As an indie hacker bootstrapped company, Product Hunt has always been this nearly mystic platform where we hoped to be listed one day. We never dared to launch in fear of just being lost amid the dozens of apps that launch every day.
At some point though, one of our products (Vocal - send voice messages in Gmail) reached enough traction for us to give it a try: we had reached 1500 sign-ups, around 30 DAU and over 1'500$ in total revenue. Besides it was the perfect product to launch on Product Hunt:
- Everyone there uses Gmail
- Everyone there has sent at least one voice message in WhatsApp/iMessage
- Everyone there has a few chrome extensions
- The product is free and easy to install
So we decided to give it a try and on the 24th of September, we launched.
We emailed all our users to let them know about the launch and sent a few voice messages to our super users to ask for comments from them on our product page.
We're also part of Pioneer and asked for support in the infamous #please-share channel.
That was pretty much it.
During the day
We managed to get to the top 2 within a few minutes of launching. It was not too hard, our competitors for that day where pretty unknown. No new Apple product or YC company launch.
Our product was so simple to understand and try that we did expect pretty much everyone who signed up to get it and like it (unlike a more complex SaaS product).
While we got quite a lot of comments, many of those people never actually signed up! (I checked the database). That was quite a surprise.
At some point, we got relegated to the 3rd place on Product Hunt. Some Indian wedding clothing rental company was getting traction.
This was quite a surprise. I could not imagine random Product Hunt users upvoting that company and not our app. Simply because our app was so simple and appealed to everyone. Which brings me to my first conclusion:
A very big part of winning on PH is to bring your community. Riya most likely had a much bigger community that us.
Anyway, the point is to be in the top 3. The fourth spot is taken by an ad and anything below gets less eye balls. So we did very well. But let's actually look at the stats.
Six months ago, we launched a side product on Hacker News and got around 21k website hits. So when we knew we would be 3rd product of the day on Product Hunt, we expected a lot!
Unfortunately, we were quite disappointed. Being on the front page of Product Hunt only generated 500 unique visitors on our landing page for the day. Those visitors turned into 85 new Chrome extension installations which in turn converted to two new paying customers: +14$ MRR.
This is quite surprising. We did not expect Product Hunt to drive so little traffic and interested customers. It seemed like the place all our cool startup friends wanted to be featured it... wasn't that great after all.
Luckily, the traffic kept on going over the next few days. Product Hunt does a pretty good job at keeping you visible even after the launch day (in comparison to HN, where you simply don't exist if you're not on the front page).
But besides a few offers from AppSumo competitors, it did not generate a lot of value for us as a business.
- Don't expect too much! Even if you make it to the top 3. You will only get 500 website visitors.
- Don't spend too much time and energy on it! And don't burn relationships: do not spam people to get upvotes when all that you'll get is a few website hits.
- If you're thinking of building a product, build for the HN audience rather than the PH audience. You'll get much more out of the first audience.