The Story Behind Smartmockups Launch

How we made it to the front page of Hacker news and Product Hunt, got 100K page views and reached people from 142 countries in a few days.

As you might already know, Smartmockups is the new online tool, that let’s you easily create product screenshots with just a few clicks for free. Even though the idea is a lot older, we’ve really started working on this project in autumn 2015 in our free time during evenings and weekends. In January, we sent private beta to our friends to gather the first feedback and started thinking about launch.

First steps before launch

We know that the biggest mistake we could make was to spend months developing the product and then completely forget about marketing. Because Smartmockups was meant as a side project, we had to optimise our efforts and do the best for global launch.

We've created a landing page right from the beginning that we submitted to the and reached about 600 newsletter subscribers in a few days!

We spent quite a lot of time finding out, how to describe Smartmockups in one sentence. As for non native speakers it took us almost a week till we got the “Create product screenshots with just a few clicks, for free!”. That actually doesn’t mean we spent an entire week brainstorming but we simply tweaked that a little bit every day until we were satisfied with how it sounds and what is the message it should spread.

The next step was to create the list of channels where we want to post Smartmockups — there were sites that we use every day like Product Hunt and Hackers news, blogs about new startups and some subreddits. We also went through some posts about successful launch stories which gave us some great tips and tricks. We’ve found out that it’s better to find someone who will hunt us on Product Hunt than hunting ourselves. Also we found out the best time to put the product on Hacker news appears to be at 2pm UTC — people in US wake up while people in Asia are still awake. We didn’t give enough time to research Reddit (consequently we were not reddit users), which was a huge mistake after all. Well, maybe next time.

Hacker News

On our launch day, we submitted Smartmockups to the Hacker News, Reddit and some startup blogs. Our posts on Reddit were never published. It turns out that somewhere you can’t post your own stuff and somewhere new users are not able to post (yep, we should definitely research Reddit a little more). But what was really surprising for us — we appeared on the Hacker News front page in a few minutes!

The whole day, we were just sitting in front of the Google Analytics and watching the active users growing to 50, then 100, 150, 200… We’ve climbed to 6th place at the Hacker news and stayed there for about three hours. During three hours on the Hacker News front page, we got 4 200 visitors, 15 000 page views and lots and lots of great feedback and suggestions. But the lesson we learned here — create your Hacker News account in advance, because as a new user you won’t be able to reply all the comments.

Hacker News may seem as an old website that nobody use but don't get fooled. There is a huge number of people and potential users so it's definitely worth trying!

Once we disappeared from the front page, the traffic dropped to 1/4. But in the Show HN category, which is the best when you want to release something new, we still took the first place and became most successful project of the day.

Product Hunt

Getting featured on Product Hunt was fairly easy — someone found Smartmockups on Hacker News and hunted us himself. When we woke up the next morning, we just saw our product on the second spot of the homepage! (Whaaat?!) We didn’t expect this at all and that’s why we were looking for someone who could post Smartmockups to Product Hunt but as it turns out, it wasn’t necessary.

Not everybody can post new projects on Product Hunt so it's really great to find someone with great number of followers who can hunt your post instead of you.

We spent the whole day replying to all comments, fixing bugs and staring at the Google analytics screen, again! At the end, we got 800 upvotes, about 9 000 new visitors and 35 000 page views. It’s also fair to say it was Friday, so I believe it’s not the busiest day on PH but we did well anyway. Perhaps, we are the most successful project on Produch Hunt from Czech republic!

Great things about PH are not just the upvotes, great feedback and direct traffic, but the awesome community that spreads the word about your product around the world. You also get an awesome gif when you reached 100 upvotes!

Mom and dad would be proud!

After that, we saw wonderful Smartmockups reviews and articles from Japan, France, Taiwan, India and other countries that brings a lot of traffic as well. It's really great to see people all around the world review your tool and give you so much positive feedback!

And finally some geeky numbers from first week!

What's next?

Well, our launch was pretty great and now it's time to continue the hard work and bring you all the new features and mockups we're going to release. We made a simple rule to keep Smartmockups running forward and so we will release 5 new free mockups every single week!

We also want to say big thank you to people all around the world for their valuable feedback and improvement tips while launching our first versions of Smartmockups. Also big thumb up for Product Hunt comunity for their support and positive mind. Your GIFs are amazing!

We're going to write some more stuff about new features and future steps soon. If you don't want to miss anything new, follow us on twitter and facebook and for our design friends, we're also on dribbble and behance.