How I got my startup to #1 on Product Hunt and Hacker News

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In this post, I will share about my experience of building and launching Reader Mode and how I got it to #1 position on Product Hunt and Hackernews.

How it started

During mid of September 2019, I was searching for an idea/project to build after my previously failed project Veggsocial –  a social network for vegan and vegetarian. So the project was dying and I just had to sell it for a few quick bucks. My saving was low. And I also just been through a pretty bad breakup myself.  I just didnโ€™t know what to focus on my life anymore and it was really a difficult time for me.

So while searching for an idea, I suddenly remembered the tweet that I saw from Guilhermo, posted few months before that. He mentioned in the tweet how he already reached $50,000 in sales with his Chrome extension – Css Scan:

I’ve seen this before and I knew his success with Css Scan pretty well, but not until that moment in October 2019  that I was thinking “huh, how about I too started making a Chrome Extension?” Maybe I canโ€™t make this $50,000 worth of money like he did, but I was thinking at that time, if I could make at least $2K from a Chrome Extension, that – that would just be awesome for me right. They could pay for my bills, my food etc. 

So I was thinking about bunch of ideas right for Chrome extension. And um, I was thinking something like CSS Scan but maybe for something else. At that time I didnโ€™t really knew what I was looking for right. Until one night, just before I was going to bed, the idea came. What if I made something to customize reading experience on the internet. 

And I was looking for an existing solution of course. And hereโ€™s what I found out. All the existing solutions at that time mostly look like this:

They all look very similar to each other and also have very very limited features.

And at that point, in my head I was thinking  of the user experience os something more like these:

Either Figma, Sketch or you know Photoshop.

So soon after, Reader Mode was born. I made a proper and better customisation tools. I also included the highlighting and note taking capabilities. As well as the dyslexia guiding ruler (to make people following what they read easily especially for people with dyslexia). And Also the text-to-speech among many other features:

Idea validation

After finished with the MVP I went to this r/startups discord channel to gather some feedbacks. So they actually from Reddit, but they made the discord group. So I joined and just started asking for the feedbacks basically. 

And people there were kind enough to give me some feedbacks on how to improve Reader Mode as well as how to improve my landing page and my copywriting. So it was really helpful to me at that time right, and indeed  some of the people there actually happen to be the very very first customers that bought  Reader Mode Pro version. So it was great, I already made some money with the vey basic version of Reader Mode, so I feel kind of validated already.

Monetization

To quickly monetise it, I simply use Gumroad. Thereโ€™s a couple of reasons why I choose it instead of Stripe or any other providers.

  1. The first because it is really easy and fast to setup. All the payments will be handled by them. So if you got like failed payments, fraud etc. it will be handled by them
  2. The second one its because they really active on Twitter. Sahil, the founder and also the Gumroad account itself, really active there. So if you like post something related to them and tag them. The chances are they will see it and will be kind enough to retweet and give you some exposure that way. 

Pre-Launch

So my pre-launch was on Twitter. I basically just tweeted this:

As you can see, I made a little video, showcasing what Reader Mode can do and what features it has. Kind of like promo video but a very short version one. And just tweeted it to let people know and gather some feedback that way.

So after I got those feedbacks and some other feedbacks by messaging and asking people personally, I gather all of them together and put them at the bottom of my landing page. 

I knew that this is really important because if you have social proof that people are using and loving what youโ€™ve made, itโ€™ll be easier to convince people to buy your product when they see your landing page.

Product Hunt Launch

In early November 2019, I felt that Reader Mode was ready to be launched on Product Hunt. So, I went to Product Hunt and scheduled it to be launched in one week time which was on 16 November 2019.

As soon as Reader Mode was officially launched on 16th of November 2019 at 00:00, I quickly tweeted this:

After this Tweet, I quickly told few friends on Telegram, Twitter about the launch. I also posted on group messages on Telegram like Slack and Discord that I’ve joined. Among those groups were RamadanMakers, Getmakerlog and MakersKitchen.

Reader Mode was quickly gaining tractions on Product Hunt and climbed to be the #1 after a few minutes.

To give the tweet and my Product Hunt launch more exposure, I used Reader Mode on one of Ryan Hoover’s articles, and showed what it looks like by mentioning him on Twitter, in which then he responded with this tweet:

It definitely attracts more attention to the launch and Reader Mode stays at the #1 position on Product Hunt until the end of the day.

My take on how to get to the #1 position on Product Hunt:
– Schedule the launch to be at 00:00 SF Time
– Have friends and community to support your launch
– Launch on Saturday
– Have a video promo
– Discounts
– Giveaway
– Be creative and take your chances (see Ryan Hoover’s tweet above)

Hacker News Launch

I posted about Reader Mode on Hacker News on 16 September 2019 which was the day that I also launched Reader Mode on Product Hunt. Sadly it didn’t get any traction at all.

But after a few days, I decided to try again. With the different title. Again, no traction.

Few days past by, I decided to give it a try one more time. With yet a different title. But at totally random day and time. With luck, it got not only at the front page, but also to the #1 position!

Here the traffics that it got me:

Screenshot from Crisp
Screenshot from Google Analytics

Sadly, a few comments indicated that some people they do not really get the point of Reader Mode and it’s full potential and use cases as they thought Reader Mode is just another clutter-free view feature/extension. And since I’ve got few friends supported me there by posting supportive comments, people they thought it is not fair and kind of spamming or something.

So because of those reasons, it quickly climbed down from the first position and disappeared from the front page after 2-3 hours. I quickly learnt that Hacker News isn’t like Product Hunt or any other platform. You cannot invite your friends or community to support you, share direct link to your post among many other rules. In short, they want people who upvoted or commented on your post, did so because they really found your post interesting. Not because they are friend with you or something.

I wrote about my whole experience here on Indiehackers

Product Hunt vs Hacker News

Product Hunt and Hacker News is two very different platform. They differ based on how to post, the rules, what type of post etc. The results you got from them are also different. While you can get a lot more traffic from Hacker News, you probably got more people buying your product from Product Hunt instead eventhough you got less traffic from Product Hunt.

Conclusion

This is of course just what I experience. And I’m lucky to have got featured and be at the #1 position on both of these platform. I do hope that this post give you some insights and guides so you could prepare your launch and hopefully reaches #1 place on both of these platform too with your startup!

Feel free to connect and reach me on Twitter if you have any question ๐Ÿ˜Š