Running a stake pool is like running a business. A stake pool that runs perfectly from the technical side is not enough, you also need to attract enough stake. The most important rule of marketing is to have a marketing strategy that concentrates on your client's demands and not focusing only on your main product. When you run a stake pool, you enable other users to participate in the Cardano protocol and earn rewards. This will allow you to process transactions and produce new blocks. The main method to attract participants to your stake pool is to maximize its reliability, uptime, and the percentage of staking rewards.
At the start of running your stake pool, you are not going to have a high pledge and enough staking to have a high-performance pool (minting blocks every epoch). Your initial delegators will help you attract other delegators. So to get initial delegations, start with telling your family and friends about your pool and try to share and educate more people in your inner circles about Cardano. After having your first few delegators, they will be motivated to tell their personal network about your pool because this will also bring more rewards by having more delegators in the stake pool.
The reality is most pools are going to have roughly the same return over a period of time. So the most important step to promote your stake pool and create your brand is to have a full vision and a clear mission statement about what is your pool's value proposition. For example, Do you want to educate, donate, and/or build on Cardano? Why should people choose your pool over another?
Note that you can check other related discussions such as How do stake pools do marketing?
This section explains different steps that you can take to promote your stake pool and attract more stake delegators.
As a stake pool operator, you need to build a marketing concept including all required information such as pool name, and logo. In addition, you have to know your target group or at least try to reach your target group. The potential groups of delegators can be divided as the following:
- Delegators who want to maximize their rewards from staking
- Delegators who want to build on Cardano and be part of the ecosystem
- Charity delegators who want to help others and get rewards for that
You can decide to pledge some or all amount of your ada when you set up the stake pool, The pledging mechanism can make your stake pool more attractive to delegators. This will show that you have trust and invested interest in Cardano. In addition, ensure the quality and cost with stake pool uptime and fees. If you are planning to charge a higher fee, then you need to provide more functionality within your pool such as being more active on social media or donations.
Interact with your community by creating different social media accounts such as Youtube, Twitter, Discord, Meetup Group, Clubhouse, etc. This will keep the community and delegators informed and well educated about recent updates. It is better to add your contact information on all your created accounts for new potential delegators to reach out to you.
Now let’s explain average budget costs and few examples about how current stake pool operators use different social media platforms to increase their audience.
After analyzing current stake pools, you can expect the average cost from 900$ to 1600$ divided as the following:
- 100$ for advertisement tools such as Google SEO, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Coinzilla Ads, etc. This is a good strategy to get people to your website to learn more about Cardano and stake delegation
- 300$ to 500$ for setting up a stake pool with 2 to 3 relay nodes and a web server
- 500$ to 1000$ for a Youtube channel with all necessary professional equipment
Note that you can check some budget and costs discussions such as:
- Current operators actual cost to operate vs actual returns thoughts
- How much money will I get by running a stake pool?
- Realistic Cost to Operate Stake Pool?
- How much does it cost to power a stake pool?
Use the Meetup platform to host weekly or monthly online meetups to provide a Cardano update, a pool update, guest speakers, Q and A sessions. Your online calls and meetups strategy can be achieved by posting your Meetup schedule on social media and see if the Cardano Foundation will post it on their accounts or even becoming an ambassador. Guest speakers can be people that want to share more about their projects such as project catalyst and you can provide some payments in ada to motivate more people to join your meetups. With guest speakers, you can reach out to people that either work for IOHK or the Cardano Foundation at your current location. It is all about growing the size of the meetup and keeping people joining every meetup.
Use Instagram and Discord to post Cardano updates and pool updates (epoch summary). You can think of Instagram as more geared towards reaching new delegators and Discord as the best way to inform current delegators.
Some successful stake pools create a YoTube channel to get a larger audience. For example, you can add some articles to your website, create full stake delegation instructions, and at the same time create related videos on YouTube. This approach builds backlinks to your website so people will find your stake pool more often when using Google search. Note that building a Youtube channel is time consuming, especially if you are not an editor, and can be expensive if you do not have necessary professional equipments.
The best approach to maintain your current delegators is to keep them informed and updated. For example, you can use your social accounts to share a monthly newsletter to your delegators and answer all their questions on time. To maintain your stake pool, the pool should run 24/7 to have full availability to your delegators otherwise they can move to another stake pool.
Create a Website that is consistent with the branding of your stake pool. Get a basic knowledge of SEO and check adapools where you can go through different pools to see how they have created their websites.
you can check previous delegation announcements on the blog posts Our new delegation strategy – announcing the pools we’re supporting and Announcing new stake pools chosen for our delegation strategy. So try to follow the news for the next round of applications. You can check the previous call for delegation to support small pools.
One of the selection criteria is to validate your stake pool parameters such as pledge, stake delegated to the pool, and the size of pool saturation. This is to be sure that your stake pool will be effective, generate new blocks, and get enough rewards to the delegators.
Note that you can watch The evolution of the Cardano Foundation's delegation methodology video.
Advertise your stake pool in different channels:
Some stake pool operators put in more extra work than others, they ensure the following:
- Creating an informative website that includes block explorers for their generated blocks, why to choose their pool, guides for stake delegation, full contact information for each operator, video tutorials, social media accounts, and FAQ.
- Being a Cardano community member
- Focusing on the delegators needs
- Studying and analyzing other SPOs to be more creative
- Using social media management systems for engagement, scheduling, and reporting
- Using videos in their marketing campaigns along with email marketing
- Creating a mobile-friendly marketing campaign
- Creating an extra range of services for delegators such as minting native tokens.
- Running Reddit ads, posting on different forums, writing articles to get organic traffic to their pool’s website
You can watch the following videos about the opinions of SPOs: