Product Hunt 101
Tips from a top hunter on how to crush it on Product Hunt
I first heard about Product Hunt a couple of years ago through Ryan Hoover, who I had gotten to know through his side projects, and I started using it right away. It was a great way for me to stay on top of products, but also a great way to connect with other people interested in sharing and discovering the best products. If you’ve been hiding under a rock and haven’t heard of it yet, check Product Hunt out here — you’ll get some great insights and ideas from companies and people. It’s a pretty amazing community.
Fast forward two years — the Product Hunt community has exploded in growth, and I still use it almost every day. A lot of companies use Product Hunt to launch their products, and many have seen thousands of users join/use their product in a single day.
I love submitting products and was a very active hunter, in the early days. I had a natural knack for finding cool tools and apps, a few of which made it to #1 — this eventually put me Product Hunt’s top hunters list. I’m currently sitting at number 9 on the leaderboard in between Erik Torenberg and Hiten Shah. Because of Product Hunt’s traction and my profile’s visibility, I get pitched a lot about product submissions. I’m also frequently asked by friends and entrepreneurs, “How do we get on the front page of Product Hunt?”
The answer is a simple one, but requires a bit of context and insight into how Product Hunt works. Here’s the breakdown:
How does Product Hunt work?
Product Hunt is a social news site where community members post interesting products. It’s usually (but not limited to) digital products. The website is extremely popular, and has quickly grown into an equivalent to what Hacker News is for developers.
Generally, products get submitted and upvoted (like Reddit and Hacker News), and the community has conversations about these products. It’s a place for product discovery. By association, users also discover the companies and people behind these products.
It has become a part of many companies’ promotion strategies (for launches, updates, etc). Some people do customer development on there as well, getting real, high-quality, feedback, like what we did with Next Keyboard to acquire beta testers. Product Hunt has even recently expanded into games, books, and podcasts.
How to crush it on Product Hunt (pro tips & best practices)
The Product Hunt front page gets a lot of exposure, but it’s doubly as important because top products get picked up and promoted in the email digest. Ideally, when you launch something on Product Hunt, you want it to get upvoted enough to stay above the fold (the visible part of the screen without scrolling or clicking anything), so you’re always visible to people landing on the website. The algorithm is similar to Hacker News, Reddit, and such. I recommend not sending direct links or getting people from the same IP address or location to upvote it, otherwise your product has a chance of getting blacklisted. (A simple way around the IP address issue is to get people to upvote via the app, or on a cellular data connection.)
You need an invite from a current member to be able to comment on submissions and to submit something new. And by the way, just because you can submit, doesn’t mean you should.
Oftentimes, people try to get top hunters to submit their products. This is because top hunters have more followers. When they submit something, all their followers receive a notification that they submitted a product. You can find a list of top hunters here.
Influencers also have posting privileges that get their submissions directly to the front page. If you’re trying to go down this route, look at people who have submitted a lot, and see if their submissions have made it to the front page.
Ideally, you want your product posted first thing in the morning PST time. Product Hunt refreshes its leaderboard around 12am-12:30 PST everyday. Folks who live in the west coast or in Europe have an advantage here. I typically post around 6 or 7am EST. By that time there’s already a few products getting some traction usually.
Pick a good day of the week to do it. Weekends are usually slower. I prefer middle of the week, between Tuesday — Thursday. If Product Hunt is anything like Reddit, then Monday — Thursday are probably the most trafficked days.
Reply to everything! It shows you’re active in the community and that you care. It also makes your post look more active, which helps to push your post up on the home feed.
Don’t ask for votes directly. Ask for support, love, feedback, shares but don’t ask for upvotes. (Also, as I mentioned previously don’t send people direct links.) The best way to ask for support is not to ask for support. This is similar to the VC adage, “Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money.”
Share the news with friends, and friends of friends, and in your networks. Think Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups, etc. Line up your supporters, fans, investors, beta testers in advance and let them know that the PH launch is coming. Similarly, if you’re planning on doing an email blast don’t forget to reach out to existing customers, letting them know you’re on Product Hunt.
Here’s what to keep in mind as you fill out your hunt details — the form before submitting an app:
- Name: pretty straightforward, the name of your product
- Tagline: should be descriptive — not your marketing tagline
- Direct URL: URL to your product
- Images and videos: share screenshots, promo video, marketing images. GIFs should be square and under 3MB. A GIF in your thumbnail helps the post stand out. This image should be added first
- Twitter: Makers’ Twitter handles
- Categories: These will enable Product Hunt users to discover your product as well
- First comment: You should have your first comment written the day before your post goes live. This should be a short blurb from you, the maker, about things like why you built the product, who it’s for, why you think it’s great, and a call-to-action (something like, “Looking for feedback,” or, “Let me know if you notice any bugs!” It could even just be, “Thanks for checking it out :)” Ask your friends to upvote this so it floats to the top, and so that people know that you made the product and are responsive to comments.
- Collection: For more exposure in the long run, get your product added to a popular collection related to your product. This way, more people will find your product through organic search.
This is all the information you need to consider, and provide, when you’re submitting a product yourself or trying to get the attention of a top hunter.
How to Pitch Hunters
Most top hunters have their own day jobs and are super busy people. They are also bombarded with submissions from other people hoping to hit the front page. Top hunters also love interesting products — that’s why they joined Product Hunt in the first place. They would love to submit something that resonates with the community. You can provide them with that. However, you must tread the very fine line between pitching (authentically) and spamming (annoyingly).
When in doubt, pitch like you would want to be pitched. Ask for feedback, speak to the person before asking for something, and spark up a conversation before you need the submission.
Figure out who the top hunter is, what pains they might have in their day-to-day job, what kind of products they’re interested in, and add value if you can. Maybe send them a couple of interesting products that you discovered, so they can submit them. With that said, I know that time can be a luxury sometimes. Even if you haven’t prepared or started a conversation with them prior, at the very least, be real and authentic when telling them about your product.
Ideally, do your homework to see if your product is something they’d be interested in. Product Hunt shows you all of the things they’ve submitted, upvoted, and made. You can tell a lot about a person based on those three things.
Don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back, because they might be preoccupied with other tasks or priorities. If they choose not to submit it on your behalf, it simply might not be a good fit for them. Similarly, don’t spam random people on Product Hunt to ask for feedback when you really want upvotes. (Spamming random people is very different from genuinely asking feedback, which I recommended earlier).
When you’re going to submit to Product Hunt, plan ahead. Your conversations should start when you start building your product. Build relationships, not just products. That way, you’ll have a community and stakeholders — people who are genuinely curious about the product — when you’re about to launch.
A Great Sample Pitch
I get pitched somewhat frequently. I run a studio, so it’s difficult for me to respond to each one. With that said, I like great pitches — and this was a great pitch.
The team at Core15 reached out to me with a short, concise, customized, email, but also made a video for me. They talk about how they like my app Quick Fit, which was closely related to their app, and they also provided a promo code within the description so I could give it a try if I was curious.
I didn’t know the Core15 co-founders before, but their cold email felt really personal. I was happy to submit it for them. The co-founder, Fei, kicked off the discussion with comments and promo codes for fast movers of the Product Hunt community.
The Calendar Invite
Another approach I’ve found to be super helpful is asking makers who I’m submitting a product for to send me a calendar invite for really early in the AM on the day they want it posted with all of the details I’ll need to make the post. Here’s a calendar invite my friend Mike Murchison recently sent me.
Now that you have an idea of how Product Hunt works, I highly recommend checking the community out for yourself. Dive deep, be yourself, and share your favourite products. Reach out to other people and get deeper into the product community. While Product Hunt is established and has many users, I think that it’s still in its early days.
We regularly explore product-related ideas in our mailing list. Give me a shout if you have any questions, and obviously, if you think you have a great product to submit. I’m @robjama on Twitter.
Use Slack to connect with other makers and PH community members. If you’re a maker you should consider joining MakerHunt, an invite-only Slack community for makers. You can also talk to makers in your city on the phglobal.co slack group and at Product Hunt meetups IRL > https://www.producthunt.com/meetups
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Robleh Jama is the founder of Tiny Hearts, an award-winning product studio. They make their own products like Next Keyboard, Wake Alarm and Quick Fit — as well as products for clients like Wealthsimple and Philips.
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