7 ways to improve your Product Hunt submission

My app Bindle was featured on Product Hunt in September 2014.

  • Bindle finished with the second-highest votes of the day on Product Hunt, after Product Hunt’s own iOS app.
  • The comments section invited conversation among the Product Hunt community, allowing us to share the Bindle vision and story with a very discerning target segment.
  • Bindle saw an expected spike in downloads that day, and a less-expected long tail for days after the feature. (Awesome!)
  • Chat topics in Bindle shifted toward new tech when the Product Hunt community arrived.

Before founding Bindle, I ran a marketing consultancy for startups for two years. I watched most founders struggle to decide if, when, and how to commit time and resources to each marketing channel. I developed a standard process for analyzing and prioritizing marketing opportunities, and applied it here.

There are 7 simple questions founders should consider before they submit to Product Hunt:

1. What do you expect to gain?

Any devotion of energy to a marketing channel must be ruthlessly justified — or else you should prioritize another area or task. Obviously customers and awareness are easy goals to name, but Product Hunt alone cannot make your product successful. Your submission to Product Hunt should bring you one step closer to achieving a goal within your big-picture marketing strategy.

So, determine what “success” would be to you, and tailor your submission to fit that goal. For example, if your big-picture goal is to get attention from venture capitalists, your Product Hunt tagline should describe your company differently than someone looking for a few hundred downloads.

2. Is now the right time?

Product Hunt is usually a one-shot deal. Once you’ve been featured, it’s unlikely you’ll be featured again unless you have a game-changing product update.

For most, the best times to submit are at two extremes: so early that you’re looking to validate your concept, or far along enough to know you have a validated product and want attention from the tech community. The middle is often the worst place to be.

3. Are you ready to be “Shark Tank’d”?

Product Hunt’s comments section is arguably its most valuable return, and perhaps the most often overlooked by founders. It’s a rare chance to explain to potential users why your product is worth their time, and for the tech community to ask tough questions about your mission. Preparation is everything. Put together the list of questions you’ve been too scared to answer (every founder has them) and go over them internally. Run your answers past friends who may not know all the details of your product and can provide outside perspective.

4. Have you done your research?

Know the rules before you play the game. Every marketing channel is unique and you can’t afford to blaze ahead on any new platform without doing your homework. For example, there’s a reason this list has 7 questions.

This list can get you started on understanding Product Hunt:

  • How is the top list ordered? (It’s not by most upvotes.)
  • Are total votes more important, or a rapid change in votes over a short time?
  • Would you rather get all your votes early in the day or late in the day?
  • What kind of taglines and sub-headers do well?
  • How high do you need to be on the list to be included in the next day’s email newsletter?

Getting the answers takes all of 20 minutes, but having them could increase your payoff exponentially.

5. Who else has submitted in your space?

You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can control how you react and what you learn from them. Take a look at your competitors. Did their products resonate with the Product Hunt community? How did they differentiate themselves (if at all)? Seeing many competitors featured here means you may need to adjust your pitch to differentiate yourself. Use their results to set your own expectations and tweak your pitch.

6. Who’s voting?

In the same way the Twitter community has a personality different from Snapchat’s, so does Product Hunt. You should be able to judge what they will appreciate in the future by what they liked or disliked in the past. Tailor your pitch to your audience.

Do a little hustle on your own, and prove you believe in your product. You’ll find countless submissions with fewer than than 15 votes. It may seem obvious, but you can avoid this by inviting your own friends and family to show their support.

7. Can you afford to wait?

Appearing on Product Hunt might get a lot more difficult as its popularity grows. You’ll not only have more competition, but could possibly be facing changes to the product, ranking algorithms and even the culture of the community. If you think you think you can answer the above questions well right now, then submit.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post feel free to recommend/share and you can also follow me here or on Twitter for more startup thoughts.