Launching on Product Hunt can be a great way to generate interest in your product. Here Ksenia Khriptovich describes her experiences of launching the Nitro translation service on Product Hunt and offers some tips for those trying to do the same.
If you’re looking for a platform to generate interest in your product, look no further than Product Hunt. A Product Hunt launch means presenting your product to over six million community members, including technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and investors. Dozens of innovative products launch on Product Hunt every day, and five of them earn the prestigious title of “Product of the Day” through community voting.
A successful launch on Product Hunt means gaining traction and generating buzz within the community, which can generate new users, customers, and downloads. And if you’re looking for early adopters, Product Hunt is a great place to get feedback to make your product better.
This article describes our Product Hunt launch experience – three launches, to be precise! Our team launched on three different occasions with our Nitro professional translation service, and each launch ended in victory, with placement among the top products of the day.
- 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. 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.
How we launched on Product Hunt three different times
Each time we were promoting our product Nitro. Nitro is a professional translation platform from Alconost, covering 70+ languages. Nitro is suited for times 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 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: rather than copy and paste texts into the Nitro translation window, users could now upload a document and get the completed translation without losing any 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. We also 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! There’s more detail on what hunters can contribute to a launch later in this article.
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.
Launch day prep strategy: key points
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.
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.
Form a support team among Product Hunt communities, on LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack, and Twitter
The lists of these communities are constantly 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 for 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.
How Nitro’s last launch differed from its predecessors
What we encountered at the preparation stage this time, in March 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. 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 someone subscribes to the “Coming soon” page, they 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 head over to the discussions and 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 agree that ChatGPT is a useful tool, many people take part in discussions not to share their opinion, but merely to engage for the sake of engagement. To save time, some use 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 gain 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 who don’t have English as 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 home page
The fact that Product Hunt is constantly and rapidly changing is borne out by its randomized product page, which was introduced the 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.
Product Hunt representatives 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 role of the hunter in 2023, or why we decided to launch on our own
The Product Hunt glossary says 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. But the hunter will have to like your product. Top hunters receive numerous offers every day, so you’ll need a strong sales pitch and 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 support the launch because we’ve been in contact with them and become friends.
If you decide to seek out a hunter, we recommend that you write to four or so, 4–6 weeks prior to launch. You’ll need all your materials ready when you do — illustrations, videos, textual descriptions. And speaking of illustrations…
Subsection on the power of vibrant illustrations
In most guides on preparing for a Product Hunt launch you’ll read about the importance of quality graphic materials. We can confirm they’re important. From our first launch with Nitro we chose a graphic 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 platform’s capabilities: different images described our native-speaking translators, the formats we support, our turnaround time, or our API.
Nitro 3.0 launch day
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).
Launch prep strategy: before, during, and after X-Day
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.
|Determine the launch date||60 days|
|Register and create team member profiles on Product Hunt||60 days|
|Create a list of active communities with Product Hunt participants||60 days|
|Spend 40 minutes per day participating in discussions and networking on the platform and in different communities||45 days|
|Connect with people who have subscribed to you on Product Hunt||45 days|
|Prepare a video on your product||30 days|
|Prepare illustrations for your launch page||30 days|
|Motivate people from your company to register and be active on Product Hunt so they can support you on launch day||15 days|
|Upload all materials and schedule your launch||10 days|
|Setup email to send to user base on launch day||10 days|
|Create a “Coming soon” page||7 days|
|Post to LinkedIn about your upcoming launch||7 days|
|Share your “Coming soon” page on other social networks and communities||7 days|
|Add your badge to your website||3 days|
|Remind people among the Product Hunt community to leave a comment and support you by voting on launch day||1 day|
- 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
|Once the launch is complete, post to social networks announcing the results||1 day|
|Check notifications on social networks; thank participants who supported you||1 day|
|Continue supporting the launches of acquaintances from your network||1–30 days|
|Ask for reviews||14 days|
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!