How I'd grow No CS Degree

April 29, 2020

No CS Degree is a website featuring interviews with successful developers who are either self-taught or have been to bootcamps.

It tells the story of how makers and programmers have been able to learn to code and break into tech jobs with no Computer Science degree.

The north star for a content website like this one should be growing their email list.

An email list offers multiple monetization strategies. How much money a website like this will make correlates with how big (and engaged of course) their mailing list will grow.

The funnel is simple for content websites and has 2 parts. Step 1 - getting traffic to the website. Step 2 - converting visitors into subscribers.

Since No CS Degree already has decent traffic, I’d prioritize optimizing what’s already there before trying to get new traffic.

They can get more subscribers by improving their positioning: why should someone sign up? Make the benefits explicit, starting with the homepage headline.

Right now they’re a nice casual read. They need to become a resource that makes it easier for people to go from “a” to “b.”

Positioning isn’t only your homepage headline. It’s the “why” behind your project, and it should be clear across every visitor touch point.

From social media bios, to the CTA at the end of each post and the exit intent popup, the message should be repeated loud and clear.

Once the positioning is ok, I’d increase the conversion rate by adding an extra sign-up benefit: a lead magnet.

A useful resource like a definitive guide or a cheat sheet should be offered in the signup form on the homepage, at the end of posts and in the exit intent popups.

Increasing traffic: launches and community promotion can only get you so far. It’s time to scale.

They need to find ways to get repeated visitors every day even if they stop manually promoting the website.

To do that I’d focus on 3 parts: referrals, SEO and social media.

I’d build a simple referral program: every aspiring coder has probably at least 1 IRL or online friend who also wants to learn to code.

No CS degree should incentivize their subscribers to send an invite to these friends in exchange for a bonus for both of them.

SEO-wise, they launched 2 successful side projects (a job board and a bootcamp directory). Good idea, but they shouldn’t live on different domains.

Integrating them under the No CS Degree domain would increase domain authority and cast a wider keyword net.

A website like No CS Degree that’s just starting out has a low domain authority and can’t afford to leave all those links on the table.

Plus, these side projects are much easier to pitch to other websites than a blog, and they have the potential for attracting new links.

An interview site doesn’t have a great search potential. The side projects could go after relevant keywords, using filters to create pages.

E.g. target terms like “react course NY.” People who search for those terms would likely be interested in subscribing to No CS Degree.

Social media: use FB ads to retarget website visitors who didn’t subscribe (usually 95-99% of total website traffic).

This is the cheapest way to use paid ads for acquisition. These people are already familiar with the website, and they’ll get a good conversion rate.

Pro tip: when you retarget using FB ads always test the reach objective instead of the usual conversion one.

Why? Because this audience is already pre-qualified. You don’t need the FB algorithm to find the right people for you. And as a result this can be much cheaper!

An interview website is also the perfect candidate for a podcast. Audio helps people develop deeper relationships with the brand.

This would also open up new monetization opportunities, adding more value to the sponsors who could be charged a premium price.

In addition to sponsorships, I’d create a premium offering. I feel that gating existing interviews wouldn’t be compelling enough.

I’d rather add exclusive content like step by step guides, and a community where aspiring coders help each other and receive advice.

Learn marketing from case studies

Every month I pick a new website and write a marketing case study explaining exactly how I’d grow it