I’ve been trying to make marketing my side projects as simple as checking a few boxes off a list every week. While I realize that this isn’t going to make my side projects market leaders, it is a lean way to build traction and gain users.

The reason I’ve failed at marketing in the past is that I made it too complicated, so the side project marketing checklist I created aims to fix that. Here’s how I’ve been using it to market my side projects:

1. Copy the checklist to a new Github Gist

Gists are great because they’re just a simple way to store markdown files and you can make checklists in them, share them, and keep a revision history of them. When I started marketing this project, I copied the raw markdown file of the checklist into a Gist.

2. Customize the checklist

Next, I removed some things that weren’t relevant. For example, the section on social media wasn’t relevant to this project because I didn’t want to set up Twitter and Facebook accounts for it yet.

I then modified some of the items that were applicable. For example, instead of making a list of tech blogs for my PR preparations, I am making a list of startup and small business marketing blogs. I’m subscribing to them, and later I’ll pitch some of them for guest posts or leave comments on them.

Finally, I started adding some custom lists like the huge list of places to post this project and some early blog post ideas. I like Gists because you can have multiple files without needing to set up a whole new repository for them.

3. Get to work!

Every week I try to knock one or two big items off my list. I’m also starting to break some of the recurring items up into things I want to do daily and monthly. Eventually I’ll put reminders in my calendar so that these things become automatic.

4. Monitor performance and optimize

As I start to get a little traction for my project, I’ll come up with a few KPIs - important metrics that I want to track and improve. It’s silly to start obsessing over these before you have any users, but once you get some traction, optimization can lead to huge gains.