July 11, 2018

I launched, finally. Here's what I learned in 24 hours.

Hi everyone, I've posted on here a couple times with various questions and stories about my product. All of which were basically me procrastinating and delaying shipping my product. Last week I took the plunge. Here's the good and the bad.

  1. Product Hunt "Ship" is garbage

I forked out for the "pro" package and ended up paying for 2 months of it. I can't say anything good about it at all. The only thing you can do with it is schedule a launch date up to 7 days in advance. This doesn't guarantee you a place on the homepage or anything. All the features that MIGHT be useful are on the "Super Pro" plan, which costs about $19,000 per month.

As discussed on here before, the UX on mobile is embarrassingly bad. I emailed Product Hunt about this and they replied saying basically that they knew this but that their users "preferred desktop" and thus that is where they were putting their efforts. I've never heard such nonsense. I would say its more likely that people are using desktop more because the mobile interface is unusable, and NOT because they prefer desktop.

Anyway the only thing that "Ship" could do for me ended up being redundant. I'll explain why next.

  1. Chris Messina is a hero.

I reached out to Chris Messina (guy who 'invented' the hashtag and general Silicon Valley ultra-man) and asked him to hunt my product on product hunt. He did.

No ifs buts or maybes, he just launched it for me, on the day I asked him to. Amazing. What a guy.

  1. Product Hunt launches are largely vanity driven

It's cool to be featured on the PH homepage. It really is. BUT the traffic you get from it is superficial and short lived. I don't doubt there are startups that have been featured on there and blew up overnight, but there are also people who win the lottery and people who make it in the music industry. My point is... it's not the norm. Don't expect a PH homepage feature to launch your company.

  1. Quora is AWESOME

Who knew Quora was so great. I spent a few hours answering some questions about my product's area of expertise and I saw almost immediately a spike in traffic. I then took out an ad campaign on Quora, targeting my products area of interest and saw an even greater spike.

$15 of Quora advertising sent me 4x more traffic than a PH launch that was hunted by Chris Messina. FOUR TIMES AS MUCH. I wish I had taken my $180 "Ship" subscription and just put it all into Quora.

Please... check out Quora advertising.

  1. People are awesome

My launch has been reasonably successful. On day 1 I got about 20 signups from countries all over the world. A few days in I have 36 folk trialling and ONE paying customer.

As folk were signing up I was emailing them personally and asking for feedback. I've had AMAZING insight and feedback from my users that has already made me change various aspects of my app in significant ways. It's so great. One user made a comment about my app and how it would be better if it was like this, and I was immediately like... holy crap that makes total sense! Why didn't I build it like that first time round?! Amazing. So grateful to my early adopters. Lots more change to come.

So here I am, after a year of building my product (twice) and then a lot more months procrastinating, I'm out in the wild and I have users! If you're reading this and sitting on a "pretty much good to go" product... just ship it!


  1. 24

    This is a solid writeup, thanks for taking the time!

    I've heard of quota being useful before but never about the advertising side of it, very interesting!

    Also yup totally agree with ALL of your PH remarks.

    So where is your product at now? What's the next step for you?

    1. 1

      Thanks man!

      Where I’m at now is continuing to engage with my early adopters and making some changes to the wording in my homepage.

      I am running an expirement also on Google Optimise. It is showing clearly that my CTA isn’t performing as well as some of the other a/b tests I have in the experiment. So i’ll let that run it’s course and then make the changes.

  2. 5

    Hi Mick, thanks for your write-up! In other posts about Quora Advertising I read that it was ridiculously expensive (not necessarily bad if it converts), yet you mention that you spent only $15. How many visitors did you get from those $15 and how many converted?

    1. 4

      Thanks. I’m going to try To post some data on the Quora thing here later.

      1. 2

        +1 on that, would love to hear about Quora ads

      2. 2

        Yeah I'd love to find out how Quora worked for you. I get about 15k views a month from about x100 Quora posts.

        1. 1

          Mick, Giles - Any tips to for Quora marketing?

          Thanks in advance!

          1. 3

            Just by looking at your competitors, going through their posts 1 by 1 and seeing the post viewed posts. Then add an answer to those posts if you think you can bring more value...

            1. 1

              Thanks mate!

          2. 2

            If you give genuine, valuable answers then you will do well. Don't just spam your product link everywhere.

            1. 1

              Done! Will keep that in mind :)

  3. 3

    Mick, this is a masterpiece. Short, full of direct info, no sales pitch and the first time I read about the advertising on Quora. I've read about answering questions but not advertising.

    All the best for your product.

    1. 1

      Wow. I honestly can’t believe the feedback this post is getting.

      Thank you so much.

  4. 3

    Mick can you tell us something more about 15$ ad campaign at Quora. What were you targeting, and what were the metrics (CPC etc.)? :)

    1. 4

      Thanks matt!

      I was planning on writing something up but didn’t think anyone would give a shit lol. However now I definitely will. I’ll try and do it tonight!

      1. 1

        Er, yes we would! Anything that is effective in business is of interest!

        My partner and I are looking at advertising on Quora when we launch soon so any insights you have will be of great interest to us.

        Well done on finally putting yourself in front of an audience. Here is hoping this is the start of great things!

        1. 1

          Thank you man!

      2. 1

        As growth hacker I just love stories like that. :)

        1. 1

          Cool - well I hope you’ll get something from it.

    2. 1

      Would love to hear Details about this too!

      1. 2

        Mick - Check out www.makerstories.io. We built a place/community for creators like us to share the raw deets of our products as we build them and grow. Also, I would like to read more about what your product is!! And try it out.

      2. 1

        Thanks Patric. I’m gonna try and do it tonight.

        1. 1

          I will be waiting too

  5. 2

    Quora is a goldmine. It's a diamond mine. It's a rare precious space mineral used for warp drive fuel mine. :)

    People are ok too, especially on their good days. Sometimes they suck, but they're mostly ok.

    Congrats on your paying customers, good luck.

  6. 2

    This one post reinforced and taught me more than a month of trawling Medium for startup tactics. Nice writeup.

    1. 1

      Wow that’s one of coolest things anyone’s ever said! I’m glad my insights have helped you somewhat!

  7. 2

    Hey @Primer thanks for the tactical advice. Definitely going to look into Quora questions and ads!

    1. 1

      Thanks nick. I’m going to try and deep dive into that some more tonight. I’ll post on indie hackers.

  8. 1

    congrats and thanks for sharing

    1. 1

      Thanks so much.

  9. 1

    Thanks Mick for sharing detail experience. Useful for all startups.

  10. 1

    Anything to say regarding how Reddit may have played a part to grow your startup?

    1. 1

      Hi, I did a trial of reddit advertising and it wasn't very fruitful at all. They seem to be on the old model of cost per 1000 impressions, whereas most other advertisers now operate on cost per click.

      As a result my CPC on Quora was about $0.08 whereas on Reddit my CPC was $1.16. Wasn't impressed.

  11. 1

    I've never heard that you can advertise on Quora. Wow.

  12. 1

    Thanks Mick for your insight, really interesting. Sad that PH didn't work out, I guess they are not big music fans...

    1. 1

      Looks that way lol 😝

  13. 1

    I kept seeing more and more influence post links to their responses on Quora. I always put it aside as just another Q&A site, but I'm definitely going to start digging in to it now. Also, really nice writeup. I use Product Hunt a lot from a consumer end, so seeing your perspective was very insightful.

    1. 1

      Thanks brad. I wasn’t overly familiar with Quora before this, but I was aware that a post from quora was at the top of google for almost everything I’ve searched for over the past few years, so I didn’t doubt the platform carried weight.

  14. 1

    Hey Mick. Nice article. We also launched on PH. I agree with your points. It's no way of building long term traffic.

    But still it had some great positive sides as well. We got some signups for free (didn't use ship). We received great feedback. And not to forget: now we have some nice backlinks from PH and others who wrote about us afterwards.

  15. 1

    Hey Mick - this was so well written. Thanks for sharing!

    I'm not the target user for SongBox, but I can immediately understand the problem you are trying to solve. Kudos on the launch.

    #5 really resonates with me. I just launched my product this week as well (www.tribefive.me for reference) and literally just read your article before turning things "on". Your advice to personally welcome people who signed up and ask for feedback was a perfect reminder for me to do the same thing. And because of that, I've experienced the same results: lots and lots of great feedback to make the product better. Thanks!

    I'm excited to see where SongBox goes next.

    Cheers,

    Jonathan

    1. 1

      Jonathan thanks so much. I'm glad if I managed to help in any small way. Your product looks awesome I'm going to check it out.

  16. 1

    Good write-up thanks. Interesting re: Quora. I used to post on there a few years ago, but haven't used it much since. My perception was the novelty wore off and it started to get saturated and cluttered with lower quality content. Sounds like that might not be the case.

    Did you try similar Q&A on Reddit?

    1. 1

      Hi Mark,

      My knowledge of Quora wasn't and isn't all that great. All that I know for sure is that it's a really busy site. It seems to get huge traffic and it has a great self-serve ad product.

      No I didn't try the Q&A reddit thing. I'm not aware of what that is, I'm going to check it out.

  17. 1

    How did that Quora traffic convert?

    1. 1

      Better than PH traffic....

      I got about 40 signups from just over 1000 clicks so I'm happy.

  18. 1

    Dang, that's amazing and congrats on Chris hunting you.

    Btw, I run an online school/platform for Hip-hop and R&B artists. We should definitely link up. 👋

    1. 1

      Hi Chris that sounds awesome. Shoot me an email!

  19. 1

    Hey Mick, thanks for sharing this! Wish I could tag Ryan here, I'm sure this is not what they expected! Hoping to hear a lot more along your product journey! And good luck :)

    1. 1

      Hi and thanks.

      I don’t want this to be about Product Hunt. I love PH And have been an active daily user since pretty much launch. This post was about lessons learned during my launch and PH “ship” was a part of that.

      That being said, I did mention it a couple times so I can’t blame anyone for taking a slant on PH from it.

      I think their “ship” product is very immature right now and drastically overpriced for what it offers.

      Lastly, I did email PH with my concerns and the response I got “our users prefer desktop” led me to believe that they don’t care about user feedback.

      1. 1

        Haha yes, thanks for pointing that out! Any alternatives which you think are better to launch?

        Also, any tips on the Quora marketing part?

  20. 1

    Interesting info regarding quora, love to hear about the amount of traffic you got after spending $15.

  21. 1

    This is exactly the sort of launch insight I've been searching for; highly relevant and concise. Thanks so much @Primer!

    Love that you're reaching out to real users right away. And love that you're already gleaning valuable insights from those conversations. Really cool!

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot man!

  22. 1

    Great writeup!

    Looking forward to hear about your ad campaign.

    Quora really is a great source of traffic!

    I posted an article on Medium called An Alternative to SEO, which got 2K views. It's about Quora Marketing …

    1. 1

      Hey Emil! Not able to get through to the link! Please can you share it again?

        1. 1

          Works well! & Thanks for a primer! Time to get started :)

  23. 1

    Aweee!! So many tips!!! Thanks a lot, also good luck!

  24. 1

    posts like these are a gem & its what makes me visit IH. Good job on launching & all the best.

  25. 1

    Wow, great shout on Quora. They never even came into my head when looking at advertising :)

    1. 2

      Thanks. I’m going to try and post some data on the Quora thing later tonight.

      1. 1

        Look forward to it Mick.

  26. 1

    Few months back I launched my startup on Product hunt . I am agree with almost all of your points . But something good happened with me . I got a big client from there and also got $150 sales on day . May be this happens for my product . I love your experiment on quora . I will definitely try to explore this . Thanks for your write up.

    1. 1

      Thanks. I’m glad you had a better experience with PH.

  27. 1

    I wonder if launching on IH is more fruitful than launching on PH.

    1. 1

      I’m not sure. I think possibly not as the only people here are other founders. At least there is somewhat of a consumer user group at product hunt.

      However I’d love to hear from anyone who launched here to see what their experience was.

  28. 1

    Hey man, take my congratulations!

    I'm interested in learning how did you end your procrastination tho?

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      Well I got to the stage where I couldn’t “tinker” with the app anymore. It was “done” (in my opinion apps are never “done” but you know what I mean) and I simply knew I had to launch it or kill it.

      So I picked a date and purchased product Hunt ship. The financial constraint or product hunt ship made me Damn sure i was going to launch otherwise that money would have been a total waste (it was a waste anyway as it turns out).

      I launched. There was traffic, there was bugs, and there were changes to be made. But the app is now much better for it. I wish I did it months ago.

  29. 1

    Wow this post saw more action than I expected!

    Do you guys think this place (indiehackers) would be an appropriate forum for me to continue “blogging” about my progress and things that I’ve learned?

    I don’t do social media but I guess, follow me on here for more updates.

    Thanks so much for the responses. It’s inspired me to write more.

    Thanks.

    1. 1

      Depending on the type of content I guess. Valuable stuff like insights on Quora ads or other learnings are surely welcome here. Things like "we have a new Feature" will probably ne a waste of time

      1. 1

        Yeah I wouldn’t go anywhere near trying to promote my product. I come here to discuss the process of building and launching. Not to market myself.

  30. 1

    Very cool, congrats on launching!

    Small typo on /join: "We use your mobile phone number to (s)end you free [...]".

    1. 1

      Thank you! I’ll fix.

  31. 1

    Thank for sharing! It is really interesting.

    I am also using Ship, mostly for getting some visibility while building. It brings about 30 subscribers per month. I also find it useful for sending updates about my progress. However, I agree with you, it is overpriced.

    "Product Hunt is vanity" 100%. I do not bother launching on PH if the product isn't targeted to tech people.

    Congratulations on the launch, it's awesome!

    Is there a place to follow your progress?

    1. 2

      Thanks so much. As far as “is there a place to follow your progress” - we’ll i don’t do social media. I like the idea of a blog but to be honest didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say. However maybe inde hackers is the place for me.

      Do you think it would be appropriate to post updates here in the form of a small “lessons learned” series?

      1. 1

        I think here would be a good place. It isn’t really geared up for user channels but just the feedback you have on this thread tells me you would have a small but interested audience. Count me in for one!

        1. 1

          Thanks a lot man. I wonder if user channels would be a good step for IH. I feel like that might turn this place into another ego-fest.