On 19 October 2020, I launched CSS background patterns on ProductHunt. It reached the second product of the day and since then, the web app went viral.
It got 20k unique visitors and raised brand awareness for MagicPattern. My main SaaS product.
The launch exposure led to 10 MagicPattern sales and an aspiring collaboration opportunity!
I want to make it clear. There is no magic formula on how to launch a product on Product Hunt.
Yet, you can benefit from my experience! That's why I'm sharing the tips/hacks that helped me and the strategy behind launching.
Define your goal
There are many different reasons to launch on Product Hunt.
- Validate early-stage ideas
- Get early alpha or beta users
- Promote a validated product (Growth)
- Share free resources for personal/business branding
- Launch for the sake of launching
- And many more.
Each of these strategies might have different success metrics.
For example, a successful early-stage validation launch may need 10-20 beta users or some paying customers. Whereas the promotion of a validated product will seek sales above $10.000.
Before even launching, you have to spot your current product stage and define your launch strategy accordingly.
The strategy behind my last launch with CSS background pattern was to test engineering as marketing. I wanted to raise brand awareness for MagicPattern by promoting a free developer resource.
Thus, the ultimate goal for me was to reach as many developers as possible worldwide and build a word-of-mouth effect.
Build an audience
Probably, you already know the audience-mania. Otherwise, I'm lucky enough to be your audience-building ambassador.
Building an audience is the most valuable investment you can make for your future self. And guess what. It doesn't even need too much effort.
You only have to be generously kind and share your process, way of thinking, and creation with people. All the like-minded people will eventually understand the value you offer. And they'll want to follow your journey.
When you have 1k people (like me) interested in your journey, it's way easier to promote your creation. In the end, it doesn't even feel like a promotion anymore. You share your work and people happily interact with it and give you feedback!
There is the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. It says that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. And it can be applied to anything. People often propose 20 self-promotional posts for every 80 value-sharing posts. It's a good ratio, but I believe you can narrow it down even more to 90-10 or 95-5.
Back to our Product Hunt tips, you have to build that audience and you have to start today. It needs time to make people understand your value, so start early.
For my launch, a simple tweet drove my engagements up early on that day.
It wasn't anything special. A simple announcement of a new web app specialized for developers. But it was enough.
For even better engagement and reach, you can set up a giveaway. It worked for my previous launch [tweet]. And it worked for many other makers as well. It's way cheaper than ads and more valuable for your people.
It didn't make sense for CSS background patterns since it was a free resource. I wanted to keep it simple and not overcomplicate the context.
My strategy included up-selling MagicPattern but this part was nicely handled inside the web app.
The hunter story
A hunter is a person with a huge audience whose job is to launch products on Product Hunt.
You should consider hiring a hunter when your audience is small or doesn't exist yet.
I did it once with CopyPalette and Aaron from the Product Hunt community! It helped me a lot and I'm grateful to him. Back then, I had no audience and it definitely boosted my reach.
However, I won't do it again! The reason is simple.
I hate counting my success in a 3rd person. Your launch preparation may take weeks. You don't want to exclusively depend on someone else on your big day.
Another reason is that I hate the attitude most hunters have.
Schedule a 30-minute call with me for $200 to help you with your product strategy.
We all know it's $200 to post my product why don't be honest upfront.
It's a great fair deal. Especially for companies that don't want to spend time on Product Hunt preparations. But be honest with me. Don't sell me bullshits!
Lesson here. If you have access to a top hunter and you trust him/her go for it!
Otherwise, don't pay a fortune/lose time for a few upvotes!
It's the number one piece of advice and still many people overlook it!
You have 24 hours to showcase and expose your app. Why do you think it's better to launch later and lose 1,2 or 8 hours?
Thinking it mathematically. It doesn't make sense.
Another stark reason to launch is early is the following.
The popular daily section on Product Hunt includes 10 new products and 2 promotions. The majority of the daily upvotes (>90%) will go directly into these ten (10) products. And out of these, the most votes will end up in the top five (5) products.
Can't you see it already?!
You have to manage to be in the top five (5) listings as early as possible. If your product ends up there early by its own value, you don't have to worry that much about your success.
Most people, buy upvotes, ask relatives for upvotes or use other hacky ways to increase their ranking. All these techniques are bullshitted. NEVER DO THAT!
It's obvious now that the Product Hunt algorithm ranks each upvote based on the user's karma. And, it penalizes your dark hacky patterns. Why spend effort and money on nuisance instead of your actual product?
Visual content is powerful
Whoever tells you that graphics doesn't have an impact in 2020 is a liar.
Design is a salesman by itself!
Also, it's a fact that an engaging graphic can catch your attention and arise your curiosity. There are several studies stating that our brain processes images way quicker than text.
A team of neuroscientists from MIT has found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds
Then, you have to pay close attention to your promo material.
Your logo and tagline are your showcases and you have to make them look exciting and worth clicking.
Adding a flashing GIF as a logo usually is a scroll-stopper. It's not mandatory if you have a very appealing logo. But let's be honest. No static logo can grab more attention than a GIF!
The second most important asset is your product images or video. Attention-grabbing images or an engaging video demo can make people upvote your product without even test it. Always prefer the video format over images if you can guarantee high quality.
Be extra descriptive! You'll not only push them to upvote your listing immediately (before even opening the link) but also make them excited about your product.
With an over-explained Product Hunt page, many people may upvote you and never test your actual product. But it is worth the risk. More upvotes mean more pairs of eyes on your product and eventually more conversions.
Sacrifice a few product views for a broad reach!
Engage with supporters
Prompt your supporters to comment on your ProductHunt launch page. Obviously, don't force it like that:
Please, comment on this Product Hunt page alarm lights
It looks forced! And we tend to avoid forced actions as humans, mainly, because we want our freedom of thought.
Suggest people tell their thoughts/feedback and take part in an ongoing conversation.
Make your launch page look like a live thread where people can always find you answering their questions for 24 hours.
Which is 100% true.
Be friendly. Be kind. Be approachable.
These people spend their valuable time helping you. Be sure to find a unique way to say thank you and personalize your message to them.
Cross-promote your product
Depending on your niche find related communities to promote your product. Reddit, HackerNews, Designernews, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Slack channels. Basically, leverage any community you have direct access to and its related to your product users.
Drop a link to your product with a brief description of its functionality and benefits. Adapt your copies and tone to the community and prefer a link to your product instead of the Product Hunt listing.
Let users decide if they want to support you. Don't force it!
A good hack to adapt your copywriting to the community is to search for the most popular posts in this community. Understand why they work and adapt your writing based on these posts. You can even use common keywords that you see repeating on these popular posts.
Make your product sharable!
And by sharable, I mean this.
Make it (very very) easy for people to share your product or/and access your Product Hunt launch page.
There are two main elements to achieve that!
Integrate sticky social share buttons into your website. These buttons prefill a tweet or a Facebook/LinkedIn/Reddit (or any other social media platform that makes sense) post. Thus, your visitors just have to click a button to share your creation on social media. Powerful, huh?!
The post must include the product name, a catchy description, and your website URL.
Optionally you can add your own profile handle. The latter will help you keep track of your references and engage with your users.
In that way, you're building a word-of-mouth effect that is very powerful. Your reach is increasing exponentially. And you end up with 42 concurrent users into your product, 4 days after your launch.
It may not benefit your Product Hunt listing directly. But the more people you have into your app, the more you increase your possibilities to drive them into your Product Hunt page.
This leads us to the second action.
Use the premade Product Hunt badges on your web page to lead people back at Product Hunt.
Many of your visitors may visit your product directly. If they are satisfied/amazed by your product, they'll be very keen on supporting you. Give them an easy way to show you their love!
At the same time, you remind those who visited your site through Product Hunt to go back and upvote you!
Be unique. Be kind. Be yourself.
While preparing this guide for you, I took for granted one thing!
That you have a solid/interesting product worth sharing.
If you're a copycat or a fraud, these bits of advice aren't gonna actually work for you.
I wrote this article to help you promote your product on Product Hunt and reach a broad audience. I wrote it for people having a worth sharing product/app/website and are afraid to launch.
I was there too. Afraid to hit the launch button. Afraid to face actual users. Afraid to expose my product.
Stop worrying too much and launch now!
The Product Hunt community loves exciting products and kind people. By having both of them, you guarantee your success!
If I had to summarize the article into one sentence, I'd choose the following sentence.
Launch early, leverage your audience, don't force any action, and make your product upvote by itself!
And for god's sake! Never buy upvotes or hire people that take advantage of your stressed emotions during the day!
Take care of awesome makers (and launch incredible products)!