Liner Ranked #2 on Product Hunt. Lessons Learned

The Result

It happened. We launched our app on Product Hunt, and at the end of the day, our app ranked #2, receiving 492 votes. Here’s a screen shot of the result.

I’ve been a fan of Product Hunt since it launched. More accurately, since I learned about its inception after reading The Origin of Product Hunt, written by its creator Nathan Bashaw (If you are interested, also check out Ryan’s posting; Making Product Hunt).

The Story

I’ve been working on a cool mobile app called Liner for a while, and I could not think of a better platform to launch it on than Product Hunt.

The challenge was finding a hunter to reach out to, since there were the only people who could ‘hunt’ products and post them on the website. I started following a few hunters, and soon became a fan of Violeta Nedkova. She’s hunted a lot of cool products, including Fit Men Cook, Product Rank, and Wappalyzer. I followed her on Twitter, and became a fan of her blog as well (Startup Marketing Resources is a gem). Seeing her hunts and blog postings, I could tell that she liked productivity tools, so Liner fit well into her ‘product zone’.

Another impressive fact was that she ranked #10 on Product Hunter Leaderboard with only 80 hunts. She was very active on social media, and even had 29K followers on Twitter, as well as 3K followers on Product Hunt, which was all a plus.

Product Hunter Rank

Three months ago, well before thinking of asking her to hunt my product, I sent a message saying ‘hi’.

She replied immediately.

Then she followed me as well.

Two weeks ago, when I thought we were ready for Product Hunt, I reached out to her again on Twitter through DM.

Direct Message on Twitter with Violeta

She said she would! It made my day. :)

Hunter hunted. Now it was our turn. After reading the book about Product Hunt(there’s even a manual!), we started preparing. Apple reviewed and approved our latest update.

Landing page was the top priority before the launch day. Since Product Hunt drives traffic to the website, not the app download page, we wanted to make sure that people understand what the product was about just by watching the video. So we quickly replaced the default image with the product video we created; shot by iPhone, edited by our designer.

Landing Page, with a video on it

At 2:30am on Thursday (Pacific Time), Violeta submitted our app to Product Hunt with the following line, and the game was afoot!

If there is anything I love more than sticky notes, it’s highlighting things. And collecting articles. No Android version yet, but there is hope. And, by the way, the makers (Sungmoon and Jinu) are really cool.

It was certainly a thrilling moment. I started to see a few votes coming in. I left a comment on the product page.

We are really excited to announce the Liner iPhone app on Product Hunt!
Our mission is to build useful softwares that make it easier for people to find and consume information. Liner is our first product. You can highlight any web page and share it with Liner. When you share on Twitter, an embedded image is automatically generated.
I have a habit of highlighting while reading. I loved how easy the user interface was when I highlighted on Kindle or iBooks. We tried to mimic the user experience, and are proud of the result. We also built Share Extension, so you can highlight directly in Safari browser or other reading apps. (more on the story behind Liner, on Medium blog:
I hope you find it useful, and we look forward to your feedback!

I kept refreshing the browser to see the vote count. 4 votes, 7 votes, and 11 votes…

It was like watching a horse race.

If you’ve ever watched racing, or tried something similar, you know how important it is to get out to early lead. Once you drop in the ranking, chances are that you will continue to lag behind. This meant that it was time to let my Facebook and Twitter followers know about our launch. I told them that our product was featured on Product Hunt, but made sure that I didn’t ask for votes. Product Hunt has an algorithm to detect such action, drop the rank, or even remove the product entirely.

I kept refreshing the browser until 4:30am, then fell asleep; it was a long day.

I woked up at 6:30am, to see that Liner was ranked #1 with about 100 votes. What a delight! There were also some quality feedback from the community.

Would *love* to see an integration between Pocket and Liner. I build up my Pocket queue throughout the week (usually around longer reads) then share/take notes from there.
Andy McIlwain — WordPress Dev, Brainrider
YES!!!! I collect quotes all the time for my businesses and this looks most exciting. Normally I just screenshot everything and then have to type it out. Pumped to explore this.
Amy M Jones — Cartographer
#geniusidea How ever could I have managed without?! Been using Instapaper but this is an interesting new component. Eyes peeled.
The Yes Oui Knell — Chief Scientist at Escape/Hatch

We also received quite a few mentions on Twitter. The votes continued to roll in. We kept #1 position until linkmoji launched and started ganining momentun.

The yellow graph from the top is Liner.

Some Numbers

In the end, we were very happy with the result. Web site traffic shot up by 2,000%, and app download increased by a not-too-shabby 6x.

Web site traffic shot up, after we launched on Product Hunt (July 9th)
App downloads on the day of launching, and after
Number of active users sharply increased, and after a few days, even more flew in

What’s better was that the news about Liner went further, and drove up even more downloads. Gizmodo featured the app in the favorite apps of the week list, along with the following comment:

I like taking notes. I always found it strangely cathartic when in college. “Oh, an important passage? I BETTER HIGHLIGHT IT.” But on the web, keeping track of bits of facts or lovely phrases can be kind of tricky. Liner takes a lot of the clunkiness out of annotation online by giving you ways to highlight the web. And the real seller for me — integration with Evernote.

Soon after the hunting day, I sent an email to all of our users that we ranked #2 on Product Hunt. Some encouraged us. Some sent us requests for new features. We are pumped up for sure!

Lessons Learned

In summary, here are some lessons we learned through this experience.

  1. The first hour is huge. Having a good hunter and close friends to boost some early votes help.
  2. You’ve got to find the right hunter. We found Violeta and she was amazing. There are many more great hunters, and most of them are very kind.
  3. Landing page matters. It’s where you convert traffic to votes and actual downloads. Our landing page certainly was not the best, but I believe it was enough to get people’s attention.
  4. Once the product is featured, write something about your product as maker. Don’t make it sound like an advertisement. Just explain why you came up with the idea, and why existing solutions couldn’t solve the need and frustration you had.
  5. Use your social network, but do not beg for votes. It gives a bad impression to others, as well as putting your product at risk of being removed from the board.
  6. Once the product is up, use the opportunity to connect with other makers. For example, I reached out through Twitter to the makers of OneShot, an inspiration for our product and we were connected.
  7. The slope of a product’s ascent matters, as well as the total number of votes. Product Hunt is smart enough to combine these two numbers to calculate the rank, so that the products hunted later in the day still have a chance to rise to the top.

I see how Ryan Hoover created something incredibly useful. If you have an app idea, I encourage you to create a prototype, get some feedback from friends, and launch it on Product Hunt. You will have some fun.

Here’s to the makers of the world!

If you want to keep up to date with Liner, consider following Making Liner publication.