Practical Product Hunt launch guide - Type Studio

Feb 01, 2021

Product Hunt is a great way to introduce new products to a huge audience and community. This platform has proven over many years that launches on new products can accelerate and become popular. A real catalyst and chance to spread the word about your product or Startup in general

In this article, I have written down all our experience tips and tricks for a successful product hunt launch. This includes 8 launches in the last 8 months, all of which were ranked in the top #6 and collected over 4700+ upvotes together.

This is what you can expect in this article.👇

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to Product Hunt
  • Our Launch Results
  • Launch Preparations
  • Community
  • Launch Tag
  • PH Newsletter
  • Ship
  • Do’s and Don’t
  • Conclusion

Introduction to Product Hunt

For those who are new to Product Hunt, I'll give a brief introduction to what exactly Product Hunt is and how the platform works. Those who already know Product Hunt and are active, there can skip to the next chapter.👇 Product Hunt is a platform that according to Similar Web has almost 5 million visitors per month.

The principle is simple! Every day, new products are introduced that are rated by the community with an upvote. This results in a daily ranking of the best products.

Of course the higher you are voted, the more attention you get, which at the same time means more website visitors, signups, or app downloads. Besides the daily ranking, there are also rankings for the best products of the week and month, and once a year the best products are honored at the Golden Kitty awards. Check out the winner of the Golden Kitty award 2020.

No worries! Launching on Product Hunt is totally free and you can just subscribe here to create a profile.  To protect the platform from fake accounts and make logging in easier, you can subscribe to your social profiles. Product Hunt is thus the largest platform for new product introductions. There are numerous success stories where Product Hunt was the catalyst for rapid growth, media attention, investor attraction, or sales. The enormous reach that Product Hunt can provide also shows that not only small startups, indie makers, or side projects are submitted there, but also large established companies and startups that already have Unicorns🦄 level launch their product on Product Hunt.

I'm often asked if bet products are ideal for a product hunt launch. The answer is yes, the Product Hunt community is willing to give valuable feedback on products that are not quite ready yet. However, care should be taken that your product is ready to add value to the product hunt users and can be used.

Here are a few helpful terms:

Hunter / Hunt = A Hunter is someone who submitted and posts the product on Product Hunt. You can be your own Hunter, but there is also the possibility that someone else from the community submits the product for you.

Maker = Makers are all the people involved in the development of the product. They are listed as Makers in the launch. Unlike the Hunter, which can only be one person, Makers can be multiple people.

Similar to Reddit, there are karma points that you can collect. For active people, there is a bronze symbol from 100 points, from 500 points the silver symbol, and from 1000+ points the golden symbol. Everyone who has launched a product on Product Hunt and is, therefore, a Maker, also has a green "M" as an indicator. The more karma points you have, the more valuable your votes are, but more about that later.


Our results on Product Hunt

These are the results that we have achieved with our launches, and that I have achieved as a Hunter. Of course, this should not be about flexing with the results. Rather, the results serve as proof of what is possible within a short period of time and that well-prepared product launches can have a positive impact on all your metrics.

Our very first launch

For me, it all started on 07.06.2020 when I created an account at Product Hunt and started the preparation for our first submission, which would be a month later on 07.07.2020.

The preparation for the first product hunt launch was by far the most intense we did since we were all new to Product Hunt and the community. I read through a lot of articles that were out there on the internet, the deeper I dived into the world of Product Hunt, the more questions I had. That's why I decided to write to top hunters and makers who are successful on the platform and ask for feedback and advice.

I quickly realized that the product hunt users are a very open and positive community, where many are willing to share their experiences and give valuable advice.

One piece of advice that kept coming back to me was that the community you build around your product is very helpful. And even better, have a community that is active on Product Hunt. But more on that later.

So there we were, ready for our first product hunt launch. Against our expectations, the launch went incredibly well and we were in first place for almost. We were overwhelmed by all the responses we received. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we landed only in 6th place and missed the batch that the first 5 products get and that you can embed on your website. And all this although we had the most upvotes on the day.

Upvotes in 24 hours
Upvotes in 24 hours

So what had happened? Here comes our first big learning from our first launch!

As you can see in the image above, we got a lot of upvotes after the start of the day, which brought us to the top. Close to 300 upvotes in the first 6 hours. If we do the math that means at the end of the day we would have 1200 upvotes which are almost impossible to get on the first day. Only a few products have managed this at all so far.

The problem with these upvotes is that they came from our network and pretty much all the people who supported us created a new account on Product Hunt that day or a few weeks ago.

Not every upvote is worth the same. Upvotes from established and active members have more weight than those from new members. More about the Product Hunt algorithm later. However, it is clear that the algorithms are not stupid and are designed precisely to prevent artificial upvoting. There are some cases where products are taken off the platform because they try to push artificially. We didn't think anything of it when we first launched and told all our friends, acquaintances, and people from our startup network. Meanwhile, new users are displayed with a red balloon above their profile picture.

So don't try to artificially push your product incredibly hard. A little support is allowed and will not be penalized, but if it is too much, you run the risk of being penalized.

For this reason, we were still only in 6th place with the most upvotes. Nevertheless, the launch was a real success and milestone for us. Here are the numbers we were able to record.

All in total we had 11.8K sessions from Tuesday to Sunday during the launch week with 5.3K unique visitors. On the day itself, there were 2.4K unique visitors.

Amount of website visits
Amount of website visits first PH launch

The website hits come mostly from the US (23%), followed by India (9%). According to Similar Web these are also the two largest community groups on the platform. The device behavior shows that most people have visited our site via the Desktop browser, which is very useful for us, since we develop Type Studio desktop first and not for the mobile far (At least until now 😉).

Website traffic by country and device
Website traffic by country and device first PH launch

In Amplitude, we recorded a total of 541 new signups during the week, which turned out to be very valuable for us, as we received an incredible amount of user feedback and a real user base.

As mentioned in the beginning, a launch can bring many other positive things with it. Over the course of the day, a total of 8 investors contacted us. This shows that many investors are also on Product Hunt and are looking for exciting new products or startups.

Our absolute highlight came later in the day when we got retweeted directly by Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt. We knew that many products get retweeted by the official Product Hunt Twitter page, but this really caught us by surprise! A few minutes later we got a mail from Ryan and Vedika Jain and their Weekend Fund  that they would like to get to know us.

Ryan Hoover Twitter post
Shout out by Ryan Hoover

Following launches

The launches of the next products were much more relaxed for us and produced similarly good results since we've learned from the mistakes we made in our first launch and basically made the following changes.

  • Convinced a well-known Hunter in the community to submit our product to Product Hunt.
  • Picked another day for the launch.
  • Asked the community we gained through our first launch on Product Hunt for support.

With these improvements, our second launch even made it directly to first place. If you want more insights and stats from our last launch, which made it to number 2, check out my post on Indie Hacker.

#2 on Product Hunt - Insights from our launch
## Launching on Product Hunt🥈 Last week Wednesday we launched “Repurpose Video Content” on Product Hunt and made it to second place.✌️ https://www.prod...

Before we continue with the proper preparation for your launch, here's an important hint!

Don't violate the Product Hunt rules. Never ask for direct upvotes, but rather for feedback and support for your launch. The same product or version 2.0 may be resubmitted after a maximum of 6 months, otherwise, it will be removed from the Product Hunt team. The fact that Product Hunt can be very strict and takes these rules very closely is shown by this article from the no-code editor Softr.

From #1 on ProductHunt to being unlisted
We launched Softr 2.0 - Web-App Builder on ProductHunt on December 1st, and reached to the top #1 spot 4 hours into the day 🎉 This was our 2nd launch (...

But now let's get into the real preparation of your launch.


Preparation for your launch

There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for the launch on Product Hunt. You can practically divide the work into pre-launch, the actual launch day, and post-launch. Most of the work is done during the pre-launch. But don't worry, don't let it put you off. Maybe it sounds difficult at first sight. I have summarized all the things that are important to prepare your launch on Product Hunt optimally.

Launching days are different from each other

Not every day is the same on Product Hunt. There are days when there are more visitors on the website and days when there are fewer. Accordingly, high-quality products usually launch on the days when there are many visitors on the site to be seen by as many as possible and get many upvotes.

After our first launch, I made an evaluation over the period of one year to see which are the strongest days on Product Hunt. For this, I added up the upvotes of the top five products of the respective day.

Average Upvotes of the Top 5 products
Average Upvotes of the Top 5 products from 03.08.2019 to 03.08.2020

It can be seen that Tuesday is the strongest day. But also Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday are strong days on Product Hunt. Towards the weekend it gets a bit quieter. Saturday and Sunday are the least busy days on Product Hunt. From this, you can now derive your strategy for picking the right day. If you think your product is very strong or you already have a large fan base on Product Hunt, it makes sense to launch on a strong day. If, on the other hand, you want to get a top ranking more easily and accept that fewer people will explore the product, the weekend is a good time for the launch.

One thing you can never prevent is other good products launching on Product Hunt on the same day. At our first launch, we had the bad luck that mmhmm also launched on the same day. mmhmm app, which is from the Evernote founder Phil Libin. His app has gone viral in the whole tech scene and has received over 3700 upvotes so far. Especially his explanatory video has received an incredible amount of attention - over 300k clicks as of now. If you want to see an excellent product video, you should definitely watch it!

Prepare submission

Let's move on to the preparation for your own launch. This consists mainly of the preparation of headlines, texts, images, and ideally a video.

On the overview page you will always see the following information about your product:

The page of the project itself looks like this:

Product Hunt project page

Logo / Icon (GIF)

An important part is the logo of your product. The product hunt community likes well-designed logos. If you want to go the extra mile, animate your logo or create a GIF. This will automatically attract more attention when people scroll through the products. The logo should have the following characteristics. Square Logo with an aspect ratio of 240x240 JPG, PNG, GIF. Make sure that the file is not larger than 2MB.

Here are a few of our examples:

Images

Pictures are very important to explain your product. I would recommend having at least three of them. Prepare nice screenshots or vivid images of your product. You can submit multiple images. Again, they can be gifs if appropriate. It is important that the first image serves as a thumbnail of your page. That means, if you share the link to your product hunt page, this image will be used as a thumbnail. So make sure that this image represents your product as well as possible and is not a detailed image of a special feature of your product. The resolution of your images should be 1270 x 760.

Here's an example of how it looks like if you want to share the link on Twitter:

Sharing on Twitter

Video

To present your product as well as possible, you can submit a video that you must have uploaded to Youtube. With a video, you can present your product in the best possible way. A clear trend that has emerged recently is product demos that you can easily record with Loom or other screen recording tools. These work better than highly polished marketing videos and make you and your product more authentic. Make sure that the videos are not too long and that you get to the point.

Here is one of our explanatory videos:

Headline (max. 40 characters)

The headline should usually be the name of your product or feature. There are only 40 characters available, which means you have to get the headline to the point one way or the other.

Tagline (max. 60 characters)

Try to formulate the most important function or feature of your product in one sentence. Again a maximum of 60 characters is available. The sentence should be very well chosen because, besides the headline and the logo, it is everything that must convince the visitor on Product Hunt to take a closer look at your product.

Description of Product (max 260 characters)

Explain what your product does and why it is awesome in less than 260 characters. This information will be found under the video and images on your product page. It's basically like a high-level pitch of your product.

Link to your product

The link should go to your main product page. If you have an app, you can also include an App Store or Play Store link. In a few cases, products from Kickstarter campaigns are presented and linked.

Topics

There are different topics that you can enter at Product Hunt to classify your product. Do not specify more than 5 different categories. Among these categories, your product will be found later on (e.g. Productivity, SaaS, Developer Tools, Social Media).

Product Hunt categories

Social Media

For the visitors, you can specify your social media channels on which people can find you. It is important that you do not enter your personal profiles here, but those of your product. This is how Product Hunt specifies it. There is the possibility to specify a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and AngelList (since Product Hunt was bought by AngelList). In addition, you can also specify an article that you have published on Medium for exciting articles about your product.

Maker Comment

A good launch on Product Hunt has a detailed Maker comment! You can write this already in the preparation. If you hunt your product yourself, you can also post it beforehand. Generally, as a Hunter, you are able to schedule your launch 7 days in advance. Explain all the details the visitors should know about your product and give a little background of how you develop the product and what problem you're solving. At the latest when your product is live, you should post the comment in the comment box below your product. This is also where visitors will provide feedback on your product.

This is my Maker comment under our first submission. This post alone got 26 upvotes and shows that it is very appreciated by the community.

Product Hunt maker comment

Hunter

There is no topic that is discussed as much as having an external hunter for the launch of your product! I have talked to many successful makers and hunters about this and here is my opinion.

It's definitely not a negative aspect to have someone like a Hunter who is kind of an influencer on Product Hunt and is known in the community. Our first launch on Product Hunt was without a Hunter and I hunted our product myself. As a learning, we said then, next time we want to have a known Hunter, which brings us the additional trust and upvotes from established community members. As a counter-argument, it can be said that this additional boost is not as noticeable as it used to be, because in the past all followers of a Hunter received an email notification that a new product was being launched. However, Product Hunt has stopped this and you only get a push notification in the app.

So it's a question of how much effort and time you want to put into finding a hunter. Some of the biggest hunters also take a fee to launch your product. Nevertheless, we have noticed that finding a Hunter who is well connected to the community is a good indicator to get a good result because they will also take a look at your product and give you their honest opinion.

One of the biggest advantages is that a Hunter can make that your product is featured directly on the front page.

Wait... what? What is the front page?

Don't worry it won't get any more complicated. Since a lot of products are published throughout the day, each product starts in the "NEWEST" section, which is reached from the home page, but of course, is much less visited than the home page itself. So you have to manage to get enough relevance to be listed on the home page and the limited spots. There are basically too many products on Product Hunt.😅 But don't worry, as soon as you get some votes you will usually be listed on the front page and will potential seen by all the daily visitors.

Product Hunt front page

To conclude, top hunters are not a guarantee that your product will be successful and has less impact than it did a while ago. Of course, you can hunt your own product at any time. At the same time, a hunter can not hurt and increases the likelihood that your product will get more trust and a direct starting place on the home page. So you have to decide how much energy you want to spend to get a hunter to submit your product or to hunt your own product. But as I already said the community is a very nice one and you can basically reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook and get a response.

Here are some of the most famous top hunters that are out there:

There is also a list made by Davis Baer about the Top 500 Hunters.

Since I've been on Product Hunt daily and become a part of the community, I've been getting more and more requests to do product hunt's. I have already accompanied two successful product hunt's. So if you need help, just visit my website and fill out the form.✌️

Community

One of the most crucial preparations, when you are new to Product Hunt, is to have a supportive community. Especially for the first hours, a few upvotes from supporters are very helpful to get into the visible area. Once you are in the top 10 products, you will be seen by all visitors and if your product is good, it will automatically stay on top.

If you're really serious about the launch and want to network with people in the community, you need to put the time and work in and network with them. As I started asking top hunters and makers for feedback and advice, nice conversations started to happen and I was offered to send them a link from our launch. Like I said the Product Hunt community is a rally cooperatively one.

There are numerous groups on Facebook and Slack where you can go and interact with people from Product Hunt. Product Hunt itself does not have the ability to chat with people. However, most of them have linked their Twitter account to Product Hunt and you can reach them there. I will link you to all the groups that I'm in, in the next chapter. Again, never ask for direct upvotes! This comes scammy and is not liked. Lead much more interesting conversation and exchange with people from the scene. Of course, you can also try to add value to the person you are networking with.

Speacial offer / Discount

The Product Hunt community appreciates getting a discount for being an early adopter. For example, we always give a 20% discount throughout the day on the paid version of Type Studio. Again, you can communicate this via image like this for example.


Launch Day

Is there anything to consider on the launch day itself? Simple answer - Yes, it is! Here are the most crucial things you should look out for.

The golden first hour's traction

By far the most important thing is to make sure that you get enough upvotes in the first hours to reach first place in the best case. Many visitors to Product Hunt only look at the top listed products. Similar to Google search results, the percentage decreases significantly the lower you are listed.

Here's one of the many examples where the winner is practically a foregone conclusion. What is striking is that the places from 2 to 5 have not changed since the beginning of the day. All get very evenly many upvotes over the entire period.

One prerequisite is, of course, that your product is fundamentally attractive and arouses curiosity. With a launch of a background remover from images, this probably won't work anymore, because more than 10 such products have already been launched. So try to mobilize your community and supporters especially for the first hours. But make sure that there are not hundreds at once, otherwise, the product hunt algorithm will fail and reject your product. The algorithm detects when you try to game the system.

What does right at the beginning of the day mean?

Since the Product Hunt servers are located in the PST time zone (GMT-8), a new day starts exactly at 12:00 am PST. So your product should go live right at the beginning of the day to take the whole 24h with you and get to the top as fast as possible. For security reasons, you should schedule the submission for 12:01 am so that no mistakes happen with the conversion of the servers to a new day.

Answer Feedback and start discussions

During your launch on Product Hunt, you can see a kind of dashboard. Here you will also see comments posted under your product. Product hunt shows you these messages as unanswered messages. This means you should reply to all comments if possible. Often valuable feedback is given by people who have tried your product. Here it is a good idea to start conversations and if questions arise to answer them so that other visitors can read the answers.

Comments are also a ranking factor. Comments from people with many karma points definitely have a positive effect on your ranking. So if you are connected with people who have valuable accounts, ask them to leave feedback in the form of a comment under your product.

Often I see the mistake of makers who try to push your product with many comments. This behavior is especially noticeable when the people who comment have a red balloon next to their profile picture and are thus displayed as new members.

Prevent your comment section from looking like this. It is a bad sign and can be a red flag at the Product Hunt algorithm.

Go in groups and spread the word around your launch

There are numerous ways to let people know about your launch on Product Hunt. When you go live, you should make the effort to actively promote it. There are many Facebook groups and Slack groups made for promoting the launch. To be honest the interaction rate is relatively low but it is worth the effort to get some interested people for your product. Again, it's important that you don't ask for upvotes directly, but rather for feedback. If they like your product, the upvote will come by itself.

Here is an example of what a post of mine looks like:

Spread the word around your launch

So know you want to know which groups are existing. I will link you to all the groups I am in.

Facebook

Make sure you join the groups early enough, sometimes it takes a few days to get accepted. The same goes for posting. In most groups, your post will be checked beforehand and that takes some time. So post as early as possible after your product goes live.

Slack

With these Slack groups, there are dedicated product hunt channels where you can post.

  • product-school.slack.com
  • indieworldwide.slack.com
  • startupstudygroup.slack.com
  • launch-chat.slack.com
  • growthhackertalk.slack.com
  • programmaticmarketing.slack.com
  • makers-kitchen.slack.com
  • pigeonhack.slack.com
  • growmance.slack.com

Indie Hacker

If you're on Indie Hacker, you can post your launch there too. There is a separate group for it.

Reddit

The same as for indie hackers applies to Reddit. There is a subreddit here as well.

Other Social Media

Of course, you can announce your launch anywhere else. Post it on LinkedIn or on Twitter. Twitter is actually a very good channel because basically a lot of people from the Product Hunt community are very active on Twitter. Make sure to tag the @ProductHunt account in your tweet. If your product is featured on the home page of Product Hunt it is very likely that the Product Hunt account will make a tweet about you. Or you are lucky and arouse the interest of Ryan Hoover himself, who then tweets about you.😻

Batch

To welcome the product hunt community on your landing page and basically inform all visitors on your website about the launch, you can embed the batch on your website via a small snippet.

Produc Hunt badge

If you get among the top 5 of the day, you get a new batch unlocked, which you can permanently embed on your landing page. We have included our batch in the footer of our landing page.

Landing page Type Studio footer embedded badge on landing

Clarify a common myth about Product Hunt launches

The biggest rumor going around about a launch at Product Hunt is that direct linking to your launch page is negative because the algorithm notices it and reports spam. People trying workarounds and just linking to the main page or just tell people they should visit Product Hunt and search for their product to upvote it.

Product Hunt clears up the rumor and says linking to your launch is absolutely okay and will not be penalized. However, linking to the home page only makes it harder for visitors to find your product.

Speaking of what is allowed and what is not. Trying to cheat is not allowed! There are some offers on Fiverr to buy upvotes. I highly recommend you never do that!!! They are not high-quality votes and the algorithm will detect this. Even if the upvotes are so cheap and the offer is tempting like this one found in Fiverr.

You will probably also receive messages like this one, trying to sell you upvotes and promising you a top ranking.

Cheating has never won, so keep your hands off these dubious offers. Your result will look like these in the end:

For me a clear case that here artificially upvotes were generated. Maiar got extremely many upvotes in a very short time, which was directly recognized by PH. They ended up far behind products with significantly fewer upvotes.

While products that were ranked before Maiar had just a little bit over 100 upvotes, Maiar already had 838 upvotes and was still listed behind. Everyone could see that they tried to artificially push the product with upvotes, which in the end had exactly the opposite effect.

Okay, enough of failed launches and back to the beautiful things of launch your product. But one sad last example that affected us at one of our launches I have to share with you! https://typestudio.co/blog/suspicious-upvotes-on-product-hunt/

Newsletter aka the second boost

Product Hunt has a newsletter that reaches an extremely large audience. There are two different newsletters. One that is sent every weekday and one that summarizes the weekend. In the newsletter, the top 10 products on Product Hunt of the previous day or weekend are mentioned. This means that if you make it into the top 10 of the day, you are in the newsletter the next day and can look forward to some more upvotes because many prefer to read the newsletter than to search daily on Product Hunt for cool products. In your profile settings, you can choose which newsletter you would like to receive. If you like to check out how the newsletter looks like you can visit their newsletter page where all newsletters are stored.

Ship

If you think it's too hard to build a community around Product Hunt and your launch, Product Hunt offers you a great opportunity. Product Hunt Ship helps you to announce your product even before launching it! You will get a landing page on Product Hunt where you can collect email addresses for interested folks. This way you can build a community that will surely support you on your launch day. Another positive effect that Ship brings is that you can get some beat users who can give you valuable feedback on your product.

Product Hunt Ship pricing
Product Hunt Ship pricing 

Conclusion

That was a ride! But you have made it. 🥳 That was all the knowledge I gathered about product Hunt as a heavy user. I hope you got some exciting insights into the world of Product Hunt and are now ready to prepare everything to successfully launching on Product Hunt.

Let me briefly summarize the most relevant learnings.

  • Product Hunt is a great platform capture the light of the world for your product or Startup
  • It will need some time and effort to prepare a your launch well enough, but there is no magic and everything can be done by following the simple steps that I have listed.
  • Try to build a community around your product with preferably real product hunt natives.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I'd be happy to talk to you about Product Hunt, your launch, or anything else I've mentioned here. Just feel free to send me an email: michael@typestudio.co

I wish you a happy launch day!😻

Michael Sieb

Hi folks, my name is Michael and I am responsible for growth at Type Studio.

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