ShowIH January 13, 2021

Show IH: Hit the Front Page of Hacker News

Michael Lynch @mtlynch

One of the most successful ways that I've attracted customers to my businesses is by blogging about my work.

Hacker News has been an integral part of that. Last year, I wrote nine blog posts, and eight of them reached the front page of Hacker News, four of those reached the #1 position.

One of my favorite ways to help other Indie Hackers is by giving them feedback on their blog posts. I found that lots of other bloggers wanted to submit content to Hacker News but felt intimidated by the site or didn't understand why their articles never gained traction there.

I realized I'd accrued tons of institutional knowledge from posting on Hacker News over the past three years. I had some beginners' luck at first that encouraged me to continue, but I also struggled a lot at the beginning to understand what topics succeed there and how to write in a way that the Hacker News audience finds compelling.

After hearing Daniel Vassallo's Indie Hackers podcast interview about making his first video course, I was inspired to make my first course as well. It's called Hit the Front Page of Hacker News.

The course includes five hours of content that covers everything I've learned about writing for technically sophisticated audiences and succeeding on Hacker News.

I hope IH finds it useful, and I'm happy to answer any questions or take any feedback about the course.

  1. 6

    so did you hit the front page of Hacker News with Hit the Front Page of Hacker News? 🙃

    1. 2

      Haha, unfortunately not. I knew it was a bit of a longshot because HN might perceive it as too growth-hacky, but I figured it was worth a try.

      One of the lessons I teach in the course is never to base your plan around reaching the front page, so I thankfully followed my own advice here.

  2. 4

    Last year, I wrote nine blog posts, and eight of them reached the front page of Hacker News, four of those reached the #1 position.

    Aw man, me jelly.


    I will keep your course in mind for future :)

    1. 1

      Cool, thanks for taking a look!

  3. 2

    @mtlynch you are a fantastic and prolific creator. I love when you launch new stuff!

    I also wrote about my front-page experiences with HN last year, but I've clearly not been as successful. Can't wait to hear everything you learned in this course.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much!

      Yours was one of the articles I read when I was researching other authors who analyzed their success on HN. I think we came to a lot of the same conclusions.

      I also liked "The Bulk of Software Engineering is Just Plumbing." It's depressing but true.

  4. 2

    Congrats on the launch!

    I actually work on a similar product, but not in course form, but it's nice to see that there is potential.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  5. 2

    @mtlynch Hi Michael! Just read your "Why I left Google" blog post.

    When I tell people I left Google, they assume I must have some brilliant startup idea. Only an idiot would leave a job as cushy as Google Software Engineer.

    But I am indeed an idiot with no idea.

    Not Google, but pretty much my exact situation, and I really appreciate hearing it echoed by someone else. 🧡

    1. 2

      Oh, thanks! And congrats on going off on your own. How long ago did you leave your job?

      1. 2

        I left my job end of summer, but I've been freelancing since then to build a bit more of a financial buffer. Since the beginning of this week I've transitioned to working on bootstrapping a business, full-time.

        It's nice to see that you've been in a similar situation, that you're doing pretty well and that you're not swimming in a sea of regret. :)

        1. 1

          Nice. Yeah, definitely no regrets from me. It's so much nicer just getting to decide for yourself what you want to work on and how.

  6. 2

    I got to preview about three hours of this course and I loved it. Just wanted to say congratulations on the launch!

    1. 1

      Thanks, Abraham! Glad that you liked it and thanks for the kind words!

  7. 2


    I wrote nine blog posts, and eight of them reached the front page of Hacker News, four of those reached the #1 position.

    Wow, Interesting!! can you share your Hacker News account with us?

    1. 1


      can you share your Hacker News account with us?

      Sure, I'm mtlynch on HN.

      It's a little easier to see the popular posts in the Algolia view.

  8. 2

    Congrats on the launch Michael!

    For anyone who's thinking about it: I got to preview this course and it was genuinely fascinating and really practical. The launch price is a STEAL.

    And I'm really not a "course person", so I don't say this as someone who pays for stuff like this regularly. It's legitimately good.

    I've been on the front page of HN twice, reaching #1 and #3, and the advice rang very true to my experience. Planning to try again soon with my newfound learnings from the course :D

    I hope this goes great for you!

    1. 1

      Thanks so much, Monica!

  9. 2

    Can confirm that Michael's tactics work. He helped me hit the front page of HN last May!

    1. 2

      Thanks, Allison!

      Although, to be fair, I think my advice at the time was just, "This is already great for HN! You should submit it." 😃

      1. 2

        haha, don't sell yourself short! You genuinely gave me some great tips.

  10. 1

    Hey, so I didnt take your class but I ended up submitting a blog post to Hacker News and it got me 400 visits within the last hour! I was wondering why I kept getting alerts about new newsletter subscribers. Thanks for the tip!

    1. 1

      Cool, glad it was helpful!

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