Learn by Practice: 3 Lessons from ProductHunt Launch

Day 11 of #30DaysOfStartingUp

Yesterday, which is a Sunday, was a rather eventful day. It is a day in history for apparent reasons, though I am here to document and summarize what happened in my small startup life. We launched our first product on producthunt! There is a lot of learning that I can share with you from the launch.

How does producthunt work?

Product hunt operates on a 24-hour interval. The clock resets at 00:00 pacific time (3 am in New York, where I live). All launched products during the 24 hours will show up under the Newest tab. The highest-voted product will show up in the Popular tab, which is the default tab that brings massive traffic. A note-worthy rule is that every product shares the same 24-hour interval. If your product is launched at 23:59 pacific time, it only has 1 minute of exposure.

Lesson 1: launch with a global mindset.

My original idea was to launch in the morning. I assumed people that I can reach is in a similar timezone as I am. I should promote during my daytime when my audience is active on Twitter or checking their Emails. Launching at 3 am is very counter-intuitive for me. I honestly forget the 3 am in New York would be 9 am somewhere else in the world. I should have had a global mindset when I planned for launch. The cryptocurrency market never closes, so is launching a product.

Lesson 2: producthunt is not a great place to get paying customers.

While producthunt can brings traffic, it doesn’t convert to paying customers. Its visitors are not in the shopping mindset. They are in a discovery or research mindset. While I had sales through producthunt, it all came from direct audiences of my cofounder’s or mine. It didn’t help that my product was the only two that require payment on that day. The majority of launched products are free or offers a free tier. It is better to offer a free option and use producthunt as a channel to get exposure rather than paying customers.

Lesson 3: producthunt weighs “authentic” upvotes more than friends and family votes.

Our product got 34 upvotes in total but didn’t get to the popular tab, while products with fewer votes did. I think that is due to the ranking algorithm. Votes from accounts with a long history are weighed more, while votes from freshly-opened accounts are weighed less or even penalized. If you are planning a producthunt launch, I suggest reaching out to a few producthunt users with a long history and securing their vote upfront to get your product on the Popular tab.

I think this is a good learning experience. I was very fearful to launch on producthunt before because I was overthinking it. This experience debunks many misperceptions about launching on producthunt and gives me some ideas of how to run a successful launch. I need to learn by practicing, be it making sales or launching a product on an unfamiliar platform.

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This post is also published on the 30DaysOfStartup project website:

https://startup.wentin.net/Learn-by-Practice-f7fabf30442f42cdac36842aec5fa346