Learnings From Our Second Product Hunt Launch

Learnings From Our Second Product Hunt Launch

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Our launch had high aspirations to aim for the top #1 Product of the Day position, but unfortunately, it didn’t pan out as expected in the beginning. There were a variety of reasons for this, which I will expand on later. Despite this setback, we still launched our product with the support of our community and gained new users, both free and paid! We’re still proud of what we accomplished and are grateful for the support we received.

We fell through a crack on Product Hunt

Product Hunt, the popular platform for discovering new and innovative products, has its fair share of quirks. One such quirk is the potential to fall through the cracks and not get featured on the front page.

What products get featured on the front page and why? From Product Hunt’s response to our complaint, it seems that manual curation plays a substantial role in their selection process:

I very much regret the experience. We try our best to feature everything that is eligible and that we think will be a value add to our community. Every now and then, unfortunately, we do miss a great launch. — Product Hunt Support

I think that the Product Hunt team must employ a combination of strategies to manage this workload efficiently. It seems implausible for a manual process alone to handle such a volume, making me question how they strike the right balance between human curation and algorithmic assistance. Whatever they do, mistakes happen, which is unfortunately on our part.

The “falling into Product Hunt crack” actually happens much more often than I realized. Just today, I observed another company that suffered the same fate as Typogram last Tuesday.

Look at the diagram from hunted.space, a site that collects Product Hunt launch statistics and analyzes trends. On the launch day of Typogram, for the first four hours, Hunted Space couldn’t find Typogram and therefore didn’t crawl any stats, reporting a flat line for 0 votes until it jumped to 40 votes suddenly:

Comparing Typogram to the product that secured the 2nd position. Typogram has a flat line in the beginning section
Comparing Typogram to the product that secured the 2nd position. Typogram has a flat line in the beginning section

Today, similar to Typogram’s fate, there is another product called TeamGPT that get buried for a couple of hours before they see the light of day:

TeamGPT got buried for about two hours. It also has a flat line in the beginning section.
TeamGPT got buried for about two hours. It also has a flat line in the beginning section.

The flat line in the beginning doesn’t mean the product didn’t get votes during those times. It just means that they got no exposure that the stats crawler didn’t crawl. 

During this time, Typogram is live on Product Hunt, but people only find it through the link we shared. In other words, we are sending traffic to Product Hunt, not the other way around. The moment we get unburied at hour 4, we already got 40 votes, purely from our own people! That is a miracle in itself! 

How Launching on Product Hunt Works

We ask our community to visit Product Hunt and upvote our product, which in turn boosts our ranking. As our position improves, we attract more traffic from Product Hunt’s user base. Ideally, a successful launch results in significantly more traffic flowing from Product Hunt to our product than what we initially directed toward them. Unfortunately, it may not be the case for our launch this time.

When we finally got unburied, we had 40 votes and ranked #13. Ranking in #13 means we only get the exposure and traffic that belongs to #13, which is less than #12, which is less than #11 … you get my point. Assuming all products are equally interesting and have the same upvote ratio (the number of votes divided by the number of visitors), our vote gap is only getting larger and larger by default.

In order to climb up, we need to:

  1. be more interesting so that the upvote ratio is higher
  2. lead more outside traffic to your Product Hunt post

The #1 is done prior; nothing we can change on the launch day. I think our product is very unique and interesting. We trend up really quickly after we get onto the front page, thanks to that.

The #2 is counter-intuitive. We launch on Product Hunt to get more people to visit us, not the other way around. But in order to get more exposure, we have to send more traffic first. We continue to ask our community to show up and support us, and you all did. We climbed all the way from #13 to #5 in the early afternoon!

Each position on Product Hunt corresponds to a certain level of traffic. To optimize your launch, it’s crucial to secure a top position as early as possible.

The traffic generated during a launch is determined by two factors:

  1. Your position on Product Hunt
  2. The duration you maintain that position

Even if some product manages to climb from the bottom to the top #1 spot at the last minute and earn the “Product of the Day” title, it won’t make a significant impact, as it would only benefit from one minute of the top position’s traffic. 

We enjoyed about half a day of position #5’s traffic, and the other half day we get very little traffic.

The launch experience serves as a reminder of the importance of building our own audience. While leveraging platforms like Product Hunt can be beneficial, their outcomes are not always reliable. I was confident that our launch would secure the top #1 or #2 spot, especially since I had previously achieved #2 with a hobby project, Symbols to Copy. In comparison, Typogram is a much more interesting and robust product. Nonetheless, this experience underscores the need to focus on cultivating a community of user base independently.

Our community carried us through the launch. Without their support, we could have easily been buried throughout the entire day. Instead, we managed to emerge as #13 and continued to climb the ranks, demonstrating the power of an engaged community in driving a product’s growth.

Launch Stats

On launch day, we coincidentally acquired exactly 100 new users, and with additional sign-ups in the following week, we reached a total of 230 new users. Among these, 9 converted to paid users, resulting in a conversion rate of approximately 4%.

Despite feeling as though we were deprived of the #1 position, it's important to remember that a launch is not a sprint but a marathon. In the grand scheme of things, a year from now, this minor setback won't even matter the slightest. If someone is meant to become our user, we will undoubtedly cross paths with them eventually — we just have to keep going to meet them. 

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