As a startup founder, one of the most fun and scariest things you’ll do is launch your new product or service to the world. You’ve put in a ton of work ideating, getting feedback, and building. A launch is the moment of truth. Does the world need what I’m building?
An excellent tool for getting your product in front of a lot of eyeballs is Product Hunt. If you aren’t yet familiar, Product Hunt is a website where makers launch products each day. The community discovers them, gives upvotes and reviews, and discusses. At the end of the day, one product is crowned Product of the Day.
Regardless of whether you are a top product, managing to make the front page of Product Hunt means tons of new traffic and sign-ups. It’s likely to be the single most significant influx of new users you will have seen to date.
Tons of great resources exist to maximize your chances of having a successful launch on Product Hunt – and we’ll link you to a few. However, this article will help you better understand the general strategy around a Product Hunt launch and how it fits into your broader go-to-market.
Start with why
As with most things, it’s best to start with the ‘why.’ What’s your goal? Are you super early in your product development and just looking for early users and feedback? Or are you a more mature product, and your primary goal is to generate new paying customers? Is this a side project, and you just want some validation that the idea is good before quitting your job and going full-time? Is it an informational product that helps you generate leads for your main product? Do you want to be Product of the Day, or are you content with just being on the front page and getting an influx of new users?
Having a clear goal about why you are doing the launch will help you answer questions such as ‘when should I launch’ or ‘what should I expect from the launch.’ For example, if your product is still at the MVP stage and somewhat buggy, your goal probably shouldn’t be to get a bunch of paid users. A better goal at this stage is connecting with early adopters and getting feedback.
Is my audience aligned with the Product Hunt community?
One of the most common irritations of founders launching on Product Hunt is having this great product with many paying customers. Still, they end up ranking lower than someone who launches a Notion template they built in a few hours the day before.
Often this is because the audience for their product is not the same as the Product Hunt audience. Generally, Product Hunt people are makers, startup people, and technology enthusiasts, and they love products that align with those interests.
If your product is targeted at real estate professionals or teachers, there doesn’t tend to be a lot of those types of users on Product Hunt. Meaning, your launch might not find a receptive audience.
Keep that in mind with your launch and the expectations you set.
Do the work for a successful launch
A Product Hunt launch is not a ‘set it and forget it’ event. Don’t expect to simply post your product and watch the upvotes roll in. You’ll have to do some work to line up your biggest supporters to come and help you get some early momentum on launch day. This group should include friends, family, early adopters, even former colleagues.
There are excellent guides on maximizing your launch, including a resource from Product Hunt’s blog, which is a great place to start. I also created an easy-to-follow checklist a while back to give you the best possible chance for a successful launch.
Leverage the audience to improve your product
Users you get from Product Hunt can be an invaluable resource in early feedback and improving your product, especially if you are early-stage. Often, Product Hunters are makers, founders, and product people themselves. So they have both sympathy for your journey, as well as experience to lend you. Make sure you leverage their feedback and get in as many user interviews with them as possible.
It’s not a silver bullet
‘Launching on Product Hunt’ is not a complete go-to-market strategy. It is just one tool in your toolbelt. A successful launch can mean a few thousand new website visitors and maybe a few hundred new users. You will probably see people discovering you for a few days after the launch while still on the front page. But a week later, you disappear, and the community has moved on to newer launches.
This is all to say – make sure Product Hunt is just one part of your go-to-market strategy, aligned with the specific goal you have in mind as outlined above. It can help you better define your product, your audience, and how you communicate. But you’ll have to find other vectors beyond Product Hunt for sustainable growth.
What to launch
Another thing to consider is launching features or new versions on Product Hunt. Launching a single feature makes it easier to explain the value proposition succinctly than an entire, complex product.
You can also consider launching informational or adjacent tools. Often you’ll see launches of templates or tools that aren’t the core focus of the makers. This brings leads and eyeballs to your site.
You can launch something every six months or so on Product Hunt. If the first one doesn’t go well, there’s always next time.
A big mistake I see founders make is to overthink a Product Hunt launch. In fact, I’m guilty of this. We treated our last launch for Taskable as this colossal event, and we wanted to have everything right, including launching certain new features. As the features took longer than expected, we kept pushing back our launch.
In hindsight, we probably should have launched that earlier version of the product to get as many early adopters as possible. Then, with the second launch, our goal could have been more about paid customers.
Product Hunt is an excellent growth tool. If you manage it properly and put in some work, your launch can be the single most significant traffic source in your young company’s life. Make sure you leverage this new audience and get as much input from them as possible to improve your product and build something people want. But do not rely on Product Hunt as a silver bullet or as an ongoing and sustainable source of user growth. You’ll need to find other channels for that.