Open-Source growth strategy

Nevo David
Jul 21, 2023

Please read until the end.
There’s a special gift at the end of this newsletter.

I started GitHub20k around three months ago.

I decided to target three primary audiences:

  1. Small open-source maintainers (70%)

  2. Extensive open-source libraries (20%)

  3. OSS startups (10%)

I am building a community 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦
And it takes a very long time.

But if you know my growth hacking skills, you know I do long organic stuff (such as Twitter) but also find shortcuts to speed up the process.

I think the best way to grow is by using by-products.

Umm… By-Products?

By-products are products that are related to your product but not the core of your product. Let’s see a few examples.

They are all great at gaining awareness and collecting leads.

For me, I use the GitHub20k library, with many variations, to grow my newsletter.

A big newsletter has the most significant opportunity 📈

Think about it for a sec. You can be on so many platforms and grow your audience. But what happens when the venue changes its algorithm? or starts to have an uncertain future like X (Twitter)?

Email has existed for years, but the core concept of it didn’t change at all.

If you send people an email, there’s a high chance they will get it without dealing with any algorithms or with Elon Musk's crazy ideas.

This fits every audience, including open-source.

Funnel breakdown ↘️

My main focus is to grow my newsletter, so every action I take contributes to it.

It’s good because it also gives me focus.

Here are five tactics of my funnel today.

Hopefully, you can try and take them to your arsenal.

1. GrowChief (5%)

I write technical articles for people on GrowChief - they are pretty expensive (they cost me a lot of money and time to make). Currently, I put a low effort into promoting this (not in selling mode yet). But I believe that’s one of the biggest channels to grow the brand in the future.

Call-to-action: This is totally word-of-mouth. It’s a channel that brings people to my newsletter indirectly.

2. Launches (8%)

Launches are opportunities to release my content on different platforms that can give me a significant gain quickly but are not repeatable (I can’t do them weekly).

  1. I launched GitHub20k on ProductHunt and got almost a 50% increase in my newsletter.

  2. I try and launch my content on Hackernews. It rarely gets picked - but when it does, it works amazingly.

  3. I was featured on I got around 30-50 registrations from it.

Call-to-action: Register for my newsletter - simple.

3. Twitter (17%)

That’s a very long-term channel - and I can’t say I am so good at it.
I grew it to almost 800 in 3 months (yes, I am slow)
Usually I:

  1. Try to use Justin Welsh's strategy of scheduling shot-form tweets throughout the week from old newsletters, and convince people to register for the newsletter before the weekend.

  2. Try to tag other companies hoping they will retweet me (I usually check their pages to see if they retweet other people's tweets).

  3. Asking “if somebody wants something” - tends to work pretty well with engagement.

  4. Comment on other people in my niche as much as possible.

  5. Do regular tweets during the day that are not timed.

Call-to-action: Register for my newsletter - simple.

4. Cold outreach (30%)

In my last newsletter, I discussed my cold outreach way of bringing people to my GitHub20k library.
Most of my newsletter is based on that channel, which works surprisingly well.
This is a very low effort. It keeps working without me doing anything. It brings around 3-4 developers per day.

Call-to-action: List your library on GitHub20k (also register you to the newsletter)

5. Listicles articles - NEW (40%)

This is something new I tried last week, and it worked amazingly.

  1. I go to GitHub20k and pick up some libraries (6-7).

  2. I make a post about those libraries, and as you probably know me, I am pretty good at getting it to the top list.

  3. I talk to the library owners, tell them I listed them there, and ask them to promote it.

  4. It grabs a lot of attention and brings a lot of stars to their libraries.

  5. I add a call to action for people to list their library on GitHub20k.

  6. Keep on working that loop.

This brings around five developers per day.

(If you want to be on the next batch, just reply to this email)

Call-to-action: List your library on GitHub20k (also register you to the newsletter)

You trick people into registering for your newsletter 😡

I put a huge message that you will also be registered to the newsletter when you list your library. Some people churn immediately, and others stir after the first email - but I have seen good results so far.

I know that because I see libraries register with their domain, and then some people from the same domain register, too; some even contact me.

I mean, why not? I help them 😄 


Lately, I closed my first client of GrowChief - Thank you, Flatfile, for believing in me. I made them a DEV post that already hit the top feed (in two days)

I asked on X (Twitter) if somebody wanted to see the video of how I wrote the article, and I got many positive responses!

So here is the video. You can watch it here:

If this gets to 100 followers, I will make more 🙈

Some people asked me how I make my cover images using Mid-Journey and Photoshop. Not sure how much it related to growth. Would you like me to show you?


blog note
Related Posts
New things to become viral in Open-Source in 2024
Nevo David
Jan 27, 2024
Use it now before the market becomes flooded
losing deals to the open-source
Nevo David
Jun 01, 2024
How to use cold outreach in a smarter way
Nevo David
Jul 17, 2023
Linkedin / Email outreach

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