We want to share our experience about getting first stars on GitHub and avoid a chicken and egg situation where nobody will use your product until it has stars, but it won’t get stars until people start using it. In the end, we will share screenshots from GitHub analytics with sources which provided us with the most visitors.
I feel like I'm nothing without wildlife. They are the stars. I feel awkward without them. - Bindi Irwin
Why do you need this
Usually, we choose one day and focus on it to do all the staff from this article. We call this day “Release Day”. And you can ask us: “Why do I need to do GitHub release and collect stars? I’ll better spend this time on searching a new customer.” But this kind of activity can bring you a lot of values such as the next ones.
You will get traffic and spread info about you and your product.
You can find new customers. People may come for customization of your product or creating the similar.
GitHub stars are more than just a number. They show that engineers appreciate your project and it trusted by the community.
You will get customer loyalty to your company.
Websites with millions of users have good positions in search, so you can take a piece of GitHub SEO.
We and Our Results
400+ stars for 1 week
№1 in GitHub trending language (Angular and html)
№8 on GitHub all languages trending for the release day
4000+ views and 200+ comments
3 publications in big local online journals
We won’t tell you how is important to have a good product. Moreover, there are a lot of things that influence the popularity of the project too. For example, free and opensource products based on modern technology will be more interesting for developers.
But here we’ll tell you how to make a promotional campaign for your product. Here is 1 to 10 to-do list for your release campaign, which we created after two releases and Product Hunt launch. So, if you want to collect stars and make your repo noticeable, follow to this template.
1-to-10 release plan template
1. Create nice readme.
On GitHub, the readme file is like the landing page of your app. A good readme needs to contain all the information for developers so that they understand what the project is about, why they should use it, and how to use it. If you don’t know how to write readme check this awesome tool for creating a cool one from Matias Singers. Don’t forget to add topics to your repository. And a nice addition for the repo might be a picture or gif (like this) with the main idea and features.
2. Spread the info via social nets.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Instagram… It might be a corporate account, product or personal account. Prepare also texts and pictures for each spot and make a post everywhere, use hashtags and tag relevant pages. Grow the community and increase your reach.
3. Involve friends.
Ask friends and colleagues to repost and share your info. It might be your first mentions and stars but it’s the easiest way to spread information especially if you have an appropriate circle of friends.
4. Be a part of the community (chiefly Reddit).
Ask communities for feedback. Don’t be ashamed to join new groups on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn and ask for help or feedback. But don’t be spammy. We found a bunch of relevant groups and placed there our post. You need to prepare a list of these groups in advance because sometimes it may take time to join some groups (answer some special questions and wait until the moderator give you access).
Pay attention to Reddit, it has a really active community, which gave us a lot of helpful feedback to enhance our tool.
And start to use Slack. This app put together a lot of specialists from a wide range of spheres. And check this useful website where you can find invites to Slack groups by topics.
5. Start an email campaign.
We recommend to use an automation tool for email marketing for more possibilities. We use MailChimp, but at first, you need to grow your database. There are 3 ways which we used:
We installed popup on our website and now we’re collecting subscribers directly to MailChimp.
Uploaded our dashboard to GridGum and every time when someone downloads our template we receive an email with address (on the average 3-4 emails per week).
Collected emails from the other repositories like GitHub
Start your email campaign at the beginning of the release day because it takes time for subscribers to receive letters and open it.
6. Install popup.
This point follows from the previous one. We install popup on our demo and place all the necessary information. We found good automation tool hellobar.com, it’s easy to use, you can choose target (call, email, announcement or social traffic), analyze and sync with other apps (MailChimp for example). If you have a landing page or demo, that is the perfect way to get in touch with the visitors.
7. Answer the questions.
At first, don’t forget about all the sources where you published the post. People will comment and ask the questions, so it would be a nice tone to answer and keep up the conversation. Also, we experiment with using Quora and Stack Overflow to answer relevant questions, contribute opensource community and sometimes to promote our dashboard.
8. Find out a reason for mass media.
Write to some popular mass media (websites, online magazines) and suggest interesting material about your product. For example, we wrote to dev.by (the most popular website in Belarus for developers and IT news) when our dashboard placed in GitHub trendings, and they created the article with jockey title about us, so we took a chance to be noticed by belarusian developers.
Article title (on background): "Belarusians overtook Microsoft on GitHub repository"
Comment: “Microsoft is not that good anymore:)”
9. Hook on an influencer.
If you find someone who has a big audience on Twitter or Facebook, interested in your project and posts it in the personal account - you might receive hundreds of stars. Write to influencers and suggest to make a post, it’s hard but worth it. And one useful tool for this point - clicktotweet.co, with this tool you can create a ready-to-post tweet and send it with asking.
10. Hit the GitHub trending.
And the last one, but the most important. GitHub trending is the place where GitHub users can find the most popular projects according to the language. If your repo appears here, you will have organic interest and visitors. It might be like an aim to get into there. This list updates every 4 hours and you can find how many stars you need to get.
Hacks and advice
Once you have some stable version, that’s not the end. Ask for the feedbacks to track bugs, add features or improve the product.
Be active. Find new places, new ways and new opportunities for promotion.
Experiment! For example, we tried Facebook ads, but FB doesn’t like when their users go to the other sites, so it went to the false way. We spent 40$ to FB ad, but it was mostly promoted for video in the post. So we received a lot of views, but not the stars.
Use GitHub star button on your website or landing
And here is the insights after our releases, you can see the sources, which bring us the visitors.
⭐ Good luck with your project! ⭐