Launch on Product Hunt

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Product Hunt commands a huge audience that can't be ignored. Although it's lost some of it's original spark and isn't as engaged as it once was, it's still a vibrant community with potential for a positive outcome. Product Hunt is an experiment with positive asymmetry — the reward far outweighs the risk. More specifically, there's virtually no risk and there's potential for a great outcome with traffic, customers, and ongoing discoverability.

The hypothesis can be summarized as: Why not?

The other factor is timing. When is the right time to launch on Product Hunt?

There really is no right or wrong time to launch, but in general, I see a couple different strategies:

  • Unveil a brand new product/project for the first time.
  • Wait until the product/project is more mature and established so you have a better chance of securing the #1 product of the day.

Since Swipe Files hasn't been hunted on Product Hunt before and I'm essentially launching a "2.0" version with a grander vision, it qualifies for both? The timing is right.

The plan

I've asked Hiten Shah to hunt Swipe Files for Monday, January 4th. Using Preview Hunt, I'll generate all the media and copy Hiten needs to hunt it.

They actually make it a pretty seamless process. I'm glad it's free and appreciate Andrey and Max building it.

All you have to do is input all the right information into the fields and then not only will they generate a preview, but they'll also generate a "launch kit" with all the right information to input when you're ready to launch.

The launch kit includes the text content, images, and thumbnail so you can drop it conveniently into a storage folder for whoever is going to be hunting.

Easy peasy.

Content is all packaged up.

Images are all packaged up. Preview Hunt even crops the images to the correct ratio.

Thumbnail is all packaged up.

My plan is rather unsophisticated:

  • Use social media and my newsletter list to drive upvotes immediately after going live.
  • Promote in a few communities where I've already established some trust and engagement.
  • Ask friends to comment, review, and share.
  • Make a ruckus the rest of the day.

Update: January 3rd

My first order of business was to get a bit meta and announce that I was going to be launching on Product Hunt.

It got a bit more traction than I had anticipated and had me scared that maybe I had spoken to early and wasted some momentum. 😅😅😅😅😅

Update: January 4th

As soon as midnight passed and I confirmed that everything posted successfully, I posted the first comment.

I wanted to really tell the story of why I created Swipe Files so it was abundantly clear why someone would want it.

If someone related to me and my experienced, I'd have a better chance of getting them to the site.

I also added the Product Hunt badge on the site.

This way, if someone didn't upvote me but still got to the site, I'd have another chance of getting their upvote. It also serves as some social proof, but I don't plan on keeping it there for long.

Then, of course, I took to Twitter to make the official announcement.

I wrote a thread that rehashes much of the Product Hunt listing to make it more engaging and so that people knew what to expect when going to the listing.

I also scheduled a newsletter email to go out just a few minutes after.

Since I have a few thousand on the newsletter list, I knew this could be a great way to get some early traction with upvotes.

Sending it out a bit past midnight isn't exactly ideal for US subscribers, but anyone in the UK/EU is just starting work and it's a prime time to ask them for a favor.

Plus, I knew I'd be sending out 1-2 more newsletter emails throughout the day and could get more US subscribers engaged then.

For now, it's all about early momentum. Getting a significant amount of votes early on means I'm at the top of the front page, which gets the most exposure. The earlier I can be at the top of the front page, the easier it'll be to stay at the top of the front page.

I also posted on LinkedIn.

I kind of feel bad because I basically only go to LinkedIn to promote things... but my main focus is Twitter so LinkedIn is a cherry on top for whatever I can squeeze out of it.

I also posted to a few communities, but coincidentally Slack went down early in the morning, so I'm not sure how effective that really was.

Fortunately for me, I have a community of my own full of amazing folks.

I also changed the Twitter bios on both my personal account and the Swipe Files account.

This way, whatever ruckus I make on Twitter will drive people to view the accounts where I have another shot at getting them to the Product Hunt listing.

And speaking of making a ruckus, I had looped in the inaugural article I had written for the new Swipe Files newsletter into the announcement thread.

Unfortunately, I don't think this was a good idea.

It garnered a grand total of 6 link clicks. Whoops.

But I also sent the article out to the newsletter, and it drove an extra 34 folks to Product Hunt.

Luckily, Product Hunt decided to tweet about Swipe Files as well.

During the day I'd check in to see comments and respond to them, even if it was just a quick thank you.

If you look at the other products, Pages by Headlime and Swipe Files both dominated the comments (the number to the right of the thumbnail).

It's my belief that comments have an influence on ranking as well as also acting as social proof for anyone considering upvoting.

During the day, I also published two newsletters.

By mid-day, it was pretty clear that I had a good shot at staying in the top 3 just by being there so I laid off the gas a bit. I likely wasn't going to get to #1, but dipping below top 5 was very unlikely.

The organic traffic to Product Hunt could carry me the rest of the way.

Update: January 5th

Swipe Files had ~1,600 visitors on launch day, 1,300 of which came directly from Product Hunt.

I also gained 58 subscribers to the newsletter. I suspect the high number of cancellations were from lookiloos who unsubscribed from the confirmation email.

To be honest, I expected far more. But I believe it's because the newsletter signup was a bit buried on the page I was directing people to and I didn't have any popups because the maker community is usually pretty averse to them.

I had 21 signups on launch day, 3 All Access purchases and 18 trials. Historically, about 25% of trials convert into members, which would equal 4-5 new members. I'll call ~8 new members a success.

I can see that there's a bit of a halo effect as I still have a steady trickle of trials and All Access purchases coming in a day later.

All in all, I'm calling it a success. I'm glad I did it, #2 Product of the Day is a great accomplishment, and I'm with the numbers.