Matt Inman, creator of The OatmealHave you ever heard of Matt Inman or the Oatmeal?

Either way, once you see his website you can help but be left with a lasting impression.

The Oatmeal is a a website where Matt Inman, a self taught Website Designer and Internet Marketer, expresses certain things about life and the internet in a very unique fashion.  He creates comic/infographics and makes his point in the most blunt & hilarious way he can think of.

The results?

  • A website currently earning him over half a million dollars a year in merchandising and advertising
  • 5,000,000 visitors each month
  • over 700,000 fans on his Facebook page
  • over 330,000 followers on Twitter

All of this from a one man show, just a guy drawing up comics and using his knowledge of viral marketing and a unique method of getting his point across.

How did he do it?

Matt Inman took his background in Graphic Design and applied it to an idea he had for simply “creating an automated income stream” – as he puts it, claiming to have no idea how huge his presence online would become.  But let’s get down to the specifics, what strategies really make him so popular?  As the co founder of SEOmoz, Matt knows knew what he was doing.  Using the following techniques that mirror his very closely, you too may be able to become the next ‘Oatmeal’.

Aim to be Unique

There are thousands of comic sites out there.  Matt takes it in a different direction, besides using his own unique drawing style (that is mixed up  throughout the site) he also comes up with very on the nose topics that most people wouldn’t touch.

The tone behind his delivery of his (very opinionated) content is very in your face, in a love it or hate  fashion that leaves most people loving it.
Oatmeal Party
This unique nature has not only lead to traffic (which apparently accounts for $175,000 of last year’s income), but another $325,000 (ish) in merchandise sales.  T-shirts, cards, posters and now his top selling book How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You are selling like hot cakes from Matt’s website because the nature of his work is very visual, and can be sold to an audience who appreciate what they see.

In the beginning Matt was making a hefty chunk of income from donations.  Introducing the Merchandise was Matt’s way of feeling better about the money being given to him – offering something in return.

Remember, Content is King.

The Oatmeal has the perfect mix of unique content that is highly entertaining and even educational.

When you have top content people talk, word mouth and social media are extremely powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal.   But when other people are out there promotin content for you, sharing it with their friends and other platforms – you really get ahead fast with little effort.

Some Advice about Facebook from the Oatmeal

Some Advice about Facebook from the Oatmeal

Great content is also memorable, looking beyond the likes and email list subscribers you’ve got people who simply want to see more – causing them to punch in your website address simply to see if you’ve updated your website.  A lot of direct visits from people typing in your website address is a good sign that people are consciouslyvisiting your site to see more of what you have to offer.

Top notch, memorable content will build an audience faster than any marketing method once you get people onto your website in the first place.

Tell everyone!

The very nature of the Oatmeal’s meteoric rise is extremely viral.

By taking advantage of websites like Reddit, Digg, Facebook, StumbleUpon and (endless) others, Matt put his extremely unique content in places where people would take notice and spread the word for him.

With images being highly viral content on all sharing platforms (as they say “a picture is worth 1000 words“), this viral delivery strategy fit the visual style of The Oatmeal, especially when backed by Matt Inman’s quirky visual style (and artistic skill).

Tell everyone

This is the power of these 3 things – a unique concept combined with top notch content handed over to viral sharing platforms is what can make websites like The Oatmeal so popular in the first place.

Audience First, SEO second.

Everyone in the world of internet marketing is raving over SEO these days. But if you ‘over optimize’ your content and make it something people can’t relate to, no one will visit it. The ones that do will bounce!

With a visually driven site like the Oatmeal, SEO optimization isn’t going to be a major strength, yet The Oatmeal receives tonnes of traffic from Google. Why? Because it’s popular and people are making noise about it – which is what Google’s algorithm is designed to do – rank your website for certain words and determine the popularity of it, placing it accordingly in search results with the most relevant and popular content being first.

Focusing on the audience is how you give the people what they want and will keep that traffic coming after it’s been generated.  If you’re content is  made for humans and is likable, the SEO will take care of itself.

Remember – search engines aren’t going to buy products and advertising space – people will.

Can you apply this to your website?

Absolutely, every single part of this strategy can be applied in one way or another.  After all, Matt started out creating Comics to draw visitors to websites which were very serious (like the free online dating site he started Mingle2 – using comics like this).

I’m not saying you should start writing comics, but definitely try to create something unique that can go ‘viral’ when shared.  Then keep up the good work, and always focus on your audience.

The OatmealIn the meantime, check out some of the comics The Oatmeal has to offer that I think you may find amusing:

Images are taken from the The Oatmeal website

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