Applying Growth Hacking to a Book (and to getting ahead)

I just put up a 5,000 word breakdown of the campaign for Growth Hacker Marketing for the New York Observer. If you haven’t read the book, but are interested in becoming a writer one day, I would encourage you to check it out. I think the book is in some ways a new model for how to develop an idea and an audience and then ultimately create a successful and lucrative product out of it. And that’s leaving out the fact that the book was satisfying and enjoyable to write.

I also wanted to give a quick update on the growth hacker apprenticeship that originated on this blog and is detailed in the post. After posting it here and some promotions from people in the community over 100 people applied (something I was quite humbled by). But here’s the unfortunate part: Most of the applicants never had a shot. This is something I have seen time and time again in my career, and something I’ve tried to write about in my posts about mentorship. Most of them never had a shot because they didn’t follow directions (for instance, I said put your idea in a single paragraph 300 words max, yet many people send me enormously long emails). Among the few dozen who at least took the instructions literally, the ideas weren’t remotely related to the content of the book. But most of the entries failed on both counts–ignored the directions, and the ideas were off. You can maybe skate by being sloppy, but no one is going to forgive the latter. I think what happened is that people saw an opportunity and got so excited that they, you know, neglected to come up with a real plan for taking it. Instead they just threw energy at it, or in some cases, threw some “crazy” at it.

I would have loved to give those people a shot anyway, but I could not. That’s not how life works. I ultimately ended up working with William Wickey and he did a great job. He was reliable. He was on top of it. He brought value to the table. He took my suggestions. He made things easy for me. He was trustworthy. He made it possible for me to do something new and special for the launch. And guess what? I’ve already referred him to two potential paying gigs. I am almost certain I will pass more work to him from myself and others in the future. He did it right, and I would encourage him to write about his thinking and process because I think it could provide some lessons.

Anyway, I encourage you to check out the article and of course the book. I really appreciate everyone’s support and hope writing like this is helpful.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.