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Chris Ashby
September 23, 2021

A guide to launching on Product Hunt when you have no followers, no email list, but a decent product

Some of us don't have the luxury of a huge email list or hundreds of followers. Here's how to launch when you don't.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

As I’m writing this my second launch on Product Hunt has made it’s way into the top 10 for the day (not super high, but still, hooray!)

And after failing miserably with my first Product Hunt launch (5 upvotes total), I wanted to talk about having (a bit) of Product Hunt launch success — without many followers (26 at time of writing), and without a big email list (46 at time of writing).

This is for those of you who want to maximise success on Product Hunt, but maybe don’t have the time or the ability to generate a large email list or a lot of followers first. Some things I learnt between my first and second launch that can help you with your launch.

A big caveat first

There’s no doubt, that having some email subscribers, having a good idea well executed, and having followers on Product Hunt can hugely increase your chances come launch day.

And there is no doubt that both setting up a good profile in advance, and spending about 1 month before your launch engaging every day with the community will give you a little boost if you can do it (even just spending 1 week and getting 20 or 30 followers can help).

In fact, I’d go as far to say that having a decent profile, that shows a small amount of engagement, and a selection of upvotes goes a long way on Product Hunt — so make sure to do at least this before you launch.

But there are other things that affect your chances of success, beyond these.

Product Hunt is a great community, of people who genuinely care about great products, not just upvoting what they are told to or have been promoted to upvote.

So let’s forget email list, follower count, and product idea for now, and just focus on the other things that impact your success.

Lesson 1 — Get a well-known hunter to hunt your product

Now, this is something I didn’t do for my current product launch, which has been rising up the ranks today.

You don’t need to use a well-known hunter to launch your product, but it certainly helps to, and it would have helped me eek out extra more upvotes if I had.

Product Hunt sends out a notification when one of the people you follow launches a new product, so the larger the following, the more people get notified when you launch.

All you need to do to do this is to google well known product hunters, and then pick one that you think matches your product best. Get in contact with them, provide assets and copy, and you’re off!

Oh, and make sure to post the first comment explaining what your product is, on the product launch page, as soon as it launches!

Lesson 2 — Launch at exactly midnight PST

I made the mistake in my first launch of choosing to launch just after midnight. I thought I was being clever by launching at a different time to everyone else.

In reality, what I did was miss the boat on the early upvotes, and it cost me a spot on the homepage.

See, the top 14 or so products, are shown on the homepage, and another 10 or so are shown underneath a ‘show more’ button beneath that. Then, there are even more products that don’t even make it into the show more section.

My product didn’t even make it into the show more section. And it sat there, unloved, unnoticed, with not votes to kickstart it’s momentum, left to die a modest and untimely death (the product itself is still growing in use, thankfully).

The second time around, I launched at exactly midnight, the same time as everyone else, and it worked. People saw the product as it hit Product Hunt along with every other product, and those early few upvotes from the launch timing helped get it into the ‘show more’ section, which in turn propelled it into the homepage section.

And this lesson leads me neatly into the next one.

Lesson 3— Focus on getting 10 votes and at least 1 comment in the first hour of launching

See, when you launch, it’s a race to get your product onto the homepage featured section, so that it can get more traction from users who come to the homepage and see it there.

The higher up you get, the more people will see it (because it’s not as far down the page — so users don’t have to scroll as far).

This means that your one most important objective during that first hour, is to get at least 10 votes. Call in favours, ask friends, send to your small email list if you have one, post it wherever you can, get your family to sign up to product hunt.

The 10 votes and 2 comments I got on my current product launch in the first hour have been the single most important thing that helped it gain momentum.

And alongside that, make sure to try and get at least 1 comment. Comments feed the Product Hunt algorithm, and can help propel your product up the ranks even with a lower number of upvotes than other products.

Lesson 4— Engage with the community as much as possible on the day

Once you have your product launched, you then have 2 more jobs to do, and these jobs will continue for most of the day.

First, engage with the Product Hunt community as much as you can. Post in as many discussions as you can to gain more followers, and get more organic traffic to your profile.

When traffic goes to your profile, some of that traffic will look at what you have ‘made’ — products you are listed as a maker of ie, the product you have launched. And some of that traffic will go on to upvote it.

Second…

Lesson 5 — Post your product in other channels

Make sure you also post your product launch in other channels. I’m talking LinkedIn, Facebook groups (you can search to find groups that allow product hunt promotion), Twitter, Indie Hackers (if you’re a member), Forums, Slack channels, Discord channels, and more.

Heck, maybe even write a Medium post on the day of your product launch about what you learned (can you see what I did there…)

The thing is, these won’t get you a slew of upvotes. Heck, most of the people you post too won’t even have a Product Hunt account.

But, it will get you a few upvotes, and it will prompt support from people who like you and want to help.

And as I’ve said before, every upvote counts, especially at the beginning of your launch, and especially to get your product one or two spots higher up the list.

And last but not least…

Some things that don’t really affect your launch

There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to launching on Product Hunt — here are some of them that don’t really affect your launch:

  • A gif thumbnail
  • A video on your product page
  • Adding the Product Hunt badge to your website (unless you get a lot of organic traffic, in which case, this will help you)

Some things to help you after your launch

Once you’ve decided on a launch date, you’ll also want to get some other things in place, just to get the most long-term benefit from your launch as you can. These are:

  • A way to collect users email addresses when they click through to the website from your Product Hunt product page (depending on the product you could do this with most CRM tools or use Zapier to automate it)
  • A website that is optimised to convert users through the main action you want them to take (think about what action you want Product Hunt users to take, and optimise your landing page to incentivise this action)

And that’s it!

Everything you need to know to launch your product on Product Hunt with no following, no email list, and only your product.

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