Published on Feb 27, 2016 in Startups
Maître has been added to the list of the Top 50 products of all time on Product Hunt (position 18th!).
Although most of the suggestions in this article are still relevant, Product Hunt has published an in-depth guide for how to Launch on Product Hunt. I suggest you read both articles to get the most out of it.
Product Hunt has become the Mecca of the tech world. Being featured on the front page gives nerds the same satisfaction as hacking the mainframe of Zion using only the command line. And with good reason: being #1 on PH does not just pump your ego but also helps your project being noticed, acquire users and sometimes even make money.
This post is all about how I launched Maître, my personal side-project now turned part-time business, on Product Hunt, made it to the first position with 1.4K up votes and generated $1,000 in one day.
Every step contains tips and tricks you can use to optimise your launch and get the most out of Product Hunt.
Ready? Let’s start.
Start Commercial break —
Maître is a viral waiting list for your website that allows people to get ahead in the queue by signing up their friends.
Do you remember the waiting list mechanism used by Mailbox to generate more than 800K subscribers in 6 weeks? Maître offers exactly the same mechanism through a copy & paste widget, ready to be installed on your website. No coding skills required, it just works.
— End of commercial break.
As the old saying goes: preparation is everything, and this applies especially for PH.
However, the BIG problem with PH is that you just don’t know if/when someone will hunt you (ps: never hunt your own product. More on this later.) This presents a rather high level of unpredictability and something you have to prevent. It’s impossible to know when someone will hunt you (most product hunters ask you for permission before submitting), your only way to make it to the front page is to be hunted by a moderator/Product Hunt employee or people with super powers.
Whatever plans of world takeover you have, those are completely useless if you don’t make it to the Product Hunt front page.
Now, I won’t go into the details of how PH works but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to be “hunted” by either a moderator or a super user. If your product gets submitted to the /upcoming page… well, good luck.
You can find those Super Users in the About page on the Product Hunt’s website. They are a dozen people, each of them specialising in an area or industry. Reach out to them nicely, ask them to take a look at your product and offer them a free copy of your product (if it’s a paid one) or immediate access (if you your product is in beta).
In my case, I got introduced from a friend — Ed Moyse — to Eric Willis, the #1 Product Hunter for number of up votes and a Super User. Eric liked Maître and decided to submit it. This is when we realised that someone else had already submitted Maître! And using the wrong name!
Eric suggested to reach out to Ben Tossell, Product Hunt’s Community Manager, which I did. Eric was super nice, gave lots of useful advice and updated the existing (and wrong) post with the right information. He also offered to feature Maître the next morning.
That was a breakthrough. Knowing exactly when we were going live gave us the huge advantage to plan our moves in advance and get ready.
☞ Key takeaway: Find a moderator and ask him/her to submit your product.
There are different opinions about when is the best time to submit your product. Some say the best time is midnight PST because it gives you 24 hours for people to up vote, others say 8AM PST because it’s the first thing people living in the Bay Area (where supposedly most product hunters are) will see when they wake up.
I honestly don’t know what is best but I do know what worked best for us.
We got featured on Product Hunt at 8AM (London Time) and this was another big advantage. Why? Because we had 8 hours to engage with the European users before the American users woke up! By the time people in the Pacific Coast woke up, we already had 500 up votes and were first. This means that it was very difficult (though not impossible) for a product launched in the morning in America to keep up with our up votes.
We then spent another 8 hours (till roughly 4PM PST, after that PH kinda dies) engaging with American hunters. This means 16 hours in front of my laptop, but it was really worth it.
So, although I don’t have scientific data to back my theory, I suspect early morning European time is the best time to submit on PH.
Nowadays, Product Hunters expect to be treated in a special way. Almost every product on Product Hunt has got a special offer. If you want to succeed on Product Hunt, you have to do something memorable.
When I was thinking of what to offer, my initial idea was to offer Maître for half price ($24 instead of $49). Anthony, my friend in charge of sales, thought we could do something… they couldn’t refuse. He suggested giving away 3 months of unlimited widgets for half the price of one.
I thought it was a good idea and we also added a marginal note.
If we finished first at the end of the day in the Tech category we would have given Maître away to all up voters for 70% OFF.
Now they really couldn’t refuse.
☞ Key takeaway: Create a special offer Product Hunters can’t refuse.
Once you get featured on Product Hunt it’s very important to get 20/30 up votes in the first hour or so. Our strategy was to reach out to different groups of people at different times of the day, in order to keep engagement high and avoid suspicious peaks of up votes.
The first group we reached out to was the people who had already signed up to Maître. This group consisted of roughly 400 people, enough to give us a nice boost.
The second part of our master plan (ehehe…) was to reach out to our contacts on Linkedin. Between myself, Anthony and George we had roughly 3,000 people to ask for help. Not bad.
This step is of particular importance.
You need to get enough up votes to stay in the front page.
You need your friends & community to help you.
Even better if you have an existing user base (these people are already using your product so it makes perfect sense to ask them to help you).
The difficult part of this is that you can’t ask people to up vote your product directly, otherwise you can be banned. Fortunately, Product Hunt tells you what you can’t do, but not what you CAN do…
Let’s say we found a way to reach our goal..
☞ Key takeaway: Ask your friends and community to help you.
If you get featured on Product Hunt and want to really nail it, forget about anything else for that day.
You have to be everywhere: Twitter, email and, obviously, Product Hunt.
On that day, I had 6 tabs always open on my laptop:
We tried to be always present and promptly answer any question, whether via email, twitter or pigeons. We spent a lot of time on Twitter asking people for feedback, re-sharing their tweets, engaging in conversations. This sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but is absolutely worth it and it’s a great way to build up your community.
The amount of feedback you can receive from Product Hunt is amazing.
We have received ~150 comments, most of which were ideas of how we could improve the product.
Use this feedback to improve your product in real time, don’t wait until the next day. I deployed 7 updates live that day alone.
One of our biggest fears was not going viral.
For a normal product this would be OK, but for a tool that promises to make your campaign viral it would have been a catastrophic failure.
It turned out that Maître worked spectacularly well for us: we got hundreds of mentions on Twitter, some from people with a massive follower base.
This is probably due to the nature of Maître, but I reckon every product, offering the right incentive, can achieve the same results.
If you can get a lot of buzz on social media your chances on making it to the top of PH are much higher.
PS: if you are launching your product on Product Hunt, you should really use Maître to generate buzz and increase virality. We are giving a $15 (30% OFF) discount using the coupon “medium”. This is offer is limited to the first 50 people ;)
We officially made it:
The 16 hours Product Hunt Marathon™ was over.
Needless to say, I slept the entire day.
When I woke up my inbox was full of emails: mainly customer support and bug reports :) But also partnerships, collaborations, ideas, feedback.
Most of the features that have been implemented after Product Hunt come from these emails. Thank you ♥
And also a special thanks for all the people who made this possible: Anthony& George for being part of this journey with Maître, Ben Tossell for hunting us! Every single up voter and commenter for helping us making it to the #1 position and everyone who has shared Maître everywhere.
Product Hunt can be an incredible launching ramp for your product. It’s got one of the most amazing & supportive communities on the internet.
Nailing your launch is not difficult, but it requires preparation, focus & a lot of coffee :) Here’s our main takeaways: