Entrepreneurship · Startups

How do you start a website that requires user contribution?

Luigi Guarnieri Sales Support Cash&Carry presso Esprinet Italia

January 22nd, 2017

How do you attract users to use your website, if the website requires users to create the content? When there is no content, there will be no users. When there are no users, there will be no content. What are the best practices to escape this loop and build up a user base that is most likely to visit repeatedly?

Do you know/Do you remember what StackExchange looked like in its early days? How about Quora, Wikipedia or any other website with similar experience?

Sandra Holtzman Marketing/creative specialist and startup consultant, serial entrepreneur, faculty at NYU, FIT, Levin Institute

January 22nd, 2017

I would conduct some customer-focused market research. In the research ask what the users want to see on the site and how they want to see it. Then create the site or a beta site and put it out there for reaction. You'll get it. When I did this for a product launch, the site went viral (with no social media or marketing) and sales increased by 1,000% in four months. Hope that helps.

Rob Hirsch Traveler, nature lover, storm chaser, entrepreneur, & epic sleeper

January 22nd, 2017

Get email addresses of users who might be interested in the type of content other users create. When you have 100+ email addresses, find some content creators to test-drive the site & email the 100+ people that content is available. While you're looking for the content creators, send the 100+ people a weekly or biweekly email to keep them "warm".

Clinton Boyda Fiery Entrepreneur looking for Growth Partner

January 22nd, 2017

I believe this is the flaw of most gov't projects. They build a big expensive electronic bulletin board and say.. poof.. we are done.. now everyone just give us their information/content.


At our company we looked at it the opposite way.. yes we want content.. but the only way we can attract that content growth and end-user cooperation is by first GIVING the client a reason, a purpose to using our tool.


All our user data is amalgamated into a central web portal.. wouldn't it be awesome if all municipalities could contribute so this one central location would be an easy place to find sample bylaws etc etc.. yes so we created a tool that helps municipalities organize their bylaws for their own website, they feel they are helping themselves and the portal just becomes a piggy back benefit on their efforts, not the main purpose.


I believe that is how many of the quora and pay-for-an-answer websites worked.. it was people wanting to help themselves, and even willing to pay for that help.. which inadvertently grew a massive database of great content for the website owner :)

Oleh Mykhaylovych

January 22nd, 2017

Well, I would use some tricks in order to do that. Normally you have to start with big launch, however if there's noone (like in social network) then noone will start making any activities. I would try to create content at least with own set of resources, also friends and close network. In rare cases I would use some fake data or just purchase some services that can do loads of accounts that does something(there're places where you can buy it in some locations)


Several examples:

- I was doing lead generation startup and we got a guy that asked for several thousands of entrepreneur's contacts as well as investors contracts. So he purchased it and launched first version of AngelList like portal.

- Recent case. Many people mentioned that global talent marketplace(upwork.com) having issues, a bit time ago they raised their fees. Hubstaff - a company that provides time tracking software realised that there can be good audience, and they got lists of companies, freelancers from upwork and started to bombard them proposting new marketplace for free. A month after launch they claim to have 7000 accounts created.


Hope this helps and gives some ideas for you.

Manjunath Patil I'm a seasoned Software Sales professional

January 24th, 2017

Socialise the website with social login, sharing, commenting, voting capabilities et al.

Eddy Borja Full stack developer with 9 years of experience

January 26th, 2017

One answer is to have initial content created by non-organic users using methods that aren't meant to scale. For example, a site like Stack Overflow may initially start out by hiring a small group of developlers to ask and answer questions. Overtime, as organic users come to the site and start to see their questions getting answered, they engage with the site more and begin to generate content, until eventually you no longer need to keep developers on staff to answer questions. If you have a site where people post jobs you might reach out to existing job posters and offer to post a job on their behalf. You can also reach out to potential users manually and ask for them to post some content, perhaps even pay them to do so if it requires a bit of work on their end.