Growth June 15, 2020

Nervous about launch on Product Hunt? Launch a mini side project first!

Bruno Raljic @brunor

You’re an indie hacker who would like to launch on Product Hunt for the first time and you’ve heard a lot of stories about the launch. A lot of advice on how to do it properly. A lot of people telling you don’t screw it, you have one chance. This thing is important, that thing is important. And all you do is waiting. Waiting till your launch has perfect pictures, perfect copy, perfect logo. Guess what. It doesn’t really matter.

Action over advice

Let me be clear in the beginning. I don’t value generic advice. Things like You need to learn how to tell a story. Really? Or, for example, book recommendations. What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for me. What else we have in this category? You know those moments when you have a group of people and some special guest among them (e.g. some successful businessman) and there’s a rule that one of those smarty-pants would ask a question What advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of the career? Guest would politely answer, but the person who asked that already knows the answer and nodding like all the knowledge is being transferred in those two and a half minutes. I just don’t see value in that. We all have different scenarios.

But what I do like, and prefer, are those actionable pieces of advice. Or just doing something, experiencing it for yourself, seeing it in action. I’ll search the internet for the books I would enjoy reading. Actionable advices are doable. Measurable. You can do it and see if it works for you or not. This post should be actionable advice.

Execution vs Optimization

One thing is how people are executing things (e.g. launching on product hunt), and the other thing is how they optimize it. Like how to drive additional traffic.

I’ll give you one example. You often heard that for a successful launch you need to launch at midnight PST. And you’ve heard it so much time that you also know now that you should launch at midnight. But then you fell in a trap. You know it, you strongly believe in it, but you havent executed that even once.

Then, when your launch is about to happen you are not sure what that “launch at midnight” actually means. What it means in technical details. From the execution point of view. Yeah, you did timezone research but what does it mean. Can you start one hour earlier preparing and when the clock is 00:01 to hit publish or you need to start the whole process after the midnight? Those things you won’t find in all of those “how to launch on product hunt” tutorials. Those things you need to do by yourself.

Launch something irrelevant on Product Hunt first – as I did

You’re preparing the launch for your main project, and you are all into that. Building relations that would help you on the launch day etc. You might think you’ll ruin your “reputation” by launching some funny side project. Let me tell you something. Nobody knows you’re about to launch something else.

Of course, to do that, you need to have a mini product that is doing one thing that might get people using it. No big deal, something that you wouldn’t put too much work in promoting. In my case, it was Commit Art

Want to see space invaders in Github contribution page? Check here

What can you get?

You’ll get 100% genuine experience. Delivered right to you in person. No blogposts, tutorials, reading material where you will read how it looks like.

Luckily, launch time is here like at 9 AM. I got up in the morning, made myself a tea, and started submitting a product around 8 AM. No pressure. I also took screenshots for each step. Just to have it when I’m about to prepare my next launch. “Big one”. In one moment I was thinking like – maybe some sessions would be invalid, so I need to start over, because I finished up my product description and everything so I’ve just waited. That wasn’t the case.

At the end of the day, I got some followers on twitter, I got around 20-25 upvotes on Product Hunt. Except a few tweets in the morning, I didn’t promote it heavily. I got Product Hunt followers. This is important, they will get a notification once I’m launching again. There’s a dashboard where you can track your upvotes and your position. I didn’t know about that. At the end of the day, I got some traffic, ended up in the very bottom list of the products. Of course, it’s nothing surprising. The product itself doesn’t bring too much value

One thing I would do differently

Only one thing. I would launch this product over the weekend. I’ve launched it on Thursday, and it’s a working day where all the big launches are happening. Maybe it would be a bit different.

What’s next?

I plan to launch my main product, Bee Informed, this or next week! I’ve covered the execution part, now I’ll experiment with the optimization. It wasn’t worth to put all the energy in promoting Commit Art.

The story about the bouldering training for the end
I’ll tell you a story for the end. Disclaimer, I don’t remember where I’ve heard it so I might not tell it 100%. But you’ll get a message.

There was this bouldering camp where you could pay for professional training. Price was high but you get full professional support. And, since it may be a risky activity, people would pay more to hear from professionals. Security, equipment, tricky situations, everything.

After trainees got their equipment, they were all standing in line, waiting for a trainer to give them an introduction, because many of them never climbed before. Instead of an intro, the trainer just said Start climbing and refused to give any additional inputs.

Many of them were couldn’t believe what they got for the price they’ve paid. They could do the same in some other places for a way less money. Many were commenting they were tricked.

Upon their return to the ground, the trainer lined them up again and then he started talking.

Many of you are doing for the first time. I could start the training by introduction talk but that would be a waste of time. You wouldn’t recognize what I’m talking about. You wouldn’t pay attention. You wouldn’t listen. I let you experience it first and now we’ll start…

If you like what you’ve read, consider Following me on Twitter, I tweet similar things from time to time. Same goes if you want to follow my launch of Bee Informed!

  1. 3

    Adding into newsletter.
    And followed you on twitter too.

    1. 2

      Thanks! Great advice, only which one to choose? 🤔

      1. 2

        The one that you can launch tomorrow morning 😅

        1. 1

          This would mean Songcorder, thanks :)

          1. 2

            You'll have my upvote tomorrow, just send me a link 😊

          2. 1

            Since you've mentioned Songcorder here - add it to your profile ;)

              1. 1

                followed. where's the PH launch? 😅

                1. 2

                  Close, very very close. So far fighting with the actual product distracted me from writing about it.

              2. 1

                Can't see the updates but the rest seems fine!

                1. 1

                  These were autogenerated and I'm not sure if I should keep them or not

                  1. 1

                    Change them according to your progress

  2. 2

    Some great insights @brunor. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 2

    I couldn't agree with you more.

    generic, blanket advice that isn't actionable and a load of wishy washy is just annoying to hear. I appreciate your approach much more.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with Product Hunt

    Even if I'm not working on my old website anymore should I upload it to product hunt?

    1. 2

      You are welcome.

      Does your website has any function as a moment? Fully working? I mean if it can be presented as a mini tool or mini project - why not. You won't lose any reputation, only thing you can gain is insights for your next launch with some serios project. I'm not saying you post whatever there, you have to approach seriously, although the expectations should be very low (based on the level of the usability). In my example I've provided a tool to paint github contribution squares which is totally unnecessary for people, hence the very low expectations. But, it's a working product and only one of many elements needed in the process of launching on PH.

      Try it, let me know how it went.

      1. 1

        My (old) website is working fine, but its function is a Forex Broker comparison website (affiliate site).

        Would I not get flagged down for submitting this type of website?

        1. 2

          Don't know that, sorry. Maybe someone else could answer your question.

          1. 2

            Thank you for your honest reply. Much appreciated :)

            If I do launch it, I'll let you know how it goes...

            1. 1

              Sure. Let me know what you've learned from that!

  4. 1

    Hey @brunor Wonderful tips!

    Echo most of your points. Also, working on a side project to fulfill my motivation :)

    1. 1

      💪 Great. Carry on! How is it going with Virtual Mojito?

      1. 2

        Thanks @brunor Still baby step. Thinking ways to make site visitors more engaged. What do you think :)

        1. 1

          engaged in which direction?

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