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How we got to #1 Product of the Day - luck or hard work?

We launched the first ever version of Softr on Product Hunt on August 25th, the world’s most popular new product community and ranked at the top - #1 Product of the Day (#2 of the Week).

Having no growth, sales or marketing background, this seemed like an impossible milestone. However, if we managed to pull this off, there is a good chance you can too!

Someone asked me, if it was just luck or a planned launch?  Success is not just luck or serendipity, but rather a result of hard work and detailed planned list of activities. In this guide I want to explain the steps we took, how to control what you can control to your best, and what to leave to luck.

Fun fact: I also launched the 100+ No-Code Resources on August 11th, reaching #2 Product of the Day, without really any of the preparation mentioned in this post. So luck definitely played a role here ;)

In this post I’ll cover:
  • What we got out of our first ever launch
  • Pre-Launch Checklist
  • Launch Day Checklist
  • Post-Launch Checklist

Within 24 hours of the launch we got:
  • 1000+ upvotes
  • 200+ comments
  • 5157 unique visitors (3217 from ProductHunt)
  • 715 signups
  • 11 paid users
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Pre-Launch Checklist

1. Build an audience first. Create an upcoming page in ProductHunt long before your launch. It’ll really help you collect emails of people interested in your product when it launches. You can also convert some of those people to beta-testers or early users. Also, most of them will be happy to support you on the day of your launch! :)

2. MLP (Minimum loveable product) vs MVP (Minimum viable product). It’s repeated too often, and it’s one of the most valuable things to launch and validate your hypothesis early. However, in today's world it’s very rare that you’ll be solving a problem which hasn’t been solved at all, in any way or form. The bar of newly launched products is very high. Your product needs to be unique in some ways, and capture people’s minds. Whether it’s the experience of using it, simplicity, differentiating features or anything else, there has to be something special.

3. Contribute to your communities. Be an active member of communities where your product resonates or you find value (ProductHunt, IndieHackers, Slack communities etc). Share your milestones, journey and contribute with your knowledge and learnings along the way. I’m part of several slack groups/facebook groups for no-code communities. One thing I noticed is that the result of your post in those channels is directly correlated to your activity and how helpful have you been to the community :) People are open and willing to help those who are in their tribe, who give first and actively engage.

4. Update your website. Streamline your messaging to your audience, make it short and sweet (ask for feedback in your peer groups). Make sure your website can handle the best case scenario - lots of traffic (who knows if your product goes viral :)

5. Prepare ProductHunt post data (Images, Video, Tagline, Description etc).
    • Logo - JPG or GIF. Square, Recommended size: 240x240. JPG, PNG, GIF. Max size: 2MB.
    • Product Name - 40 characters or less.
    • Tagline - < 60 characters (including spaces!).
    • Description - < 260 characters (including spaces!).
    • Topics - Choose three that best describe your product (e.g. Productivity, SaaS, Developer Tools).
    • Video - Must be uploaded on YouTube. Please use the full URL format.
    • Images - 3 or more, Recommended size: 1270x760px. Hi-res images that tell a story in sequence are best. <3MB.
    • Makers - Create profiles prior, if you don’t have yet.

6. Prepare a list of supporters.
 Collect a small but passionate list of people (e.g. current users who love your product) who you can rely on for support on the launch day, ideally in the first 1-2 hours. Once you manage to move from Newest to Popular tab, it’s much easier to stay there throughout and get more people checking out your product.

7. Pick a launch day. One strategy is to launch on the most competitive days - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which guarantees more traffic and engagement from the users. However, depending on your product, you might want to consider launching on the weekends, when it’s not so competitive, however the traffic is low as well. We chose the former and launched on a Tuesday.

8. Decide to launch on your own or find a hunter. There are pros and cons to both. If you ask the hunter to launch your product, it’ll most probably be pre-scheduled on a specific date/time, and you don’t have a control of changing anything. However, their followers will get notified when they hunt your product (or they tweet about you on Twitter). If you launch it on your own, you can try to avoid launching with giants like Google, Apple or Facebook because it is almost guaranteed that you won’t rank as #1.

9. Special Launch Offer/Discount. ProductHunt community loves special offers on the launch day (who doesn’t?). We gave away a 30% yearly discount for our product (mention in your first comment), which worked wonders.

Pre-Launch Checklist

1. Best time to post. ProductHunt Day starts and the new products hit the homepage at 12:01am PST. Best time to post is from 12:01am - 12:10am PST, so you get an exposure of a full day from the whole globe.

2. Show Banner + PH Widget. We put 2 types of banners on top of our website. 1st - to inform all our visitors that we have launched on ProductHunt, and 2nd - to show the 30% discount code for all visitors from Producthunt (you can identify it by the url parameter that looks like “/?ref=producthunt”). Also, once you have a good number of upvotes and/or are featured on top, embed the “Featuring on ProductHunt” badge in your website.
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3. Maker comment: Once you launch, leave a 3-4 sentence introduction comment under your product page. Tell everyone why you built this product, who it is for etc. Make it personal.

4. Inform your subscribers (who have active PH accounts): For all this time that you collected all interested users’ emails, now it’s time to inform them about your launch. Don’t spam - make sure to stay relevant and ethical. Create relevant batches and send an info email, telling about your launch and asking for support if they like it - don’t fish for upvotes.

5. Share your PH post link - NOT your website link: I can’t emphasize how often I have heard people tell me ‘don’t share your ProductHunt post link - ProductHunt algorithm will punish it by decreasing the ranking’. That might be true for Hackernews or some other platforms, but in Producthunt it’s actually recommended. Post your PH post link when you share it in Social, or email instead of direct link (see more on this here - How to Launch on ProductHunt).

6. Post in social media, communities, slack channels. Post about your launch in channels you are active in, where your potential customers reside, and occasionally update them and keep engaged about the progress.

7. Reply to the comments, answer questions. Reserve the day (for us it was more like a week :)) for answering, engaging with the community, answering customer support messages etc.

8. Well… just wait. At this point you did your best, you just need to wait… by this time you should probably be on the first page, ranking within the first five products.
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Post-Launch Checklist

1. Send an update. Send a newsletter to your subscribers about your results (good or bad), keep them in the loop as your fans love your product independent of it.

2. ProductHunt Collections. Find collections which contain products similar to yours. Find the owner and ask if they might be interested in adding your product to their list if they find a fit. That’ll help lots of users find your product easier even long after the launch day.

3. Summary post (like the one you are reading now). Write a short post/article or blog about your learnings, do’s and don'ts , share with the community what worked for you and what didn’t, hopefully helping someone else launch successfully on PH too.

4. Don’t make it personal. There is a good portion of lack as well, so don’t get discouraged or stressed if you didn’t end up as #1 Product of the Day. ProductHunt launch is just one of the channels to reach your audience and it’s not the end of the world if you didn’t rank at the top. The most important result is that you will get lots of feedback; an early fan base and lots of learnings. Use those learnings and make your next launch a success.

If you need additional tips or have any questions, you can find me below and I’m happy to help!

Find me on / Twitter / LinkedIn ?

Hear more about our journey!