These conclusions were based on the experience of 50 startup launches by diverse entrepreneurs.
Did you know that over 6000 projects are uploaded to Product Hunt every month? Product Hunt generates 4.5+ million users per month, and features over 700 products.
Even if you find your project on the main page, this would hardly bring you any profit. Most of the startups can not compete with the top three, which bear the proud names of the number one, number two, and number three ranked products of the day.
I analyzed about 50 startups by various teams from different industries. Sometimes I relied on insider information obtained from the founders, sometimes my judgments were based on blog posts or just data from the project's PH page. Here are my five reasons against posting one’s startup on the Product Hunt.
First of all, not all projects that are posted there deserve to be called "true startups". On the day of your launch, you might get involved in an unequal battle with a new Facebook service (for instance: they might clone another old feature once again and be totally happy with it), a Notion update, or a product by the Product Hunt itself! By the way, the latter threw a curve to the Crello team when they came to the site. You should realize that your chances to succeed are slim if you are just a tiny startup, even if you try to milk the situation for all its worth.
Second, the invested resources might fail to pay off: #3 Product of the Day counts 600 site visits and 30 installations of a Slack app. Fortunately, it took only 11 days for the guys to build the product and post it to the Product Hunt. But they could have spent much more effort on it and the result would have been the same. Time will show whether 30 installations is a lot or a little. The quality of the audience might turn out to be more important than its quantity and the product might continue to grow virally. Yet the numbers are not particularly impressive: one expects other indicators from the PH. One can attract a larger audience via Reddit and specialized Slack channels or with the help of crowd marketing. On IndieHackers, there are a lot of articles about this type of promotion.
Third, if yours is not a hype project that would attract a large audience organically, then you need to accumulate a user base that will keep voting for you and commenting on your project evenly during all the 24 hours of the launch day that you choose. The race starts at 00: 00 PST and ends at 23: 59 PST. In this case, it would be good for you to have fans in all time zones. Plus, you will need to avoid getting banned by an algorithm that might decide that you cheated with the upvotes. Even those projects that spent a couple of months preparing and attracted a huge audience might fail to be included in the top 3 of the day (but get ahead by the end of the month), such as the release of the Zelf neo-bank.
Fourth, if after getting acquainted with the previous points you still do no doubt posting your startup at PH, then think of another reason that is cheating. An IndieHackers user reports that he discovered weird upvotes for his project from suspicious accounts of "white men wearing ties" all of whom registered on the site on the same day and gave an equal number of votes for the same projects. Maybe, someone was warming up their bots before making them upvote their own product later. Or, maybe, the Product Hunt itself was simulating user activity. Who would figure it out? So you need to take into account the risk of being bypassed by a less scrupulous project.
Fifth (and this is the most important thing!) – this is a non-scalable channel, used mostly by geeks and startupers who are just like you. They have their specific interests: top productivity and tools for developers are among their first priorities. If this is not your audience, then you should not expect much from the promotion. For example, do not expect a lot of sign-ups to your dating app, even if it is as great as the Promenade. These guys received 1000 clicks and 100 registrations with the PH.
You might get lucky, but what if you do not?
Define your goals clearly. What do you need most: first users, feedback, press coverage or SEO? You can get all this together or separately with the help of other channels. The only thing you might fail to get elsewhere is a beautiful “Product of the day/week/month” icon and a lifetime place in the list of the top projects on Product Hunt.
If you nevertheless want to launch your product on PH, I would recommend you to follow these logical steps:
Join PH upvote groups and share your project there. Be careful.
Various checklists for PH preparation are scattered around the Internet.
Contrary to all the facts that were stated above, we launched on PH in November 2020 with our main product Slidepage (and got #2 Product of the Day). And a few weeks later we came up with the micro product Christmas Stories Design Pack 2021. Here in IH blog you will find my conclusions and a detailed report on the results. Feel free to subscribe if you are interested!
I am sure that some readers of this article will eventually become incredible entrepreneurs with successful products. I am happy to make friends and help you with solving issues related to expanding your business abroad. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on IH if you would like to discuss anything, and I will suggest a solution or lead you to a person who knows the answer better than me.
Businesses grow stronger thanks to hardworking people!