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How I Turned a Product Hunt Failure Into a Success


Neville

product-hunt-richard-reeze.jpg

I went from failing miserably on Product Hunt (PH) to going viral thanks to it.

When I first launched Most Recommended Books, I was a ProductHunt noob. I made every mistake in the book.

Unsurprisingly, the launch flopped (more than any PH launch I’ve ever seen).

You have no idea how painful this was. I spent months working on this project. Countless hours looking for these book recommendations, cleaning the data, putting it all in one place, and building the website.

I was certain it was worth it. I truly believed people would love the site.

After spending all that time and energy, this is how the PH community reacted:

4 upvotes

 

I decided to study Product Hunt.

After that heartbreaking failure a year ago, I decided to read everything I could about PH. Launch strategies, best practices, and what WORKED.

Never again would I be defeated so embarrassingly.

It took some trial and error. But earlier this year, another app I built went viral thanks to PH!

over 600 upvotes

It wasn’t the #1 app that day (it was #4). But it was the most popular one.

What does that mean? Here are some examples:

 

Hundreds (maybe thousands) of mentions on Twitter:

twitter mentions

Dozens of publications from all around the world wrote about it (in languages I can’t understand):

mentions from news

And perhaps most importantly, People f***in’ Magazine wrote about it!!!

richard-people-magazine-product-hunt.jpg

All in all, this led to 98,880 visitors in 7 days!!

elon visitors

What a week...

And it was a totally different experience from the first launch!

So what did I do differently? Here are my “don’t be a noob” lessons:

 

Product Hunt best practices:

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I am aware that not every launch will do as well as the Elon generator.

Every product is different. For some, trends play a huge factor.

For example, I launched the app a few days after Elon named his baby. Everyone was talking about little X Æ A-12. If I launched the same app today, no one would care. It’s not trendy anymore.

But what about apps where trends don't matter? Like Most Recommended Books. What things can you do to maximize your chances of success?

 

 

 

1.) Launch at midnight.

When I first posted Most Recommended Books, I did it in the afternoon (my cofounder, Anurag, hasn’t forgiven me to this day). You want to schedule your app to be launched at midnight. That way it’ll have alllll day to get upvotes

 

2.) Design your thumbnail image to stand out (and grab people's attention).

You can do this by following 3 principles:

  • Make it easy to read.
  • Use high-contrast colors.
  • Consider making it a GIF.

Here’s the image I used for the Elon Musk Name Generator.

elon musk generator icon

You can tell I followed principles 1 and 2. And I was lucky that X Æ A-12’s name was all over the news. So I knew my thumbnail would stand out without having to turn it into a GIF.

However, with a normal product, I’d most likely use a gif (a lot of the top PH products do that).

You can get one on Fiverr for $20. Make sure to follow the 3 principles and you’ll be good.

 

 

3.) Have a "PH friends list."

Ever since my first PH failure, I’ve kept a list of every person I know who has a PH account. This doesn’t have to be a giant list (mine only has 25-30 friends), but as soon as my product is launched, they’re the first to know.

Sidenote: Keep in mind it is against Product Hunt’s rules to ask for upvotes. So DON’T ASK FOR UPVOTES.

Just let your friends know you’ve launched.

Here’s a script you can use:

 

4.) Tweet about your launch!

This is a shot in the dark, but worth trying. When you launch your product, tweet it, pin it, and tag @ProductHunt. Sometimes they’ll see it and like it. If you’re really lucky, they’ll even tweet your product!

tweeting and tagging

 

5.) Thank everyone.

I do this with everything I build (whether a product or blog post). Everyone who shares it gets a thank you.

So whenever you see someone comment on your launch or share your app, thank them. Remember, they’re the reason your product is doing well 🙂

And that’s it!

5 simple steps to crush your launch on PH! Simple, right?

And yet when I first launched Most Recommended Books, can you guess how many of these steps I followed?

Zero.

That’s why I only got 4 upvotes.

Now that you’ve read this, you've got all the tools for a great launch on PH!

And I hope your product goes super viral 🙂

 

Final note on Product Hunt:

As cool as PH is, a failed launch doesn’t mean a failed product.

In fact, today Most Recommended Books is thriving!

It has finally become profitable and is growing every month.

Last month, we got 29,755 visitors!!

You can see the inflection point of when we joined Copywriting Course in January 2020 and they guided us on outreach, content, and SEO strategy:

most recommended books visitors

 

Launching Most Recommended Books again (with all the lessons I've learned):

Today, we are relaunching Most Recommended Books on PH as “Most Recommended Books 2.0”.

If you liked this post, or found value in it, please check out our launch (it’s today, Monday July 13th!)

view-on-product-hunt-button.png

Anurag and I will spend all day staring at our screens, refreshing the PH homepage, and of course, we will be answering questions, replying to comments, and thanking everyone 🙂

Sincerely,

Richard Reis(@richardreeze)

richard.png

 

P.S. Do you have any questions about launching on Product Hunt? Ask them below and I’ll answer (feel free to ask about numbers, strategies, anything)!

P.P.S. You can take a look at my 3rd Product Hunt launch called MostRecommendedBooks 2.0 right here.


User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Richard, I remember seeing the first version of your site on Office Hours. It's awesome to see how much progress you've made in a few months!!

 

I learn something new (and actionable) every time you're on Kopywriting Kourse Office Hours.

 

 

It's like *Ahrefs Porn* when Nev pulls up MostRecommendedBooks.com on the Kopy Call!

 

Keep up the great work, Richard, it's inspiring to follow along!

Link to comment
Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Bahahhaha I know it's always exciting when we pull up Richard's stats and they just hockey stick upwards :)
Link to comment
Hey Richard thanks for sharing and best of luck with the launch this time.
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Guest Romero

Posted

As an avid product hunt user this is interesting to see. Good luck on the launch I'll send some love your way!
Link to comment
Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Thanks Reed, I was reading Richard's guest post and taking notes in case I ever launch on Product Hunt again (I've DEFINITELY made all these mistakes before) 😂
Link to comment
Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Glad you enjoyed it Romero! Exciting to watch a launch in progress :)
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Guest Richard Reis

Posted

Thank you so much, Romero! Happy you liked the post :)
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Guest Richard Reis

Posted

Wow Rob, your comment made my day! I really appreciate your kind words 🙏 Inspired me.
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Congratulations, you made the front page, cool to watch your tactics in action Richard.
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Guest How Two Best Friends Started a Side Hustle Recommending Books - Salesground

Posted

[…] I wrote a message that became one of Medium’s top 10 of all time. That’s when I first realized that I might have a knack for making things that people like (be it a blog post or an app, some projects even went viral). […]
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