How to Earn Love on Product Hunt
Product Hunt describes itself as, “The place to discover your next favorite thing.”
It’s definitely that, but it’s also much more. Founded by Ryan Hoover, someone who really loves product, Product Hunt is the go-to place to announce your product or new feature. It’s also a thriving community, resource and support group for product geeks.
As a repeat founder (including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, and my latest company – FYI), I was one of the very early adopters on Product Hunt. While I love launching on the platform, what really keeps me engaged is the community–people who provide valuable feedback when you ask and who cheer you on even when you don’t ask. These are people who know what it’s like to be in the trenches at a startup.
I believe that the collection I started, called Free Stuff for Startups, is the #1 most popular collection on Product Hunt.
Recently the FYI team and I launched a resource called the Product Resources List. It’s a free, curated collection of 251 templates for Product Management that includes documents designed for a wide variety of tools from Google Docs and G Suite to Airtable, Coda, Tettra, Slite and a whole bunch of others. It’s a pretty straightforward idea, but one that makes a great mini case study for what goes into a product that does well on Product Hunt.
The first thing to realize about how Product Hunt works is that there is no silver bullet for getting to number one. In fact, my first piece of advice is to stop worrying about being number one. While there are tactical details that will help (like having great thumbnail images, sending emails to invite people to check you out on Product Hunt, etc.), there are simply too many factors outside your control. This isn’t a system to be gamed.
The Product Hunt Resources List worked as well as it did because it was built on a strong foundation of the basics:
It solved an actual problem. We just wanted to create something good, something out team wished existed. The idea evolved out of what we kept hearing over and over again from customers who were trying to find templates for documents they wanted to create such as a product roadmap, or to mimic the process that Spotify uses to manage their team like using squads, or some other business need. So we set out to help these folks find the best templates all in one place so they could improve the work they did.
It aligned perfectly with the audience. Matching your product to your audience is key in any market with any community, and the same goes for Product Hunt. We knew who the people on Product Hunt were and we knew how much they needed this resource. It was a match made in heaven.
We did the research. Research is the best tool a product person has. It’s a lot like SEO in that is you have all the data–backlinks and which pages people are ranking for, etc.–you can reverse engineer your way to the best possible page and experience. We looked at everything people were showcasing on Product Hunt that was related to what we wanted to build, and we looked at the items that were hitting number one. We learned what was working and what wasn’t, and we used that information to inform our own approach.
We thought about it like a product. We user tested the Product Hunt experience for the Product Resources List before we launched it. We mocked up a fake Product Hunt page that actually ended up being just like that real one, with comments and everything and based on the learnings from the user tests we ran, uncovered exactly what needed to be tweaked. As the saying goes, “luck favors the prepared.”
Finally, we remembered that Product Hunt isn’t a marketing channel, it’s a community, and we treated it like one. That’s the number one trick. And it isn’t a trick at all. It’s being human–engaging with people in the comments, getting them to respond, asking them for feedback. If you engage with the community in a constructive way, they’re going to love you.
Improving processes, adding more documentation and holding a bunch of training sessions won’t scale a product-led engine—it’s org design that matters.