In this article we’ll describe our own Product Hunt launch experience. The experience of three launches, to be precise! Our team launched on three different occasions with our Nitro professional translation service, and each launch ended in a successful victory, with placement among the top products of the day. Now we’re ready to share our experience and the discoveries we’ve made on this journey.
This article will benefit anyone who’s considering a launch on Product Hunt and looking for a strategy that will get results.
- How we launched our B2B product three times on Product Hunt and earned the title “Product of the Day” every time
- What basic steps you need to take if you want to have a successful launch
- Who top hunters are and why you need them to have a successful product launch in 2023
- How eye-catching illustrations can make your product stand out during launch
- What you need to know if you’re launching on Product Hunt with a small team and how to maximize your available resources on launch day
- What changes have been made to the platform recently and what updates you’re likely to encounter if you want to launch right now. In this section we talk about the “Coming soon” page, the boom of ChatGPT and AI-generated comments on Product Hunt, the platform’s new anti-spam policy, and the Randomized Homepage.
- Product Hunt launch strategy: pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch, all in a clear and logical timeline.
Each time we were promoting our product Nitro. Nitro is a professional translation platform from Alconost, covering 70+ languages. Nitro is ideally suited for when a quality translation is needed quickly (96% of orders are executed within 24 hours, with 63% completed in two hours or less). All translations on Nitro are executed by professional native-speaking linguists.
We’re confident of our product, but here’s the rub: Nitro is intended for companies, and B2B products are notoriously hard to promote on Product Hunt. We were faced with a challenge: to fight for our place in the sun against graphic editors, no-code apps, and personal productivity enhancement tools.
Our launches were titled accordingly: the first was simply Nitro, the second was Nitro 2.0, and the third — you guessed it — was Nitro 3.0. Before each new launch we improved our product.
- When we first started we simply presented the platform and described its capabilities. We highlighted its advantages — human translation, professional linguists, fast turnaround, its own API.
- The second time around we had added support for Google Docs: instead of copying texts and pasting them into the Nitro translation window, now users could upload a document and get the completed translation without losing any of the formatting.
- We did the same with other file formats: today Nitro supports Google Docs, Google Sheets, HTML, and .strings (for iOS). We also added something new: support for the JSON format, which was what chiefly motivated us to put in an appearance on Product Hunt the third time.
- Nitro (November 2021): 4th place, 337 upvotes by end of launch day, 500+ as of April 2023
- Nitro 2.0 (July 2022): 5th place, 136 upvotes by end of launch day, 200+ as of April 2023
- Nitro 3.0 (March 2023): 5th place, 230 upvotes by end of launch day, 300+ as of April 2023
The launches enabled us to draw attention to our product while acquiring new registered users and clients, and also served as an excellent opportunity to talk about Nitro on social networks and in the media. In addition, we acquired a client for Alconost’s adjacent service: localization. Nitro is suitable for small amounts of text and for translating updates to games, websites, and apps. Whereas positive features of localization services include work organization by a project manager, selection of a suitable platform and translators for the client’s particular needs, and process design. Unlike Nitro’s impersonal interface, a manager communicates with clients directly and works in tandem with them, which is how we optimize the localization of large projects.
Never once have we enlisted the aid of hunters. The conclusion? A successful launch is ABSOLUTELY possible without their assistance! In the section below entitled “The role of the hunter in 2023, or Why we decided to launch on our own” we describe in more detail what hunters can contribute to a launch.
Furthermore, we know first-hand what it means to prepare for a launch without an extensive team. The primary driving force behind our launches consisted of one or two key people who understood the nuances of the platform and would ask their colleagues for assistance with preparations whenever the need arose. On X-Day itself, some others from Alconost’s internal support team also lent a hand. But if you’re only able to involve a couple of people in preparing for your launch, instead of an extensive team, we know how to effectively employ your available time and energy.
In nearly every article on launching on Product Hunt you’ll see these recommendations:
- Prepare for the launch in advance.
That way you’ll have time to network on the platform and enlist the support of the community — you’re going to need it on X-Day. Become an active platform participant prior to launch. Take part in discussions (and really share your point of view on the questions discussed — you should only promote your product where appropriate), collect karma points, support the products of others, and interact with other Product Hunt participants.
2. Prepare eye-catching launch page content.
- the name of your product;
- short descriptions of it, 60 and 260 characters in length;
- an icon (a GIF or concise logo) 240 x 240 or 600 x 600 pixels;
- a video — possibly a product demo; ideally an unusual, original video that both showcases the product and acts as a hook;
- striking, rich graphics with easily readable text for the gallery — 1270 x 760 pixels;
- a GIF (optional), ideally not larger than 3MB;
- a comment from the primary maker and, if desired, from other makers;
- topics — from 1 to 3; see popular topics.
3. Form a support team among Product Hunt communities, on LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack, and Twitter.
The lists of these communities are constantly being updated; old groups lose their relevance, and new ones appear. Create a list of communities in the early days of the preparation process. Start actively participating in these communities: support other hunters, leave meaningful comments, and rest assured — they’ll do the same for you.
The challenge encountered by those preparing for their first launch on Product Hunt is that it’s no easy thing to figure out how the platform itself actually works. While the internet is full of instructions and articles on launch prep, they all become outdated fairly quickly: Product Hunt makes frequent updates that you’ll still have to figure out on your own.
What we encountered at the preparation stage this time, in March of 2023, that wasn’t there before:
“Coming soon” page
The “Coming soon” page or teaser is shown in the Coming soon feed, and was introduced on Product Hunt fairly recently — at any rate, it wasn’t around when Nitro and Nitro 2.0 were launched. Today, creating this page is a requisite part of launch preparation.
The “Coming soon” page displays the name of the product, a short description of 255 characters or fewer, and a banner. For the banner, a size of 1:2 (w:h) is recommended for the desktop version, and 1:1 for mobile. If this isn’t your first launch, use a 1:1 banner for both versions.
When a person subscribes to the “Coming soon” page, they will receive a notification when we launch. This refers to notifications directly on the platform, with a bell icon in the upper right corner. In the best-case scenario, Product Hunt notifications are also delivered via email.
As we see it, the “Coming soon” page made creating a Ship unnecessary, and it’s free of charge. We recommend creating a teaser a week prior to launch.
The most important technical consideration is that you can only create a “Coming soon” page (or teaser) after you’ve scheduled your launch: you publish it on Product Hunt, then wait for the product to launch automatically.
A scheduled launch lets you:
- Create a “Coming soon” page
- Get a “Launching soon” badge by your profile name
- Prepare and upload all materials for the launch and see how they will be displayed on the page (from this moment on the product page is accessible via the link)
- If necessary, make changes to the prepared materials right up until the launch itself (the date can also be moved)
- Not worry about launching the product on the platform on X-Day — it will be launched automatically.
We recommend creating a scheduled launch as early as possible. The longer you have your badge, the more Product Hunt participants will want to be the first to connect with you. Absolutely anything in the scheduled launch can be changed — even the link to the product, although the link is the first step in adding the product to the website.
Once the scheduled launch has been created, it’s very easy to add a teaser using the instructions from Product Hunt. Once you’ve provided the information for the “Coming soon” page, the banner goes through moderation, which can take up to 24 hours. Our teaser was published 3–4 hours after submitting the information.
The ChatGPT boom
There’s a lot of talk about ChatGPT on Product Hunt — just for curiosity’s sake, head over to the discussions and do a search there for ChatGPT. The number of products that use it is also growing, as even a couple of days of watching the product ratings will show.
Although the community may concur that ChatGPT is a useful tool, the problem is that many people are starting to take part in discussions and leave comments under products not to share their opinion, but to be engaged merely for the sake of engagement. To save time, some are using ChatGPT to generate responses and publish them on Product Hunt. Product Hunt is starting to combat AI-generated comments and content — for example, the “Report” button now has the option to flag AI contributions.
A number of products invariably fall behind in the ratings when the Product Hunt algorithm flags suspected illicit activity beneath a post. Even if you go about gaining upvotes the right way, keep an eye on what’s going on in the launch comments.
In our opinion, ChatGPT can be a great help when preparing for launch, especially for those for whom English is not their native language. ChatGPT can be useful for quickly and correctly putting together an insightful answer or eye-catching comment, providing ideas for creating your own discussions, or helping you compile texts, letters, and posts about your launch — there are going to be a lot of them! The important thing is not to abuse it and to be honest with yourself and the community. Then you won’t have any issues.
You can learn more about Product Hunt’s policy regarding AI-generated content in the discussion “Let’s Talk About Spam” dated March 23, 2023.
The randomized homepage
The fact that Product Hunt is constantly and rapidly changing is born out by their randomized product page, which was literally introduced the very day (!) before we launched.
Essentially, during the first two hours of the launch day (00:01–02:00 PST) the leaderboard changes at random, and product upvotes during this period are hidden. At this same time (00:01–02:00 PST) the number of upvotes a product has been visible on the launch page itself, but its overall ranking on the leaderboard remains unknown. As before, the final rating is determined by the community at the end of the day.
The representatives of Product Hunt believe that if you follow the community rules and receive authentic votes, these changes will affect you positively. The random changes on the leaderboard are intended to help level the field for all products at the start of the day and reduce the pressure to obtain the greatest number of votes in the first few minutes/hours of the launch.
Nevertheless, we recommend that you try to reach a top position at the start of the day. Any given person is going to notice the first 5 or 10 products topping the ratings — no more. In our case, the period for randomizing the top products was a bit longer than promised — around 2.5–3 hours.
The glossary put out by Product Hunt says that a hunter is any person with a free Product Hunt account who publishes products in order to share them with the community. In other words, if you’ve published even one launch, you’re already a hunter.
Here we’re talking about top hunters. These are long-time veterans of the platform who have a wide audience and regularly publish the products of others. Instead of searching out top hunters on the platform on your own, you can check their ratings on the Upvote Bell website.
Employing a hunter for your launch may be a good way to reach a larger audience that admittedly enjoys greater trust among the community. But to launch with a hunter they’ll have to actually like your product. And considering that top hunters receive numerous offers every day, you’ll need a strong sales pitch and additional time for communication. Your launch date will also be dependent on the hunter, since you’ll need to agree on a day when they’re not helping to launch other products.
In the past it made sense to pursue top hunters: after all, each time they published a new product, all their tens of thousands of subscribers would receive an email, guaranteeing the product a wide reach and, ultimately, an appreciable increase in upvotes. Today, a hunter’s subscribers only receive notifications on the platform itself.
We decided not to spend time communicating with a top hunter, and instead to network independently and arrange with people from the community for support. Here it makes sense to build a subscriber base on Product Hunt itself. When you hunt a product independently, subscribers will receive a notification — the same kind of notification that those of top hunters receive. The advantage of hunters lies in the number of their subscribers. Our advantage lies in personal contact with people who will come to support the launch at the very least because we’ve been in contact with them and become friends.
If you decide to seek out a hunter after all, we recommend that you write to four or so, 4–6 weeks prior to launch. You’ll need to have all your materials ready when you do — illustrations, videos, textual descriptions. Oh, and speaking of illustrations…
In most guides on preparing for a Product Hunt launch you’ll read about the importance of quality graphic materials. We can confirm that yes, that’s true. From our first launch with Nitro we chose the concept of a cat mascot describing our Nitro platform. We stuck to it throughout all three launches.
People liked the illustrations so much that they even wrote to us about them specifically — who came up with that awesome cat? The approach also gave us a playful way to demonstrate the capabilities of our platform: different images described our native-speaking translators, the formats we support, our turnaround time, or our API.
Our final launch was truly a race — our rating changed from 6th place to 9th on the product board, and when we ended up in the top five we had to maintain that position for another 12 hours.
It’s important to spread out your efforts throughout the launch day, as the Product Hunt algorithm reacts positively to this. The launch day lasts a full 24 hours, and it’s not enough to reach your target position at a given moment — you have to get there and stay there.
When X-Day ended we had won the title of “Product of the Day”. Below we share our most recent conclusions:
- Be ready for product randomization during the first hours of the launch, but don’t let this significantly impact your actions during this time. In any case, try to make it to the top as early as possible.
- Next, find a way to stay at the top. Throughout the day, engage your support team. Make sure your efforts and upvotes are dispersed throughout the hours of the day.
- Think ahead of time about what to do during the night, especially if you’re launching without a hunter and with a small team. It can be risky to lose control over the leaderboard for multiple hours running.
- Keep things lively on the launch page: respond to comments, answer questions thoroughly, and highlight your favorite comments (incidentally, in January of 2023 comment awards were introduced — you can read about them here).
There are no absolute universal solutions here, and the to-do list and how it is broken down over time will vary from one team to the next. Nevertheless, below we’ve created a launch prep checklist: these are the points that we ourselves prioritize, and we recommend that you do the same.
- Share messages about the launch with Product Hunt contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Ask community members for support on launch day; create discussions surrounding the launch
- Send an electronic mailing announcing the product launch
- Obtain the support of the team/”friend network”
- Post an announcement on social networks about the launch
By following these steps and preparing for the big day in advance, your efforts are sure to logically end in your winning the title of “Product of the Day”. Here’s wishing you success with your launch on Product Hunt!