How to Get Featured on Product Hunt Without a Hunter by@margarita

How to Get Featured on Product Hunt Without a Hunter

Nitro is a niche product which launched on Product Hunt in November 2021 and became #4 Product of the Day without a top hunter. A well-planned Product Hunt launch strategy helped :) In this article, I’ll share my insights, tips and heads-up, as well as the experience of successful and failed Product Hunt launches of 2021.
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Margarita

I talk to people, learn the story of their product and turn it into interesting articles.

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There are a ton of articles with tips on how to launch on Product Hunt. Why write another one? Here is why this article will be helpful for your Product Hunt launch:

  1. I’ve made a research to filter out the outdated information and give you heads-up on it
  2. Most articles recommend getting a hunter — our example proves it’s not necessary
  3. Finally, it’s easier to succeed if you have a product that appeals to a wide audience — but what if your product isn’t ‘the right type’?

…Like our product. It didn’t have high chances of becoming the product of the day on Product Hunt: Nitro is a human translation platform targeted at IT companies.

However, launching Nitro on Product Hunt got us 500+ upvotes and #4 Product of the day. A well-planned Product Hunt launch strategy helped :) In this article, I’ll share my insights, tips, and heads-up as well as the experience of successful and failed Product Hunt launches of 2021.

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Our Product Hunt launch board right when the big day was over

Here’s what we got from becoming #4 Product of the Day on Product Hunt: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/nitro-2 Like I said, products with a more general appeal usually produce better results.

  • 335 upvotes for the launch day (500+ for the first week)
  • 215 website visits for the launch day (475 during the first week)
  • 33 people giving Nitro a try (61 during the first week)
  • 24 sign-ups during the first week
  • 4 paying clients during the first week

‘People giving Nitro a try’ refer to playing with Nitro on the page without an account where a potential customer can “play” with Nitro and see how the instant quote works. The majority of website visits and activity fell on the launch day and the next day.

The results of a more successful (and less niche) product were different — Infinity Maps who launched on a Tuesday and went on to become #2 Product of the Week, shared with us: “Traffic on our website, app, and sign-ups were massively increased for about 6 to 8 weeks after launch day. Overall, it was worth the effort.”

Now let’s talk about the actual preparations for the launch. It isn’t an actual Product Hunt launch checklist (here are two great checklists: one and two), but I will highlight the most important and unexpected things.

Bummer! Things I Didn’t Expect

Incorrect information in the PH official launch guide and other pitfalls I didn’t expect that could ruin our launch:

  • You found the right ‘Launch Tips’ articles with links to various support groups on Facebook and Slack and think you’re all set? Not so fast. Half of these groups are not active any longer, and you won’t get into the top Slack communities without an invite.
  • The famous Product Hunt launch guide tells you the image size should be 635x380. But it turned out the recommended size is 1270x760 for images — the PH team simply hadn't adjusted their old launch guide yet.
  • When you submit your product to Product Hunt as a maker, you are required to add Maker’s comment for the product to go live. Mine wasn’t ready as I thought our CEO would post his comment first and I could take my time. I had to create this comment on the go, but fortunately, I was able to edit it later.
  • The length of the description text is actually 260 characters, NOT 350 like on the Product Hunt preview website! I had to adjust the text on the fly. Make sure you play with the Submit New product fill-in-the-blanks way ahead of the launch date.

Best Time to Launch on Product Hunt?

They say, “choose Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday if you want to get more eyeballs on your product, and weekend if you want less competition”. Monday and Friday are kind of “in-between”.

I knew we probably wouldn’t stand a chance on Tue/Wed/Thu, as our product is not as catchy as fun products and various no-code apps, graphic editors, etc. The weekend was not a good option either: I don’t think many of my connections would be online on the weekend, so I wouldn’t be able to count on their support.

So I picked Monday — also hoping that we would get more votes during the week and maybe get to the Top Products of the Week? We did get additional ~150 upvotes after the launch day, but it doesn’t compare to 1200–1500 upvotes that the top products get on the busiest and most competitive days.

Getting a Top Hunter: Pros and Cons

Originally we wanted to get hunted by one of the top Product Hunt hunters, and I wrote to two of them: Ben Lang and Hiten Shah. Both can boast very good launches and our product more or less matched their interests. Right, you can’t expect a hunter to hunt a product that is out of their range of interests.

I sent them a pretty generic pitch, followed-up a couple of times — and got no reply. And even if they said yes, I didn’t have the hunter kit ready (the visuals and copy for posting on the PH page). Our images and video were finalized only a couple of days before the launch.

The generic pitch was my mistake — top PH hunters get loads of requests like that. If you want to get noticed, you need a good pitch. One of the Product Hunt influencers, Bram Kanstein, actually wrote a great article about it years ago — and it still holds true! I recommend checking it out even if you don’t need a hunter, as these tips also apply to describing your product.

But is going without a hunter that bad? Let’s take a look at the positive and negative sides of having a hunter.

Cons:

  • Hunters’ followers don’t get email notifications any longer, they just receive a regular notification on PH (you can see dozens of those if you follow at least 100 people)
  • You don’t have control in terms of timing and getting everything right
  • You need to have all the visuals prepared weeks before the launch date
  • If being hunted by a hunter doesn’t really give you more exposure, what’s the point in spending much time on a hunter?

Pros:

  • Hunters can give you some good advice
  • Top hunters are said to have the superpower to place your product on the front page (but you will end up on the front page anyway if you have a decent number of upvotes)
  • Some of the hunter’s followers will notice that PH notification and check out your product after all
  • Credibility — people see it’s a product hunted by a PH influencer

Alexander Isora and a few other Product Hunters gave a good piece of advice: go for a middle-level hunter. They are much more approachable and have more time slots in their schedule for your launch. So if you absolutely want to have a hunter, this may be a good option.

Why Not All Product Hunt Upvotes are Equal

Have you seen products on PH with lots of comments from users with the red balloon icon? That means they are new users who got a PH account less than a week ago. Votes from such new users have less weight.

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Moreover, if you get an upvote from such a user — and this user hasn’t upvoted any products but yours — this upvote won’t count. I’ve heard this from other makers, and I’ve seen this with Nitro: several upvotes got cut off.

Also, comments are important, and we tried to have as much activity in the comments as we could. For example, when I posted about our launch on Reddit and Slack/FB groups, I mentioned our cool video story, Nitro’s clean UI, and some features — and asked for feedback about it. And of course, we did our best to answer comments in real-time to keep the buzz going.

How to Inspire the Product Hunt Community to Comment on Your Product

Naturally the more fun the product is, the more comments it will get. Even if your product is “boring”, try to give it something people can start discussing: an unusual feature? a catchy video? Anything that can spark a discussion.

Look at what OneSoil did for their product which is a complex platform for agricultural decisions — doesn’t sound like a super exciting product, does it?

Well, the team at OneSoil came up with a brilliant solution: they created an interactive map that looked very cool and demonstrated what their product could do for farming. It worked and helped their innovative product get a lot of attention and even became a Golden Kitty Awards winner in the AI & Machine Learning Product of the Year category.

Or LeaksID — they presented not the full product, but a certain feature that could get more people interested. LeaksID is a cybersecurity solution and it’s a complex B2B product. To make the product more attractive for the Product Hunt audience, the team at LeaksID presented the product as a converter that enriches documents with invisible anti-leak marks. By the way, they have written a super useful article on their Product Hunt launch.

Another example I love is Infinity Maps: these guys created a fun product promo video that let the viewers get to know the three founders in a visually engaging way while showcasing the use cases. The Product Hunt community raved about the video and many users admitted they only upvoted and commented as kudos for the cool video.

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Watch Out for the ‘Voting Ring’

The Product Hunt algorithm is tricky and no one knows exactly how it works. There is a thing called a “voting ring”, and once the secret algorithm detects it, the product may get removed from Product Hunt.

What may trigger voting ring detection? An influx of new PH users who just signed up for Product Hunt and voted just for your product in the first place. In other words, if the Product Hunt algorithm suspects somebody is trying to game the system, the upvotes for their product may be devalued or in the worst case, the product may get removed from Product Hunt.

Some examples: the product called Sticky9 was bumped from the top-5 products of the day because of the upvotes being devalued. This example is pretty old, but we actually witnessed a product being punished by Product Hunt on our own launch day — and thanks to this product, Nitro ended up as #4 Product of the day, and not #5.

What happened? With 11 hours left to the end of our launch day, we were still jumping between #5 and #6, while the product called Chatfully had been leading as #2 Product of the day with their 468 upvotes. And just one hour before the end of the launch day, they dropped out of the top-5 products and their upvotes were just 208! Apparently, a voting ring was detected, and some of their upvotes were cut off.

Visuals: Why You Need a Video and the Product Hunt Cat

I noticed some makers don’t realize the power of visuals. For example, some post an app that makes videos — and they don’t include any video examples of what the app can do.

For us, it was a no-brainer: our company Alconost also makes animated videos and tutorials, so we were lucky to get a high-quality video done in-house. It was the story of how our CEO Alexander Murauski got the idea for Nitro and I believe the story helped make our product a little more interesting for Product Hunters.

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Also, it helped spread the word about our launch: I made sure to mention the cool story behind the project and encouraged people to check out our video).

Another mistake I sometimes see on Product Hunt is posting bleak images with vague wording like “unique experience”, “the most user-friendly platform” (what makes it different from other platforms?). Boring visuals and mediocre copy is a big no-no.

We made an effort to prepare great Product Hunt illustrations for the gallery, both for the Product Hunt page and social media. Our marketing team drew inspiration from memes famous among IT-audience and the Product Hunt kitty mascot to amuse the community.

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One of our Product Hunt page visuals

How to Get Some Traction on Twitter

We made different images about announcing our launch and the “We’ve reached 100/200/300 upvotes” kind of images (I hoped we’d be able to get past 300 upvotes, and we did).

Product Hunt people are generally active on Twitter, so posting something that is fun can work great. See what Nishith, maker of Thursday,  on their launch day:

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I couldn’t come up with something equally funny, but I kept tagging PH and posting in their comments, and — yay! — Product Hunt made a tweet about Nitro!

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Tracking Your Results on Launch Day

Have you already thought about tracking your launch day analytics? The PH launch board is pretty handy: it shows not only the number of upvotes and comments but also what place your product is currently at and new comments you haven’t answered yet:

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You can also use other Product Hunt launch dashboards like Product Wars which shows you the average speed of upvotes and comments both for you and your competitors! Unfortunately, it only shows these real-time stats for the current launch day only. I forgot to track Product Wars on our launch day, and the next day it was too late.

How to Give Your Product Hunt Launch an Extra Boost

You can start a new PH discussion related to your launch. I shared interesting content people could relate to: a discussion 5 things you can do wrong right before the launch prior to the launch, and a couple more post-launch: one was about funny machine translation mistakes (as we opposite our human translation service to machine translation), and the other one was basically a summary of this article — launch tips posts are always a hot topic.

The team at Thursday did something more creative and fun: they built a Product Hunt launch tracker so that others could check the Product Hunt analytics for Thursday’s launch — with live diagrams and a wall of mentions on social media. This post in Discussions helped draw a lot of attention to the product.

Nishith Sha, the maker at Thursday, shared: “This launch tracker helped us start conversations on Twitter, Linkedin, Indie Hacker, and a few Slack communities. People are generally more receptive when you are building in public.”

Hope my experience will help you have a better idea of how to prepare for your Product Hunt launch. Good luck to all fellow makers!

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