How to Get 5 Million People to Read Your Website
September 14, 2010 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, gives advice on successful viral marketing. via

The Oatmeal previously on MeFi: 6 5 4 3 2 1
posted by joedan (46 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I...feel like there should be more than "isolate a net meme" and "make a comic about it," but...you know...

This may sound like hate/jealousy, which it is, but OTOH, The Motherfucking Pterodactyl is perhaps the greatest webcomic of all time, so good for Matthew Inman, I say.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:51 PM on September 14, 2010


Ah. I see that he only takes about sixty seconds to get to "find 'content' elsewhere and repackage it."
posted by koeselitz at 8:54 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't learn much from this video. It's kind of like saying "Hey, go invent fucking something everybody thinks about but nobody actually does like bottled water and make a bunch of money from it."

But it was amusing, and I'm glad to see that the guy that runs The Oatmeal isn't as douchey as I thought. But he's still pretty douchey.

(Crap. Are we going to get a metatalk on how we shouldn't use the word "douche" or "douchebag" because of this post?)
posted by jabberjaw at 9:19 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it was amusing, and I'm glad to see that the guy that runs The Oatmeal isn't as douchey as I thought. But he's still pretty douchey.
What's the difference between "douchey" and "viral marketer"? Oh, that's right, nothing!
posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


I like a lot of the stuff at The Oatmeal, despite its common heavy-handedness in handling any given topic.

But given the attention-catching headline of the presentation (which, you'll note, was one of the pieces of advice he gave) and the fact that it mostly consisted of just showcasing his past work, being ultimately quite thin on actual advice, I sort of feel... punked? It's like there was an invisible punchline to the presentation: "In case you didn't notice, this well-publicized Ignite presentation about how to get 5 million people to read a website has succeeded in getting me a whole lot of new readers for my website."

If that was the actual goal of his presentation, then bravo, sir.
posted by lifeless at 9:44 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Mr. The Oatmeal actually has some secret sauce for getting 5 million readers/t-shirt purchasers why would he just give it away at a speaking event when he can just advertise?
posted by device55 at 9:57 PM on September 14, 2010


15..14..13..12..11..10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1..15..14..

I'm sorry, what was this about again?
posted by empath at 10:03 PM on September 14, 2010


It was an Ignite presentation, empath. Five minute talks where each slide is up for 15 seconds. Ignite previously on Metafilter.
posted by joedan at 10:10 PM on September 14, 2010


Inman is an SEO scammer.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:18 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a terrible, painfully frustrating format to watch. I felt anxious and rushed, and I wasn't even the one giving the presentation.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:20 PM on September 14, 2010


If Mr. The Oatmeal actually has some secret sauce for getting 5 million readers/t-shirt purchasers why would he just give it away at a speaking event when he can just advertise?
There are a number of reasons why someone might give away their 'secret sauce'. One is that they want recognition for their work, and it can also lead to even more exposure. Not that this guy's nailed it, I haven't watched the video.
posted by delmoi at 11:04 PM on September 14, 2010


What a terrible, painfully frustrating format to watch. I felt anxious and rushed, and I wasn't even the one giving the presentation.

Agreed. 5 minute talks are OK, but the auto-advancing of slides is just silly.
posted by lifeless at 11:14 PM on September 14, 2010


Make money at home stuffing envelopes! Send me $20 to find out how!
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:20 PM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Learn Joe in Australia's secret! Send me $10 to find out how!
posted by Ahab at 11:27 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Learn how to undercut competitors! Give me a favorite to find out how!
posted by WalterMitty at 1:32 AM on September 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


He did a cartoon that was exactly the same as a joke of mine that had been retweeted a lot a few days earlier. When I pointed this out he called me "retarded". Fuck this guy.
posted by w0mbat at 1:47 AM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


He did a cartoon that was exactly the same as a joke of mine that had been retweeted a lot a few days earlier. When I pointed this out he called me "retarded". Fuck this guy.

He doesn't respond too well to criticism, either. I think the blog post is a bit weak, but someone in the comments puts up their email conversation with him about it.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:17 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's a fuckwit douche. A funny fuckwit, but this seemed unnecessarily mean.
posted by seanyboy at 2:25 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. I never liked The Oatmeal as much as everybody said I should, but those cartoons in your "criticism" link are horrendous and unconscionable. What a douchebag. And I have to say he came off as a total misbegotten loser in the main link above, too. I also didn't realize he did "women with moustaches" and "manboobs."

What a card. Now I know I don't have to waste any time on this guy.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 AM on September 15, 2010


(That was to ArmyOfKittens, by the way.)
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 AM on September 15, 2010


Holy crap. I never liked The Oatmeal as much as everybody said I should

I always thought the art was terrible and the jokes were lame.
posted by delmoi at 2:35 AM on September 15, 2010


"enlighten us, but make it quick."

Get ... off ... my ... lawn.
posted by chavenet at 2:43 AM on September 15, 2010


He's clearly involved in SEO techniques that I'd describe as 'murky', which puts me off the site.
For example, look at this Reddit submission he made that's clearly trying to boost a site's education/scholarship affiliate earnings as described here.
posted by malevolent at 2:53 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


TheOatmeal guy has even admitted that he's worked in SEO extensively. Put me off his stuff for good.
posted by flatluigi at 5:12 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


He did a cartoon that was exactly the same as a joke of mine that had been retweeted a lot a few days earlier. When I pointed this out he called me "retarded". Fuck this guy.

Really? What was the tweet? What was the comic?
posted by Greg Nog at 5:46 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I lost interest when he did the one with "neat ways to use hookers". I wonder if he does this stuff.
posted by condour75 at 6:24 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


heh, I should know better than to link feminist-leaning websites here; it always seems to cause HERE LET ME EXPLAIN IT TO YOU to appear in their comments
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Out of interest, if your mum reads your blog five million times, does that also count?

Because if it does I too am one hot shit viral marketer.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:43 AM on September 15, 2010


I wonder if he does this stuff.

Worth it for "Your site's PageRank (named after Google co-founder Larry Page)"
posted by delmoi at 6:57 AM on September 15, 2010


From the first Oatmeal article that floated around I thought it was obvious advertising for something and a forced imitation of something the author only dimply understood if at all. Now I can see I was spot on.
posted by cmoj at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


tl;dw
posted by Work to Live at 8:04 AM on September 15, 2010


The Oatmeal just feels off to me in some way. It always reminds me of MySpace for some reason.
posted by Widepath at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's the sound mix in the video, but the audience seems to be a laugh track. The fade in an out is awkward and feels very forced.
posted by asfuller at 10:11 AM on September 15, 2010


Maybe it's the sound mix in the video, but the audience seems to be a laugh track. The fade in an out is distracting, annoying and feels very forced.
posted by asfuller at 10:18 AM on September 15, 2010


I think The Oatmeal and this video is funny, but I also think it's so fucking cool that some of you don't think it is that I may reevaluate my position.
posted by windbox at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2010


Don't knock 5-minute auto-advance slide presentations until you've been to a live event, by the way. They're fine for polished presenters (anything would be), but they're great for presenters who put way too much info on their slide or way too little time into thinking about what they were going to say. The Ignite format made it possible for me, as someone who's not a spatial data enthusiast, able to spend two hours watching presentations by spatial data obsessives and still have a good time.
posted by jhc at 11:40 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


able
posted by jhc at 11:41 AM on September 15, 2010


So what are his SEO tricks aside from making fake websites? How does that translate into more visitors for The Oatmeal? Did I miss something? Where am I?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:28 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where am I

Guvf vf npghnyyl gurbngzrny.pbz, you hapless rube, you.
posted by everichon at 1:06 PM on September 15, 2010


Uther Bentrazor: “So what are his SEO tricks aside from making fake websites? How does that translate into more visitors for The Oatmeal? Did I miss something? Where am I?”

Oh, he would never give those away in a thing like this – they sound too sleazy. I think one of them involves lying a lot. I've heard this whole "my Zombie Harmony got more google hits in certain categories than eHarmony did!" line of bull at least a dozen times from Inman – he loves to repeat it like a slogan. The trick, I'm sure, is that the "certain categories" are things like "a specific in-quotes search for 'matthew inman's zombie dating website.'"

But lying is probably the nicest and most reasonable SEO tactic Inman would be likely to champion.
posted by koeselitz at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone on Reddit (I think) busted this guy once for embedding sleazy SEO codes in his comics... so that his comic about, say, the new iPhone also included hidden jiggerypokery that would provide Google PageRank-boosting links for, like, real estate sales in Bermuda... or something. His real income comes from the latter side-effect, presumably.

Naturally I can't find the link now, but I know I didn't imagine it, and having seen the guy speak I have to side with koeselitz... he comes across an SEO trickster wearing a cool-cartooning disguise.
posted by rokusan at 12:49 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best thing that's happened from The Oatmeal is Hyperbole and a Half, which is to my mind what you'd get if you had The Oatmeal, minus the sleaze, plus an author who is really excited and having fun with what she's doing.
posted by mendel at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does Hyperbole and a Half really have something directly to do with The Oatmeal, or are you referring to the MS Paint style?

I think HAAH is literally brilliant, by the way. And isn't it by a MeFi's own?
posted by cmoj at 9:22 AM on September 17, 2010


They're completely unrelated.
posted by flatluigi at 4:36 PM on September 17, 2010


HAAH didn't seem to get much attention until The Oatmeal did. There's influencing there, I think, too. Or at least I don't think I'd have found HAAH if The Oatmeal hadn't got popular.

They're not completely unrelated, though, since The Oatmeal has given a callout to HAAH before.
posted by mendel at 3:07 PM on September 18, 2010


On influencing... maybe HAAH got the style from Natalie Dee? And maybe Natalie Dee got the style from Exploding Dog? Kate Beaton's earlier stuff owes a huge debt to John Allison, and Sean Tevis TOTALLY bites the xkcd style. What I mean to say is, there sure is a lot of that ole influencing going around, but if stick figure comics are the equivalent of three-chord punk, then the lowered barriers to entry are gonna produce some interesting talents down the road (and probably a lot of entertaining noise [and probably a lot of crap])
posted by jtron at 2:33 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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