To launch my latest product, an Excel add-in for generating HTML tables, I used a carefully structured launch plan culminating in a Product Hunt launch. I announced here on IH, submitted a Hacker News post about how I built it, posted on some business Slack channels, LinkedIn, messaged friends, tweeted, and sent it to my dev newsletter.
This failed completely with just 11 upvotes, and the product did not make it to the front page of Product Hunt. 😱 The Hacker News "how to" post got 9 upvotes. So what can we learn from this?
First off I am massively grateful to the 11 people who did upvote it. I am sure at least 10 of you must be friends of mine! 🙏 🙏 🙏
By contrast my previous launch (an open source todo list web app) got 43 upvotes on PH and made it below the fold, but still visible. I did much less lead up marketing.
I would really love to hear your objective feedback on this so please leave a comment if you have a suggestion or advice. Here is what I can think of:
Maybe the product sucks. Like a parent looking at their ugly baby, maybe I just can't see how bad it is (I say this tongue in cheek, every baby, including my own two beautiful kids are amazing). 😂
Badly communicated. Maybe my marketing materials, copy, and screenshots don't do a great job. Would love feedback!
Maybe the product does not fit the PH audience. An Excel plugin is probably the least hip thing ever. It has zero cool factor. Maybe no Excel users use PH.
Similarly, the lead up announcements were mostly to non-PH users. Maybe some people I reached actually liked the thing but can't upvote it.
Luck. I liked this recent comment from @Primer about his 8 Product Hunt launches:
"The one that got the most upvotes was something I built over a weekend just because I was bored. I launched another thing on there, my main thing, that is out in the world, earning real money... it got zero upvotes. True story... zero."
That's a good reminder that PH upvotes don't necessarily correlate with a product's value for some audience. There's also the famous case of Dropbox getting completely hammered on Hacker News.
One huge validation is that the economist I originally built this for tested it out in her work and said it solves her problem perfectly. So it has product-market fit, but the market size may only be only one person!
So today I am going to spend my day on my main hustle, for which I am deeplyl grateful - writing code for my awesome clients, and I'll reflect on this as I do so.
Any feedback or ideas you have are very much welcome. Here's the PH page if you want to analyze it:
Thanks for reading, Indie Hackers, it's so nice to have this community!