There are not so many stories about failed PH launches. After having a failed launch, I think I know why.
The first reason is obvious. There are stories of fails, but no one reads them. Because people don’t like to read about losers. Because fails are not motivating. And while this is partially true, I think that tells only part of the story. I myself prefer to read fail stories, because they feel more realistic and because they help to deal with survivorship bias better.
The second reason is that after a failed launch you feel miserable. You hate everything. You want to die. “Why did I started it anyway?” In this mood, the last thing you want to do is to write about it. Even after some time is passed, you don’t want to mentally return to that day. The brain prefers to forget that lose as soon as possible (actually, a smart move, Mr. Brain).
The third and final reason is questioning. Questioning of whether you did a good job in the first place. Did you really make an effort by writing witty copy and shooting UI screens? Did you really try to be friendly and interested, or you just put funny emoji and called it a day?
So, yeah. I did feel miserable. I did question my efforts. I almost felt physical pain. But let’s not overdramatize. Nobody died. I feel much better now. So let’s try to find out what’s happened there and what to do next.
I don’t want to get into much details of how I was preparing for the launch, simply because it’s boring. I did what everyone else did. I hang out on PH for long now, thinking about what succeeds and what’s not. I read all the guides on how to launch and the success stories. I prepared the copy and images, made a gif and a logo. I published my product. I shared the link on Twitter and a couple of other sites that should be interested.
In fact, I think I did a good job. It wasn’t a perfect preparation, but it still complies with all recommendations I’ve read.
I could make two things better though. I don’t have a big following yet. A lot of email subscribers could easily help, but unfortunately, I started to collect emails only recently, so I couldn’t leverage that. Another thing I could do better is launching time. That one is not so obvious though, and I still don’t what’s the best time. I launched around midnight anyway.
Fear of launching
I planned to launch two weeks earlier. I didn’t prepare the logo, so I decided to wait for the next day, Wednesday. That day I wasn’t fully prepared either, and I didn’t want to launch at the end of a week, so I postponed the launch to the next week.
Then I started to worry about the best launch time. Is it midnight? Or should wait for a little? That week I tried to find the correlation between launch time, featuring, and upvotes and didn’t launch either.
In fact, I was just scared of launch and made excuses. But what’s interesting, at the day when I finally actually launched, I wasn’t scared. I was calm as fuck.
Ok, I got 3 upvotes. What’s next?
Actually, I got 48 visits from Product Hunt. Not so bad.
I also launched on Reddit and got about 30 visits from there. It’s hard to give an accurate number as I also published one of the articles on the day before, so the traffic from Reddit is mixed.
I get a handful of feedback from IndieHackers and Reddit. Surprisingly, no one bashed UI or usability.
And I got something else. I’ll write more about it if it’ll work out.
When you fail, you feel bad. But you also learn some things.
First, you realize that a lot of other products don’t make it too. Shoot, just look at how many products are launching each day:
How many of them will be featured? How many of them will be noticed? How many of them will go to the PH newsletter or twitter? Probably not much.
We go to the second point. Can you rely on PH launch, or even on launch in general as your main customer channel? There are a lot of examples of peoples and products who build an impressive user base solely out of successful launch, but not everybody is that lucky. For most of the people, marketing is a slow, continual process of nagging the channels and conversion rates.
I guess for some products bad launch may be hurtful or even deadly. Things like SaaS are hard to grow from the ground up, so lack of initial boost might be depressing.
For me, launching on PH was more like a formal milestone than a growth tactic. I get a handful of working channels and plan to try even more.
Was the launch a failure? Definitely. Did that kill Longcaller? Not even close.
Thanks for reading. I occasionally write about startups and entrepreneurship.