Launching a product can be a juggling act. With so many balls in the air, a solid todo list can save your launch (and your sanity). So I did some digging into what other indie hackers (and the internet in general) had to say on the topic.
The result: A list of items to check off before launching your product, and a breakdown of each one. Hope it helps!
Product Launch Checklist
Breaking down how to bring a product to market
- Market research/competitive analysis: Before you do anything, take time to understand the environment that you'll be launching into. Do some market research to understand your consumers. Conduct a competitive analysis to understand your competitors. Figure out what's working for them, what isn't, and how they promote themselves.
- Name your product: This can be a fun one. Just make sure the name is unique enough that it won't get buried in Google. If you get stuck, try a name generator like this one or this one.
- Create a logo: Another fun one. Head over to a tool like Canva or Stencil and put together a simple logo. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece. Side note: Animated logo GIFs do well on platforms like Product Hunt.
- Determine your value proposition/unique selling proposition: Get really clear on your value proposition and your unique selling proposition, as these will inform your product and your marketing.
- Validate the idea: It's best to validate before you even start building. There are lots of ways to validate, with varying degrees of certainty. Check out this article on validation where I laid it out.
- Figure out your business model and pricing: What is the best way to sell your product? Is it a subscription? One-time sale? Bundling? If it's a subscription, will you do freemium or a free trial? Get clear on this, as it will affect everything. And while you're at it, figure out your pricing, based on your market research (and your needs).
- Create a landing page with email capture: People need a place to land. And since they can't give you money yet, it's important to make it easy for them to give you their email addresses. You can create simple one-pagers with tools like Carrd and Umso.
- Set up your product's socials: Do this early in the process so that you can start building the hype. Post consistent, high-value content for best results.
- Link to your product from your personal socials: Make sure everyone can see what you're doing. And start talking about it — better yet, build in public. Again, this is all about building the hype.
- Hang out where your target market hangs out: Hopefully you know a lot about your market by now. It's important to hang out where your future customers hang out — not just to set the stage for future sales, but to learn and build relationships too.
- Participate in communities/launch platforms: Communities like IH can be a huge support while you're trying to figure everything out. Participate and lean on the collective expertise. And if you're going to use a platform like Product Hunt to launch, it's important to start participating there too.
- Build an audience: The bigger your audience, the better the launch. Build in public, post consistently, collaborate, do guest posts, start a newsletter — just do what you can to get people interested in what you're doing. There are lots of free tips and guides out there on how to do this. Here are some solid tips for growing your Twitter following.
- Build an email list: Your email list is one of your best assets because you own it — and it's particularly powerful for launches. Decide on an email marketing platform, and make sure it fits your needs, as you won't want to go through the hassle of migrating your list later. There are tons of options, like ConvertKit, Drip, Mailchimp and so on. Whichever one you choose, start building an email list now — it's never too early.
- Get clear on your goals and metrics: Know your goals for launch and beyond. Make sure they are SMART. Track them and let them inform your decisions.
- Pick a launch date: Make sure it's feasible, but not overly comfortable — you don't want to blow the deadline, but you don't want to put it off too long either. Spread the word. And stick to the date.
- Build your minimum viable product: You're going to need a product (duh). Get started as soon as you feel confident that your idea has been validated (to the extent that it can be without a real product). Be mindful of your launch date.
- Spread the word in communities/social media: Pretty self-explanatory. Self-promotion is shameless and necessary, so long as it isn't spammy and you abide by the guidelines of each community.
- Create an explainer video: While it's not a must, these can be hugely beneficial when done well — particularly for more complex products.
- Create a waitlist or run pre-sales: You'll get emails and maybe even some dollars before you launch, which is huge. Plus, this is one of the best ways to validate your product. Show your appreciation and sweeten the deal with exclusive offers.
- Create an outreach list: Think influencers, journalists, potential customers, fellow entrepreneurs — anyone who will either support you or benefit from your product. Warm them up if they're cold. And if you plan to leverage any kind of partnership, get the wheels turning sooner rather than later.
- Finish the rest of your website: A one-pager is technically fine for a launch, but most products will benefit from a pricing page, contact page, about page, etc. Here's a handy web launch checklist.
- Add privacy-friendly analytics: Again, not strictly necessary, but helpful. Consider tools like Plausible by @markosaric and @ukutaht, or Friendly by @StefanVetter.
- Set up support and feedback features: Make it painfully easy for your users to talk to you, ask questions, and provide feedback. Chat is a good option — check out tools like tawk.to and Intercom.
- Conduct a beta for feedback (and early adopters): Squish bugs and learn what your target market wants by doing a beta. If you've got waitlisters, they'll be happy to join. There are also platforms designed specifically for this, like Betafy and BetaList. You could also check out r/AlphaandBetaUsers or ask for feedback here on IH.
- Collect social proof: Get testimonials and other forms of social proof from friends, beta testers, and early adopters. Emphasize them on your website, pricing page, and marketing materials.
- Stress test your product and site: Your launch will (hopefully) create a spike in traffic. Make sure your site can handle it. Tools like Loader and LoadRunner might be helpful.
- Create a media kit: If your outreach list includes journalists, consider putting together a media kit. They'll be much more likely to write about you if you come to the table with a kit in hand.
- Notify email list and waitlisters before launch: Reach out a few days before launch to let people on your outreach list know that launch is right around the corner. Offer value and be specific in your asks.
- Tell your support system it's about to go down: It's go-time. Tell your partner, friends, family, and so forth — not just so that they can shout it from the rooftops, but so they can support you if things get stressful.
- Prepare outreach/posts/promotion for launch day: You'll be reaching out to folks and posting on launch day too, but you'll probably be very busy, so prepare everything ahead of time.
- 🚀 Launch on platforms/communities/directories: Now we've come to the most important step of all — launch. Here's a list of a TON of places to launch. Some of these platforms (like Product Hunt) have specific best practices of their own, so make sure to familiarize yourself first.
- Reach out to your email list and outreach list: On launch day, take your prepared outreach and send it.
- Market/promote/advertise: Now that it's out there in the wild, you've gotta let the world know. Check out Growth Bites and @harrydry's Marketing Examples for some solid tips on how to do that.
Post launch: Relaunch
- Follow up on outreach that had no response: Give it a few days, then follow up with anyone who didn't join in. Whether you asked for their support or their custom, it isn't too late.
- Postmortem: How did it go? Did you hit your goals? What will you do better next time? Analyze the launch, then set new goals.
- Relaunch: One launch isn't generally enough these days. Consider relaunching across multiple platforms and sites.
Happy launching! 🚀 🎉