How to Launch on Product Hunt with Indie Startup [2022 Guide]

Step-by-step guide on winning on Product Hunt. Learn battle-tested tactics from the MakerBox team. Get your #1 Product of the Day.

MakerBox awards on Product Hunt
MakerBox awards on Product Hunt

Only 10 products a week get 500+ upvotes on Product Hunt.

We managed to get 700+ upvotes twice and win #1 Product of the Day with MakerBox Frameworks.

In this playbook, I will deconstruct our launch strategy. We will cover both strategic and tactical issues.

After reading this article, you will have a step-by-step plan for winning the #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.

Context

We have already launched 2 MakerBox products on Product Hunt: Tools and Frameworks.

MakerBox Tools is a list of 600 products with generous Free plans for Indie Entrepreneurs. We save time with battle-tested tools.

MakerBox Tools got 800 upvotes and won #2 Product of the Day.

MakerBox Frameworks is a library of 50 marketing frameworks to grow faster. Supercharge your marketing. Stress-free.

MakerBox Frameworks got 700 upvotes and won #1 Product of the Day.

MakerBox products
MakerBox products

Product

Product Hunt has a specific audience. Your product should match it.

Here are a few tips to increase your chance of success:

  • Launch consumer apps or easy-to-understand SaaS. The easier your product is, the easier it will be to promote. Don't hope that niche HR tool will be popular on Product Hunt.
  • Content products are still okay for Product Hunt. But you need to be different and have a decent Product Page. Otherwise, Product Hunt won't feature your product on the home page.
  • A free preview, plan, a trial is beneficial. The majority of users don't know you yet. Let them play with the product before the purchase.
  • Exclude dark patterns from the user flow. For example, the Product Hunt community hates "leave an email to see the price" tactics. So don't even try to trick them.

Not every product will have an incredible launch on Product Hunt.

If yours is too complex, try to launch a side-project.

For example, create a guide, launch a bot, or share a challenge. It's practical and efficient.

Acquisition

You need a lot of users on the launch date.

Especially in the first hours to get in the top-3 of products. This way, you will get a lot of organic traffic from the Product Hunt.

I will share the best acquisition channels to nail your launch:

  • Audience building
  • Personal outreach
  • Massive outreach
  • External platforms

Get ready to spend 80% of the launch day on acquiring users. This is the only way to win on Product Hunt.

Audience building

This is the #1 reason why our Product Hunt launches went so well. Almost everyone on Tech Twitter has an active Product Hunt account. Their support boosted our products in the first hours.

I started writing three months ago on Twitter. In 90 days, I went from 0 to 2000 followers by sharing my Indie journey and making new connections.

Dan Kulkov Twitter account
Dan Kulkov Twitter account
I put my knowledge into a 4000-word playbook on Twitter growth. Read it for free here.

Here are a few tips on how to promote the Product Hunt launch on Twitter:

  1. Create educational content around your product. Share your startup journey with the #buildinpublic community. You need ten loyal supporters who care about your launch.
  2. Post about the upcoming launch in 3-7 days. People need to remember that you will launch on Product Hunt. This way, they will more likely find your post on the launch date.
  3. Go back to your viral posts and reply with a launch link. Some people will see it and support your launch.
  4. Take the stage on day X. Don't be afraid to overcommunicate. It's your moment. Create as much content as you can. Launch memes are always working well.

Start tweeting now if you plan to launch on Product Hunt in 1 month. This is your secret weapon to win.

Personal outreach

With each product, we beta-test the landing page on 100+ users to get feedback and iterate. The majority of them are from Polywork.

If you are not familiar with Polywork, it's a social app for professionals. Linkedin the right way.

Many Polyworkers are willing to try your product and share their feedback for free. This is a gold mine for Indie Entrepreneurs.

As a result, we've gathered a loyal tribe of beta-testers. On the launch date, we ask them to support us. If people don't interact with us, we don't SPAM them the next time.

Example of personal outreach
Example of personal outreach

We didn't outreach a lot of people on Twitter. Just those who don't follow me back, and we had a conversation in the past.

I suggest not to cold reach Twitter influencers for upvotes. It irritates people, including myself.

Massive outreach

This is not a very pleasant exercise, but it's critical.

If you want people to try your product, you must show it to them. Online communities are an excellent match for it.

You can find hundreds of communities around the problem you solve.

We send launch posts to 100+ groups on Slack, Discord, Facebook, and Linkedin. It doesn't take much time, but it gives you additional attention.

Example of massive outreach
Example of massive outreach

Rules to do massive outreach right:

  • Post on the right channel (shameless-promotion, share-your-work, etc.)
  • Don't spam it (1 post is enough)
  • Send it to the relevant communities (Yoga teachers don't care about your DevOps product)

Ideally, you should be engaged in these communities. People don't like Entrepreneurs who pop up once a month and share their Product Hunt links.

External platforms

Reddit, MakerLog, HackerNoon, Indie Hackers, Hacker News, or DEV Community. There are a lot of platforms where you can announce your Product Hunt launch.

The problem — people are tired of such posts.

Example of creating content on Reddit
Example of creating content on Reddit

Don't expect thousands of Redditors to upvote your product. You are more likely will get banned due to self-promotion.

But you still should try. Just warm up your account by engaging with other creators and creating less promotional content.

Activation

You've to a lot of users. Now it's time to convert them to buy your product.

Often, first-time founders forget about this part.

But you should care about the revenue more than the number of upvotes.

If your product has a long sales cycle, you need to optimize for users or booked calls. Anyway, focus on the economic metrics that accelerate your growth.

To activate users better, you need to master:

  1. Product Hunt page
  2. Landing Page
  3. Pricing

Let's start with your first impression.

Product Hunt page

People don't read your page carefully. They skim it.

That's why a poorly formatted page can ruin your launch.

Here are ten battle-tested tips to make your Product Hunt page better:

  • Create a GIF logo to stand off from the competitors
  • Find a Hunter. It still helps
  • Write a tagline without buzzwords
  • Highlight critical ideas with semi-bold in the description
  • Craft 4–5 gallery illustrations (value proposition, how it works, social proof)
  • Add a video of founders if your product needs a demo
  • Pick three categories from the top-10 categories (don't pick up not popular one)
  • Schedule the launch on 00:01. Don't waste any minute
  • Launch on Monday if you have a content product and on Tuesday-Thursday if you have a Tech product
  • Write an AMAZING first comment

The last one is essential. Don't be afraid to write a lot about you and your product. Tell a story and repeat the value proposition several times.

Almost all products that flop have a poor first comment.

(I still don't know how to make text bold in the comment)

First comment on Product Hunt
First comment on Product Hunt

Landing page

We spent 50% of building a product on its landing page.

It's the critical part of the marketing funnel. Failure here leads to $0 revenue.

Hero block of MakerBox Tools
Hero block of MakerBox Tools

Some Creators send users straight to the Gumroad page.

But this is not always a good idea.

If your product is not common and you don't have an established reputation, you should create a landing page. We use the no-code website builder Typedream to make our landing pages.

Your landing page should have the following blocks:

  1. Hero block (What value do you provide?)
  2. Problem block (Why should I care?)
  3. How it works block (How do you provide the promised value?)
  4. Features block (What are the top-3 use cases that you cover?)
  5. Social proof block (Can I trust you?)
  6. Pricing block (How much do you charge?)

Always assume your first landing page is not perfect. After gathering the first feedback, we usually rebuild 30-50% of the page.

Here is the fun story about misleading positioning:

Pro tip — ask beta-testers to get their feedback as a testimonial. This way, you will have solid social proof before the launch.

Pricing

The final moment of the user journey. You are one step from getting a paying customer.

The Product Hunt community loves discounts.

So stick to a 40–60% discount for content products. And 20-30% for Tech products.

Pro tip — you can send people to the Gumroad page with an activated promo code. It highlights the limited offer.

Activated promo code for MakerBox Frameworks
Activated promo code for MakerBox Frameworks

Another pro tip — leverage pricing options.

We always add an upsell option to make the main offer better. For instance, we sell marketing audits in the MakerBox Frameworks.

Upsell option in MakerBox Frameworks
Upsell option in MakerBox Frameworks

So far, 11 people have bought it and generated more than $1500. Always have a pricing plan for people with money.

Mindset

I see hundreds of Indie Entrepreneurs launch on Product Hunt each week.

But unfortunately, only a few of them make it top-3.

It happens because people either overprioritize the Product Hunt launch or don't prepare enough. So here is what to do instead:

  1. Understand your marketing strategy. Pick a balanced mix of acquisition channels. Both short-term and long-term.
  2. Define your product for the Product Hunt. It can be one feature, content product, or anything else. Understand what has the best fit with the Product Hunt community.
  3. Start promoting your product BEFORE the Product Hunt launch. That's right. You can build in public, create content, outreach people. But do it before the Product Hunt launch. This way, you will validate the initial idea and get social proof.  
  4. Prepare a lot for the Product Hunt launch. You can't just submit a link and two crappy screenshots. Competition nowadays is wild. Prepare and test every piece of content. I usually need one week to polish everything.
  5. Promote the hell of your product on the launch day. Don't just sit and expect to win the Product of the day. Instead, engage in the comments, outreach users, and create content on external platforms. This is your day.  
  6. Have a growth plan AFTER the Product Hunt launch. Product Hunt's traffic would end in one week if you got to the top 3. So you need a plan to get new users after the launch.

Launch on Product Hunt should be a part of your marketing strategy. But it couldn't be your entire marketing strategy.

Let's finish with quick Product Hunt tips you can trust with your life:

  • Don't EVER buy upvotes (Product Hunt will always delete them)
  • Don't spam Twitter influencers with your Product Hunt link
  • Give Free product or Discount for Product Hunt users (ideally both)
  • Engage with every comment on your launch post
  • First-hour support is equally important as the last 23 hours
  • Polish your messaging, not your product's footer
  • The more storytelling you have, the better
  • The fewer dark patterns you have, the better
  • Share your Product Hunt launch almost everywhere
  • Be okay with failure; you don't control everything

Conclusion

That's it!

Launching on Product Hunt can be overwhelming. But with the proper preparation, #1 Product of the Day is in the bag.

If you want to learn more from our Indie Entrepreneurship journey, follow us on Twitter: Dan and Sveta.