March 31, 2020

10k users from #1 on the front page of Hacker News

Donald Coleman @docoleman

Sharing here how we did it. Maybe it'll help you with your launch too.

Before launch:

  1. Build a lean, but usable MVP

Focus on the core features of your product. Don't start building every little thing you can think of. What do you need to build for your product to function? For us, it was users searching and applying to jobs.

A very good blog post from @levelsio building an MVP:
https://levels.io/how-i-build-my-minimum-viable-products/

  1. Get early user feedback and build an audience

Join communities where your target audience hangs out and be an active member. Provide value, feedback, and ask questions. We are an active member of Makerlog, Reddit, Pioneer.app, and Indie Hackers.

We would not be where we are without their early feedback. We constantly talked to our users, asking if they found value in our product, if they would keep using it, what would they like to see and iterated based on that feedback.

  1. Launch repeatedly

We launched 2 times before on https://news.ycombinator.com/show before getting to #1. Every week, we updated communities of new features/milestones like
https://getmakerlog.com/, IndieHackers, https://reddit.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook groups.

  1. Research how others did it and take notes
    (Reading posts from Hacker News and Product Hunt will help)

Some great resources we used:
https://levels.io/product-hunt-hacker-news-number-one/
https://medium.com/startup-grind/how-i-launched-the-2-most-upvoted-product-of-all-time-on-product-hunt-f3772fb20ad8

  1. Make sure your server can handle the traffic

Prepare for the best-case scenario. You do not want to upgrade your server during launch day as your site will be down for 10 mins or more. We scaled our https://www.linode.com/ server up 2 hours before our launch which helped tremendously.

  1. Collect emails

Add a way for users to subscribe to your mailing list. Make sure it's ready before you launch. We collected emails to our Postgres database and transferred it to https://mailchimp.com/.

  1. Make your title personal and less marketing-y

Example from http://makebook.io:
Show HN: I made a site that lets you subscribe to pet food delivery

Our HN title:
Show HN: I made a site that aggregates entry-level positions

And it worked..

Launch Day 🚀

  1. Launch your product at 12:01 am PST

Posting at 12:01 am maximizes your product's 24-hour time frame. When we launched, we had the highest # of traffic between 12 am - 6 am pst. If we had launched any later, we would have missed out.

  1. The first hour is the most critical

We shared our HN post with a few friends within the first hour which helped move us from newest to show. From there, we were in the top 10 on Show HN which helped with more people viewing and we took off.

  1. Announce your launch in the communities mentioned in #3

People that follow you and like what your doing will check out your launch. If you're in the front-page by now, leverage that and let people know. We sent out multiple updates letting our followers know where we placed.

  1. Reply to comments on your HN page

Stay in the comments and reply positively. Hacker News comments can destroy your launch so be careful. Luckily, we received lots of good feedback. Our product, rose through the ranks thanks to the comments.

And that's all we really did. I believe if it worked for us and many others, it will work for you. Good luck!

Here's our Hacker News page if you want to check it out.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22691295

Also, created a twitter thread if you want to check it out.
https://twitter.com/docoleman36/status/1244668842443325449

  1. 2

    Congratulations! You are targeting a great jobs niche. You deserves long term success.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much!

  2. 2

    Good tips, thanks for taking the time and write down your journey. Making a product is already taking enough time, but marketing and getting it to users is another huge time and effort. Constant work, with patience.

    The steps are alright, but I want to add something here, you can't do this alone. You need company, wing-mans, soldiers :) This is no easy journey for a solo founder, too many battles on too many fronts. Even if you willing to spend the time, your mind and soul burn out.

    Good luck with entrylevel.io

    1. 1

      Thank you. Yes, you make a great point. I wouldn't be where I'm at with Entry Level without my co-founder. We make a great time and cover each other's weaknesses. So much stuff needs to be done, and being alone is definitely a burnout.

  3. 2

    Thanks for the post.

    1. 1

      Yeah, no problem! Glad you like it.

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