Edit My Ex
Last Valentines I launched EditMyEx.com, a website that removes your ex from your photos.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had created something that would go on to become a viral hit. Achieving over 300 pieces of coverage including online, radio, TV and print, from literally all over the world.
It was a wild ride. I watched as news anchors in Argentina argued about the concept of the website, I did a skype interview for Japanese TV, and I even had a German TV crew turn up at my mum’s house to film me about it. Not bad for a website that was made for less than £200, from my bedroom.
In this post I’ll be sharing for the first time how I came up with the idea, what I did to get it going viral, and everything I learned along the way.
The idea for the site came about in January last year, when I got chatting to a girl via a popular dating app.
On her profile she had a photo of herself with another guy, which I assumed to be her ex. I thought it would be a good idea to photoshop my face over her ex and send it back to her.
This is how that turned out for me…
A risky move, and luckily for me she had a good sense of humour. Unfortunately this post isn’t about a love story, and romantically, that’s as far as things progressed.
However, the reaction played on my mind, and it got me thinking, what about if there was a website where you could remove your ex from photos? So I looked at a few domain ideas and decided upon EditMyEx.com which I registered for £8 on the 1st Feb, exactly 2 weeks before Valentine’s Day.
The Press Release
Due to how busy I was with the other parts of the website, I paid a freelancer to write one for me. They managed to turn it around in a couple of days, and it formed the basis of the press release I used for my outreach.
The Media List
For the media list, I looked for journalists who had written similar articles around dating.
Chances are, if a journalist had written something similar in the past, then it’s likely they could cover the story about my website launch. This process is something I still actively do now with the work I do at Rise at Seven.
I didn’t have any fancy tools or media databases like Gorkana or Vuelio to find the email addresses of journalists. I just had my ability to search Google and Twitter.
I launched the website on the 12th February, later than I had planned, and very late to get in on the Valentines Day action.
The first thing I did was share it on my social channels and list it on a site called Product Hunt, a website where people share and discover new products. It seemed to do quite well there, and ended up hitting the front page of the site.
If you’re not feeling the love this Valentines day or you’re looking for an anti Valentines day gift.
I’ve just launched Edit My Ex – we remove your ex from your photos. https://t.co/WNrdNTwbAz
— Mark Rofe 🧦 (@iamrofe) February 12, 2019
But despite getting a great reaction and a few shares on social media, I only managed to get 1 piece of coverage on launch day on Know Techie, and even that came through a friend of a friend.
So after day 1, I was pleased with the reaction on social, but disappointed with the coverage.
However, I woke up the next morning to something absolutely crazy…
Someone had commented on my post in a Facebook group, saying that they had seen my website on breakfast TV, in New Zealand!
From then on, things started to gradually get going. I got coverage in the Sun, Metro, Heart, Short List, Joe, and a whole load more. If things had stopped there, then I would have been happy, but things started to snowball…
Edit My Ex began to go viral.
There was no way for me to track where I was getting any offline coverage.
So that’s pretty much how I did it. Here’s a breakdown the stats.
Coverage (that I am aware of)
TV – 8
Radio – 9
Print – 1
Online – 330
Countries – 175
Traffic – 44,342
Reach – Millions
I don’t have the exact stats on this, but given the amount of coverage this received, I believe Edit My Ex was seen, read or heard about by millions of people.
Domain – £8
WordPress theme – £40
Testing Freelancers – £70
Press release write up – £80
Total Cost – £198
Lessons Learned from Going Viral
Why it worked
I think this idea worked for a few reasons. It was humorous, provoked enough of a reaction that people felt compelled to share the website, and the timing of the launch with Valentine’s Day definitely helped.
However, I think the most important aspect that really made this go viral was that it was highly visual, and it didn’t need words to work.
So anyone from any country, in any language, anywhere in the world could look at Edit My Ex, and understand what’s going on.
Social proof and FOMO
As soon as I started to pick up some coverage, I began adding the logos of publications onto the homepage of my site.
There was also a media page which listed all the coverage I was getting. The page itself had a way for journalists to get in touch with me, and a little note ‘Please note: This website is not for sale.’
The purpose of doing this was to demonstrate to anyone that visited the site that it was a big hit and nudge them to share it on their socials.
For journalists, I wanted them to have FOMO (fear of missing out), seeing that everyone else had covered the story and that this was something they needed to jump on too.
It’s difficult to know the exact impact that this had, however, there were a few sites such as Short List for example, who linked to my media page, which clearly showed that journalists were at least looking at it.
Getting my website featured on the front page of Product Hunt, definitely got it in front of the eyes of journalists. I think this is how the site ended up getting TV coverage in New Zealand, and I can see that when Edit My Ex appeared on Argentinian TV, the screen grabs they used were of the Product Hunt website, which suggests that’s where they may have discovered it.
I’d always felt that landing a placement on TV was the holy grail. However, I was surprised to find that despite landing several TV placements didn’t translate into the huge traffic numbers I would have expected.
For example, the day I got TV coverage on a popular breakfast show in New Zealand, Google Analytics showed only 41 visits from that country to my site.
Idea Over Everything
I know now that to launch a successful PR campaign, you need 3 things, an idea, outreach email, and media list.
However, looking back at these components for Edit My Ex, I can tell you that the outreach email and seeding list were subpar. However, the site got coverage because the idea was good enough to make up for the inadequacies of the other components.
Obviously they are all important, but the idea is EVERYTHING. You could be the best person in the world at outreach and creating media lists, but if your idea is awful and doesn’t make for an interesting story, you’re going to struggle.
Financially, the website didn’t earn as much as you probably would have expected. In fact, it is the worst converting website I have ever seen.
So it doesn’t matter how much marketing you can do, if you have a product or service that people generally don’t want or aren’t willing to pay for then it’s just not going to work.
However, it was never about the money. I had a silly idea which had it flopped would only have cost me £200 and a week of my time, that was the worst that could happen.
So it was always going to be worth a punt, and you never know where things will lead or what opportunities could arise.
The whole creation of Edit My Ex sparked a conversation with Carrie Rose, and if I hadn’t created the site, that conversation wouldn’t have taken place, and it’s unlikely I’d be working with her at Rise at Seven today.
Edit My Ex is still live today, but off the back of it, I’ve started offering additional services on a sister website PhotoRepairer.com.