There’s only one place you go to announce your new tech product or web service these days. It’s ProductHunt. Why? Whether you are looking for feedback and your first customers or a boost of thousands of signups and more revenue, it’s all possible on ProductHunt. I’ve seen it.
I previously wrote a complete guide about how to launch at ProductHunt in 2017 (still worth a read, especially for the case studies), and with the recent ProductHunt site updates, I wanted to re-write it into a shorter, punchier how-to list that will get you off to the hunt faster. To date, I’ve hunted over 140 startups and products (122 of those featured) on ProductHunt for a total of 35,387 upvotes. That’s an average of 252 upvotes per startup (ranking #8 overall as a hunter). Most startups are happy to reach triple digits. Few reach quadruple. Let’s get into how to do it.
1. Find a killer as your hunter
On ProductHunt, you don’t need someone to hunt you. You could easily post yourself (hunt and post are used interchangeably for ProductHunt). The reason why the most successful hunts get a reputable person to hunt their product for them is to increase their reach at the time of posting. Because: Frequent hunters get their posts featured by ProductHunt more often. Followers of the hunter also get notifications when they post a new product. Simple concept, right? Find an influencer on ProductHunt, get them to love your product, ask them to hunt it. Where to find them? 500 Hunters has a list of top hunters.
2. Optimize your posting time
When to post your product on ProductHunt — that is the question. Previously it’s been kosher to post between 12 am and 1 am Pacific Time (everything runs on PT for ProductHunt as they are based in San Francisco) in the early morning during the middle of the week. Now that you can schedule posts, things have changed. The data I’m seeing shows that posting early morning (between 1 am and 5 am) on Monday or Tuesday seems to get the highest engagement. It’s not a perfect science. It’s more about posting at a time when there are enough people online to get eyeballs while giving yourself a full 24–48 hours of featured time for upvoting at the beginning of the week, so people have time to discover you. Hunts are only featured for one day (24 hours), but there is usually a delayed upvote effect that spans 48 hours as people send links around the web. You can also consult the oracle at WhenToPostOnProductHunt.com.
3. Make your icon eye-popping
Your icon may be the single most important thing you design for your ProductHunt launch. It’s the image that shows on the homepage after you launch. Just take a gander at www.producthunt.com. Look around. Soak in what products are getting the most attention, the most upvotes, and what their icon looks like. Think of it as a subject line to an email. If no one opens the email as a result of the subject, you lose. Gifs of a startup’s logo have become a go-to. Also popular are ‘explainer gifs’ that tell what the product does in a short, repetitive cycle. Remember, the recommended size is 240x240 and file formats that work are JPG, PNG, GIF. Max size is 2MB.
4. Write a clear, punchy tagline
After your icon, your tagline for your product or startup is the next more important thing. It’s the first thing someone reads after your product name. It should be clear and catchy. Not the same old boring drab line with lots of buzzwords, but clever and concise. Know what words are overhyped and what words fit your business well. As an exercise, write a list of 50 one-liners. Then rework your favorites to perfection. It takes time, but this step is completely worth it for ProductHunt, investor decks, customers and on and on. Keep in mind that you may have different one-liners for different audiences. Remember, there is a 60-character limit.
5. Create strong hunt-page content
Make sure to have the right content prepared for your hunt page. What do you need, you say? Well, walk yourself through the submission process without actually posting and that should give you a good idea to start. Based on data from Popsters, hunts that included a video link, around 8 tags (e.g. Marketing, Artificial Intelligence), and 8 images seem to perform best. That said, I’ve seen many of campaigns with smaller amounts of images and tags perform well because they nailed their relevancy, so don’t go overboard adding things that aren’t helpful to your hunt audience. After even a quick search of today’s top-performing hunts, I found a good example in The Vegan Filter. Notice the gif icon, the strong tagline with an emoji, a video that plays on the page, they have it all. Also, just a cool product, too. Remember, you need your hunter to add your ProductHunt user name as a maker in order to update and edit the post as needed.
6. Share with your startup network
Once you’ve prepared all of your hunt assets, had your hunter post your page, and it was approved and pushed live by the ProductHunt team (usually happens in a few minutes), it’s time to share the good news with your community. This may be a mix of your customers, your friends and family, and your startup people. Usually, it’s best to focus on your startup friends who know and use ProductHunt and let them know you’d like them to take a peek at your new product and provide any feedback in the comments, so you can answer any and all questions from the community as the Maker (a.k.a. founder). The general rule of thumb is that hunts perform better with a healthy ratio of engagement between upvotes, reviews, and comments. And, if you didn’t figure this out already, more upvotes means you’ll be in the top featured products of the day section longer allowing more people to see and engage with your product. Best case scenario: Stay above the fold (i.e. top 4–5) for the entire day. It goes without saying that the more upvotes you get, the more you’ll see a boost in your site traffic, awareness, and, when relevant, sales.
7. Be a Chatty Cathy in the comments
It’s not always clear, but every good product hunt has a wonderful, communicative founder behind it. That founder not only builds relationships with hunters and rallies their network around their new product but engages thoughtfully with commenters on their hunt page. Most people that are active on ProductHunt are curious, tech-enabled people who are looking for the best tools for their life and work. They may have seen or used products similar to yours. They may want to know the differences. They may be excited they get a chance to talk to the founder of a cool product. Talk to them! Answer their questions. Share your excitement for your product. Offer ProductHunt users a special discount or offer. The best hunts always have the support and dedication of the makers in the comments.
Now you are ready. Go off into the ProductHunt universe of cats and technology, my friend. Be honest, genuine, and thoughtful. To the thrill of the hunt! I wish that you journey well.