How I slept my way to #1 on Product Hunt.

I wasn’t woken up by the incessant beeping of my phone. That’s because it was set to Airplane Mode. Logical. Just like every other day. Incidentally, I had actually been on an airplane several hours earlier, en route to Slovenia for a friend’s wedding. Feigning jetlag, I had slept in. Oblivious.

Like many of you, I too have the questionable habit of checking my phone mere seconds after waking, before my eyes are even in focus. Today, a Sunday, something unexpected had happened.

I had a similar, albeit less lustful response to seeing our unexpected spike in sign-ups.

Domino’s sign-ups had spiked. Really? It can’t be. Did I finally need glasses? Would tortoise shell frames suit me? My day dreaming was rudely interrupted by another Slack notification: Someone else had signed up. And another. And another. And another.

It was reading right. Perhaps I wasn’t reading it right?

What was happening? It didn’t make any sense. We had kept Domino small by design, with an intimate, engaged community that could help build the foundation for something larger. Slack was reading right..Then perhaps I wasn’t reading it right??


Intermission, courtesy of Robert Ryman.

Domino, for those of you who are wondering, is a global community of freelancers. Currently, freelancing is a giant pain for most people. We‘re working on making it as easy as tying your shoelaces.

Sound interesting? You’re welcome to become a Domino.


We’d been hunted six hours ago and were #1 on Product Hunt.

Hunted? But by whom? How was this possible? I’d need all my smarts to solve this mystery! Minutes later I had my answer, given to me by our intrepid community manager Suzie. The credit belonged to Violeta, whom I shall now thank again.

Thank you, Violeta

What now? What to do? I’ve read a handful of “How to get #1 on Product Hunt” articles before. They all advocated for careful planning, considered action and consistent energy. Blast! There was no time for that! We had already been hunted six hours ago, and I had slept for exactly six of them.

Was that the answer? Should I go back to sleep? It had proven a successful strategy thus far, but I wasn’t feeling very tired anymore. I am my own worst enemy.

Unsurprisingly, I find Zoë, Suzie and my co-founder Chris actively spreading the word, onboarding new users and keeping the servers in ship shape and Bristol fashion.

Mayday!!!

Now to lend them a hand. But what’s this?! My charger? Blown? And I have only 40 minutes of battery left? There’s an Apple retailer around the corner, but they’re closed on Sundays. The scourge of European socialism has struck again!

Credit: Von Holdt

But there’s no time for petty politics, we’re #1 on Product Hunt! After a small but respectful Pagan burial, I draw my phone from my holster and get to it. It’s not ideal, but it does the job.

Try not to get all Kurtz on the situation

Sign-ups. So many. Like a tidal wave, crashing against the Silicon shores. Single grains of sand stretching across the periphery of your retina. Was this just an illusion?

Had we actually built something people wanted?

Why is Apocalypse Now playing in the background? I should probably turn that off.

What time is it in San Francisco right now?

Midnight blanketed the Pacific and we had carried the day. In one fell swoop we had ended Napoleon’s designs in Egypt and doubled the size of our community.


Artist’s rendering of our Google Analytics graph.

All told, we saw over 2,500 unique visits from Product Hunt resulting in 500 new members.

So what was our “secret”?
  1. Sleep. Obviously.
  2. Our hand was forced. How many of you are planning out launches on Product Hunt? We weren’t, but we knew we were going to in the future. Violeta forced our hand — and we’re grateful she did. What would it look like if you dropped everything and just posted your product today? Does it need that extra coat of paint?
  3. We built something people on Product Hunt want. One of the many problems with freelancing is the lack of high quality, practical, information on running a freelance business. Yes, there are exceptions, but they’re few and far between. Product Hunt’s audience appears to be partly comprised of new, established, or aspiring freelancers. We had built something they wanted.
  4. We already had a community. And they were incredibly supportive; sharing news of our success on Product Hunt on social media and helping new members get up to speed. Their consistent generosity and good spirited nature are a shot of energy each day. We cannot thank them enough.
  5. We were hunted on a Sunday. Life moves slower on Sunday. Product Hunt’s traffic may dip on the weekends, with less planned product launches, too. We could have gotten more upvotes and more traffic during the week, but we’d also have faced increased competition.
  6. “Who” is as important as “when”. Violeta is an active Product Hunter with just over 30,000 Twitter followers. A lot of our momentum came from her.

Have any further questions? @ me on Twitter.

Need help with your freelancing? Become a Domino and we’ll give you a leg up.