Product Hunt (PH for short) is definitely the place to be when you launch a new product. It can help you to reach your first users, testers, investors, journalists and more!
After submitting over a dozen tools on Product Hunt (and reading the whole Internet about it), I gained enough knowledge to teach you how to squeeze the most out of this platform. I can tell you how to find the first snowflakes that will start the snowball effect (and maybe also a snowman!).
This is a guide I wish I’ve read before I started my Product Hunt journey.
Your scheme of the way to success
The first thing you’ll notice on Product Hunt are two sections - “newest” and “popular”.
Every new product goes straight to the “newest” section on Product Hunt.
If it gets a lot of upvotes it goes to the “popular” and everybody who opens Product Hunt will see it. Not getting enough upvotes means staying in the ‘newest’ section where only a several dozens of people will check the product. The most popular products get badges (“#1 Product of the day” badge, “#1 Product of the month” badge etc.) and even the Golden Kitty Award by the end of a year!
What is more, Product Hunt promotes the best products in their favored newsletter and in social media. Plus, there are a lot of journalists who monitor Product Hunt and use it to find topics to their publications. Long story short: the Product Hunt game is worth the effort.
Today we’ll focus on getting to the “popular” section.
Step 1: Before the launch - get prepared
Create an account, find a Hunter or become one
The very first step is creating an account and spending some time on Product Hunt. It must be a personal account - not an account of your company.
Don’t be one of those users who create an account and forget about it until they need to promote something.
Spend there some time, give it some love, connect your account with your social media profiles (you’ll gain more followers), explore new products and follow their makers. Test the tools, comment on them, make a list of your favorite products. Thanks to that, you’ll see how things work and (after spending some time on PH) you’ll gain this intuition on what Product Huntians like and what they definitely don't.
To hunt a new product, you’ll have to be a contributor. Here’s how you can become one:
You can also ask some other Hunter to publish the product for you. I suggest you to reach me via Twitter or ask one of these guys 500 Top Hunters of Product Hunt.
Even before your product is launched as a beta version, you can gather some feedback and new users. Recently Product Hunt has showed a new tool: Ship. It allows you to create a landing page on Product Hunt for products that are not ready yet. It lets you gather emails of your future users and beta testers.
I recommend to think about a special promo for Product Hunt users only; for example 30% on the first payment. You don’t need any help from PH to make it - you can simply mention your discount code in the welcome comment. You can also create a dedicated landing page on your website and link to it from your product page on Product Hunt.
Choose the day, find the people
All the Product Hunt guides discourage from launching a new product when there are some other big fat launches, for example on a day of Apple conference. This is because you might be 100% sure that you’ll not be the #1 that day.
On the other hand, during the big-fat-launch days, traffic on Product Hunt is higher so you can benefit from that. I’ve launched one of our products on a day of iPhone X premiere and actually, we got bigger traffic than usual.
People say that Product Hunt is a place where you have to bring the party to start it out - it is important to provide some upvotes at the beginning. However, it’s quality over quantity. Don’t ask people to create a Product Hunt profile just to upvote your product - the mechanism finds such upvotes spammy and might lower your position. Asking your colleagues could be risky as well - a few votes from the same IP can also get you in trouble.
Who could help you with getting upvotes then?
- Your clients
Your existing clients or beta testers can be your brand ambassadors. Ask them if they know Product Hunt, make a list of the clients who use it, and go back to them on the launch day.
- Industry influencers
When launching a new product, it’s worth to show it to the influencers from your industry. You can mention that you’ve just launched it on Product Hunt and will appreciate their feedback.
If you don’t know any influencers yet, you can use Buzzsumo to find them. I hope it’s obvious that you shouldn’t start the conversation with “Hi! Could you please upvote my product!”. Start building your relations weeks before the launch.
Ask mentors who helped kick-start your start-up on Product Hunt.
- People who upvoted the previous version of your product or similar tools
You have to be careful with this one. The easiest way to contact upvoters is via Twitter. But here's the tricky part - you shouldn’t tweet to them (unless you want your profile to look spammy). Direct messages work better, but cause another risk - Twitter doesn’t like bombarding people with private messages (especially if they include a link).
So here’s how I resolved it lately:
- I made a list of people who upvoted the previous version of our product
- A few days before the launch I sent them a message saying “Hi! I’m writing because I saw you upvoted/commented our tool on Product Hunt. We’re about to launch pretty exciting update and I thought you might like it…”
- If they were interested, I sent them the link to the new product page
- Ta-da! Some of them got back to the new version when I launched it.
Prepare all the materials
Here’s the list of things (besides the upvoters base) that you need to prepare before the day of the launch:
GRAPHICS (your graphics must be pretty if you want to increase your odds of reaching the top):
- Thumbnail - at least 600x600px, max 3MB - thumbnail is your business card. It’s not necessary to make it as a GIF but I recommend that - it simply catches visitors attention. You can play with your logo or use your brand hero.
- Screenshot from your app - you can use a static picture or a gif. If you want to show up some features (“take a look at our shiny drag&drop interface”) make a gif using for example Giphy.
- Video explainer - it’s not necessary to have a video explaining the idea of your product, but it’s a nice-to-have.
> Short description - prepare one sentence to recap the idea of your product. Be very specific - this is not a place for marketing jibber-jabber. Show the main value - what people will gain using your product.
> Prepare the welcome comment - it’s a place where you can show what your product is all about. Keep it personal, tell people why you decided to build it, and what problems it solves. Ask for their opinion. Don’t forget to mention the price of your product and a discount if need be.
But what if your product is already hunted?
There’s some other scenario you might not have thought of (and which is pretty likely in the world of Hunters hungry for the new hunts). It might happen that your product is already published on Product Hunt (and you’d like to change the way it’s described).
If you notice that your product is already hunted, simply ask the Hunter to make you a Maker of it.
When it happens, you’ll have the same rights as the Hunter - you’ll be able to add pictures, GIFs, change the thumbnail etc. You’ll also get a “Maker” badge, so whenever you leave a comment under your product, the audience will know that you’re the Maker.
We had this situation with BotEngine - someone has added our product before us. The good thing was we got to the “popular section”, the bad thing was that its name was “BitEngine!” Luckily, there was no problem with changing it and adding our materials.
Step 2: Launch day: all hands on deck
Firstly - don’t plan anything on the launch day. No other projects, meetings or squash after work. If you manage to get to the trending, you’ll have to reply to comments, monitor your website etc. If you don’t manage to get in the trending, you’ll have to focus on trying to get there.
Secondly - choose the time. The best is before 9 am PST so people have the whole day to discover your product. Product Hunt says that if something is posted after 11am PST and it gets featured, they boost it to the Popular on the next day.
When posting your product, choose 3-4 categories that match best. Don’t forget to add links to your social media profiles and the makers of the product. If you already have some publications on media explaining your product, include them as well. Publish your product, post the welcome comment and watch the snowball grow.
Contact the people that you informed prior the launch, ask them for support and update your social media channels. You can monitor your progress using PHMetrics - a tool that shows your upvotes in real time.
Product Hunt algorithm is a big mystery - we don’t know how your product should be upvoted to get to the top. Keep in mind that having a lot of comments is definitely better for your product. Don’t leave any of them unreplied.
You can also add the Product Hunt icon to your footer, next to social media icons.
Monitor social media
Have a moment? Find people who shared your launch on Twitter and thank them for promoting you. Simply type the URL address of your Product Hunt site in a Twitter search.
You can also tweet to people who upvoted your product - thanks to that you’ll build relations with your new clients. Speaking of social media - better follow Product Hunt Twitter fanpage and subscribe to their newsletter as you might appear there as well.
Step 3: After the launch - there’s still something you can do
Of course, you’ll get the highest traffic right after you make it to the “popular” section. However, your product will still appear on the main site a few days after the launch so you can expect more traffic on your website (especially if you make it to the Product Hunt newsletter).
Here’s how it worked in the case of our Typing Speed Test:
As you can see it was not a single traffic peak.
Don’t forget to check out your media monitoring tool (like Mention or Brand24) - if you get to the top, you might gain some media publications. Keep monitoring your social media and replying to all the comments.
Add your product to alternatives and collections
Find similar tools to yours on Product Hunt and recommend your product as an alternative. This option works only if your product got to the “popular” section.
Here’s how it goes:
- Find a similar product
- Click the “Product X” alternatives section
- Type your product name under the “Suggest alternatives to Product X” section
Ta-da! That’s it.
You can also find some popular collections that match your product category and ask their Makers to add your product to them.
Ask Product Hunt
“Ask Product Hunt” is pretty much like a Quora for Product Huntians. You can both ask for recommendations and give recommendations. Find the questions where your product can be the answer and simply recommend it. Hint: upvotes are also welcome here - they make your answer go higher in the ranking.
Go ahead and try yourself!
I remember my first hunt (it was a Typing Speed Test) which turned out to be a great success. At that moment, I didn’t know the power of Product Hunt so I simply hunted it and went on a mountain trip. My colleague sent me a message on Slack that our product got to the “popular” so I spent the whole afternoon replying to the Product Hunt comments and social media messages at the only spot with WI-FI in the mountain shelter. Lesson learned - no leaving wifi zone after hunting a product!
I hope this guide will help you get to the top of Product Hunt. Watch out - this website might become addictive! If you’re looking for a Hunter, let me know - I’m happy to help with launching new products.