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2016 was a big year for Foundr.
We successfully launched two new products, Instagram Domination and Foundr Club, and we finished the year strong with our very first Kickstarter campaign and our very first print publication, Foundr Version 1.0. There were lots of successes…and also plenty of mistakes and growing pains along the way. But I’ll get into that in another article.
All the while, though, the trusty Foundr blog was chugging away in the background, achieving a win of its own.
See, it wasn’t until 2016 that we started to really focus on taking the Foundr blog to the next level. Some of you guys might know us now primarily from the blog, but until last year, our podcast and magazine dominated our media presence.
Toward the end of 2015, we decided to amp up the Foundr Blog and make it a place where readers of all stripes could consistently, and without fail, find highly actionable and extremely valuable content on all things entrepreneurship.
As the Content Crafter for Foundr, I love my job, and I take a lot of pride in striving to publish something really in depth at least every week that will have a major impact on our readers’ lives and businesses. It’s been super rewarding for us to see how you guys have responded and connected with us here.
We’re far from satisfied, though, as we have a ton of motivation and some really ambitious goals for 2017. So stay tuned for big changes to come!
But before we dive into 2017, let’s first take a look back at the top 10 blog posts of 2016. We’ve rounded up the stuff you guys really loved, along with some reflections on why they hit the mark, and what you guys took away from them.
Unsurprisingly, as Instagram branding has been a big part of the expertise we’ve been offering up lately, our most popular article during 2016 was this one, even though it was published over two years ago. It’s been such a draw for readers that we took some time to give it an overhaul early in the year, adding a ton of new detail, and even wrote a sequel (see below).
That post was also a big hit. I believe a large reason behind why this piece is so popular is because we had just published it when people were really starting to get interested in Instagram and all it had to offer. True to the Foundr style, it offered no-nonsense advice that anyone could immediately take action on, for a platform that many did, and still do, find challenging.
Something else that we’ve been working on judiciously with the blog in 2016 is focusing more on our SEO strategy, with this article being a big driver of new traffic. (You’ll likely hear more from us on that strategy down the line too.)
We’ve put a ton of effort into delivering useful content about mastering Instagram, so it’s great to see that this piece is still so well-received, and still highly applicable, even after two years!
Not going to lie, I was actually blown away by how well-received this article was when it first came out.
I wrote this piece mainly because I was incredibly frustrated with own sleeping schedule and how it was hurting my productivity. I figured I might as well put my personal research into an article because if I was going through this, then there must be at least one or two people out there experiencing the same thing.
It turns out I was on the right track, because this is the most shared article from the Foundr Blog to date, with over 1,200 shares and counting since it first published.
The Foundr team took a couple of lessons away from that. For one, the article had a fairly unique and very targeted, detailed take on this subject, focusing on evening activities and a specific desired outcome. Second, the headline really nailed exactly what it was out to deliver. This post also confirmed for us that our readers are very interested in productivity and personal growth, something we’ve continued to highlight since.
This was a very interesting piece to write as it served as a Part 2 of sorts to our most popular article of all time.
Between the combination of people discovering us through our Instagram, and people constantly asking us what the secret to our success was, we decided to give the people what they wanted. The main struggle behind this piece was to make sure it brought a lot of new information to the table.
Just like Seth Godin advises, we gave our best stuff and shared our top five tactics learned from over a year of dramatically growing our Instagram. It was a super in-depth piece with loads of content on a topic that people can’t get enough of, so it’s no wonder that this is one of the top posts of 2016.
Who here wouldn’t love to be more productive? And who here isn’t stretched a little thin, and at times overwhelmed with our constant connectivity?
It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur who’s bootstrapping their first business, or veteran of the industry. No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you’re often called upon to do the jobs of 20 different people all by yourself. While you could rationalize that the solution to this particular problem is to work longer hours, it turns out that nothing could be further from the truth!
One thing I love about this post, is that our regular contributor Belle Cooper did an incredible job of finding very specific, unique approaches to this problem. A lot has been written about productivity and burnout, but all too often you get the same vague pointers. Not this one—the article contains five scientifically researched and proven tips that anyone can rely on to stay fresh and avoid crashing.
After our wild success with Instagram, this year we started experimenting with Snapchat. With its sudden surge in popularity, we wanted to see what we could achieve with the popular social media platform.
Just like with our first Instagram article, I attribute the main reason behind the success of this article due being published just at the right time. And just like with out first Instagram article, we wanted to share the results of our experiments and the tactics we used ourselves.
While we haven’t been on Snapchat very long, we gave away the top 7 tactics we discovered on our way to growing our Snapchat to over a thousand views in just four short weeks.
One of the biggest achievements we made during 2016 was the fact that we grew our email listto over 200,000 subscribers. Considering the fact that, just like everyone else, we started off with absolutely zero presence, it was a huge win to grow our core audience so much in the past three years.
What might surprise you, though, is that we gained over a quarter of those subscribers, a little over 56,000 in fact, in just 30 days.
True to our commitment to be as transparent as possible, I broke down every single tactic we used in order grow our email list so quickly and in such a short amount of time. Everything from the lead magnets we used to the different channels we employed. This was another incredibly in-depth piece that thoroughly mapped out one area where we’ve seen a lot of success.
One of the greatest challenges for any entrepreneur is learning how to grow their business beyond themselves. After all, you’re only one person, and in order to scale you need to be able to bring in great people and get them to speed as soon as possible.
No matter how talented your new hire may be, not having a strong onboarding process is just going to leave them overwhelmed, confused, and thinking they made the worst decision of their life. Not the best mindset for any new employee.
Which is why, in this epic article, we looked at three awesome companies who are just doing it right. Again, “show, don’t tell” really hits the mark with our community.
Having a great onboarding process not only means that you’re far more likely to retain whoever you choose to hire. It also means that you can now focus on growing your startup as quickly as possible without having to do it all yourself. Staff management is also an area of entrepreneurship where a lot of people feel under-confident, and readers were eager to see what works.
As much as we love Instagram here at Foundr, we know that we are far from the only experts about the popular social media platform. This is why I love these “roundup” posts, where we tap all the amazing people we know and share their advice with our audience.
Roundup posts are great because you’re not just getting awesome advice from one person writing a post, but from multiple experts all in one place. With this particular roundup post, we got in touch with some of the most respected people in the world of social media strategy and asked them to give us their top tips and advice.
This article has 27 different Instagram marketing experts from all different types of niches giving away their best stuff. With advice on everything from what your content strategy should look like to the best tools and apps to use, anyone looking to grow their Instagram account can learn a thing or two from this piece.
Here’s another one where we just threw the curtains wide open to show everything we’ve learned on a subject.
Again, we really stepped up our content production in 2016, and thought we’d show exactly what has worked along the way. If you’ve ever wondered how to build a consistent content creation machine, you’ll appreciate our step-by-step guide to our entire editorial process.
This is a process that we developed over time and through a lot of trial and error. This post shows the lifecycle of an article at Foundr and how it all works behind the scenes, from the tools we use to the Kanban-Scrum project management approach we rely on to keep everything organized.
And even if you’re not particularly interested in publishing or blogging, you’re bound to find at least a few nuggets of valuable advice that you can apply to any business.
There’s no manual for a pad of paper. Another popular productivity post from Belle Cooper, this one offering a counterintuitive take on the tech-centric world of lifehacks.
No matter how many cool apps there are out there, often there’s nothing better than keeping it simple. The final article on this list is all about how to become more productive by going old-school with pen and paper.
With more and more entrepreneurs choosing to go analog, the biggest challenge is often figuring out the right system to help them keep organized. We laid out the details on six different unique methods to supercharge your productivity and organize your life, with nothing but a pen and a notebook.
What does it all mean?
So what does this all mean for the Foundr blog moving forward?
By taking a look at our top 10 list, there were three things that stood out to the Foundr team about the nature of great content and what the Foundr audience is all about:
Actionable, evergreen, and in-depth
Something that we pride ourselves on at Foundr is that we have a strict policy about giving away as much value as possible through our content.
When you take a look at our top 10 list of 2016, you can immediately see how this commitment to quality is proving to be successful. Each and every one of these articles are as evergreen as possible (remember that two-year-old post!) and are filled with in-depth information and advice that anyone can immediately act upon.
What’s more is that the articles people love the most are the ones where Foundr pulls back the curtain and shows off what goes on behind-the-scenes. That tells me that our readers are interested the methods to our madness, and they want to learn from our real-life experiences, something we’ll continue to offer regularly.
Something I’ve noted a bit earlier in the article is how important it is to have the right headline.
It’s interesting to me how for some of the articles in our top 10 list, we also have other articles on the same topic that haven’t performed nearly as well. Now while there might be other factors, we gotta admit, some headlines shined, others not so much. Lesson: if you’re headline doesn’t nail it, it doesn’t matter how in-depth your content is.
One common factor among all the headlines in our top 10 list is that they’re all have clear goals. Just by taking a look at these headlines you can immediately understand what the topic is about and, more importantly, what you can achieve.
Keep it productive
Understandably, we have an audience that takes their productivity very seriously. So it comes as no surprise that a significant chunk of our articles in our top 10 are all about how you can become more productive, not only as an entrepreneur but as a person overall. One thing that’s great about these posts is that they appeal to entrepreneurs at many stages of their journeys.
What’s really interesting about this, though, is that for a lot of these posts, because they weren’t as explicitly about entrepreneurship, we didn’t promote them quite as much. This tells us that our audience is actively looking for posts about how to be more productive, and there’s a lot of overall hunger for this type of information.
It was a great year for the Foundr Blog, but we have a long way to go!
By taking a look at what people loved the most in 2016, we have a better idea of what it is you want from us coming years. We have some very lofty goals planned for the Foundr Blog this year and we’re looking forward to having you join us on this journey.
It’s going to be a great year, but before we start, what type of content do you want to see more of on the Foundr blog? Do you have an article that’s a particular favorite of yours? Or something you can’t believe we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments below!