What happened to my Mailprop idea? The idea was to get businesses subscribed to paid newsletters that customers could use to request goods and services from them. So for example companies in the promotional products industry could subscribe, and then whenever a customer uses the Mailprop form to request a quote on for example a large order on t-shirts or a pens, it would be blasted out to all the subscribers, who could then contact the customer back if they want.
Well, to see if the idea would work, I put it online and got some adwords to promote it to customers and businesses. I started with Finnish businesses in the promotional products industry. I kept the customer-side adwords up until I got one lead. Then I contacted several companies about the lead, each personally through handcrafted emails. It made me feel miserable to bother people with emails, I contacted 8 companies and managed to get the requested products to the customer, but was disappointed that I could only convince one person to subscribe to the newsletter.
Through the adwords I managed to get two more subscribers, but then they dried up and I haven't gotten any since then. I'm not really willing to do email rounds again, since it made me feel pretty bad to bother people like that, even though it did bring valuable business to them and helped the customer too. One advice I got on Hacker News was to start a niche blog about the industry and find customers that way. Well, I tried it. I started a blog about the promotional products industry in Finnish (Yrityslahjat) and wrote several blog posts for it. I did some simple research and spent about 12 hours writing pretty good quality posts and scheduled them to be published weekly. I have enough written to last until March.
But again I was hit by the simple inability to just get anyone to know about the blog. It ranks for the finnish term for promotional products "yrityslahjat" on the second page in Google already, but since it's an industry with only a few players in a very small country, I'm just not getting any readers for it. With no readers obviously I can't convert any to subscribe to the mailing lists either. So this idea is on hold until I can find some non-annoying way to get more people using it.