The Side Project Marketing Checklist is a comprehensive, chronologically ordered list of marketing tactics and ideas that you can try with your next side project. The list is free and open source so feel free to suggest your own additions anytime.


This section pairs nicely with the Pre-Launch section of the Sales Checklist, so be sure to check that out too.

Competitor Research

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. - Walt Disney

  • Make a list of competitors (see this list of tools to research competitors).

    Competitor data to collect
    • Link to their website.
    • “One-liners” and taglines competitors use.
    • Pricing and business model.
    • Blog/RSS link.
    • Social media links.
    • Key employees on social media.
  • Subscribe to RSS feeds of your competitors’ blogs.
  • Follow your competitors and their key employees on social media.
  • Monitor competitors’ websites for changes.

    Site monitoring tools
  • Subscribe to industry newsletters, magazines, trade journals etc.
  • Use Google Trends to do initial demand and search volume research.

Customer Research

If we knew what we were doing it wouldn’t be called research. - Albert Einstein

  • Find people in your contact list who might be future customers. Get their feedback on your idea.
  • Attend meetups or conferences for your target market.
  • Meet another entrepreneur who has a similar or competitive product.
  • Make a list of your competitors’ customers:

    Finding competitors’ customers
    • Check their Twitter followers, mentions.
    • Look through their Facebook fans.
    • Find people who follow them on Linkedin.
    • Check their website. Some companies list customer stories on their websites.
  • Reach out to your competitors’ customers, find out what they like/don’t like.
  • Create an “early access” list for potential future customers.

Public Relations Preparations

  • Create list of tech, startup, and industry blogs.
  • Create list of local small business journals (eg: Crain’s Chicago).
  • Create list of local bloggers and journalists in your industry.
  • Create a “Media Kit” page (check out this example).

Website Setup

Email Setup

See this list of email marketing tools for services that make managing email easier.

Email is the Jason Bourne of online: somebody’s always trying to kill it. It can’t be done. - Unknown

  • Set up email address to send and receive emails.
  • Set up email list and signup form.
  • Create a standard email template for your brand.
  • Create transactional emails for when users sign up/purchase.

Blog Setup

Content Marketing is all the marketing that’s left. - Seth Godin

Social Media Setup

Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage. - Amy Jo Martin, CEO of Digital Royalty

  • Search for availability of names on social networks using KnowEm.
  • Choose the social media accounts you’ll use.

    Major social media platforms:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Linkedin
    • Pinterest
    • Instagram
    • Snapchat
    • YouTube
  • Standardize profile image, background photo, links and call to action across social channels.
  • Put premium content behind “pay with a tweet”.


This section pairs nicely with the Post-Launch section of the Sales Checklist. Sales and marketing are really two sides of the same coin, so you’ll probably need a little of both.

Free Promotional Channels

I don’t care how much money you have, free stuff is always a good thing. - Queen Latifah

You must spend money to make money. - Plautus, Ancient Roman playwright



Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn. - Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert

  • Build/update publishing calendar for your blog.
  • Regularly post blog posts on your blog(s).
  • Solicit guest posts from early customers and fans of your product.
  • Repurpose existing blog posts:

    Repurposing blog posts
    • Record/post video of you reading the post on YouTube.
    • Turn posts into a podcast.
    • Create an infographic based on the post.
    • Create a presentation of your post (see the list of presentation software below).
  • Promote your blog content:

    Blog promotion techniques
    • Send post to your email list.
    • Promote on your social media.
    • Email friends and relatives, ask them to share if relevant.
    • Send to other bloggers for feedback, ask to share if they like it.
    • Add your latest blog post or landing page to your email signature.
    • Submit your post to relevant aggregators and niche communities.


Any email that contains the words ‘important’ or ‘urgent’ never are, and annoy me to the point of not replying out of principle. - Markus Persson, aka “Notch”, creator of Minecraft

  • Send a regular email newsletter with blog posts, use cases, customer stories, etc.
  • Promote email list on social media.
  • Send 20 cold emails per week to connect with early customers and get direct feedback.
  • Send new users a personal email introducing yourself.

Social Media

We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people. – Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay

  • Schedule regular social media content (try these social media tools to help automate the social media process).

    Content ideas
    • Show what happening “behind the scenes” (eg: pictures of your workspace, in-development features, etc.).
    • Blog posts from your blog (or partners’ blogs).
    • Special offers or discounts.
    • Relevant news, advice, or blogs.
    • Funny or inspiring quotes.
    • Polls or questions for your followers.
    • Suggested books.
    • Useful tools or websites.
  • Join Facebook and Linkedin groups where your product might be beneficial.
  • Send exclusive offers to LinkedIn/Facebook Group owners.
  • Join Twitter chats related to your industry/product.
  • Search Twitter for people talking about issues you’re solving with your project and interact with them.
  • Give early users discounts for taking pics with your product.

Public Relations

The art of publicity is a black art; but it has come to stay, and every year adds to its potency. – Thomas Paine

  • Ask bloggers with list articles to add your site to their content.
  • Reach out to small business journals, reporters, bloggers. Inform and ask for coverage.
  • Reach out to podcasters, try to get featured on their show.
  • Find professors and students with .edu sites to link to your content (good for SEO).
  • Find reviews or lists of similar products. Ask to be added or leave a comment about your product.
  • Guest post on other blogs.

    Guest posting
    • Build a list of blogs that are a good fit for your product and accept guest posts. Save their contact form/information.
    • Write a few posts on your own blog first (to use as a demonstration).
    • Create a list of “pitches,” blog post ideas with a title and one paragraph summary that might grab bloggers.
    • Pitch the blogs one idea each. See what they respond to.
    • Help promote your posts via social media, email lists, etc.
    • Reach back out in a month and try another pitch. Try to become a “regular”
  • Leave non-spammy comments on blog posts related to your industry or product.
  • Join and participate in forums related to your product or industry.

External Sites