Glad to see another guy who likes Minecraft (and running a server) as much as me. The hardest part about having a server, you probably know by now, is getting it to grow.
The way I got a huge fanbase for mine was pretty devious lol. I found a new server ranking websites and added my server first, and mine got thousands of users as their ranking sites grew.
Basically goes like this:
Find a brand new server ranking website, something like this one: http://www.best-minecraft-servers.com/ (or another new one with similar features) would work nicely. The idea is to find new minecraft server ranking websites and list your server on those. The idea is that as their site grows, your server will be ranked at the top (since it's was added so early) and get thousands of users to signup with your server without having to pay a cent to advertise it.
The reason you submit on new server ranking websites instead of huge ones is simply the fact that you want yours to be added early (for the ranking bonus) and the fact that there's not much compeitition when the ranking site is new. With some luck you'll have a huge userbase within a few weeks.
Good luck hope it helps you! :)
I would highly recommend a more comprehensive package than just spamming your minecraft server IP everywhere. The service I use is on http://minebrowse.com/ in the "Get Sponsored" section, that uses email, social media advertising, and a general minecraft server audit. I have gotten quite a boost, attaining about ~50 players during peak hours.
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