This is a story of how we got featured on the front page of Hacker News and Medium which resulted in 46,000+ views, many new acquaintances and contacts from other media. It proves one very simple but important truth — content is king!
It all started when our product — Everhour — crossed the $1.3M ARR mark. This is when we decided that it’s more or less serious benchmark and now we can share the accumulated experience with other local entrepreneurs.
To me, it seems quite important to indicate what you have achieved before giving any advice. Firstly, it’s a proof that your words are worth something. Secondly, others can understand what stage you are at and whether your advice is applicable to them.
Interview with Dev.by
First of all, we decided to contact a popular local IT portal — dev.by (250,000 unique users in Belarus). We had made an interview and the article was published on August 30.
The community positively accepted the article, there were about 40 comments, but no furor.
Nevertheless, our team was happy. We are very small (7 people) and not well-known as an employer. And so the guys said that now their friends would know where they were working. In addition, we were starting to hire new employees and it seemed to us that the article might help.
As a result, there were about 650 visits to our website (don’t know the number of article views), a couple of CVs and a few new interview offerings from other media.
VC.ru publishes our article
Our article was published on September 2 (in 3 days) on another website — vc.ru. It is a Russian online publication about business, startups and technologies with 2.5M unique users per month. And we didn’t somehow contribute to the appearance on their website. This was done by editors when they saw the article on dev.by.
The first, but not the last time when we were lucky because of the quality content.
This publication stirred up a bit more resonance. Within a few days, 22,000+ visitors opened the article, and 1,400 people visited our website. The article had a rather heated discussion (about 160 comments), a lot of personal messages and acquaintances. We got to the “Best of the Week” category and were included into the digest email campaign.
People congratulated us, shared their personal experiences, asked questions. In addition, I got a message from several VC funds with a proposal to meet and consider the option of investment.
Article on Medium
On September 28 (after almost a month) I translated the article into English and decided to post it on Medium. In addition to communicating with the Russian-speaking audience, I wanted to share my experience globally, to communicate and get acquainted with Western readers, to listen to their opinions too.
Due to the fact that my Medium profile had a very few subscribers, I decided to start with contacting some known publications, asking if they would have been interested in accepting my article. So, I did post the article and sent a couple of requests. But either each well-known publication had a ton of applications, or they simply didn’t find it interesting. In any case, not receiving any response within a few days, I decided to post a link on Hacker News. It was on Sunday, September 30th.
I did not have a profile on HN (I registered on the same day) not to mention my zero “karma”. And as one would expect, the article got lost very quickly there. Literally, there were several visitors (where could they come from?).
For me, it was quite expected and therefore I just forgot about it.
And here we were lucky for the second time. Again, solely due to the quality of the material.
Article on Hacker News
On the morning of October 1, I saw a message from the Hacker News Team in my Inbox. They said that they noticed my article and because it seemed interesting, they would give it another chance. Namely, in the next 24 hours, they put it on the main page.
It turned out that they were running an experiment in story reviewing.
As promised, the article soon appeared on their main page. It was noon in our time zone (GMT +3). After that, I had to put the job off :)
The article received 400+ upvotes, rose to the 2nd line in the TOP and received more than 140 comments.
HN community left a very pleasant impression. The article was treated very respectfully, a lot of pleasant and warm words were said, and interesting questions were asked. It incredibly motivates to keep writing and doing what you do.
And here we were lucky for the third time.
Due to the fact that the article received a massive amount of traffic from HN, the curators of Medium noticed us and distributed the story into several topics, as well as selected the story to share with readers in the Medium app, homepage, email digest, and more, which gave it a new wave of traffic. We were #2 in the popular articles of that day on Medium.
As a result, for a couple of days, the article gained 2,900 claps and more than 46,000+ views.
My key takeaways
As a summary of the above, I would like to share some lessons that I think I have learned for myself.
- The most important thing is the content! Those few successful coincidences we had would not have happened if the content wasn’t good. And I believe that if you have something worthwhile — your chances of promotion multiply, even without profiles with a bunch of subscribers.
- Write about your own experience, it is always interesting for everyone to learn from it.
- If possible, share exact numbers. It’s like a proof and people love transparency. It is important for people to understand that you know what you are talking about.
- Write as concisely as possible, minimum of water, maximum by your own words. Such texts are much easier to perceive.
- Why does it seem to me that writing on Medium is better than on my own blog? First, it is easy to write and read content on Medium. It’s a perfectly optimized platform. Second, Medium can give you a very good additional traffic. And third, you can be sure that your server will not go down.
- HN can sometimes be quite difficult to read and navigate in a comment tree. To facilitate the work, I found and installed a special Chrome plugin. Maybe you can find it useful too.
- And the last. Be prepared to respond to comments as quickly as possible. It’s polite and heatens the article topic up.