A lot of entrepreneurship is about being in the right place at the right time. You can’t really impact the timing of things, but you can certainly move yourself to be in a position to take advantage of it. On August 19th, news stories started hitting about Deez Nuts running for president. Deez Nuts, for those of you who don’t know, is the title of a rap song by from the early 90s and then, more notoriously, a meme that has been percolating around the internet for about 5 years (at least on my radar). People were going crazy- every news site was talking about Deez. Deez Nuts turned out to be Brady Olson, a 15 year old boy from rural Iowa who created the prank as moderate critique of political culture. Bravo, Brady, bravo.
I learned about Deez Nuts at about 10 pm on August 19th and smelled blood in the air. America was eating this up. This election, in my opinion, is already a carnival, so something like this was the cherry on top. I quick went to Dreamhost, saw what domains were available, and settled on DeezNutsForPresident.org. Standard enough, and I thought the .org really gave it a sense of order and politicalness. Before you get on me about how I’m ripping off this kid, I want to point out that I know for a fact he was offered a book deal based on the buzz around him. How do I know this? Because the site I made became so popular, people were emailing me, trying to get a hold of him.
Here is the timeline for how things went. I will be the first to say that I didn’t capitalize on the traffic as best I should I made the conscious decision not to stick ads on their because I thought it hurt the credibility of the site. It is a parody site but, as all good parodies are, if its not fooling people, it isn’t good enough.
10:00 pm Register DeezNutsForPresident.org
10:01 pm Begin perusing free wordpress themes, decide MARK might be a good fit, install it and try to modify it to look less generic
1:00 am realize that I am shit at wordpress dev and scrap everything, relying on basic HTML/CSS to create what I want. It’s shitty, but gets the job done. I envision a microsite that emulates the current Bernie Sanders campaign site. I bought a stock image of some salesmanesque guy, and threw together a logo. This logo is really what made the site work. It is very phallic and works well with the Deez Nuts pun.
4:00 am finish the website, it is not good and I have not monetized it yet. At this point, all I am trying to go is get traffic to it to see if the idea is valid. I email 25 reporters who have written about Deez Nuts and say that there is a funny deez nuts campaign site up that they might want to look at. I am unsure if, by this point, people know Deez is actually Brady, but, none the less, there is the sensationalism factor. I go to bed now.
6:45 am I wake up. I have a meeting with a client I am doing some SEO consulting for. I forget we had scheduled it at 7am and begin to think staying up ti 4am working on the site was a mistake.
8:30 am the meeting is over. I check google analytics and DeezNutsForPresident has 35 viewers on it at the moment. Not bad. I decide to monetize it with a simple sticker I made from the logo. It says “Deez Nuts 2016 | Impacting the face of America”. Immature, but anybody who is intrigued by the Deez Nuts storyline isn’t exactly the stern, authoritarian type.
9:45 am The sticker goes live w/a paypal button. Normally, for this type of thing I would use Zapier to automate the purchase orders being put into a spreadsheet, but I am tired and forget. I will look back on this with regret. I go to bed immediately after putting it up.
9:58 am the first sale goes to a man from Northern Wisconsin. He purchases 4. DeezNutsForPresident.org is officially profitable.
12:30 pm I wake up again. I check the site. It has had about 9k pageviews. 50 sales. I am impressed. This is where I made a mistake. I didn’t further monetize it. I just sat back and watched the orders roll in. I updated my Zapier account to move all the orders into a google doc and manually update the rest. It takes about an hour and I begin doing work for the client I had met with this morning, treating this site as an afterthought. Viewership peaked at noon for this day, with a secondary peak at about midnight.
11:00 pm As I just mentioned, the traffic had a secondary peak at midnight, this is almost entirely because of imgur. I posted a picture of the bumper sticker, linking back to the site, saying something like “Who’s got your vote in 2016? DEEZ NUTS!” I go to sleep at midnight. As of this point, there are about 100 orders for stickers.
6:00 am I am asleep for this, but because I have installed google analytics, I know this is the absolute highest traffic is on the site. at 6 am, the site gets almost 2500 pageviews. For page raked in 26k unique page views for that entire 24 hour period.
9:00 am I wake up and drive to the warehouse because I need to fill some orders for another business I own. At this point, I had thought the buzz had died down. Made about $500 extra, not bad. I get there at 10 am, check my email, and realize that I was completely wrong.
10:00 am The site has 150 real time visitors. A few credible websites picked up the story about mine and are writing about the “nutty” bumper sticker I am selling. I decide that ads are still not a good idea. I don’t want to appear money hungry. This site primarily exists for entertainment value, making it see too commercial would detract from that. I decide the best way to monetize it would by expanding the product line: insert teespring.com
12:00 pm I start the teespring campaign. It’s the same design as the logo, just a little modified. The bumper sticker is no on the front page of reddit and pageviews are pouring in. Could I have made the logo better? Yes. I only used about 25% of the printable space on the shirt. Looking back, this was a mistake.
2:00 pm I get my virtual assistant to begin marketing. She is from Vietnam and I pay her $4/hr via paypal. I say I would like her to work for 5 hours and she agrees. I have her comment on every Deez Nuts news article, talking about how funny the issues page of deeznutsforpresident.org is. This is the spammiest part of the entire post, but it worked. I believe this also leads to more legitimate links from news stories looking to sensationalize it a bit more. I can’t check the links yet as they haven’t been reported in either SEMrush or Search Console, but I manually found at least 3 high authority sites linking to me.
11:59 pm I’ve stopped paying close attention to the site by this time. There are no new articles being written about Deez Nuts, and traffic is slowly dwindling.
8:00 am A modest peak- but at 333 pageviews, it is nothing near what it was in its prime 24 hours ago.
Website Registration: $9.95/year
Hosting (based off the larger plan I have): $2/month
Virtual Assistant: $20
Stickers (1000): $202
Final Numbers (2:00 pm EST, 8/22)
What I could have done better:
- Install a retargeting pixel and advertise the tee-spring t shirts on facebook.
- Create a facebook page
- Make sure order processing is automated through zapier
- Have monetization plan down before the rush of traffic hits
- Encouraged more social sharing
- Made a “I’m voting for DEEZ” widget that people could put on their blogs
But that is what is great about entrepreneurship! I have this list of mistakes I made and next time I feel myself being especially opportunistic, I can check the site against it.
The site has a great link profile with tons of contextual political links so I am going to either sell it (it is listed for 50k obo on flippa, which if more obo than 50k, ha) or turn it into a website that focuses on political memes. This is a great area to be in because politicians are public figures so the intellectual property laws are much more lenient.
What would you have done differently? Have you ever tried anything similar? Feel free to comment below.