One Hacker News comment brought me more subscribers than being on the front page

What a week...got 216 email subscribers from one HN comment and then got on the front page 2 days after.

I was using Hckr News to get notified for new/recently posts that get on the front page. A few days ago, I saw this post pushed to the front page (5 mins ago)...

Knowing that "contrarian" comments get traction on HN, I left a comment there (pointing the weakness of analyzing "unicorns" vs "indie founders"). People started upvoting it and I ended up with 22+ upvotes.

What happened to my email list was pretty staggering. I started receiving notifications (almost every 3 mins) that a new subscriber was added to my list. Although my main domain is ZeroToUsers.com, I've used an alternative one there (FirstPayingUsers) just to track if any people are going to come from HN. And boy they did...216 of them.

2 days after, I submitted an article on HN and 10 mins later I've noticed it's on the front page! DAMN, I thought...now I'm gonna get 5034504350345034 subscribers.

Which didn't happen. I only got close to 70.

Huh? A single comment brought me more email subscribers than actually being on the front page? This can't be...well, it turns out it is. And I'm not the only one.

From my IndieHackers interviews anlysis, I found many people mentioning that engaging with communities brought them better results than actually posting on them. Crowdraising was one such example:

We reached out to our networks and posted on Hacker News (HN), Product Hunt (PH), and Quora to get our initial bump of traffic, but it wasn't as large as we expected. On HN, for example, Max and I actually got better results when responding to other people's posts like this one.

I think this will give hopes to founders who think "promoting/posting" on communities is the only way to get users. Many times, just engaging (and mentioning your product in a friendly/useful manner) works better.

  1. 1

    Interesting. I wonder if that could work again and again. And I think it could work. Pretty much the same is with Twitter. People set up specific accounts to notify them when a new post comes up, and they try to write a comment asap. Then there is a chance to get a retweet or comment back from the original tweet author.

    But HN is a dogs fight. Many comments are not super flattering. I don't mind disagreement, but I don't like sh*t fight. And that happens quite a lot. But it's worth the fight. :)

  2. 1

    Good advice Darko. I like how you also handled some of the not-so-nice responses you got, very professional.

    My favorite part though was this response of yours

    I honestly didn't expect people to actually analyze the report. Was caught unprepared and working on a more comprehensive version.

    Brings to mind the oft-repeated Reid Hoffman quote, "If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late."

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