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9 Tactical Tips on how to be #1 on Product Hunt all day

Last Updated on August 21, 2019 by Paul Metcalfe

Last Friday, my site, a collection of categorized tools for Startups, rode the #1 spot all day on Product Hunt. It was a long and glorious day. I wanted to share with everyone how to be #1 on Product Hunt, so that others can be successful too.

But first, here are some of my stats:

Unique visitors

  • Friday: 5200 (first day on Product Hunt)
  • Saturday: 2655
  • Sunday: 1826
  • Monday: 3637
  • Tuesday: 1794
  • Wednesday: 1006

Mailing list grew from 500 to 1100+ people

Slack group went from 5 to 21 people

I’ve had over 15,000 unique visitors in the last week. Before Product Hunt, the site averaged about 50 people a day.

Product Hunt spikes dwarf the previous spike from BetaList, which know looks more like a lump

I use Dreamhost and their servers never once seemed to even hiccup when my traffic became 10,000% of the normal amount. I had been concerned about the giant increase in traffic causing issues, but luckily it never seemed to happen.

Anyway, let’s talk about my tactics.

Tip #1 – Early bird gets first blood

I live in Nashville, which is the Central time zone in the US. California is two hours behind me. I thought it made sense to get up on Product Hunt as early as possible, so I set my alarm clock for 3am, so that it could be posted at 1am California time. I knew from research that Friday was the best day to be listed, and I lucked out that nothing else really big was posted that day. The previous day, Product Hunt v2 was posted, and we knew we could not compete with that. I thought I would be pretty brain dead at 3am, so I made a column in my Trello board of what to do to encourage my initial traction on Product Hunt. I had planned to go back to bed at 4am, because starting the work day at 3am is nuts, but things started getting interesting very early, so I made coffee at 5am and pushed on through.

Friday is a great time to get posted because you’ll be able to get more attention over the weekend, when new postings are a little slower.

Tip #2 – Befriend a hunter

I’m a big fan of trying to everyone you admire, including bigger names within the Startup / Entrepreneurship world. Accordingly, I’ve buttered up some influencers over the years that I thought might be willing to post this on Product Hunt for me. I made a list of who would perhaps be willing to help, and compared who had the most followers. I weighed my options and decided to ask the great Andrew Warner of Mixergy to post it for me, as we’ve corresponded before and he had something like 1400 followers on Product Hunt. I emailed him and asked. A couple days later he said he’d love to post it. Awesome. I planned with him to do it later that week, and of course I spent the next two days trying to get the site as good looking as possible.

Tip #3 – Make something the community will want

I knew Product Hunt was the perfect way to launch because the community would resonate well with a curation site. Obviously my site is similar to Startup Stash, and that’s the most upvoted tech product of all time, so I knew mine could be popular too.

In the comments, someone admitted that they were tired of seeing curation sites like mine, that this type of site has been exhausted. Some jokingly commented that there should be a site that is a curation of all the other curation sites. And of course then two people chimed in and posted actual sites that are curations of curations. So meta.

Tip #4 – Have prelaunch traction and tell your waiting list

I put on BetaList a month ago, as soon as I got the landing page up, and I paid for a rush listing. Totally worth it. It resonated well with that community, and I got around 450 people on my waiting list. I also spent the time before I built the site building up a Twitter following.

Tip #5 – Use time zones to your advantage

Since I was listed around 1am California time, I had plenty of hours before Americans would get active on Product Hunt. The evening before my post, I crafted the email I would send to my waiting list, knowing that I might be too brain dead at 3am to not screw something up.

Screen shot from my Campaign Monitor account. 4am local time, other continents are already awake.

Americans were asleep, but people were active in Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. People were opening the email and following the link to my site, and I started getting upvotes right away.

I had made a list the night before also of Startup buddies overseas to show the listing to, so I emailed them. I also announced it in some Slack groups I’m in, posted on Twitter, Linked In, Facebook groups, wherever I could without being too annoying.

By 9am local time, I had surpassed Pocket’s posting and become #1. It felt awesome.

Tip #6 – Don’t ask for upvotes

Daniel from Quuu really drove this home to me when I was talking about my Product Hunt plan: Don’t ask people to upvote it. Just don’t. They have some sort of algorithm that may bust you and penalize you. It’s not worth it. Just show it to everyone and if they will upvote it if they want to. Also, you’ll get a LOT more visitors than you will upvotes. The first day, I had about 10 unique visitors for every 1 upvote on Product Hunt. Upvotes are obviously important, but don’t jeopardize anything by encouraging them.

Tip #7 – Tell everyone

This may seem obvious, but tell everyone. This is your potential moment and you have to work it hard to make it happen. Plan out your list of people you need to tell, and make sure you get them all, and as soon as possible after your initial listing. Put it on all your twitter, ask friends to share, ask influencers to share, send it to your cousin, put it on your Facebook, message it to LinkedIn connections, mention it in Slacks, whatever. Get it out there, and as early as possible.

Tip #8 – Engage in the Product Hunt conversation

I had read this tip in a couple places, so I made sure to do it. You can be marked as the “Maker” pretty easily once you’re posted, and then you should go in and reply to all comments and ask people what they do and do not like. This can help you get noticed a bit more on Product Hunt, but more importantly, you can use it as an opportunity for customer discovery and improve your product further. The feedback from the conversation can be gold.

Tip #9 – Fight hard to be #1 so that you can get more attention in the Product Hunt email

I didn’t even know this would happen, but since I was #1 over the whole weekend, I was at the top of the Product Hunt newsletter that went out Monday. I think this is responsible for the large return of traffic that day. I had more unique visitors on Monday than I did Saturday or Sunday, plus way more engagement, more suggestions and applications to be listed.

Obviously, Product Hunt is a tremendous spike in traffic, and a beautiful growth tool. But it’s unsustainable growth. So…

Bonus tip: Make sure you can capitalize on this traffic surge while you have it

How? Set up social shares to try to encourage Product Hunt visitors to share you on Facebook and Twitter, etc. Capture as many email addresses as you can so that you can market to those people later. Install Facebook retargeting pixels so that you can build a custom audience for ads, and Analytics.

You’ll be glad you did it when the traffic starts to die off, and it will.

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