What you get out of this
Product Hunt Launch
Terms to know
- Makers = people who make products
- To hunt = to post a product on Product Hunt
Product Hunt launch
This playbook walks you through launching a product on Product Hunt.
Understanding how Product Hunt works is important because you have one shot. You won't be allowed to post the same product again for six months—and that's only for total redesigns. You don't get redos.
For this playbook, we interviewed 14 of the most successful hunters and makers. We cross-checked their advice and got to the bottom of hitting Product Hunt's front page.
Why should you care about Product Hunt?
Many household names got their start on Product Hunt: Robinhood, Gimlet, and Houseparty—to name a few.
PH has proven itself to be the most effective place to launch and discover startups.
Think of PH as Reddit for product launches, but with a kinder community.
- Makers or hunters post their products to Product Hunt.
- Members of the PH community upvote their favorites and leave comments.
- Products with a high quantity and quality of upvotes rise to the top and generate thousands of website visits.
What we learned in our research is that there is a right way to do it. It's not the gamble that getting on TechCrunch or hitting the front page of Hacker News is.
Let's explore the PH methodology we've uncovered.
Topics we'll cover
- How Product Hunt launches actually work
- Launch myths busted
- Most effective pre-launch strategies
- How to convert website visitors into customers
Here’s where it gets interesting
When you launch products on Product Hunt, you're reaching an audience that's actively looking for new and exciting products to try.
That should make marketers' alarms go off.
Early adopters get products off the ground. They’re essential for product validation, customer development, and momentum. Not only are they willing to use your product while you iron out the kinks—they actually enjoy it.
Better yet, early adopters tend to share their opinions of new products with their networks. If they like yours, they'll become its first advocates.
This is the true value of Product Hunt in the customer acquisition landscape: validation and early traction. Product Hunt isn’t a growth strategy. It’s not something you iterate on and try to make profitable and sustainable. Instead, it's a high-quality PR event that can help you grow a base of early adopters and build traction.
What type of traffic can you expect?
We’ve found that products that make it to the bottom of the front page can expect over 2,000 unique visitors on launch day. Products that hit the #1 spot can gain over 10,000 uniques.
While these numbers aren't exceptional, remember that conversion rates tend to be strong because Product Hunt's audience members are innovation fanatics.
Ten thousand site visits could turn into 1,000-3,000 genuine leads for your business. We'll expand on this point in the conversion goal section right below.
Plus, when you hit the top five products of the day, you're featured in the next day's Product Hunt digest email.
How Product Hunt launches actually work
To launch successfully on Product Hunt, your product needs to make it to the front page. To get there, it has to attract a lot of upvotes and engagement.
Product Hunt is similar to Google search in that few people look past the first results. Audience attention is concentrated on the highest-ranking posts.
But that doesn't mean you should fish for upvotes at any cost.
Product Hunt doesn’t like it when marketers try to game the system.
Their algorithm actively demotes posts that show clear signs of fishing for upvotes—e.g., when a product gets a large number of votes from newly created accounts. The Product Hunt team even monitors Twitter for PH vote fishing spam.
But there’s nuance here: While Product Hunt doesn’t want you to blast the internet with upvote requests, they too need new users to grow.
So if you’re authentically—and respectfully—hustling and asking your true social network for feedback on Product Hunt, it's unlikely that you'll be punished.
We'll teach you lots of nitty-gritty aspects of PH in a minute, but here’s the short version of how you can get upvotes without being spammy:
- Prepare an existing seed audience in advance, and have them engage with you on Product Hunt on launch day. You should be doing most of the work before launch day.
- Build a positive reputation in startup communities in the weeks leading up to launch, and ask your advocates to support you on launch day.
- If you connect with a well-known hunter, ask them to hunt your product. You’ll be fast-tracked to the front page, and the added social proof may get you more votes from established Product Hunt members. We'll explain how to pull this off shortly.
How to launch on Product Hunt
The rules of pre-launch
1. Don’t focus on upvotes. Set a real conversion goal.
Upvotes are mostly a vanity metric. Keep your eye on the ball. What you want are email addresses and leads.
While upvotes can propel your product to the top of the front page, what really matters is what you do with the traffic.
In short, most SaaS, service, and ecommerce startups should optimize their Product Hunt launch for capturing emails.
Product Hunt is a discovery channel. It's where people hear about you for the first time. As with most top-of-funnel channels, you're far more likely to capture email addresses than immediately get purchases or signups.
To maximize ROI, let email capture guide every part of your Product Hunt strategy, instead of treating it like a second-tier goal.
- Set your KPI. We suggest a target of 1,000+ emails. That’s reasonable based on our experience—and it’s a large enough audience to begin validating your product.
- Update your website to optimize for email capture. That means making sure you have a clear CTA to capture emails. What super enticing asset or promise will you offer in exchange for an email?
- Set up an email campaign for these leads. Your email campaign is where the real, at-scale conversion happens. You must have this in place before launching on PH.
The exceptions to this email-first strategy are free products like mobile apps and social networks. Product Hunt users love free consumer products that they can immediately get their hands on. Makers of these products should optimize for, say, free app downloads instead. You can collect emails later, during your onboarding flow.
2. Don’t launch before you have a small following
The biggest Product Hunt mistake is launching before your pre-launch audience is primed. The top hunters told us this over and over. Not enough people are listening when they warn about this.
To have a successful launch, you need at least a small group of supporters who are willing to advocate for your product. This is because Product Hunt doesn't create momentum. It amplifies momentum.
PH is not the channel you use to get your first set of users. It's the second channel you use—once you have that small starting set.
We suggest an audience of at least 400 people before launching.
3. The quality of engagement matters most
On Product Hunt, the quality of upvotes is more important than the quantity of upvotes.
Quality upvotes come from active PH-ers. They've been on the platform for months and engage regularly.
Product Hunt's algorithm appears to favor products that get engagement from established PH members.
This makes sense: Account longevity serves as a proxy for authenticity. Product Hunt doesn't want companies to compel their audiences to make accounts just to upvote their products.
This is why you’ll see many products with a higher number of upvotes finish the day with a lower ranking than products with fewer upvotes.
So here's the quality > quantity framework we've identified:
- Leverage your existing community members who are also PH users. Sincerely ask for their help.
- Make new connections with established PH users.
Let's talk about that last point.
There are startup communities adjacent to PH where you can engage, build your reputation, and carry that social capital over to your PH launch. People in these communities are almost always on Product Hunt too—because innovators gravitate toward PH.
If you launch in adjacent communities and ask for feedback, people will become attached to your journey and voluntarily follow you over to PH.
In short, this is a game of social psychology, not upvote hacking.
Join some of these communities in the weeks before launch. Build up social capital by contributing, helping, and providing feedback on other people's projects.
- If you’re an engineer, join engineering groups. Help solve others' problems. For instance, you could share a blog post that helped you remove a blocker in your own work.
- If you’re a marketer, join marketing groups. Contribute findings from different growth experiments you’ve run.
Here are some communities to consider:
There are also Slack and Facebook groups where makers announce their Product Hunt launches and exchange feedback.
The best communities to join are the ones where you can add the most value. The more value you add, the more likely people will be to reciprocate on PH and elsewhere.
Here's the critical takeaway that should permeate your larger growth strategy: Community engagement should be an ongoing activity for your marketing team. The benefits of building on-the-ground relationships outlast PH. Always invest some percentage of your marketing time into adding value to thriving communities.
4. Get a Product Hunt insider to hunt your product
“Hunting” is Product Hunt–speak for posting your product.
Let’s bust a myth:
In the past, it was important to have a reputable Product Hunt member hunt your product. That’s because Product Hunt used to send an email to that hunter's followers when they hunted. So the larger a hunter's follower base, the more awareness a product got.
Product Hunt no longer sends those email notifications.
Instead, they're on record suggesting that you hunt your own product. They say it’s easier, and you’ll save the time you’d spend convincing a popular hunter to post on your behalf.
However, that isn't the whole truth. It turns out that your product can, in fact, get a huge boost when it's hunted by popular hunters.
It's not critical that you make this happen, but it's worth the attempt.
- Every day, hundreds of products are submitted, but only a select few are featured on the homepage. We've confirmed that when a super popular hunter hunts your product, it will automatically jump to the front page. That’s a massive advantage. These "superusers," as PH calls them, can choose to feature one product per day.
- Attention from a well-known hunter confers social proof. When a superuser hunts your product, your launch gains credibility. You’re more likely to get upvotes, comments, and even emails from community members.
A well-known hunter who's connected to other power users will also get you more quality upvotes, which can compound your rise through the rankings.
If you can't get a superuser to post, don’t sweat it. You can absolutely hunt your own post. At the end of the day, if you have a great product and pre-launch momentum, you'll get enough engagement. Just lean harder into your pre-launch audience building and engagement.
5. Time your emails
Product Hunt launches are a game of timing.
Blast all your channels at once—and do it first thing in the morning. You want to climb to the top of the daily rankings fast, then spread out the remainder of your votes evenly throughout the day to maintain your "vote velocity." This will keep your product ranked highly.
Here’s what we suggest for email in particular:
- Three to four weeks in advance, send an email to your list explaining the value Product Hunt will have for your launch. Help recipients understand how important it is to you. Ask them to create an account and engage with PH. Only a small percentage of the people on your list will. That's normal. But those who do will become invested in your launch and success.
- Schedule a follow-up email to trigger three days after your first. Ask recipients to spend two minutes upvoting and commenting on a few products on PH. While this is a big ask, it can have a significant impact on launch day. The Product Hunt algorithm favors votes from “warmed up” accounts.
- Prepare an email for launch day. Ask your list for feedback—not upvotes. If discovered by Product Hunt, requests for upvotes can result in a demotion of your product. Schedule the email to go out in batches throughout the day. To fight post decay and sustain velocity, you want to spread out your engagement over the course of the day.
6. Choose your launch time
The Product Hunt homepage is based on a 24-hour cycle. New posts hit the homepage at 12am PST each night, and more are added throughout the day.
When scheduling your post, set the time zone to PST (not your own). Product Hunt doesn't adjust for different time zones.
There are two considerations for timing: day of the week and time of day.
Day of the week:
- We’ve found that it’s best to post between Tuesday and Thursday. Why not Mondays or Fridays? Mondays are often for catching up on work, and many people tune out by Friday as the weekend approaches.
Time of day:
- To maximize how long your product appears on Product Hunt on the day you submit, post as early as possible in the day. You want your post to be seen by PHers across many time zones. If you schedule a post for just after midnight PST, you'll gain exposure across the entire 24-hour PH cycle.
7. Make sure you post's content is optimized
Your post consists of a product description, images, and a few other assets.
The steps you need to complete before posting:
- Sign up for a personal account—no branded or business accounts.
- Don’t use emojis or descriptions in the title. Just use the name of your product. Product Hunt users will want to easily identify your product, and you can help them remember it by keeping your title clean.
- For the thumbnail, Product Hunt recommends 240x240 pixels. We suggest using an image that grabs attention, such as an animated GIF; your standard logo will also work. Don't make GIFs too distracting. Otherwise, your logo will perform better.
Another suggestion: Add an engaging video or animated GIF to your media gallery. The recommended size for gallery images is 635x380. Make sure the first asset in your gallery is your best—Product Hunt will use it in your post as the meta image for social sharing.
Two types of assets work best:
- Video demonstrations showing a product's capabilities
- A product walk-through by the maker
8. Write your maker comment
Your "maker comment" is your opportunity to introduce yourself, your team, and the product you created to the PH community. It will appear right below your product gallery. It's highly visible.
Use your comment to add a human touch to your post and connect with your audience, so they build affinity with you as the maker—and not just your product.
Highlight your key value proposition and the problem you solve. We’ve found that the more helpful and humble—and less promotional and fluffy—a maker's comment, the more comments it's likely to get.
If you're looking to go above and beyond to capture engagement, consider creating a landing page specifically for PH users. You can include your page as the primary link and add a special offer for the community. Here are two of our favorite examples:
One last thing on posting: Sanity-check the appearance of your post before you go live. Make sure the content is inspiring enough that it would motivate you to click it yourself.
We recommend doing this with Preview Hunt, a tool to preview your PH post.
Product Hunt launch recap
- Set an email conversion goal. Don’t get distracted by upvotes.
- Hold off on your launch until you build up an audience of at least 400 people. Preferably more.
- Add value to startup communities to build social capital before your launch. This can be converted into quality upvotes and engagement on launch day.
- Prepare your emails (and any corresponding social media posts) in advance.
- Try to find a reputable hunter, and ask them to hunt your product. Make sure you pass off all your assets to them well in advance of your launch day.
- Schedule your launch for a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning—at 12am PST.
- Preview your post in advance. If you wouldn't click it, neither will anyone else.
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