what your core difference is and how that will add value to your subscribers. Greg's comments about the data from OKCupid is a good one but a bit premature since you don't really have many users.
Here are a couple of things you can consider doing to help you marketing effort:
There are many more things you can do that don't require a hot shot investor to give you creditability. Don't get me wrong. If the guy from eHarmony left and came to your gig, that would be huge but those types of things are rare and have the potential to fade fast.