50
60 Comments

Show me your blog post. I'll help it reach the front page of Hacker News

Hey IH, I'm a tech blogger, and I've been posting to Hacker News for the past four years. I've reached the front page 18 times.

Last year, I published nine new blog posts. All but one of them reached the front page, with four hitting the #1 slot. Over this time, my blog received 700k pageviews, largely from HN posts.

Have you struggled to get your posts to the front page? Share a link to one of your blog posts, and I'll tell you what I think it does well and what I think you could change to improve its chances of gaining traction on Hacker News. I'm also happy to answer general questions about succeeding on Hacker News.

If you want to learn more, I just launched a comprehensive video course about Hacker News. For a limited time, you can buy it for 30% off to celebrate launch week.

The course

Edits

Edit: (2:12PM ET) I'm wrapping up now! I'm going to try to get to the current unanswered posts, but I likely won't get to any new ones today.
Edit: (3:30PM ET) Okay, I'm logging off now. Thanks to everyone for sharing posts! I hope this was helpful.

  1. 3

    Hello michael,

    What a great offer. I have tried to learn HN but have a hard time figuring out what works and what does not work. I have even tried to post a few times, but without getting much tracktion.

    I actually have three different blog posts as I each have their angle and it would be awesome if you would like to take a look at all of them.

    Possibly I can offer you 6 months free access to Tabtimize for one of your startups (platform for building contextually relevant backlinks) worth of $870 in exchange for your help?

    The first blog post has a somewhat self-promoting aspect to it, but also answers why contextual relevance is important:
    https://tabtimize.com/worlds-only-backlink-relevance-software/

    This post tries to shed light on how authority metrics like DA, DR, etc., are an old way of looking at the value of backlinks and that relevance is lacking in that equation.
    https://tabtimize.com/relevance-metrics-in-seo/

    A top 10 over SEO myths that try to appeal to debate and opinions.
    https://tabtimize.com/top-10-seo-myths-to-kiss-goodbye-in-2020/

    Looking forward to your comments and thanks.

    1. 3

      Thanks for sharing!

      https://tabtimize.com/worlds-only-backlink-relevance-software/

      This is too overtly content marketing. It's purely singing the praises of your own product, so that's not going to really resonate with HN.

      You could try submitting your homepage as a "Show HN" but it's not so likely to succeed because it's an SEO product, and I don't think HN finds SEO that interesting.

      https://tabtimize.com/top-10-seo-myths-to-kiss-goodbye-in-2020/

      This is too clickbaity. HN hates listicles, so I don't think this would work.

      It seems like it's writing for an audience of SEO consultants, which isn't the right tone for HN.

      https://tabtimize.com/relevance-metrics-in-seo/

      This one I think is the closest match for HN of the ones you shared.

      It works because it's sharing hard technical details without any apparent ulterior motive. The first one felt like it was trying to sell the reader something, the listicle felt condescending, but this one feels like it's offering value.

      That said, it's still SEO-focused, and HN isn't that interested in SEO. If you look at top posts containing "SEO", they're mainly saying how awful SEO is.

      Talk like a business owner, not an SEO expert

      The successful SEO posts seem to be from the perspective of a startup or independent blogger rather than from SEO experts.

      If I were in your position, I'd avoid writing from the perspective of SEO expert and write from the perspective of a startup owner. If you can write about interesting challenges you face in building your business, I think that has potential to succeed on HN.

      One of the case studies I share in the course is this post from @lunchbag:

      The thing to note in that article is that Jen never tells anyone that Lunch Money is great or that they should try it. She just talks about what it's like building a business, and her product happens to be a personal budgeting app.

      That post reached the front page of HN, and it led to Lunch Money's biggest growth month ever. People were interested in her product because she shared interesting things about her experience without ever asking for anything.

      1. 1

        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer.

        Let me summarize what I bring from here:

        1. HN is generally not interested in marketing products, only when it has a negative angle or wants to criticize the status quo.

        2. Do not share headlines or posts that are clickbait-sounding, especially when it is outside the tech niches that do well on HN.

        3. Should I post a post on HN about my startup, should it be from a personal angle so it's about my journey or experience as an entrepreneur rather than an SEO expert.

        It will definitely benefit me to get more knowledge on how HN works so expect an inquiry from me.

        Have a great day Michael!

  2. 3

    Thank you for the offer! I'd love any feedback you might have on https://explog.in/notes/debugging.html (or any other post on my blog that catches your eye).

    Thanks again!

    1. 2

      Nice, I really liked this post! I think this has a good chance of hitting the front page as-is.

      What I liked

      • Distinctive but simple design. I feel like the design of the site complements the measured, methodical mentality you're writing about.
      • Everything is in tight, easily-consumable sections. It makes the content feel accessible and easy to read.

      Potential improvements

      • I like the image but it doesn't show up until the end. I'm a BIG fan of custom illustrations. I think it makes your post stand out and shows the audience that you've put a lot of effort into making your content accessible, but you lose most of the benefit if you save it until the end. Could you show it earlier?
      • The "war stories" part felt a little shoehorned in. I think you can drop it without losing anything or maybe make it a whole separate post.
      • Some of the sentences are a bit wordy and hard to parse. For example, I'd rewrite this sentence:

      There have been times where I've misunderstood complex interactions between many systems to be a bug instead of an acceptable outcome.

      To something like this:

      Several times, I've investigated a "bug," only to find out many hours later that I was observing the correct behavior of a complex system.

      1. 2

        Thank you for the feedback! -- all of that makes a lot of sense and resonates strongly. I'll go and clean up the post now.

        PS. I also really enjoyed your post about getting editorial feedback on your blog -- which is what made me comment here. I didn't realize that post was yours until after I commented.

        1. 2

          Oh, awesome! Yeah, that's probably my biggest bang for the buck tip: hire an editor to review one of your posts.

          I got so much value from having a professional review my writing and tell me where my blind spots were and what antipatterns I was falling into.

  3. 2

    Hi Michael,

    Valuable information. Do you see the course would be helpful for product showcase? Do you see HN audience appreciate Open Source software alone?

  4. 2

    Michael, big kudos!! What a dedication, answering all these questions in detail! Super helpful 👍

  5. 2

    Hi!
    Your results are pretty impressive.
    I don't have a tech blog (yet) but thinking about it.

    I looked at your articles and have a question. Why, do you think, the same article shown so different results? I'm talking about this one https://mtlynch.io/digitizing-1/#

    34 points eight months ago vs 380 3 months ago.

    Thanks!

    1. 1

      Good question! Luck is definitely a huge factor. HN's mood changes over time, so an article they ignore on Wednesday can be an article they love on Thursday.

      That digitizing post in particular is an odd case. The first time I submitted it, it fell off the front page very quickly, but it kept accruing upvotes slowly throughout the day.

      Once you receive a certain number of upvotes, you can't resubmit for a year. I asked the mods if I could resubmit it since it didn't have a real day on the front page, and they said I could if I waited a few months, so I tried again and it got a much better response the second time.

      1. 1

        Thanks for you response! This is really interesting :)

  6. 2

    what a neat gift!

  7. 2

    Hi Michael, late to the party but would love your feedback on https://guitton.co/posts/dbt-search/ . I've implemented some of your prior suggestions : I've worked on my illustration skills aha, and I started my replies top my posts on Reddit with thank you :)
    Would love any additional feedback you might have

    1. 1

      Nice article!

      I love the illustrations. I think they make the content so much more approachable and fun. They definitely make the post stand out and demonstrate that you put effort in to provide value in the article.

      I don't know dbt, so I can't evaluate the technical quality too well, but the writing quality is strong, and I like the structure.

      The fatal flaw is just that it's too niche. I think this is really only interesting to people who are familiar with dbt, Amundsen, and Algolia. It's like the example I give in the course of an article about Monads in Haskell. This can be an amazing article, but if only 5% of HN is interested in dbt, you're at a severe disadvantage to articles that make sense to a broader audience.

      That's definitely not a weakness in the article, just that it's not a good match for a broad audience like HN. It seems like it would be a great match for related subreddits or communities where dbt is discussed.

  8. 2

    What do you think about this - https://www.infracloud.io/blogs/introduction-kubernetes-security-falco/? We struggle to get traffic from HN despite writing neutral technical blogs. Any help?

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing!

      This was an interesting article, and it's definitely practical. I used to do security consulting, so I liked how it emphasized the importance of defense in depth and proper logging.

      Here are a few things I think are holding it back on HN:

      HN hates a tutorial

      I've mentioned it in a few other comments, so I won't repeat, but tutorials generally don't work well on HN. It looks like all your submissions to HN are tutorials, so I don't think any of them have a good chance of success.

      I know of another author who kept submitting tutorials and the HN mods eventually banned his domain.

      Figure out your target audience

      I think the article is mixing levels of abstraction. It's unclear who the article is for. It starts by explaining why the reader should care about k8s security and then ends by explaining what commands to run with Helm and Falco.

      Is your target reader someone who knew nothing about k8s security and wants to know how to secure their cluster? Or is it for someone who already knew they wanted to use Falco and just wanted someone to explain how? The two readers are pretty disjoint sets.

      For example, if I wrote an article about why data scientists should learn C++, it shouldn't end with an explanation of buffer overflow bugs because it's getting too into the weeds. It's either a high-level article or a low-level article.

      Cut out fluff

      A lot of the text feels like fluff that adds no value.

      For example, the opening paragraph doesn't really contain any information:

      As Kubernetes continues to grow in adoption, it is important for us to know how to secure it. In a dynamic infrastructure platform such as Kubernetes, detecting and addressing threats is important but also challenging at the same time.

      Similarly here:

      Information security is a process that moves through phases building and strengthening itself along the way. Security is a journey, not a destination.

      The information density here is very low. This article is aimed at someone running a k8s cluster, and it's hard to imagine that those sentences are teaching them anything new.

  9. 2

    Hello!
    This is a great idea. This is one of my blogposts https://medium.com/swlh/using-ml-to-analyze-the-office-best-scene-emotion-detection-180f7bf45175
    I have had one blog post with 100 points in HN but I think it was more luck than something special (have not been able to replicate it yet).
    Thanks!

    1. 1

      Awesome, I love The Office! This is a cool idea.

      I think you get off to a strong start. The still image at the top is intriguing, and I was excited to find out how you used emotion detection on the show.

      This feels to me like a good first step, but for it to gain traction anywhere, it needs to go deeper.

      Use the tool to reveal something surprising

      The biggest problem with the article right now is that someone can read it and say, "So, what?"

      It's sort of like if I told you that I did a letter frequency analysis on your IH posts, and you use the letter 's' 5% more than the average person. You'd probably say, "Okay, fun trivia, but why do I care?"

      You're using emotion detection, but this post will succeed if you can use this technology to reveal something about The Office that aren't obvious. Some examples:

      • Do certain characters smile more than others?
      • Do any of the characters' emotion distributions change substantially across seasons?
      • Is there a consistent theme of how emotions change in a typical episode (e.g., people have more anger at the beginning)?

      It reminds me of an article my friend wrote a few years ago:

      He never submitted it to HN, but what I think he does well is finding these patterns by analyzing the data at scale and revealing something about the structure of these jokes.

      Make the visuals self-explanatory

      Right now, the visuals seem interesting, but they're hard to interpret. The text on the images is too small and has too little contrast to be legible. The graphs are pretty small and the axes aren't labeled.

      Think about the way hardware sites visualize benchmarks. They make it so that the reader can understand the visualization without reading the article. That's also convenient if people want to share your post on social media.

      Avoid repetition

      A lot of the text feels repetitive to me. As an example:

      The Office is my favorite show. I always have a great laugh and I have even learned a thing or two from Michael Scott's leadership style. The show portrays a lot of funny situations and it’s always a blast to watch it.

      And then:

      My favorite clip ever is the intro from Stress Relief (Fire Drill). I find it almost impossible to watch it and not laugh. It has brightened my day a lot of times even on some pretty bad days. If you have not already, I recommend you watch it right now.

      You can rewrite these passages to be more concise. It's good to give context why you started this investigation, but the reader is more interested to know whether you found anything interesting.

  10. 2

    I'd love to learn how I could make this post more useful and attract more eyes on HN:
    https://heylucas.net/how-i-got-offers-from-amazon-microsoft-and-bloomberg/

    I have many ideas about interview prep to write about but I'm not sure how to make them gain any traction.

    Thanks for the help Michael!

    1. 1

      Cool post! Congrats on the offers.

      You're in good position to write a popular blog post because it's a subject thousands of people are desperate to know about. These companies have notoriously tough candidate screening processes, so if you went 3 for 3, it suggests you're very good at it and have useful knowledge to share.

      You can see some prior examples of successful posts here:

      I like the custom graphic. It puts a human face on the story and it quickly conveys which companies gave you offers.

      Here are some things I think you can do to improve the reception on HN:

      Flesh out the content

      Right now, the post feels very thin. The post promises to explain how you got offers, but the "how I prepared" sections only have 200 words of content total, so the reader isn't going to learn much from that.

      The successful posts I linked above went into detail about their techniques and the rationale behind their methods. I think you could go into a lot more detail here in explaining what you put on your Anki cards, why you chose LeetCode, how you decided you felt prepared.

      Write for a broader audience

      I think this article falls into a common trap on HN of assuming that everyone has the same context as people in your particular social circle.

      Anki and LeetCode are popular among techies, but there will be a significant percentage of HN readers who don't know what those things are. You can explain them in a sentence. It won't bother the readers who know those things, but it means that you keep on the people who would have assumed the article wasn't for them.

      Same thing with the interviewing process. It seems like it's assumed that every reader understands what it's like to interview at Amazon, Microsoft, and Bloomberg, but a lot of readers are clicking your link because they're curious about what the process is like. I'd go into more details about what it's actually like to interview at these places.

      Drop the YouTube video

      I sometimes include videos if they convey something that's hard to explain in words, like I'm showing a demo or something. But if the video is just me saying the same things the person could read, I don't add a video. It makes it look like the video is the primary medium and the article is an afterthought.

      1. 1

        Sweet, thanks for the feedback!

        So in cases like this when a post is not successful at first, what do you do? Do you just drop/delete it entirely and rework it or do you just write a new post from scratch?

        1. 1

          Yeah, I'd recommend writing a new post from the ground up in this case.

          There's luck involved on HN, so if I think the content is a match, but I got unlucky, I'll try resubmitting. But if I think the content isn't a likely match, I'll just move on and write my next post.

          In this case, I think it's likely that the content isn't a match, and you'll likely taint your post history if you have lots of submissions of the same post that doesn't match HN's tastes.

          Maybe delete your old one and redirect, but don't delete the submission itself on HN because they don't like when you delete unsuccessful submissions.

  11. 2

    I've got a fair bit of karma from comments and general submissions on HN over the years, but curiously not when I comment or submit about my side project. If I was being paranoid (which I'm not) I would think they were being moderated down because my side project competes with a Y Combinator company;-) Anyway, I thought my last blog post about my side project was sure to appeal to the HN crowd, with lots of discussion points and quotable phrases, but again it disappeared without trace. HN post was https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25454867 and original blog post https://blog.searchmysite.net/posts/advertising-and-search-engines-when-it-is-okay-to-mix-and-when-it-is-not/ . Feedback welcome. BTW, thanks for some of your posts - I've referenced at least one in the past.

    1. 2

      I've got a fair bit of karma from comments and general submissions on HN over the years, but curiously not when I comment or submit about my side project. If I was being paranoid (which I'm not) I would think they were being moderated down because my side project competes with a Y Combinator company;-)

      Oh, interesting. HN is editorially independent from YC. I've heard some people suggest that YC companies get favorable treatment in moderation, but I haven't seen any compelling evidence of that.

      https://blog.searchmysite.net/posts/advertising-and-search-engines-when-it-is-okay-to-mix-and-when-it-is-not/ . Feedback welcome.

      Nice post!

      I think the analogy to a town with a main street and library is apt. It illustrates the point you're making in a visceral way.

      Thought experiment posts are a gamble

      This post is a thought experiment, and I don't see very many of those reach the front page of HN. They work if Paul Graham writes them, but I think anyone else's chances are pretty low.

      Cut to the chase

      I think one thing that likely loses readers is that this article doesn't explain why readers should continue until paragraph 3 or 4.

      For a piece like this to work, I think you need to start with a bold statement that grabs the reader's attention, and then explains your reasoning. Here's a post that I think does this well:

      Assume the reader has no context

      One of the key points in my last post was ...

      I strongly recommend against opening articles this way.

      To a reader who has never read your blog before, it makes it seem like they're already behind and this post won't make sense until they catch up. It's like telling someone they're watching episode three of a TV show they've never seen before.

      Also, related to the previous point, it forces them to do more reading to find out the purpose of this article.

      Add specificity

      I think this article struggles to grab the reader because it stays so abstract. It seems like you're talking about Google, but the article never even mentions Google.

      I read the article and am not quite clear on which behaviors of Google you dislike or what a better version would be.

      Edit for brevity

      Internet attention spans are short, so you need to bias toward shorter, simpler sentences. A lot of the sentences here feel overly verbose, including the title.

      Let's take another look at the opening sentence:

      One of the key points in my last post was the suggestion that there should be a search engine which downranks pages containing adverts, to lower the influence of results which might be trying to game the system via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), clickbait content, and so on.

      That's a really long, complex sentence! I think you can edit these down or break them up and make the piece easier to follow.

      Use CSS rules to facilitate readeing

      The blog has an unusual style in that the text never seems to break at any width. I find text more difficult to read if it's on long lines. Here's what I'm seeing:

      https://imgur.com/rrgC5S5

      A CSS rule I use pretty often is p { max-width: 70ch } which breaks lines at 70 characters.

      1. 3

        @michaell To up what @mtlynch is saying: I think a big part of the problem with this post is visual wall of text and the fact it spans the entire browser width.

        Also, agree that the title may not be phrased in an interesting hard hitting way.

        Another note: Click on hacker news new and refresh for a few hours. It is stunning how much good content goes by and never gets any traction. That's why it is so key to keep submitting if you think something is really good.

        BUT if it get's on the front page (because of getting 4-6 points) and then doesn't take off, then it probably never will.

        My 2c I've had a few HN hits over the years. Not as many as @mtlynch though ;)

        1. 1

          @justinvincent Thanks for taking the time to feedback too. I've tweaked the layout and rewritten parts to make it clear it is about a real project rather than just an opinion piece.

          Point taken about the title too. As you suggest, the HN headline is the main thing to attract people. In the cases where a post didn't get many votes (and where I've had access to the stats), it isn't that lots of people view the post but decide against voting for it, it's that people just didn't get as far as viewing the post.

          It also doesn't seem to just be the number of votes that moves it from /new to the home (or from /shownew to /show to the home for Show HNs) - if you look closely you will often see posts with fewer votes moving up while ones with more votes don't. The FAQ does say that "Other factors affecting rank ... account or site weighting, and moderator action", so it may be that if your site starts getting a few successful posts it will get a better "site weighting" and help increase the chance of future posts doing better, or something like that.

      2. 2

        @mtlynch Many thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

        "Assume the reader has no context"

        This is a key point. I had been opening most posts with a reference to the previous posts to make it seem more like a journey, for the people following me "build in public". But I think you're right - the chances are most people will read a post in isolation.

        Making this post entirely self-contained would address some other important points you have too: "This post is a thought experiment", "struggles to grab the reader because it stays so abstract" and "It seems like you're talking about Google, but the article never even mentions Google". In actual fact the post is about the search engine I've built. That really wasn't clear to someone reading the post in isolation. I've reworded the introduction to hopefully make that clearer now: "searchmysite.net is an open source search engine and search as a service for personal and independent websites, which has a unique approach to advertising to try to tackle spam..."

        "text never seems to break at any width"

        I've simply increased the margins for now, but do think it is something I need to revisit. It's my first attempt at writing my own a Hugo theme, to try to match the design of the application itself.

        "you need to bias toward shorter, simpler sentences. A lot of the sentences here feel overly verbose, including the title."

        Yes, I know, some people say I'm a bit wordy:-) I'll try to keep the product blog simpler. I really wasn't happy with the title for this post either, but have some better titles in mind for the next two posts.

        Thanks again for the feedback. Much appreciated.

  12. 2

    I wrote this recently: https://constraints.io/my-first-year-building-an-online-community

    It didn't do too well on IN.

    I haven't posted it to HN yet, but I'm planning to. I'd like to take you up on your kind offer - your feedback is much appreciated!

    1. 2

      This is a really fun story! I think you have a lot of elements for a successful post here.

      You write with a distinctive and authentic voice. There were a lot of points where I smiled reading, including this passage:

      You push it out, a passable sentence, desperate to be met with a German response, and wait. Will the volley be returned? If so, vindication! Maybe a back and forth will ensue, every response returned affirming your choice to learn the language. But what response do you get? The stomach sinks - it's English!

      There's also so much material in your experiences as an expat and the battery charging job you took that adds color to the story.

      Here are the things I think could give it a stronger chance on HN:

      Establish value up front

      This is a very long post. That's not a problem in itself, but when a reader lands on the page, they're going to wonder if it's worth their time.

      Internet attention spans are tiny. My editor once told me that if you have 2-3 sentences to hook the reader in - a paragraph if you're lucky. But if you haven't grabbed the reader by then, they'll close the tab.

      Let's look at the opening to this article:

      My First Year Building an Online Community

      This is the origin story for Deutsch Gym, a German-language community I founded in February 2020.

      It's not enough to grab the reader. You need to tease some funny details (e.g., "Here's the story of why I had to drive around in a van charging scooter batteries in order to build a German-language community.") or make it otherwise obvious that the reader will learn something useful by reading.

      Allow the reader to skim

      @momoko (coincidentally, another expat living in Germany) had a successful HN post a few months ago. It's a good model in many ways for writing effectively about building an online community, but one thing that's useful to note here is how easy it is to skim to decide if it's worth reading.

      If you just skim Monica's article looking at pictures and reading headings, you get a good sense of what the article is about. It makes you want to read the details.

      This currently isn't possible with the Deutsch Gym story. Many of the headings are vague, and it isn't obvious at a glance what the pictures convey. Think about skimmers and rewrite the headings and choose images that would tell the story at a high level to someone doing a quick pass over the post.

      Hone the story

      As I said, I think you have a lot of good material here. It needs to be cut down and smoothed out. It doesn't feel like a cohesive story to me. There are a lot of digressions and jumps backwards and forwards in time that make it hard for me to follow.

      I think it would work better if it's closer to the Hero's journey. Tell the reader up front who you are, what you were trying to accomplish. Then, the story is about your successes and failures and what you learned along the way.

      I'd aim for something around 2,000 words, so that means cutting down about 60% of what's currently there. One example of a section I think you can safely cut is "To the moon." It seems like it's there to establish that you have a background with paid Discord groups. Does the reader need to know where you got the idea? It seems like a common enough thing that they can accept that it was an idea that made sense to you. And if it is relevant that it came from crypto, I think you can say all you need in just a sentence.

      1. 1

        thanks for taking the time to give comprehensive feedback!

        I agree, that opening line could do a lot more to catch the reader's attention.

        I'll definitely look at the headers and images. When I was writing it it felt like I was putting in a lot of images, but looking at it now it could do with a few more. Skimming it as it is is v difficult...

        It actually does jump around a bit alright, I was in two minds about this, but I should probably re-work it a bit to make it more chronological so it'll be clearer to the reader.

        Cheers,
        Ronan

  13. 2

    Hey! That's very nice! I tried with many of my articles and no luck. Some with more votes... but no luck.

    This is my wall of shame: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=jrleonr

    How would you do to get this one up? It's not a lot different that the one you published about leaving your job at Google (maybe the google part?)

    The link: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/after-12-years-working-on-safe-9-5-jobs-i-quit-to-become-me-inc-1ff850e0fb

    1. 1

      Oh, this is an interesting one. I think it's a post that did well on IH but would likely struggle on HN.

      As a fellow Indie Hacker, it's definitely relatable. I enjoyed reading about what indie hacking means to you, and it makes me appreciate that I'm on a similar path.

      I've read a lot of "why I became an Indie Hacker" posts (I've even written my own), but I liked that your post covers details I don't see in other posts, like the need to ask permission or the fact that 9-5 can slowly expand to occupy more of your life.

      Here are things I think could be improved to give it a better shot on HN:

      Tell it like a story

      The biggest weakness to me in this article is that it's personal, but it's not a story.

      My most popular post ever was called, "Why I Quit Google to Work for Myself.". I think the reason it had so much success was that I told it in the form of a personal story. There's a beginning, middle, and end, and I tell it from my perspective, sharing my emotions at different points in the story.

      A story makes material so much more engaging for the audience. Humans are naturally attracted to stories, and we remember material way better when it's a story. Three years later, people are still finding me and saying, "Oh, you're that guy who quit Google!"

      Your post has personal details for sure, but it never lets the reader go deep enough for it to be a story. For example, this line:

      When I first told my colleagues, friends, and family that I didn't want to have a job, they assumed I was lazy. They thought I didn't want to do anything.

      I think the post would be more effective if you zoomed in on one of these conversations that illustrated the point. Generalizing it to "I had lots of conversations, and they went kind of like this," loses all emotional impact.

      Rewrite the title

      After 12 years working on safe 9-5 jobs, I quit to become Me Inc.

      I think the title is a little too cutesy/clickbaity for HN.

      You have to walk a fine line because HN likes straightforward, descriptive titles. But if you're too straightforward* your post gets lost in the crowd.

      Don't submit from IH

      As much as it saddens me to say it, I think HN has a negative impression of IH. Too many IH users misunderstand HN and don't realize they shouldn't just spam everything they write there, so they repost their IH articles on HN even when they're a mismatch for the HN audience. As a result, I think HN has developed a bias against IH.

      I'm looking at submissions from IH to HN over the past six months, and barely any received more than a handful of upvotes. Most of the ones that succeeded are the ones that Channing or Rosie hand-picked for submission.

      I'd recommend publishing or syndicating on your own blog and submitting that to HN rather than the IH version.

  14. 2

    Curious how you would potentially recommend posts that I have the feeling are not directly HN material.

    Like for example my latest 7k+ piece around LinkedIn Marketing: https://usergrowth.io/blog/linkedin-marketing/

    I’ve had one time success on HN, reaching the homepage and it fried my server. But that was a post around solving a particular issue with Homebrew and a new MacOS release at the time. Not sure if HN is the place for marketing kind of material, what is your rake on that?

    1. 1

      I like that it's so comprehensive and detailed. But unfortunately, I think that topic is likely a complete mismatch for HN. It seems like it's speaking to marketers and growth hackers, and that tends to be a big turn-off to HN.

      It's also way too broad in scope to work on HN. It seems like it's a great mega-guide for someone interested in marketing on LinkedIn, but stuff that works well on HN tends to be things you can read in 10-20 mins and have an interesting discussion about. A lot of the content here is explaining how to navigate LinkedIn's web UI, which is practical, but not that fun to discuss.

      HN overall has a very negative view of LinkedIn. They see it as meaningless networking and scummy behavior. If you look at the most popular HN posts related to LinkedIn, they're all about how LinkedIn is useless or engaging in unscrupulous behavior.

      I see a potential rewrite that would appeal to HN, but I'd say it's still a longshot. You could write an article aimed at programmers or startup founders about solving a particular problem by using LinkedIn. Like, "How I used LinkedIn to find my first customers." But I think the LinkedIn name is so tainted that the title sounds spammy.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the feedback and indeed that was my impression as well, I tried some “marketing” posts in the past on HN and it was never really that successful as indeed something quick, to the point focused on solving a “hacker’s” need.

        This is the stuff I write the best though, so no hard feelings, there are plenty of other places online where this type of content is more at place.

        Good to get that extra confirmation from you though, time to focus on other channels for my content.

        Keep up the great work you’re doing and have a great Sunday! 🤘

  15. 2

    Hi Michael, I'd love to see how this blog post could reach the front page: https://miguendes.me/how-i-set-up-my-python-workspace

    I think it's not the type of post HN likes but would love your feedback anyways.

    Cheers

    1. 2

      Nice post! I think this is pretty close to something that would succeed on the front page.

      What it does well:

      • It explains the goals and reasoning behind all of your decisions.
      • It goes into depth about improving the dev experience from the shell as well.
      • I like the custom image at the top.

      HN hates a tutorial

      As I mentioned in my other comment, it's hard to succeed on HN with a coding tutorial. Yours has a better chance than most because it's about a general enough task that many people would be interested, but it's still fighting an uphill battle being a tutorial.

      I think you could rewrite this post to be less like a tutorial and more of a tour of your workspace. Focus less on how to set it up and more about how you use it. What decisions have you made and how have they improved your workflow? There are prior examples of this that have succeeded on HN:

      Minor notes

      • The post talks about how to set up Jupyter, but I feel like that doesn't quite fit the promise of a general-purpose Python environment.
      • I'd recommend sharing a link to your boilerplate repo with CI set up. Here's what I do.
  16. 2

    Hi! I missed the opportunity, just before I saw your proposition, I reposted this blog post today on HN after rewriting it a little ^^

    I wrote it three months ago, and it didn’t get a very big success on HN… It was way before I watched your video course, so I have ideas to make better posts now, but I’d still appreciate some feedback ;)

    Thanks!

    Edit: damn I forgot the link 😵🔫 https://scastiel.dev/posts/2020-10-12-the-case-for-side-projects/

    1. 2

      Thanks so much for ordering the course, Sebastien!

      What your post does well:

      • It's clear that you're writing about a subject that you know well and that you're passionate about it.
      • The post is well-structured and does a good job of leading the reader along with your thought process in an organized way.

      There are two main issues I see that I think limit this post's chances of reaching the front page of HN:

      Highly abstract / hypothetical

      Posts tend to work better on HN if they're practical and based on personal experience with the subject matter. This post raises good points, but it stays at a pretty high level and never gets into specifics.

      When you started talking about your personal projects, I was thinking, "Oh, cool! I'm excited to hear about these!" But then I never got to find out anything about them except in very broad strokes.

      I think this post would have a 10x better chance at success if it was called, "How I advanced my career through side projects" and you talked about all the specific ways that side projects helped you learn new skills and how you translated that into tangible benefits (faster promotion, better job, etc.).

      I'd love to see examples of your side projects and what you learned, what choices you made that feel silly in retrospect, what unexpected benefits came from them.

      Another direction would be to focus on practical tips to help people with side projects. Pick a few main obstacles that prevent people from pursuing side projects and talk about how you've overcome those obstacles (e.g., not enough time, scared of feedback, struggle to find users).

      Arguing a foregone conclusion

      The article is framed in a way to convince the reader that they should start exploring side projects. But most readers on HN don't really need convincing of that. HN optimizes for posts that will lead to interesting discussion, so if everyone agrees that side projects are useful, there won't be much of a discussion.

      But I think it's related to the issue above, where if you wrote another article explaining things from your personal experience with more specific examples and benefits, it would have a higher chance of success on HN.

      Minor notes

      • It's good to break up the text with something visual. I say in the course that stock photos are better than nothing, but almost anything is better than a stock photo. Stock photos make you blend in with thousands of low-quality Medium posts. Even stick figure drawings I think work better, but if you're writing about your projects, screenshots are great.
      • I noticed a fair number of grammar errors in the article. For example, this is a sentence fragment: "For instance, learning front-end if you’re a back-end developer, or mobile development if you’re a front-end developer." Your grammar doesn't have to be perfect to succeed on HN, but it's a fixable mistake. I've found Grammarly to be helpful at flagging grammar issues.
      1. 2

        Wow, that is awesome feedback, thank you so much! I could definitely rewrite the article by having this more personal approach you are talking about 🙂

        1. 1

          Nice, glad it was helpful!

  17. 2

    Can I ask you a different HN question? My blog thetoolsweneed.com has had a few posts get to the front page, but now when I post, no one else can see the link, like this one:

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25635155

    Does that mean I'm shadowbanned?

    1. 2

      That would be my guess. A shadowban seems strange because your posts got a positive response in the past.

      When I've gotten mysterious behavior from the site, I've gotten helpful feedback by politely emailing the mods ([email protected]).

      1. 2

        OK yeah, I guess that's the most straightforward thing to do. Thanks!

  18. 2

    I've just made this post today: https://dev.to/troelsfr/context-aware-chatbots-using-wonop-28n4

    Would be happy to get feedback :)

    1. 1

      Nice post!

      What it does well:

      • Explains up front how readers will benefit from reading the post
      • It structures the content well with descriptive headings, screenshots, and code snippets so it's not just a big wall of text
      • It gently guides the reader from simple concepts to more advanced ideas

      Why it would likely not work on Hacker News:

      • It's a coding tutorial, and coding tutorials generally don't work on HN. The HN community optimizes for curious discussion, and tutorials don't really lend themselves to that.
      • It seems to be for a very niche audience. It assumes the reader knows what wonop and Rocklang are, though I've never heard of either
  19. 1

    Hope I'm not too late to the party. I have a tech blog where I show developers how to build chat functionality into their apps.

    I recently finished up a series of articles on building chat with React Native and Firebase. I've divided this series into four parts:

    Looking forward to your comments. Thanks!

  20. 1

    Awesome, Michael! What do you think about this beast of an article?
    https://globalowls.com/get-followers-linkedin-company-page/

  21. 1

    Thank you, your course has helped me a lot! I started getting involved in this area when I switched to remote work through https://www.worktime.com/ and didn't think I'd be so interested in it! Thanks again!

    1. 1

      Awesome, glad to hear you found it useful!

  22. 1

    Interesting. I recently got a post to #4 on HN (without planning for it). I'd be curious know what you thought of my post and whether it follows what you normally recommend.

    Regarding your course, are you worried that people will think of it as a "guarantee" that their post will get to the top of HN?

  23. 1

    Hey, please check my post and help with Animation CPU! It is important!

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/launch-of-animation-cpu-creative-development-c36cfc93e7

    Thanks,
    Victor

  24. 1

    @mtlynch Thank you so much for helping out the community! Appreciate your help!

    Here is the link to my blog post -
    https://blog.brucira.com/how-to-do-lists-can-increase-productivity-at-work/

    Eager to hear your thoughts!

  25. 1

    I don’t have a blogpost, however I have a product web3forms.com

    I’m planning to launch it on Hacker News. Any tips for me? Also do you think its a good idea to launch on both HN & PH same day?

  26. 1

    Thanks for taking the time to take a look! I blog about collecting + analyzing personal data on my datablog. I think the content could potentially satisfy the curiosity of some of the data-driven folks on HN, but haven't hit it off big there yet. One post didn't go anywhere, one got flagged by the mods as promoting my own content too frequently (do you run into this?). Curious to get your take on how to improve my writing's visibility on HackerNews. Thanks!

  27. 1

    thanks a lot for this. Would love to get some feedback on "Personal branding as a Software Engineer": https://www.kevinpeters.net/personal-branding-as-software-engineer

    Cheers, Kevin

  28. 1

    Thanks for doing this. HN is a scary place for me and I never posted anything, not sure if I have enough rep to post there.

    https://vikky.dev/8-hour-work-day I would love any feedback on this.

Trending on Indie Hackers
What do you think about NFTs? 36 comments Speed is the killer feature 21 comments Getting sick of the phrase "build an audience" 16 comments Is the vidds UX too crazy? Can you make a video for your SaaS? 11 comments 10 Reasons To Be Bullish On The Creator Economy In 2021 7 comments Twitter is testing a way for indie hackers to sell products through tweets 5 comments