The Ultimate Guide To Launching On Product Hunt, Even If You’re Nobody In The Online Space

 ·  02 Nov  ·  15 Comments
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Today is a guest post from Ovi Negrean, Chief nugget at nugget, who was kind enough to have us feature an epic article of his on how to absolutely crush it on Product Hunt. If you want to find out how Ovi managed to hack his way to the top 5 of Product Hunt despite being relatively unknown then strap yourselves in because you’re in for a fantastic ride.

Table Of Fun and Useful Contents

1// The ultimate guide of launching on Product Hunt (even if you’re nobody in the online space)

You only have one chance of launching on Product Hunt. Don’t you want to get it right?

YOLO! You Only Launch Once!

So what is Product Hunt and why should you care?

Why are the innovators so important?

But I don’t even have commenting rights on Product Hunt – how can I then do a successful Product Hunt launch?

So let me teach you how.

The truth about launching on Product Hunt

What the founders of Product Hunt won’t tell you

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

2 // How to launch on Product Hunt even if you’re Nobody in the online world – The launch build-up

How do you get into the right Slack chats?

ABH – Always Be Helpful

Be Genuinely Helpful and get to know people.

TACTIC: Build an email list months before you launch.

Finding your hunter and why it matters?

Why do you need a good hunter?

Finding your hunter

So you have a hunter – what do they need from you?

Getting your website ready for the Product Hunt crowd

At what time should you get hunted?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

3 // The Product Hunt battle is won by preparing – The week before the launch

Gathering your army of soldiers

How do you fill this list?

Where else can you find people who would upvote you?

Preparing your messages to your soldiers

Prepare your email newsletter.

Prepare the other collaterals

The Product Hunt Algorithm – and what you should know about it.

Growth Hack Tactic: Thunderclap.it

How should you use Thunderclap for your Product Hunt launch?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

 

4 // The Truth about launching on Product Hunt. The Launch Day..

So now that you’re on the homepage of Product Hunt – it’s Showtime!

What comes next is a list of well planned attacks, sniper shots and guerilla tactics that will make you stay on top of Product Hunt.

Stop. Message time.

How many messages should you send?

Comments on your Product Hunt page

Launch day – 2nd part of the day.

It’s time for the Guerilla Tactics

Think 10x

You ran out of friends – time to make new ones.

Make sure you follow up

The launch arsenal

After the launch

Our numbers

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

Checklist – The Ultimate Guide of Launching on PH

Final Conclusions

What’s nugget?

1 // The ultimate guide to launching on Product Hunt (even if you’re nobody in the online space)

You only have one chance of launching on Product Hunt. Don’t you want to get it right?

I finished my first Product Hunt launch in the top 5 even though nobody in the online space knew me. In this epic guide I’ll show you how I did it and how you can do it too.

I WON’T be able to help you if you have a lousy product, if you’re a douche or if you’re not willing to put in the work. Other than that, you’re set to be on top of PH, as I was.

[NOTE: This was initially published on my Medium as a multi-article series about the launch of nugget]I have other growth hacks and some tools to help you with Product Hunt domination in the making, so if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to get them]

YOLO! You Only Launch Once!

… so make sure you do it right and make it count!

People launch products all the time. Over 20,000 apps are launched each month. With such steep competition, there’s a massive fight for getting users and there are countless of products that don’t “make it.”

Build it — but they won’t come. Unless you promote the sh!t out of it. And the launch is the perfect opportunity for that.

People like to discover new things more than they like to discover old things. So make sure you take full advantage of your launch and make it an exciting event.

There are many ways you can launch a product, and launching on Product Hunt is just one of the many outlets.

So what is Product Hunt and why should you care?

You want your product to reach the masses. Your target masses. We all do.

But in order to get there, you must first understand how the product adoption curve works.

The product adoption curve is a process each product or service goes through. From Facebook, Uber, Slack, and even DVDs (remember those?) or socks (I hope you did remember these). Some companies go through some of these cycles faster than others and some die along the way because they fail to understand the adoption curve and to plan accordingly.

Uber would not have been the massive success it is today and the ginormous success it will become in the future if they did not understand the product adoption curve.

Uber started by focusing on a very specific market — the tech enthusiasts in San Francisco. Only by first acquiring the innovators as their customers were they able to expand as they did. Oh, and having hundreds of millions of dollars. But that’s just a small detail.

You have to do the same. No, not build a taxi app, launch it in San-Fran, get massive funding and take over the world. Do the same in your space. Unless you can do the taxi app thing and take over the world. Then do that.

Why are the innovators so important?

Because innovators are willing to test your product when it’s still in its infancy. They are OK with bugs and spartan features. But even more importantly, they share their findings with the world and if they like it, they will advocate your product.

The innovators are the ones people reach out to when they are in search of a specific solution to their problems. And when their printers aren’t working. But they tend not to like that.

So without having a solid base of innovators using your product, you’ll never reach the number of users or customers you want and are bound to fail.

Product Hunt is just that — a massive community of innovators and early adopters that can jumpstart your product. So if you want to launch a tech product or service you have to launch it on Product Hunt.

But I don’t even have commenting rights on Product Hunt. How can I do a successful Product Hunt launch?

Well, if you know what PH commenting rights are, you’re already ahead of most. 🙂

So let me teach you how.

In this guide I will show you how I got nugget to the top of Product Hunt, right behind PayPal.me, Flow (a promising team chat + PM tool) and Nest (from Google), without being known in the online world.

I’ll show you all the tactics, tips, and tricks I used to get to the top and how you can do it too.

I’ll show you what I did well and what I did wrong, and how I almost screwed my whole launch.

I’ll show you numbers and facts.

In the end, all you’ll need to do to reach the top of PH are a solid strategy, willingness to hustle, and a good product.

The truth about launching on Product Hunt

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!

The truth is that unless you already have a massive community of followers, getting on top of Product Hunt will be a constant battle.

As with any war, if you want to win, you will have to gather troops, plan ahead and be willing to do whatever it takes. There will be some casualties, you might have to bend a few rules and make some sacrifices so that in the end you gather the spoils of war.

What the founders of Product Hunt won’t tell you

This is a (hopefully) educated guess based on my own experience, so take it with a grain of salt.

Product Hunt is now a large community, but it’s still mostly made out of innovators and early adopters. For them to reach the Early Majority, they need all the Makers to reach out to their friends who are on Twitter but not on Product Hunt.

For first-time users of Product Hunt, it’s not enough to send them to the PH homepage and tell them you’re featured. You will have to educate them on what Product Hunt is and how they can upvote.

And even though this is normally not allowed as per PH’s policy, it’s what they also need in order to grow further.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Product Hunt is one of the best places for a new tech company to launch a product.
  • Its community of Innovators and Early Adopters is exactly what you need at the start of a project.
  • In order to reach the Top of Product Hunt you’ll need to be creative about some of the rules, and Product Hunt needs you to make their rules more flexible so they can grow as well.
  • In the next 3 sections I’ll show you exactly how I did it and how you can do it too.

What’s nugget?
nugget is a highly visual app that helps you discover, remember and share the best content from books that make you better.


2 // How to launch on Product Hunt even if you’re nobody in the online world – The launch build-up

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar

I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that you need to know a lot of people in the online space for a successful Product Hunt launch. The good news is that anybody can launch on PH.

So if you don’t have a large network to support you, make sure you build your community at least three months before your planned launch.

What you’ll learn in this section:

  • Where to find the online communities that will help your launch
  • How to get in them and why it’s important to turn them into allies
  • Why email is still crucial for an online business

As I told you in the previous post, build it (only) and they won’t come. It’s the same with Product Hunt. Hunt it (only) and they won’t upvote.*

*Unless you have a great hunter or a killer product with awesome messaging.

So in order to get a lot of traction and support for your product early on, you’ll need some friends. It’s important to have a few influential friends as well as many other friends just like yourself.

Think of it this way:

It’s a constant battle to be among the Product Hunt Top 5. And in order to win battles, you need generals, but you also need a lot of soldiers.

Where can you recruit these soldiers and generals? Wherever they hang out.

Historically the people who make up the “online space” have moved around. They started on bulletin boards, then IRC, then forums, then Digg, Reddit, or Hacker News. But nowadays, I find that the easiest place to find them is in closed Facebook communities and, especially, on Slack chats.

Slack is the new cool chat platform in town. It’s the new, modern, and hip IRC. I feel like you can build any product nowadays with a combination of Slack + TypeForm + Stripe. So if you don’t know what Slack is, let me google that for you.

TACTIC: Join many relevant Slack groups.

OK, so now that you know that Slack provides group chat for businesses or communities, and that if you’re in the right Slack groups you can hang out with the influencers whose blogs you’re reading, whose companies you are following or whose podcasts you’re listening to, the next question arises:

How do you get into the right Slack chats?

First thing’s first. You need to find it if you want to get in it. Luckily it’s gonna be easier than your first awkward experience. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. 😉

There are multiple websites that list different Slack teams (communities). Here are a few: http://chats.directory/, http://www.chitchats.co/ or http://www.slacklist.info/.

Some of these communities are free and open, while others are closed, require an invite, or require paid access / membership.

Choose the communities you want to be a member of based on your interests. Don’t just join any community and start spamming people. A community I recommend is Startup Study Group. You can ask for a direct invite here: https://ssg-slack.herokuapp.com/.

I am part of multiple communities, even one dedicated to Product Hunt only. Some of the communities I am part of include members like Jason Calacanis (from This Week in Startups), Andrew Warner (from Mixergy) or Erik Torenberg (from Product Hunt). And over the months I have had the occasion to chat with all of them.

Similarly, you can also find on Facebook groups based around different topics, people or companies.

So now that you’re in the right groups, it’s time to make friends.

ABH – Always Be Helpful

Making friends in online groups is the same as making friends in real life – Don’t be an awkward douche. Instead, be helpful, supportive and if you can, funny. But don’t be douche-funny.

It’s going to be important to build some rapport with top hunters and moderators. They sometimes hang out in these Slack chat rooms. Probably in multiple rooms at once.

Be genuinely helpful and get to know people.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re working on, even show them if you can, or send them a beta invite. Do this and I guarantee you’ll raise an army willing to fight for you on the Product Hunt Top 5 battleground once the time comes.

This is all going to take a lot of time, but unless you really don’t like interacting with people, it won’t feel like work. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to make some lifelong friends along the way. I know I have. (I’m looking at you, Mastermind ONE.)

TACTIC: Build an email list months before you launch.

Another crucial resource in the success of your launch and your company is building an email list. You think it’s an old and dead medium? That it was replaced by social media? It’s not, and it hasn’t. Email is still one of the backbones of the Internet and it’s not going away anytime soon. That’s why all the best marketers focus most on building their email lists.

There are countless articles written about building a list. So I will just redirect you to Email1K, one of the best ways to jumpstart your list-building activities. If you have any more questions after this, or want me to write about my experiences in list building, let me know.

I will, however, give you two tips to get the maximum impact from your email list when launching on Product Hunt.

As you should know by now, all you need for a Product Hunt upvote is a Twitter account. So:

Email Tip #1 – Buy the Social Profiles add-ons

I did this on MailChimp, but all major providers have similar features. It’s inexpensive and you’ll know exactly which of your email subscribers are on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This way, you will be able to segment your list and craft a better message to the ones that already have a Twitter account.

Email Tip #2 – Teach them about Product Hunt

Product Hunt itself is a relatively new community, so lots of people may not have heard about it yet. If you have the time and you think it fits your email subscribers, educate them about Product Hunt and invite them to join it, so they can upvote you once the time has come. (I stole this tip form Florin. Thanks buddy.)

Finding your hunter and why it matters?

Fortune favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur

When going into a battle, would you rather have an experienced general instead of a rookie soldier? Of course you would! That’s why it’s important to get the best hunter (the Product Hunt version of your general) to hunt you. Let me tell you how.

Why do you need a good hunter?

Having a good hunter (the person who will submit your product on Product Hunt) can mean winning half of the battle. It’s like having a B2 bomber start the battle for you.

This is because a hunter who has many followers on PH can jump-start your hunt day. When somebody submits a product, all the people following them will be notified either via email or via the site’s own notification system. So having a few thousand people know about your product as soon as it’s hunted can bring you a huge advantage.

This is why I suggest you get hunted by the best hunter you can get.

Finding your hunter

So where do you find him or her? A good place to start is: https://uberhunters.com/all

Here you’ll find a list of the most influential hunters. Find somebody who hunted similar products before, or who likes the space you’re in.

Another option is to find somebody you have some commonalities with — you have some common friends, you live in the same town, or for the people outside U.S., even the same continent can be a good commonality. People like to help others in their same tribe, so to speak.

And of course, it should be somebody who has a large and engaged following. Don’t fool yourself, on Product Hunt, size does matter.

Once you’ve made a top three list of people you would like to be hunted by, figure out the best way to contact them. Ideally, you’ve already interacted with them on Twitter, Facebook, Live events, or on one of the Slack groups I’ve told you about earlier.

Some might be easiest to contact via Twitter or Facebook message, others via Slack or email. With all the tools out there today, you should be able to find anybody’s email.

When reaching out to them, remember this:

  • They like to hunt good products and they too want to have the products they hunt be on top of Product Hunt. This is what will make them an even more influential hunter.
  • They are busy people, so be as concise as you can and be respectful of their time.
  • You’re a human (I hope), so act like one. Talk in a friendly, human way.

If you don’t get any response from the #1 hunter you targeted, give it a few days, one or two follow ups and then move to the next on your preferred hunter list.

Finding the ideal hunter might take some time, so make sure you start looking for them a few weeks before the hunt day.

An important factor you should take into account: not all hunters have instant posting rights. The top ones do, but if you can’t manage to get a top one, be aware of this. It means that even though your product will be posted on PH and you’ll get your PH link, the product won’t automatically show up on the homepage of PH, which is where you need it to be.

If your product does not show up on the homepage, tweet to @ProductHunt asking them if they can put you on the homepage. A PH moderator will have to do this.

So you have a hunter — what do they need from you?

You want your Product Hunt page to have clean messaging and showcase the best of your product. You know your product best, so I recommend creating a Hunter Kit.

The Hunter Kit saves the hunter time and puts your product in the best light. It should contain:

  • Name of the product (max 60 characters)
  • The URL you want to promote. If you have app URLs as well, put them here too
  • Tagline (max 60 characters)
  • The platforms your product runs on
  • Media – between 5 and 10 images showcasing different parts of your product. If you also have a YouTube video, that’s perfect
  • Tell them what goodies you’re preparing to give out to the Product Hunt community, if any

This being said, the hunters have more experience than you on PH, so if they have any suggestions, take them.

Getting your website ready for the Product Hunt crowd

The Product Hunt community loves exclusives. Who doesn’t?!

If you have an exclusive you want to give, like a voucher or a discount, tweet to @ProductHunt a few days before the hunt and ask them for an exclusive badge. Not all the exclusives will have a star badge, but it’s worth a try.

Your final PH link will end with /?ref=product hunt. So ideally you should welcome the PH community and give them some special attention + the exclusive I hope you’ve prepared for them.

The easiest way to set a welcome message is to just use http://introbar.com/

This was our welcoming message and special offer: http://www.getnugget.co/?ref=producthunt

At what time should you get hunted?

As any good consultant would tell you: it depends.

Is your goal to be #1 on PH on that day or to get as many visits to your site / app as possible?

In my opinion, if you want to be #1 on PH, you should be hunted in the 2nd part of the day. If you want to be seen by as many people you can, go for an early hunt.

This is because the Product Hunt algorithm (more about it in the next article of this series) also takes into account the number of hours you’ve been up on the website.

The new Product Hunt day starts at Midnight PST.

Regardless of your main goal, which might be a bit of a stretch like finishing at #1, and because you never know the competition you’ll have that day, your secondary goal should be to finish in the Top 5.

Why Top 5?

Because the top 5 will also be highlighted in the next day’s Product Hunt newsletter that goes out to tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people, and that will give you extra visibility.

Another side benefit of staying in the top 5 is that you’ll be featured on sites like http://thetopfives.net/, http://tophunt.info/, http://thenews.im/, http://firespotting.com/, http://www.launchfeed.com/ or similar.

This is also a good Medium article about launch times.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Get into as many relevant communities on Slack or on Facebook Groups
  • ABH — Always Be Helpful and really get to know people
  • The best time to start an email list is 10 years ago. The second best is NOW.
  • Find the best Hunter and prepare a Hunter Kit to highlight the best of your product
  • Get your website ready to welcome the PH community in the best possible way

3 // The Product Hunt battle is won by preparing – The week before the launch

sword-1024x335

If you would know there’s a battle coming up, would you gather the troops and weapons up on the day of the battle? Of course not. You would recruit and train the army beforehand. You would create strategies and have drills so when the battle day comes, you make sure you win! Same principle applies for a Product Hunt Launch. Let me show you how.

Battles are not won by generals, they are won by soldiers. OK, maybe don’t quote me on that but it’s a good analogy.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

You will need to gather a lot of support for your launch so when your product gets posted on PH you can quickly get a few tens and then hundreds of upvotes so you’re always on the top of the PH charts.

Tens of products are put on Product Hunt daily but I’m guesstimating that only the top will get most of the traffic, as per the 80/20 principle. And so the products on top get more upvotes as well, which keeps them on top.

Being on top of Product Hunt is like a snowball effect, so you’d better start rolling your snowball quickly and keep it growing.

Gathering your army of soldiers

TACTIC: How should the journey start? By opening up Excel.

Create an Excel sheet, or if you have a team that will help and need access, a Google Docs Sheet and create a sheet for each of your team members. The more people you can get to do this (and all of your team members should) the greater your chances of success will be.

Each sheet should have the following columns: Category, Twitter account, Contact Mode, Language, Notes and Status.

If you’ll reach out to a lot of these people via Facebook, it’s useful to add a Facebook URL column, so you can easily just hit the FB link and get straight to the profile of your friend. On the day of the battle, every second counts.

You will have to have different messages for different people on this list, so the Category, Contact Mode and Language will make it easy for you to send the best message to each of your “soldiers” from this list.

Category should show how you know that particular person. I used: Influencer, Close Friend, Friend, Online Friend, Know Only, and Team. This is because you should also know you can follow up more aggressively on your Close Friends, but not not so much on the people you Know Only (acquaintances).

Contact mode will show you what’s the best way to contact them — email / Facebook / Twitter DM / Twitter @Mention / Phone?

Language is only relevant if you’re not from the States and you also have lots of people you want to contact in your native language. It’s not nice to send a message in English to a Spanish-speaking friend, if you are a native Spanish speaker.

It’s good to have all these things prepared, so on the day of the hunt you don’t have to think about any of the nitty gritty and use all your mental power to execute on the hunt.

Status is where you check who you sent the ask to, who upvoted already, and who you can and should follow up with.

How do you fill this list?

Go through your (plus your product’s and your team’s) Twitter account, both through the people you’re following and the ones who follow you, to see which are the names and faces you recognize that you think would want to help you succeed in your launch.

This works well if you have a small following / follower base — up to a few thousand at most. If you have more, you’re probably already known in the online space so even though these hands-on tactics would still work, you have other levers that could help you be on top of PH.

Another good source of potential upvotes is your email list.

I hope you started building an email list months in advance as I told you in a previous article and that you followed the Email 1K tactics so now you have at least a few hundred subscribers on your list.

If you’re on MailChimp (and most email providers have similar functionalities) you can buy Social Profiles. This way you’ll know who from your list is already on Twitter. If they aren’t already on your list, add them. You can put them under the MailChimp subscribers category and Twitter @Mention contact.

TACTIC: Go to https://twitter.com/who_to_follow/matches and connect your email address book.

You might find out that you know a lot more people with Twitter accounts than you initially assumed.

Look for levers – who on this list is an influencer, or has a team of colleagues that they can ask to upvote you as well? Tend to these people carefully as they can quickly get you many votes.

Where else can you find people who would upvote you?

A good source for us was Product Hunt itself.

Being an app with book quotes, we know our target audience likes books. Luckily the founders of Product Hunt also like books, so much that they even have a book category on the website.

So we made another Excel sheet with all the people who upvoted either Product Hunt Books itself or one of the books we have in our app.

We then created a list of about 15 tweets which state we know they like both Product Hunt and Books, and that we’re an app about books — now also on PH — so they should check us out.

Even though you might consider these borderline spammy tweets, they were targeted and well crafted, so a lot of people favorited and retweeted them.

TACTIC: So try to find products similar to yours that were already featured on Product Hunt; make a list of PH users that might enjoy your product as well; then, @mention tweet at them once your product is hunted.

Preparing your messages to your soldiers

Besides the list of soldiers you’ve gathered, you should know what you should write to them.

Have all the communication prepared beforehand. You’ll have more time to craft better messages, you won’t lose time in the day of the hunt coming up with a good message, and you’ll be less stressed about it.

You can create a Google Doc with different sections (if you use the Headings properly you can then generate a Table of Contents that will be useful) containing all your different messages.

Normally you’ll have a different (but probably similar) message for all the combinations of Category Contact method (definitely language if it’s applicable). But also don’t over do it. You might end up with dozens of different messages that will then be hard to manage.

TACTIC: For the people you can reach via Facebook, you can send them an audio message. This will be more personal and it’s also still quite novel, so it will have larger impact.

Always be creative, stand out and be personal. Let them understand that you’ve poured your heart and soul (and maybe personal savings) into this project and you really want to see it succeed. But don’t come off as a desperate. Nobody likes desperate people..

Prepare your email newsletter.

Use the social profiles feature I’ve told you about to segment your list into two: subscribers who have Twitter and subscribers who don’t.

While the subscribers without Twitter accounts might in fact have them, but linked to other email accounts, or they might create them just to support you, or they might share your link with somebody who does, the chances of this happening are quite slim..

So let them know about your launch on Product Hunt, but don’t worry too much about it.

And if you think there’s almost no chance of them helping, you can just skip this email to the non-Twitter segment.

For the segment with Twitter account attached, let them know you’ve been hunted and tell them how somebody with a Twitter account can vote for anybody on Product Hunt.

If you have the time and it makes sense for your list, write to this group one week before the PH launch date to educate them on Product Hunt, its advantages, and show them how to join the community. So when the time comes, they’ll already know what to do.

Even though you’ll message your Twitter group via the newsletter, you can also @mention them on Twitter once your product goes live on PH and ask them to check you out. This is because they might open your email too late or not open your email at all, so you may then lose valuable upvotes.

TACTIC: You can use Zapier.com with a zap for a Google Sheet + Twitter where Zapier will Tweet each row from the Google Sheet.

Prepare the other collaterals

You don’t want to spend any time on the day of the launch on anything you could have prepared beforehand!

On the day of, you should tweet every two hours. Pre-write some tweets so you have them prepared. They should be some rallying tweets to get your followers to upvote you.

Remember: you should not ask for upvotes directly.

Not publicly and from people you barely or don’t know anyway.

Prepare all the images you want to use for sharing. They should have the Product Hunt and your logo on them. Have such images ready to share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social channels you might be using.

One thing you should be aware of: You’re limited in the amount of DM and Tweets you can make in one day, or anti-spamming purposes. So if you have a lot of DMs or @Mentions to do, preferably do them from your or your team’s accounts as well, so your main account does not get shut down. We found this the hard way and had a few hours when we could not tweet from the @getnuggetapp account.

The Product Hunt Algorithm, and what you should know about it.

As with any votes-based system, there will be people who will want to game it. To be honest, this series shows you some tricks to game the system as well. And like any good system, its creators continuously tweak the algorithm to keep people from gaming it. It’s just part of the game.

Some things that I know for a fact are currently part of the algorithm:

  1. Number of hours your product was featured on the homepage.

The number of hours is affected by when your product gets hunted. As I told you, if it will be posted in the morning, you might get more attention to it, but if it’s posted later in the day, it might get on a higher position with fewer upvotes (as it was the case with two of our competitors).

Another thing you should be aware of is where your core supporters are located? On the American continent? Or in Europe? Africa? Asia? Australia?

Because of timezone differences it’s a good idea to launch when your supporters are online, so you can quickly gather the initial votes.

From what I’ve seen lately, the number of hours on the website is quite important, so if your goal is to reach top 5 (and so be included in the 2nd day email) I recommend you launch late, at about lunch time on the East Coast.

I understand the reasoning behind it but I don’t find it very fair. All products should start at the same time so all have the same chance of getting to the top. But it’s not my platform and I don’t make the rules. So I have to play by them.

  1. Upvotes coming from the homepage vs from your direct link.

If somebody finds you on the homepage of Product Hunt and upvotes you from there, it counts more than if you send your specific PH product link and people upvote you from there.

I agree with this and it’s a good factor to have in the PH algorithm. From what I’m seeing, this is crucial and you should really pay attention to it!

TACTIC: I am not 100% sure this works, but I think that for now, you can evade the PH algorithm by sending people to the PH homepage with your product’s name being searched. E.g.: http://www.producthunt.com/?#!/s/posts/nugget

So what does this mean for you?

Whenever possible, just send your soldiers to the Product Hunt homepage and ask them to upvote you from there.

Still, there might be some cases where it’s easier and more secure to just send them directly to your product page or to the search page I mentioned above.

An upvote from your product page is better than no upvote. Also, in the start of the hunt, it’s important to quickly gather around 30-50 upvotes, so it might make sense to send the full link to your initial supporters.

I found out about these algorithm rules late in the day, when it was a bit too late. Learn from my mistake.

Growth Hack Tactic: Thunderclap.it

First: what is Thunderclap?

Thunderclap is a platform where you can create a campaign that rallies your friends and gets them to support you. What this platform will do is that people will join to support your campaign with Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Once people join, a Tweet, Facebook status message or Tumblr post will be created on their behalf with a message and URL.

The beauty and strength of Thunderclap is that these posts don’t go out when your supporters join, but they go out all at the same time, at the end date of your campaign.

This way, depending on the number of supporters you’ll have, the Twitter streams, Facebook walls, or Tumblr feeds will be bombarded with the same message at the exact same time, amplifying its reach.

A few notes on Thunderclap:

  1. You will set the default message, but everybody can overwrite it and customise it as they wish. Your URL will stay the same.
  2. There’s also a free tier, but look into the pricing options to see which works best for you.
  3. Be ready for a large traffic spike. Our website went down for a few seconds at the time that Thunderclap kicked in.

How should you use Thunderclap for your Product Hunt launch?

I’ve missed this opportunity and used Thunderclap to just create momentum on our website for the launch of the app, and not for us being featured on PH.

But you can set up a campaign where you get your closest supporters to help you spread the word about being on PH. You can create a message like: “We’re now featured on Product Hunt. Check us out on the home page. Can we get to the top? www.ProductHunt.com

It’s going to be easier to get this kind of support, one supporter at a time, weeks or even months ahead. And if you craft your campaign well, it will all go out once you’re on PH and can help you gather some invaluable (early) votes.

But remember to also tell these supporters again once your product goes live on PH so they can upvote you as well. They might not notice that Thunderclap sent out the Tweet / Facebook / Tumblr update.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Create a spreadsheet with all the possible supporters. Find them through your contacts and on Product Hunt
  • Prepare all the messages for the launch date beforehand so you don’t waste valuable time on the day of the launch
  • Make the Product Hunt algorithm your ally — know when to post and how to gather upvotes from the homepage directly
  • Use Thunderclap.it to create some noise about your Product Hunt feature

4 // The Truth about launching on Product Hunt. The launch day…

… and how I almost screwed up mine.

We were scheduled to launch on Product Hunt on 1st of September at 5 a.m. EST and our hunter was nowhere to be found.

We had talked with Violeta, one of the top hunters and a fellow Eastern European to hunt us some weeks ahead. She agreed and we decided on the timeline. I sent her everything beforehand. All was set and ready to go.

But on the day of the launch, Violeta did not post us at the agreed time and she was nowhere to be found. She did not reply to emails, Slacks, Tweets, Skype messages.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

Products started to show up on the new PH day and to gather invaluable early upvotes.

I panicked. So I decided to hunt nugget myself.

The good news was that I had this option. The bad news was that my posting rights did not include having the product show up on the homepage of Product Hunt. I did not find this out until we had our own PH link, where we started to gather upvotes, but did not show up on the homepage.

And then Violeta came online. It was just about one hour later than initially planned and I should have waited for her, but not knowing what happened and when she would be back online, I made the stupid choice of not waiting.

She managed to save our a$$, helped us show up on the PH homepage and saved the day.

Thank you, Violeta.

I just want to make this clear — Violeta wanted to help us and did help us in the end. It was just me panicking that almost screwed up our launch. I still think Violeta is one of the people to go to if you want to have a successful PH launch.

So now that you’re on the homepage of Product Hunt — it’s showtime!

I hope you stocked up on caffeine-filled products, set-up a team war room, and are ready to monitor everything!

What comes next is a list of well planned attacks, sniper shots, and guerilla tactics that will make you stay on top of Product Hunt.

Set-up another computer or tablet or monitor linked to your computer to always show you the Google Analytics real-time visitors. If at one point it will quickly go down, your website probably just crashed so you’ll want to bring it back online asap.

Update your social profiles by mentioning you’re on PH today and add your Product Hunt Link.

Do this especially for your Twitter accounts, both the company’s and each team member’s. You can also do this for Instagram or other social accounts you might use, but I think 80% of the upvotes will come via Twitter, so I would not worry too much about the rest.

You can use bit.ly if you want to track the effectiveness of different channels.

Tweet @ProductHunt asking to put you as a Maker on your product’s PH page.

This is the time when, if you created one, the Thunderclap campaign should go out. See the previous article to see what I mean with this.

Stop. Message time.

I started with the mass messages. They had more chance of reaching more people at once. Then I moved to the more personal messages.

Send out your newsletter emails. I hope you’ve prepared them beforehand and split them based on whether they have Twitter accounts.

Put out messages on all the relevant Facebook groups you’re a part of. Try to tailor the message for the particularities of each group. Try to put it as a picture + the text + the link. Picture posts get higher engagement.

Send out the link to all the different Slack groups you’re a part of, on the public channels. Here as well, make the message personal and ask for honest feedback on your product.

How many messages should you send?

Twitter: A tweet every 1-2 hours. Alternate between posting about you being on PH, stats about your hunt, personal messages, and retweets from people who mentioned you being on Product Hunt.

Facebook Status updates: 3 or 4 both on the fan page page and your (and your team’s) personal accounts. From the personal accounts you can also just do a share of the fan page status update for at least 2 of the 4 updates.

LinkedIn: Use a similar strategy as with Facebook, but I would keep it at 2-3 posts.

TACTIC: On LinkedIn you can now create blog posts that get a good visibility with your connections. Consider putting out a quick blog post about you being featured on PH. Ideally, this too should have been prepared in advance.

Instagram: I am still unsure about the effectiveness of Instagram in a Product Hunt launch, but if you think it would help, put out 1-2 posts with a screenshot of your product on PH or an image you created beforehand with your logo and the PH logo plus some message asking for support.

Other social media accounts: Are you big on Vine, SnapChat, Pinterest, or any other social media outlet? If you feel like you’ll be able to get support from those followers, do a few posts about you being on PH as well.

Always remember: make your posts as personal as possible. Include photo / video if you can.

The Product Hunt launch day will be ask day. But if you’ve given enough value in the past, your followers will understand and they will help you with your ask.

Comments on your Product Hunt page

If your product is interesting or polarizing, you’ll start to get comments on your PH page.

Unfortunately, currently you won’t get notified unless somebody mentions you in a comment. So check the comments page at least once every hour. Or ask a teammate or friend to constantly check it and let you know when you get a new comment.

Respond to your comments as soon as you can. This in turn will bring more comments and will show larger engagement. nugget had the biggest engagement on the day we launched.

Launch day — 2nd part of the day.

If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

It’s time for the nitty gritty. It’s time for the one-on-ones.

Start reaching out to any influencers you might have on the list. Make the message concise and personal and hope for an endorsement from them.

Now go through the Excel spreadsheet you created with all the people you hope will support you, and message them personally. Ideally you have the different messages prepared for each different category, so things will work quickly.

TACTIC: You can now send a voice message as a Facebook message. Create a personal recording for some of the people you want to contact via Facebook. It will have a larger impact than just a written message.

Tweet to all the people you were planning to contact on Twitter. Either via DM or @Mention. Be aware that there is a daily tweets limit and you might reach that if you have a large enough list!

It’s normally forbidden to ask for upvotes. But the Product Hunt top homepage is a battlefield. All’s fair in love and war.

You’ve implemented all the tactics above, got support from all your friends and followers and got a lot of upvotes. That’s great.

The problem is that other people who have products hunted on the same day will do the same; and so on a normal day it’s always going to be a fight for the top positions.

It’s time for the guerilla tactics

No time to just sit and whine that you’ve gone through all of your contacts. It’s time to hustle.

I hope you already created a list of similar products. Products that if somebody has upvoted would probably also want to upvote yours. And I hope you’ve added all the users that upvoted them to an excel and made sure you removed any duplicates.

Now it’s time to let those people know your product — a product that would probably appeal to them — has been featured on Product Hunt,a platform they’ve clearly used before.

Create a dozen or so different tweets that are tailored to the products these users upvoted already and start tweeting them out.

If you do this properly, people will not be pissed because of this, but will favorite, retweet, and more importantly upvote you as well.

We’ve had quite a few people who retweeted us, because they saw the value of our product, but we also had somebody call us out on the number of these tweets we were sending. War involves a few casualties as well and it was a small price to pay.

Remember: Your Twitter account will get blocked. When this happens, switch to personal accounts. When one door closes…

Think 10x

What levers can you use? Who do you know that can get you 10 upvotes at once?

It could be a friend who has a team that all have Twitter accounts. Time to call him and ask for a favor.

It could be a colleague that had many business ideas along the way and created a Twitter account for each of them, even though they never got off the ground. Still, they can be valuable upvotes.

It could be someone you know that is working out of a coworking space. Those places are filled with Twitter users. 😉

This is no time to be humble. Work those phones and gather those upvotes.

You ran out of friends. Time to make new ones.

Are you on multiple Slack chats? See who is currently online (green dot close to their name) and start-up a conversation.

Ask them about what they are working on and how it’s going and when they do the same, let them know you’re in a middle of a battle and any support helps.

Don’t be too pushy about this and if people tell you they are busy, be mindful of their time and let them do their work.

I’ve made a few new friends by using this technique and managed to gather some upvotes in this process as well.

Make sure you follow up

There are many people who (if you’re a good person) will want to help. But people have their own agendas and problems and even though this might be hard to believe, you launch is not everybody else’s priority. Shocking, right?!

So make sure you cross reference your spreadsheet with people you’ve asked for support to the upvotes you’ve received. Is there somebody you were counting on who did not upvote? Give them a gentle reminder. 🙂

We’re working on some tools to automate some of this work, so if you’re interested in them, please let me know. (ovi at getnugget dot co)

The launch arsenal

This is the arsenal of tools we used for our launch. Pick and choose whatever works best for you and try to think of other creative ways to get more upvotes.

Also remember to eat, and stay alert and present from the start of the Product Hunt day to the end of Product Hunt day — 18 hours so stock up on caffeine if you need to. Oh, and have fun.

I would also recommend meditating before the launch begins and taking a few short walks to re-energize during the day.

After the launch

You have to give forward. But also give backward.

If you did all the steps I’ve told you about, have a good product, and you’re a good person, you should have ended your Product Hunt launch in the top 5, so your product will be featured in the 2nd day email.

It’s time to breathe, be happy, and recognize that this did not happen because of you, but because of all the support you got from friends and followers.

Thank all the people who upvoted you. If you follow a lot of people on Twitter or have an “if you’ll follow me I’ll follow you back” strategy, follow them on Twitter as well. You might get some nice follows back. 😉

TACTIC: Lots of people might now reach out to you via email or other social channels. This is another opportunity to convert them into email subscribers, or ask for a review, or any other CTA you’re focused on.

Just make sure you don’t ask someone who is already on your list to subscribe, or ask someone who just wrote to you to complain about a bug in your product to give a review. That won’t be a nice review.

When you thank people, try to do it in a personal way that stands out. Say it with a giphy!

*For those wondering – yes, this is how I looked like at the end of the Product Hunt launch.

Our numbers

We’re all curious about numbers. People like to compare themselves. To see if they are better than the rest.

My view — you should always compete against yourself. Don’t look so much at what the competition is doing. Just work on becoming a better version of yourself, each day.

This being said, I do understand the importance of benchmarking. So because of this I’ll share our numbers.

During our first 48 hours on Product Hunt we got:

  • About 4K extra uniques
  • About 2K app installs (brand new app)
  • About 400 extra email subscribers
  • Some new articles about our startup

These numbers kept growing after the 48 hours passed but, of course, at a slower pace.

Keep in mind that we’re quite niched and not everybody likes the topic of books, or quotes, or quotes from books.

I know some “general startup tools” products got a lot more traffic than we did, but I am happy with the visibility and prestige Product Hunt brought us.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Create an Excel file with all the possible supporters — find them through your contacts and on Product Hunt
  • Prepare all the messages for the launch date beforehand so you don’t waste valuable time on D-Day
  • Make the Product Hunt algorithm your ally — know when to post and to gather upvotes from the homepage and not your URL
  • Use Thunderclap.it to create some noise about your Product Hunt feature

Checklist: The Ultimate Guide to Launching on PH

Start this as soon as you start working on your product, or as soon as you can, preferably at least 1 month in advance.

(I am not affiliated with them in any way. I just like them 🙂 )

  • Find out who on your email list is also on Twitter and focus on them
  • Join relevant groups
    • Join Slack or Facebook groups of fellow entrepreneurs or people who are in your niche
    • Get to know and help people in these groups
    • ABH: Always Be Helpful

Start this at least 2 weeks before the launch

  • Find your hunter
  • Prepare the Hunter Kit
  • Prepare a special offer for the PH crowd
  • Decide on the time you want to get hunted

Start this the week before the launch

  • Create an Excel file with the supporters you’re counting on
    • Add all of your (and your team’s) friends that are also on Twitter
    • Add your Twitter followers you know you can count on
    • Go to https://twitter.com/who_to_follow/matches and connect your email address book
    • Look for levers — who is an influencer or has a massive following?
    • Who upvoted similar products that are in the same space on PH?
  • Prepare your messages
    • Prepare your email to your list
    • Prepare your @Mention / DM Tweets to your (hopefully) supporters
    • Prepare your mass tweets
    • Remember: Don’t ask for upvotes (*cough* publicly *cough*)
    • Remember: Get upvotes from the PH homepage and not from your URL
    • Prepare images you’ll share on Twitter, Facebook and other channels
  • Use www.thunderclap.it to create momentum

Start this on D-Day — The Launch Day

  • Update all your social profiles announcing you’re being featured on PH
  • Tweet @ProductHunt asking to put you as a Maker on your product’s PH page
  • Send out the email newsletter
  • Post your messages to the relevant Facebook & Slack groups
  • Tweet once every 1-2 hours about your PH feature and status update
  • Post on Facebook and LinkedIn 3-4 times
  • Post on any social accounts where you have a massive and engaged following
  • Include a Photo / Video whenever you can
  • Reply to comments on your PH page as soon as you can
  • Reach out to any influencers you have on your list
  • Message everybody in your supporters Excel sheet
  • Make the message as personal as possible. Add audio on FB if you can
  • @Mention or DM all the supporters with Twitter accounts from your Excel
  • Tweet to people who upvoted similar products on Product Hunt
  • Preferably you have created a dozen or so different tweets so they are not all the same
  • Remember: There’s a Twitter tweet & DM limit.
  • See who is currently online in Slack chats and talk to them 1-on-1
  • Follow up – who from your Excel list did not upvote? If you can, ask them again.
  • Remember: It’s gonna be a long day, but get up from your desk from time to time, stretch, eat, drink, rest a bit. But don’t go to sleep until the PH launch day is over! #Hustle.

Start this the day after launch day

  • Thank everybody who helped with the launch
  • This is another opportunity to convert them into email subscribers, or ask for a review, or any other CTA you’re focused on
  • When you thank people, try to do it in a personal way that stands out. Say it with a giphy!

 

Final Conclusions

Winning one of the top spots on Product Hunt is not an easy task and should not be treated lightly.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

You might find some of my tactics unorthodox. You might find the war analogy / metaphor a bit extreme. But this is how most successful startups started. In the late night conversations between seasoned founders you will find similar war tales.

Winning a battle does not mean we’ve won the war. The challenge now is to make nugget a success story as well.

 

Ovi Negrean
ovidiunegrean@gmail.com

Ovi is Chief nugget @ GetNugget.co - Get Smarter in 5 Seconds: Swipe Through the World's Best Books. He is also Chief Ovi @ Ovi.co

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  • Ayush

    Wow Ovi, this is all great advise. Loved every piece of it.
    Looks like I have a lot of work to cover 🙂

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Glad you enjoyed this @disqus_6N2Fg9m8Vd:disqus

  • http://petermeadit.com/ Peter Mead

    Agree Ayush, I have read this post several times, good stuff. Also have seen some guys smash it on product hunt, which was really good to see.

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Thanks @petermeadit:disqus – glad you enjoyed this one 🙂

  • http://commercery.com/ Aïko

    Thanks for your great insight and for flagging potential pitfalls (like the tweeting limit or PH algorithm/launch times).
    Great article and glad to see that PH worked so well for you guys!

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Ovi crushed this hey! Glad you found it helpful!

  • Jared

    Hey Ovi, thanks for this. The most comprehensive PH launch guide I’ve found to date. Cheers!

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Glad you enjoyed this @jalster:disqus

  • Adam Wesolowski

    Great article Ovi, this is the one I was looking for – a little bit of theory mixed with practice and learnings! 🙂

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Ovi brought the goods, and didn’t hold back!!

  • http://www.leadgibbon.com Shamaila Zahid

    By far the most detailed post about Product hunt. Thank you so much Ovi, you made it so much easier to understand the platform and how to have a great launch day. Looking forward to using these tips.

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Thanks @i_Maila:disqus – Ovi did such a fantastic job, please do share your results with us!

  • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

    Very cool! Ovi crushed this one hey!!

  • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

    So great to hear how much you enjoyed this one @rishabhbose:disqus

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