Product Hunt December 23, 2020

Five Reasons Not to Post Your Startup on Product Hunt

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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.

scary kitty

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.

Not a True Startups

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.

Poor Outcome

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.

User Base Means a Lot

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.

Fakes

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.

Non scalable

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?

What to do if you still really want to be on Product Hunt

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:

  • Post your product on PH while it is still in the alpha version. Do not wait for paid features or every next version. Do not expect to deliver a perfect product.
  • Announce your updates. Make pivots. Do not be afraid to fail, especially at an early stage of the project.
  • If you just need the "#1,2,3 Products" icon, try posting it on “dead days” such as weekends. You can check the daily statistics here: https://whentolaunch.app/insights
  • Gather a community around your product in advance. Look for Slack chats and Facebook groups with the right people.
  • If you already have a database of registrations from another market (Russian, for example), try uploading it to the Ship service inside the PH. From there, you can send out messages to PH users and encourage them to support your project.
  • If the previous launch was not successful, try again — but change the name and design of the product. Plus, change all the promo materials, from the subtitle to the first author's comment.

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!

  1. 13

    I think you should post on product hunt. Just don’t fall into the trap of giving it the gravitas that it does not deserve.

    It’s just another place to list your product. It should be treated as such.

    1. 1

      Indeed, it’s just another place with audience that can be find anywhere else.

  2. 9

    I'm a little confused by the premise. "Five reasons not to post" but none of them are actually negative to your business. PH is just another channel to get the word out about your product. If it doesn't get to the top, that is okay, your marketing efforts shouldn't live or die based on PH.

    If you just need the "#1,2,3 Products" icon

    Who needs that? How much benefit does that actually bring? Is it really as good of social proof as having testimonials from actual users?

    I would say, feel free to post it there, but don't expect much. Just like don't expect much if you post it to IH or Reddit or any other platform. It will take time for people to learn about your product and for it to grow. The better you can make your product such that your few users want to tell others, then you will have better luck growing your user base.

    1. 1

      It's all true. Don't overestimate any channel you try to find your audience.

      Who needs that? How much benefit does that actually bring? Is it really as good of social proof as having testimonials from actual users?
      I think it wouldn't hurt at all. Specially when you don't have any traction, when you are moving from 0 to 1.

      1. 1

        For sure, it won't hurt. I just don't think it is worth getting stressed about trying to get it.

  3. 3

    Extra reasons not to post :
    Product hunt will make an "alternative services to your startup" page that due to the high authority of PH will settle on top of google search as people search for your startup.

    1. 1

      Interesting. That would be annoying for a young startup. Can you share an example page? I haven't seen this before.

        1. 1

          Wow. That... that seems like a double edge sword. I wonder if PH gives (or could give) product owners stats on how many people came to their page from the main listing page vs an "alternatives" page. That is the only benefit I can think of for that page (exposure for other products).

          Seems like 9/10 times that would be a bad thing. Unless there is a lot more long-term exposure via the alternatives pages.

          Thanks for sharing.

    2. 1

      Thanks for that info. Does PH make it automatically or I need to wait some actions from admins?

  4. 2

    Sometimes you don't have a choice. I got hunted without even knowing it 5 years ago.

    1. 1

      What did you do then?

      1. 2

        Built a JAMStack SaaS

  5. 2

    Great post. I'm so hesitant to release any product on PH. I feel like it's original feel of "hey look at these cool indie products" has turned into a highly coordinated popularity contest — and that's winning those has never been something I've been good at.

    Still, maybe I'll post one of these days but my expectations are pretty low at this point.

    1. 1

      I were just like you, trying to delay the launch as far as possible, and I succeeded in this. Now I think that the best strategy is to lower your expectations.

  6. 1

    I use the product hunt extention as my browser homepage, and it features random products there. So even if you don't get Top 3, you still get a chance to show up in the random feed long after launch day :) At least that's what I gather.

  7. 1

    Yep, I posted a few days ago my experience on Product Hunt. It's not a bad thing to post on Product Hunt just be cautious of your expectations and don't let it define your feelings about your product or business.

    https://www.indiehackers.com/product/re-loc/dont-let-your-product-hunt-launch-define-you--MP5tl5M4EiOh5eN9Mho

  8. 1

    Very interesting piece. Thanks for sharing. Followed.

  9. 1

    Great article. I think if / how you post on PH depends a lot on what you are looking to get out of it.

    If you want to gain an initial audience, feedback or test market validation I think you should post on PH yourself when you are ready. In this scenario I think you could do as well by posting on other sites too, e.g. Betalist.com. I have had nice results there.

    If you want to achieve product of the day (or close), then obviously it takes planning, as you mention, and being hunted by someone influential such as Ryan Hoover or Chris Messina.

    A couple years ago my friend posted his app ( https://www.producthunt.com/posts/you-should-meet ) on a whim on PH and he almost got product of that day. So, you never know!

  10. 1

    Good perspective and interesting read.

    I think Product Hunt can be valuable but not something that bootstrappers should overweight in its importance. I've seen a couple of #1 products of the day for sale and there's a graveyard of products that did really well.

    Product Hunt is a cool site but too many people think it's some form of absolute validation. It's another channel for exposure and wont make or break your startup.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your reply. What other channels of idea validation do you usually use?

      1. 1

        cold outreach, create content, linkedin, share in relevant slack groups, talk to potential customers

        1. 1

          Thanks for sharing! How do you search for relevant Slack groups?

  11. 1

    4.5+ million users per month and only 300 visited a #3 product of the day ? Strange...

  12. 1

    Thanks for sharing your knowledges! I have plans to launch my beta there in month later. With your thoughts I'm getting sure it's the proper way.

    1. 1

      I wish you luck! It will be useful to discuss your thoughts after your launch.

  13. 1

    Thanks for the article, interesting thoughts to think about. What are your stats after PH Launch?

    1. 1

      Thanks for asking, bud. We got about 300 free signups in the first day and people are still coming from PH. It was an amazing result made by 6 hours of preparing.

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