On June 1st, 2020, CoderNotes.io launched on ProductHunt.
It got 22 upvotes and led to no sales.
Six days later, CoderNotes.io was the #1 Product of the Day on ProductHunt, and ended the day at #2, with over 300 upvotes.
In this post, I'll share the leadup to the launch, the metrics, and what I learned.
I started making a plan for my June 1st launch a couple weeks before it went live. About a week prior, I stopped writing new features, to make sure I didn't push any breaking changes.
Here's what I had planned to do:
IndieHackers post: Write a post about the lessons I have learned from getting a product to launch, and at the bottom link to the PH post if people wanted to support it.
Twitter post: I tried (unsuccessfully) to get Adam Wathan to reply to my launch post, since he's replied before on Twitter and I saw massive engagement because of it.
Ask my network to help promote the launch: I'm a member of a few slack communities, and of course a launch was the time to cash in some favors.
Prepare my ProductHunt comment
Let my email list know that the product was launching soon, and I would be asking for their support
This was it. It feels like a big list, but it really boils down to announcing on the channels I could think of, and preparing those announcements the day before.
On launch day, I woke up and just started posting things left and right. My IH post, Five Lessons Learned From Launching My First SaaS, started off not getting picked up at all, but later in the day started getting upvotes. Now, it's my most popular post on the site.
I announced on the other platforms, and some upvotes started coming in, primarily from friends and people who wanted me to succeed. I remember getting to about 15 upvotes halfway through the day, and being stuck around there.
Here are the results from June 1st to June 6th.
As you can see, if you're not on the front page, you'll hardly get any traffic from ProductHunt.
When I asked IndieHackers who didn't have a personal audience how they became successful, there were three main points:
The fourth, bonus point was that launches can make a noticeable impact. Because I heard this from enough people in that thread, I knew I wanted to try my best to have a good one.
However, I also knew that I didn't have an engaged email list, nor a big enough personal reach, to force myself onto the front page. So I worked hard to keep my expectations low for the launch.
And, as you saw, the launch ended with a whimper. I had taken off of work that day, in preparation for any bug or support issues that came in. But it ended up being just another day.
I feel like this post should have ended here. There shouldn't be more to this story. But for what feels like the first time in CoderNotes.io's story, I got lucky.
It's Sunday. I wake up around 10:00 and go to the bathroom, checking my phone like I always do. I have a ton of people signing up for free accounts. I haven't had coffee yet, so I'm very confused. "Did Google rank me for something new?"
I fight Google Analytics on mobile (a horrible experience!) to try to see where people are coming from today. I see it's all from ProductHunt. Weird, that makes no sense.
I go to my ProductHunt listing, it says "#1 Product of the Day" in the top right. It tells me that I can go to my "Launch day dashboard". Uhh, okay? I launched last week though...
I go to the dashboard. It says #1 there too. I'm getting more confused by the second. I go to the home page.
And there I am, right at the top.
*"What. the. %%%%!"
A couple days after this all went down, I reached out to the PH support team. They told me that their algorithm sometimes picks apps that "had potential" but didn't get to the front page. (In other words, they hand-pick ones they like.)
At the time, I had no idea this was a thing. I figured that somehow, there had been a bug in the system, and that morning my product had been re-launched, but with a head start of 22 upvotes.
Anyway, back to June 7th.
This was the craziness that I had expected. Every time I refreshed the page, someone new had upvoted the product. I was getting free signups left and right. I quickly reached out to my groups and told them what was happening, which led to even more upvotes and support. It was by far the most hectic experience I've had yet.
By the end of the day, I had gotten over 700, but probably closer to 1000, unique users to visit the landing page:
If you leave with only one piece of information from this post, I hope it's this:
The product that got 22 upvotes on PH and the one that got 400 are THE SAME PRODUCT.
Nothing was different. There were no new features, no bug fixes, nothing. In fact, the day I did 22 upvotes was a TON of outreach effort on my part, while 400 came effortlessly (literally accidentally).
So, my conclusion: Luck plays an outsized role in ProductHunt success. Unless you can guarantee 100-200 upvotes from your audience, you just can't expect to have that crazy launch experience. It's all luck.
There's no other way to explain how the same product can have two opposite results just six days apart.
But, if you get lucky enough to land on the front page (or top 2) of Product Hunt, how well does that traffic convert? While I really want to emphasize the above point, we all know why you've put up with my writing for the past five minutes. So let's dive into the metrics.
In other words, the conversion rate from viewing the landing page to signing up for a paid account was around 0.2%.
Another takeaway: ProductHunt's demographic are entrepreneurs who are curious about cool new products, but treat them primarily as entertainment. They won't convert nearly as well as motivated buyers.
Here are my closing thoughts:
Happy to answer any questions people have about the launch, next steps for CoderNotes.io, or whatever!