Some changes are coming to the Automatic design blogs. Previously, we were tasked with writing an article each month on a topic of our choice. However, we’re now moving to quarterly posts. For our next article, we were given a specific prompt to follow:

The topic for your January 15, 2018 post is to first select a blog post from FLOW or VOICE by one of your peers. Then secondly, devise a plan for how to get your peer’s post to a thousand unique views on a budget of USD $20 by the time of your next blog post by April 16, 2017. And as you can guess, your task will be to execute on your promotion plan for your peer’s post, and then succinctly document how that plan performed.

At first I found this task unbelievably daunting, which I imagine is the point of the assignment — to empathize with our customers, many of whom struggle to get even a hundred views. But as I was reading this article about an email bomb on ProPublica, a funny idea struck me. What if I used my $20 to buy site views?

So I fired up my best friend, Google, to find out: how much traffic could $20 buy?

Research

The first site that caught my attention looked like something I would have designed in 2011, only somehow worse. Not really inspiring much confidence here, scammers. (Though, they say their traffic is legitimate: “By buying traffic through us, we will guarantee that you get the best traffic purchase with only top level professionalism and integrity. This means that no spam techniques or black hat tricks will be used, or other dishonest means will be used to get you your web traffic.” I’m skeptical of this whole business.)

However, for $11.98 USD, it claimed it would get me 10,000 website visits. Not bad!

A quick jump back to google (“Is MaxVisits trustworthy?) brought me Trustpilot, where Max Visits had 21 reviews. 16 of those reviewers rated them “Excellent” or “Great,” while 24% rated them “Poor” or “Bad.” For a site that looked as Web 2.0 as Max Visits, that actually didn’t seem too bad. They had even responded to at least one negative review, asking the reviewer to get in touch so they could troubleshoot. (Later, I learned that Trustpilot itself is not trustworthy. The irony.)

Weirdly, I also found the little “PayPal Verified” banner at the bottom of their site strangely trustworthy? (However, clicking the icon redirected me to PayPal’s support page).

I went through another half-dozen or so sites (really, just the first page of google results). Some of the sites seemed more reputable, but were outside of my price range. Others looked just as, if not more, sketchy than the first site.

The most intriguing option was actually Fiverr, which brought me to a ton of listings. Many of these listings had over a thousand reviews, and looked very affordable. From what I could tell from their listings, these seemed like real people. Some of them even had videos! So, I decided to give the folks on Fiverr a shot.

My Article of Choice

Now that I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I had to pick the article I wanted to promote. I decided to choose an early post from my colleague Ballio, “Creative Campaign for Detroit Small Businesses.”

Ballio wrote about Rebrand Cities, a pretty amazing program to help small business owners in cities get online, along with our recent explorations on WordPress.com into making commercials.

I decided to choose this article because I figured, hey, if I’m going to cheat and pay for views, maybe those can trickle down to the Rebrand Cities and the businesses featured in our commercials. If my nefarious plan could do some good and bring additional traffic to these great business, and to Rebrand Cities, I’ll at least feel like I haven’t been too evil.

The Plan

Here’s what I’m going to do to attract 1000 visitors before April 16th:

  1. After publishing this post, I’ll put in a $5 order with one of the top rated traffic sellers on Fiverr. This will be my test run. After a couple days, I’ll check to see how much traffic my article of choice is receiving.
  2. If my traffic looks low, I’ll try out a second seller on Fiverr.
  3. At this point, I’ll have maybe used up $10 of my available $20. If I’ve hit my traffic goal, I’ll stop here.
  4. Ideally, I’ll try to interview one of my Fiverr sellers for my follow-up. If I have remaining money, I might try to bribe them into answering a couple questions for me:
    • Some basic information about them
    • How they got into this business
    • What techniques (they’re okay to share publicly) about how they generate traffic
    • How selling traffic via Fiverr has impacted their lives
    • Do they have a blog or website?
  5. Come April, I’ll review my traffic and write up a summary of my findings.

Wish me luck, Dark Internet. I’m about to put my black hat on.

Posted by Mel Choyce

Boston-based WordPress core contributor and craft beer fan. I design stuff at @automattic.

One Comment

  1. Yesssss go rebrand cities. I wonder if another “free” route would be to have Hajj tweet about the article!

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