How Did We Screw Up A Product Hunt Launch?
Well, it is a good title, I’ll give you that.
We have not actually screwed up that much.
We were not the Product of the Day, so that much is of course a loss. However, we had a lot of votes and actually managed to be #16 for the day.
What is Product Hunt? – How Did We Screw Up A Product Hunt Launch?
Product Hunt is a cool website that features new cool products. It is an ongoing daily list, where people post products and some other folks upvote the ones they like! Lists then goes to being weekly and monthly, as well.
Who are we?
Why am I writing this?
Because I want to eliminate some survivorship bias around this topic. Reading only how people achieved to be the #1 is not going to be enough. I thought otherwise at the first place, but if it were like that, wouldn’t everyone be the best of the day?
So, in this one, I’ll give some of the definite best practices and some things to avoid. Although there are a lot of useful information in it, this is not a whole “How to Launch on Product Hunt Guide”, because you are not here to read that, remember? You are here to learn from what we experienced and want to avoid that.
Do’s: Plan Almost Everything!
Almost is a critical word that I’ll explain later.
But planning is really important. I had read a lot of other blogs and got inspired by them while creating our Trello board. I made it just for PH Launch, so that we can easily observe the progression.
Here are some sure things to add to that list as your preparation:
- Prepare Product Hunt Launch Materials: Logos, GIFs, ScreenShots, Description, Tag Line, and a first comment.
- Social Media Posts: Have them prepared before hand: your initial “ we need your support” launch post, “We are trending” post, “We are the #3 product of the day” post, etc.
- Related blog posts: If you’re also promoting a side product, this becomes more important. You want to make sure that a lot people gets hyped about your product on the launch day. Have some posts ready to be published on Medium, Indie Hackers, Reddit, etc. My Indie Hacker post got 580 views and 53 comments, which was like… wow!
- Product Hunt Tracker and +1 Button: The code for that comes after you start your draft on Product Hunt. Add this to your product so that anyone visiting can go and give you thumbs up!
- Get into Communities: There are lovely PH communities especially on Facebook. Go and be a member of them. It would be better to do it a week earlier of your launch, since it may take a while to get in. It is also beneficial to get in there before to observe others.
- List of Supporters: People who can give you your first push. Have a list of them and ask them up front to give you an upvote. You may want to prepare a little message that invites them. If you have a email list, feel free to give them a notice with a well-prepared mail!
Hang out in Product Hunt
This is seriously important. The best way to learn anything is to really get into it. Product Hunt is a simple and free website which is a lot FUN. So, start hanging out in there as early as possible.
This will give you a lot of insights about successful launches.
But maybe more importantly, it will get you personal familiarity. Follow people with whom you share common interest, they may upvote your product when it comes up. Product Hunt also loves it when you are regular — more on that later.
DO NOT’S: A LOT OF NEWCOMERS
This is in all capital.
In a nutshell, this is why we failed — most probably.
Product Hunt makes it pretty clear that if you spam the upvote button at once — usually by buying votes, their algorithm will caught you. What they do not make so obvious is that how valuable the votes are.
We are 10+ team, so our reach was considerable. We re-posted on our social media accounts to announce our launch and people actually upvoted it. This was really good at the first hours, as we climbed to be the #1 for a while and stayed in top 5 for a long time.
But then something happened and we got stuck at #17.
It was like the worst traffic I’ve ever been in.
Organic votes were coming in. Many people from different countries like our product, used it, upvoted it, commented on PH, some even asked for demos for our original products after discovering the free one. But it was not making any good on our position in the list.
Eventually, we came to the conclusion that, since many of our friends who saw our posts and wanted to support us actually ended up on the wrong side of the war. Since they were newcomers to Product Hunt, the algorithm seemed to count them like spammers; so we ended up as the unwanted children of that day…
I contacted Product Hunt about whether we got flagged or something else was going on — because we were by far the most upvoted product but our position was always in between 14th-18th. They responded that no such thing was in place but that their algorithm is complicated — with the obvious reminder that they cannot share the specifics because they would be “gamed.”, so they asked me to follow my campaign and maybe things would change.
They did not.
I am not that sure on how you can avoid this. The first push that puts you in the list is really necessary for usual users to find about you. So, maybe ask some really small number of people’s votes via private messages and post your posts on social media later.
It is also almost 100% sure that some people will approach to you, saying “I saw your product which is very cool, but it seems like you need a bit of help!” — I wish this is how they write the e-mails but you get the idea.
I do not find it very logical to buy upvotes because it is against the idea of Product Hunt. It is supposed be a platform for pure organic marketing and it should be used like that. If more and more people would go into buying votes, the magic of PH would disappear.
So this quick read should give you an understanding of basics about a launch on Product Hunt. Most important takeaways would be:
- Planning is important: Make sure that you have everything handled.
- Organic upvotes are gold: Do not ask so many people who are not a member of Product Hunt earlier to upvote your product. You may consider asking a few close friends to open an account 10–15 days ago but yet again I am totally sure how that would go.
- Avoid scammers and paying for votes: It is tempting and I thought about it too, but I am glad that I stripped myself out of that though quickly.
I hope this helps and you will get a lot of votes and hopefully be the #1 of the day, week, and the month!