Think of Product Hunt as a global-scale "talent show" for startups and new products. This is the "stage" with thousands of viewers where products can get noticed, discovered, and become the next big star. In fact, many renowned companies have made their debut on Product Hunt.
But there's a lot to know about achieving a successful Product Hunt launch, as, basically, you get one opportunity to shine. That is, if you fail to perform well on your first try, your product will get to "re-audition" no sooner than after you make significant iterations. And this may take a lot of time.
Although a portion of submission success does depend on luck, there are some best practices worth knowing. On this page, we'll go over all the ins and outs of how to get featured on Product Hunt and the ways to improve the odds of an effective launch.
What Is Product Hunt?
This platform was designed to facilitate the process of sharing new products and getting them discovered by the audience. Product Hunt was created back in 2013 by Ryan Hoover. At the time, it was merely a simple newsletter with lists, which has grown to become an entire community that unites tech minds and tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, early adopters, and investors.
Importantly, adding a product on this platform and using it is absolutely free. According to recent data, Product Hunt receives an average of 5.2 to 6.2 million monthly visitors, almost 20% of whom are from the USA.
The platform is a perfect match for startups with innovative and unique products at an early stage, aiming to reach out to early adopters, obtain product feedback, and possibly get startup funding, networking, or partnership opportunities. Similarly, more mature companies can also take advantage of product exposure on a platform with a strong audience interested in technology and emerging modern tech solutions.
Who had successful launches on Product Hunt? Listing a few renowned names, GitLab, Loom, Grammarly, Zoom, Notion, Hopper, Segment, Figma, and Clearbit are among the products that managed to achieve an effective launch on the platform and obtain a broader following afterward.
How Does Product Hunt Work?
In essence, Product Hunt is a place where creators, investors, early adopters, and those passionate about pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology meet. Generally, a Product Hunt launch goes like this:
1. Product Submission on Product Hunt
The makers or product creators demonstrate their product (be it a tool, website, application, or anything else) by posting it on Product Hunt. For them, this submission is somewhat a virtual analog of a rotating merchandise display stand, making it possible to build buzz and get traction early on. Yet, Product Hunt isn't just a PR move to raise awareness and get attention. It allows for acquiring leads and may even lead to establishing vital partnerships and attracting funding.
Ideally, you should think about how to launch on Product Hunt and make it to the front page; this should be one of the launch goals. If you manage to get your product listed as one of the top one or three "Products of the Day", you'll get lots of views and the privilege of being mentioned in the official digest emailed the following day.
2. User Engagement with the Product
In turn, the platform's users and community members have the freedom to discover new tools and solutions, upvote their favorites, give feedback, leave comments, and join discussions. This type of audience shows interest in new products and is enthusiastic about giving them a try. Moreover, they often use Product Hunt as a source of getting special offers and discounts for products. Their engagement helps creators with the concept, feature, product, and MVP testing. On a similar note, investors can spot a new project to fund.
3. Launch Success or Failure
How do products climb to the first page? Upvotes and how engaged people from the community are with the product determine its visibility and position on the platform.
The most popular products that drew a massive round of "applause" can rise to the top of the Product Hunt leaderboard, gaining even more visibility and traction. This isn't easy, as there are hundreds of products submitted on the platform daily. However, if you manage to get lots of product views or unique visitors regardless of the page position, the early adopters can make valuable inputs into product validation and thus help find product-market fit.
Surely, there are common cases when the launch isn't as smooth. If things get rocky, there is still a chance to revisit and try launching again after some time once the product is substantially iterated and improved (for instance, gets new features).
There is no specific rule or timeframe regarding how often or when you're allowed to retry another launch. You can do so as many times as you need, yet it'll depend on the reasons for the initial failure. Your request will have to explain why you're launching again and what has been achieved since the previous launch.
Hence, it's crucial to determine the right timing for the re-launch by analyzing the market and product state. Plus, bear in mind that there are many other tactics and channels apart from Product Hunt to use for product promotion and growing your user base.
Stages of Product Hunt Launch
Creating a product to show the world or building an MVP is one side of the medal. Launching it on Product Hunt is a separate step that also requires much effort and preparation. If you decide to launch on Product Hunt, there are three stages you'll typically go through.
- Pre-launch stage (implies detailed planning and preparation work such as fine-tuning the messaging, recording a video, creating visuals, and starting relationships with potential supporters; most of the effort is put in at this step, which can take several weeks or months).
- Launch day (the official day when your product will appear on the platform and get introduced to the world; this day is commonly spent on active engagement with the community, answering questions, and monitoring upvotes).
- Post-launch (it doesn't end on launch day; you continue communicating with the community, giving feedback responses, sending updates, creating content, growing the user base, and analyzing the results).
Certainly, these stages may vary based on the product's peculiarities and your strategy. But we'll go over the three stages mentioned above in more detail next.
How to Launch on Product Hunt
As shortly mentioned before, the pre-launch phase implies the biggest chunk of work. Nonetheless, there's a lot to handle during launch day and after the product's release on the platform. Let's take a close-up of how to get on Product Hunt effectively and what needs to be done during every step.
1. Do the Groundwork
Begin by registering a free account on Product Hunt well in advance. This should be a personal account, though (say, of the founder or maker, not a vague brand or company-based one). Also, create profiles for other product makers and team members, as well as a page that'll announce your "Coming Soon" launch on the platform.
You'll have at least a week to get acquainted with Product Hunt before you'll get to add your product. So make sure to make the most of this time by connecting with people, actively participating in conversations, leaving comments, and getting involved in voting to power up your accounts and page.
Putting up a landing page (say, on your website) is also a Product Hunt launch best practice. This way, you can start connecting with people, gathering emails, and building up a relevant audience.
Similarly, you can come up with a special deal for launch day. People like getting goodies, so giving out a discount, promo code, voucher, or exclusive offer for those who give your product feedback on Product Hunt on launch day and leave their email or contacts on the landing page can be a good idea.
2. Make a Supporters List
Preparing a list of people who can support you during the launch is a wise move. If you manage to get several hundred people on this list, you'll boost your chances of a fruitful launch on Product Hunt.
You may include the emails you've obtained on the landing page and find additional contacts in thematic chats, forums, Twitter, and other communication channels. As such, you can add your products to special lists and connect with like-minded people in communities in various groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, Product Hunt (like the Makers community), Indie Hackers, or other media to build up your network. We'll give a more comprehensive list in the checklist.
Plus, place special emphasis on existing Product Hunt users; their votes will bring you more value. Look for those who've upvoted a similar product to yours earlier, as this may be their area of interest.
3. Work on the Assets
Give your messaging, visuals, and page assets a lot of thought to present your product in the best possible way. Mind that your tone and messages should target Product Hunt users, which aren't always the same as your target audience and customers.
If you're thinking about how to launch on Product Hunt properly, make sure to take care of the following things in advance:
- list product links (the URLs to a separate landing page, your homepage, the App Store, etc.);
- prepare your logo (240 x 240, it can even be in GIF format but must weigh less than 3 MB);
- decide on a short product name (40 characters max.);
- think of a catchy tagline (60 characters or less);
- craft a product description (260 characters or less);
- write a maker's comment to introduce the audience to the team and product (make it personal and simple, add emojis, share your story, the value proposition, unique selling points, key product details, must-knows, insights, and CTA in this first comment);
- select several relevant topics or tags that resonate with your product;
- create 2 to 5 quality images for the media gallery (1270 x 760);
- make an engaging video to upload on YouTube and embed the full URL on your Product Hunt page (the video can help demonstrate what your product is capable of, the maker can even give viewers a "tour" using Loom or similar tools).
4. Choose a Launch Date
Launch timing is crucial to success too. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are customarily considered the best days of the week for launching on Product Hunt. But this isn't a rule of thumb. Mind that the competition is higher these weekdays than on weekends, so pick a date that suits you best.
5. Decide on Who'll Launch the Product
Many startups opt for reaching out to influential hunters to assist with the product launch. This isn't obligatory, but hunters are reputable members of the Product Hunt community who can spread the word about your launch. Because they have many followers and their opinion is authoritative, this approach can lead to much higher product visibility on the platform and get you to the first page.
Therefore, you may find "superusers" in the leaderboard who are popular in your niche and try your luck by asking them to feature your product on your behalf. But note that they can only "promote" a limited number of products per day; therefore, it's likely that you'll get queued to get your pitch reviewed. The competition may be tough, and it might be hard to convince them that your product is worth it. So, make sure your messages are personalized, and the pitch is a concise synopsis of what you'd include when creating a pitch deck. Moreover, keep in mind that paying hunters is against Product Hunt's rules and can lead to a permanent ban.
Alternatively, you can handle product submission on your own, that is, be your own hunter. The self-hunting option also has its upsides, as the product still has a high chance of getting noticed. Plus, you won't be limited to a pre-scheduled time that's chosen by a third party and will have the freedom to make changes if required.
6. Work on Your Email Campaign and Other Posts
A small sequence of emails is a good way to stay in touch with the contacts list you've obtained. For instance, you can put together newsletters to:
- inform your audience about the upcoming launch, explain why this is huge for your product, and ask them to show you support long before launch day, briefly explaining how to create an account on Product Hunt and use it;
- remind them about the launch on your big day and request feedback;
- then share the results and thank them for their input.
It is also reasonable to prepare the content drafts for the posts you plan to make on your social media, thematic groups, chats, and channels. Namely, you can even think about several posts that can be used as updates in the feed, reporting about the launch and progress (i.e., how many upvotes you got in the first 6 hours or other data).
7. Preview the Product Hunt Page
You must go through a health check and ensure that the Product Hunt page submission is flawless before the launch. Review all the details, double-check the content for typos or other inconsistencies, check that the links to your product and social media accounts work properly. Then look at the page preview using the special tool called Preview Hunt.
Once you're certain that everything is okay, you can schedule the launch for a specific time and date. You can do this up to one month in advance.
1. Launch the Product at the Right Time
Once again, timing is key. Product Hunt doesn't adapt to various time zones. Instead, it has a fixed cycle that starts at 12 a.m. PST (Pacific Time Zone, which is 8 hours behind UTC). This is when the new submissions start appearing on the platform.
So you need to be alert and launch your product at an optimal time such as 12:01 - 12:10 a.m. PST, which is considered the best time to launch on Product Hunt. You'll thus ensure you have maximum exposure time and more people from different time zones get to see it.
2. Inform Your Audience
Now is the time to send the email newsletters with a link to your Product Hunt post to your supporters, reminding them about the launch and asking for feedback. By the way, sending such emails on launch day in portions can do you good as it might help evenly distribute your engagement and upvotes. Furthermore, including a calendar reminder and a direct link makes it easier for the supporters to vote for you.
You may also send out a call in your communities, chats, forums, groups, and social media channels. Similarly, adding banners, a Product Hunt widget / badges, or content covering the big event on your website is also necessary on launch day, especially if you're offering an exclusive deal or limited-time Product Hunt-related discount.
3. Get Access to the Product Hub
After you've launched the product, it is important to request access to your Product Hub page apart from the Launch Page you already have. This page includes a summary of your product, the launch history, contacts, links, and other vitals. By claiming it, you'll have the chance to convert your upvoters into followers of your constant Product Hub page.
4. Don't Ignore the Comments
Today should also be devoted to replying to comments, giving answers to questions, and participating in discussions, naturally lengthening the threads. Being active in the community is crucial on launch day and in the following days if your launch succeeds. It's your duty to acknowledge the audience's interest in your product, so make sure to devote enough time to this.
Plus, monitor the Launch Day Dashboard to view how many upvotes, reviews, and comments you have and track the stats and your startup analytics to see how you're doing.
1. Express Gratitude and Share Results
No matter how the launch went, showing your supporters appreciation is a good tone. Follow up by sending a newsletter summarizing the launch results, sharing figures, numbers, and anything else you believe is worth mentioning. This is a common practice when building in public, and you can continue your communication in the long run.
The same applies to your social media, blog, website, and other channels used to stay in touch with the audience. Sharing your experience and journey provides lots of value, so you can fall back on what you've learned, gained, or would have done differently.
2. Analyze Your Findings
Ignoring the results of the launch would be a crime. Spend enough time analyzing the metrics and performance indicators and reflecting on the launch data you tracked to evaluate the results. Did you manage to achieve your set goals?
Likewise, look into the feedback and received testimonials. These insights can help you spot flaws, prioritize features, and refine your product development roadmap and plan.
It is also encouraged to continue spreading the word about the Product Hunt launch after launch day since there's always a chance to get the titles of Product of the Week, Month, or Year.
3. Learn from Your Mistakes
If the launch doesn't go as you expected, don't take it hard. Firstly, you'll have another shot in a while if you decide to launch on Product Hunt again. Secondly, this platform is just one piece of your overall marketing strategy, so you can give other channels and directories a try while improving the product and maintaining and growing the user base. Any experience, be it successful or not, can give you valuable insights, so look at it from this perspective.
Proven Tips for Launching on Product Hunt
What else should you keep in mind to strengthen your Product Hunt launch strategy? Here are several actionable recommendations that you may find helpful.
Don't Rush with the Launch
Premature launch on Product Hunt can lead to disappointment. Careful planning and preparation can make a difference, and you have to make certain that you've chosen the right timing too.
Rushing to launch without polished messaging or a sloppy submission page is among the biggest mistakes you can make. First impressions matter, so don't blow your chance to present the product to the world if your preparation isn't at its best.
Don't Launch if You Lack Supporters
Submitting a product when you don't have an existing following can really complicate things. Although gaining traction and product visibility from new people is among the most important aims of the launch, it'll be hard to reach them and get noticed if you lack a strong group of first-tier supporters. So, gather a fan network before the launch to raise the bar and have a smoother launch.
Don't Be Too Pushy
Getting support from the community is vital, but being too consistent or spammy can alienate people. Of course, it is much easier to launch a product when supporters or reputable hunters back you. So be natural and respectful when requesting feedback or seeking support if you don't want to push people away.
Don't Underestimate the Quality of Upvotes
Interestingly, the quality of the upvotes matters a lot. Upvotes from older existing accounts and active Product Hunt users have more influence on the rank than tons made from freshly created ones.
This means that it's risky to try to cheat the system's algorithms by urging people to create new accounts just to upvote your product or, even worse, using bots or paying for upvotes. The bottom line is that upvote "hacking" may appear spammy and will lead you nowhere, whereas paying hunters or cheating with upvotes can get you "disqualified" altogether. So play fair and focus on quality instead of quantity.
Set Goals and Concentrate on the Metrics
Remember that upvotes on Product Hunt or how high you make it in the ranking aren't your only end goal; getting quality users, leads, and feedback is. Thus, select measurable KPIs that'll help you promote your product and reach your business aims. Moreover, shortlist those that can help evaluate launch success even if you don't hit the top ranks on the platform. As such, you can set a goal of:
- boosting brand awareness and recognition;
- achieving a certain number of downloads, website visits, or sign-ups;
- collecting a specific number of emails and contacts as a result of the launch on the platform;
- finding investors and funding opportunities;
- among others.
Conversion is one of the most crucial product performance metrics, so you can keep an eye on this indicator as well.
Work on Website Optimization
You never know if your launch will go viral or not, but if it does, your website should be prepared and capable of handling the incoming traffic. Topping that, you have to ensure that all banners, CTAs, sign-up forms, and other elements are in place before the launch. This way, you'll leverage the benefits of the process.
Product Hunt Checklist
Every project's product line timeline is different. Yet, sticking to a Product Hunt checklist can help you be positive that you're well-prepared for the launch, organize your efforts, and don't overlook any important details. To help you stay on track and ensure you've covered all the bases, we've prepared a simple-to-follow checklist of Product Launch activities not to miss. Enjoy!
Concluding Thoughts on Product Hunt Launch
In this Product Hunt launch guide, we've done our best to walk you through the entire launch process. It may be a tough undertaking that requires a lot of effort, yet the hard work could be very rewarding.
Contributing a product on the platform is a way to reach the masses and get social proof. Achieving authentic engagement empowers creators to jumpstart product discovery even when the product is still at an infant stage. If you succeed, the launch allows for going through validation faster, getting sought for feedback from early users and advocates, and possibly even clients and funding opportunities.
If you're in search of a tech partner that'll help you with product development or need a hand with the launch, don't hesitate to contact us, book a consultation, and browse the services for early-stage startups that we have on offer.