Growth Hack Your Way To The Top Of Product Hunt

Originally published on Hackernoon.com on February 2, 2018 By Jared Codling

Before I tell you how to get to the top of Product Hunt, why don’t I first share with you what MOST people do to get to the top (and fail miserably, followed by crying themselves to sleep).

What Most Suckers Do On Product Hunt

Google “How to get #1 on Product Hunt”
Read 2–3 blog articles, each containing 5–10 tips
Implement the 5 easiest tips
… wait …
Lose (i.e. not even get on the front page)
Cry
Don’t even realise where they went wrong

The 100% Sure-Fire Absolutely Posidutely Dead-Certain Way To Hit The Top Of Product Hunt (and earn your opportunity to do a victory dance)

Let’s face it, Product Hunt is a ‘zero sum game’, it’s binary. Either you’re on the front-page and reap the rewards, or you’re not, and get f*ck all traffic from it all. So we need to guarantee we’re on the front page (at a minimum), and hopefully in the top 3.

DISCLAIMER: This won’t work if your product absolutely sucks. It’ll probably work still if your product sucks a little bit though.

SECOND DISCLAIMER: Some of this information is like, 12–18 months old, but should be pretty accurate still. Do your own homework and double-check this, plus discover any new hacks.

1. Research every single article online about ranking on Product Hunt and compile a list of ‘ranking factors’ in a spreadsheet
2. Watch Product Hunt for 2 weeks, taking notes on every pattern you see that the winners do, while looking at losers too and seeing what they do wrong (once again, add to your spreadsheet)
3. Reach out to everyone in your network that has launched on Product Hunt, asking what their strategy was (even the ones that failed, trust me on this, losses are learnings) — add to your spreadsheet
4. Reach out to founders you don’t even know that have hit the Top 3 positions, and ask their strategies, add to your spreadsheet
5. Reach out to the top hunters and ask them for their tips on ranking (and build a relationship, you’ll soon discover that the ‘hunter’ is the #1 factor in success, so one of these will be critical for you) — add to the spreadsheet
6. Put an extra 2 columns in your spreadsheet, “Potential Impact” and “Ease To Implement”. These will have a score of 1–10. You’re going to multiply this score, so you know what the low hanging fruit is.

The Low Hanging Fruit Method

So you have a spreadsheet now with at least 10–20 (potentially 50) factors that impact how you’ll rank on Product Hunt. And no, it’s not all about upvotes, it’s far more complex. Just head over there now and you’ll notice that the order isn’t based just on upvotes.

Potential Impact

Some factors matter more than others. YES, upvotes is a major one, but so is the hunter, and so are a lot of other things. I’m in a good mood, so I’ll be giving you a list of factors to kick-start this for you, but I’m not going to give you everything I worked out, because I want those that actually put the work in to be the ones that win, not just the ones that can read one damn article… (ima give you quite a bit of help still though)

(tough love, right)

We want to rank potential impact on 3 factors:
1. Certainty — How sure are we that this actually matters. This comes from how consistently we hear this as a factor (from articles, our network, anyone we talk to, how much we actually see it happening)

2. Power — How much do we think this will move the needle? If this was the ONLY thing we need (i.e. if we legit got 10k upvotes) would it be enough to rank us alone? That would make it a 10. If it’s a basic little thing that might move the needle like 1%, then it’s a 1.

3. Impact On Other Factors — This is a common one for founders to miss completely — some factors impact others. I’ll give you an example — one of the best hacks is to post at the right time of day (when the new day starts on Product Hunt). This gives you a head-start on the competition, and allows you to accrue more upvotes before they get online; which means you rank higher on the front page, and get more upvotes because of your ranking. So this seemingly small factor impacts other factors, so has a high over impact score.

Ease To Implement

This one is a little easier to work out — how much work is it going to take. If it’s going to take a full week of your time (which should be 80+ hours if you’re serious about winning in the startup world), then it’s a 1. If it takes under 10 minutes, it’s a 10.

One thing to consider is this — can YOU do it, or are you relying on others. If something is going to require me managing/communicating with other people, it’s immediately getting a sh!ttier score (I don’t play well with others).
Multiply For Success — The “Overall Score” column

Multiply the two scores together. This gives you your Overall Score. The higher the score, the higher the priority.

Some examples so this is clearer:

Factor: Use a GIF instead of a still image (catches eyeballs better, higher click-through-rate = influences the algorithm)

Impact Score: 2
It gets a 2 rather than a 1, because it actually influences the Product Hunt algorithm a bit if you get a higher CTR.

Ease To Implement Score: 7
It’s not getting a 10, because you have to make it actually look good, and then compress it and stuff. Might need to use a designer if you’re not good at this; and they have to know how to work with video/animation. Still pretty easy though.

Overall Score: 14 (7×2=14, quick maths, Skrrat, skidi-kat-kat)

Factor: Get a good hunter (they rank MUCH higher, this definitely matters)

Impact Score: 10
Nothing matters more than this other than Upvotes, and they correlate a lot, for a lot of reasons I’ll get into later.

Ease To Implement Score: 6
This is a 6 for me. It’s not as easy as just emailing a few people, you might need to build relationships. We gave a beta test on our closed-beta plus some other perks. You also need to RESEARCH. You want a hunter that consistently gets their stuff on the front page, AND has an interest in what you do, then reach out. So it’s not that easy to be honest.

Overall Score: 60 (BOOM!)

So obviously, if we had to pick, we’d be working on getting that hunter instead of making a fancy GIF. The thing is though, you want to hit as many factors as possible, while going through your priority list from the top.

But F*ck Jared, That’s a lot of work!

Right now you’re probably thinking, geez Jared, this is a f*kn lot of work isn’t it? Well yes, but Product Hunt pays dividends.

Ranking at the top helped us get onto TechCrunch (where I had the #1 article for 4 days straight — if you want the full method for that, check out my site www.newhackeveryweek.com — it’s paid membership though), and led to an 8-figure valuation with 7-figure investment; so it’s worth it. Product Hunt is an instrumental part of many launches. So just do the damn work.

Hold On, Does This Work For Other Stuff?

Yes.

The Low Hanging Fruit Method works for everything, from manipulating the media, to Facebook, to SEO.

This is REAL ‘Growth Hacking’, getting your damn hands dirty and learning everything about the platform you’re trying to game.

If you do something better than the competition in every single way (i.e. every single factor), you can’t NOT win. (intentional poor English is something I do often — I hated my English teacher in High School, so now I’m making sure I’m a syndicated author while using dat terrible grammah nd spellin’ — suck shit Ann Rose from Callaghan College, you’re a hack)

Jared, Can You Make My Life Easy And Just Give Me The Factors?

One thing I’ve learnt (the hard way) is that I can’t make someone successful. I mentor so many people, and it’s literally up to them. BUT, I can give you an awesome nudge.

I’m literally sitting here conflicted. Because I know if I just hand it to you, 99.947% of the people that read it won’t even do it. Or they’ll half-ass it, which is worse, because you get shitty results but it still costs you time.

But f*ck it.

Top Factors On Product Hunt
Get a Good Hunter

Impact: 10, Ease: 6, Overall: 60

I know I touched on this before, but I wanted to explain it a bit more.

To find awesome hunters, go here: http://500hunters.com/

The right hunter does a number of things:

They do better with the PH algorithm
They may even email to their list for you, or post on their social media — if you pick someone that is a good match (do your homework!)
They may help you get investment (ours did, indirectly — he made awesome intro’s for us, and it led to our lead investor — I know this doesn’t affect PH, but still, it’s awesome)
MAJOR ONE: ProductHunt will promote you to the followers of this hunter in their daily email.
Product Hunt may actually tweet about you if you have the right hunter (plus other reasons, but this is a big factor we found in our research)

Don’t half-ass working out the right hunter. And don’t send them a dumb email. They’re time-poor, so be cool about it.

Your email should go a little like this, and should go out about 2 weeks before you actually want to get hunted. If they’re a top hunter, they’re typically quite successfully (i.e. busy), so give them time to respond, and have time to go to your backup plans if they decline. Don’t be a dick if they decline, thank them for their time regardless — the startup community is small, and we talk.

Hey XYZ!

Just wanted to reach out, because we’re launching on ProductHunt soon, and we would love it if you would be our Hunter.

I noticed you recently hunted ABC Startup — ours is actually quite similar, but different in that we .

If you want, I can give you early access, and I’ll give you everything you need to hunt it.

If you’re interested, just let me know. We have a day/time we’d like it hunted, happy to fill you in on details if you’re open to it.

P.S. I noticed you’re an XYZ fan, are you free when they play ABC on the 1st of April? If so, I’ve got 2x tickets with your name on them 😉

Note: I didn’t give any tickets away, I’d do this if I REALLY wanted the Hunter. We had 3 potential options, and we got our first pick for free.

Launch At The Right Time

Impact: 10, Ease: 9, Overall: 90

You want to launch at Midnight PST so you get the jump on the USA competition, and accrue Upvotes from the EU traffic. This will let you get a top ranking, which of course means more visibility, and more upvotes. This early kickstart makes it near impossible for those that launch late to catch up.

Build a List — Bring In Your Own Upvotes (make it rain, son)

Impact: 10, Ease: 4, Overall: 40

You should be doing this anyway!

But basically, if you have a pre-launch list of, lets say, 1k people, and you can get even 200 to upvote you (especially if you get them to do it early in the day), you’ll have a huge headstart.

Use something like viral-loops.com (we did this but custom built ours).

PRO TIP: We discovered that CTR (Click-Through-Rate) on the home page of ProductHunt matters. You want to have your audience go to the front page, scroll to you, and click on you. THEN, upvote you from inside your page. DO NOT send directly to your page, it’ll have a smaller impact.

Reply To Comments (fast)

Impact: 3, Ease: 10, Overall: 30

Look, if you weren’t going to already do this, you’re a dick. But I feel I need to mention it, because it’s actually a factor with the Product Hunt algorithm. Replying swiftly to comments also gives good-will, and gives you a higher chance of these people sharing your hunt.

PRO TIP: Actually put some damn effort into the comments. This ISN’T the time to take a shortcut, these people are potentially evangelists for you; and some of our commenters helped immensely down the track for us.

PRO PRO TIP: Quickly do your homework on all commenters. If they have a decent following (1k+), DM them, and ask them to share it on social media for you. Once again, be cool about it. (This can work REALLY well)

Post The First Comment

Impact: 2, Ease: 10, Overall: 20

We used this as a chance to link to our Medium article, Press Kit, and give a longer more thorough description. We did this because we found that a lot of the top guys were doing it, and it was super simple to do.

This also shows that you’re engaged, and ready to answer any questions that people have in the comments section — by encouraging comments, you’re going to get more, and this is a ranking factor.

Launch on Thursday or Friday

Impact: 2, Ease: 10, Overall: 20

From our research, we concluded this had the biggest return (most overall upvotes), which means more competition, but also more payoff (i.e. traffic)
Approach Multiple Hunters To Comment

Impact: 5, Ease: 7, Overall: 45

You know who uses Product Hunt the most? Popular hunters.

DO NOT email asking them to UpVote. Instead, email them asking them to check it out and give feedback. Naturally, a lot will upvote.

The higher ranked the hunter, the more impact their comment will have on the algorithm — so make it clear you’d like their feedback via a comment, so you can engage with it publicly.

If they really like it, they may also share it on social media.
Have Your Entire Team Hit Friends/Family

Impact: 4, Ease: 6, Overall: 24

Get everyone to hit up everyone they know on social media to go and upvote it. Remember, send them to the front-page, not your actual page, this really does matter.

Viral Bot Campaign (Build FB Messenger List)

Impact: 10, Ease: 6, Overall: 60

I invented a viral bot competition method, it’s killer. Anyway, run a competition and build a FB messenger list from it, then when you launch on PH, get the list to go to the front page, scroll to you, click on you, then upvote you (yes, all of those steps, we’ve heard about direct traffic to your page counting as a zero-vote due to their anti-fraud — dumb I know, but it is what it is)

Here’s a video on how to do this competition:

Other Factors:

1.  Nail your one-line description — (60 char limit) —Use Emoji’s in it so it stands out.
2. Use GIF’s for Screenshots — it’s just way more engaging
3. Use a Video — if you can, use a video
4. Make Display Pic a GIF — This makes it stand out MUCH more
5. Make all images fit right — make the dimensions right, and make sure they’re retina-display friendly. Look at what the top guys are doing, copy it.

That’s all I’m going to give you. There is more — go and work it out. Research it yourself. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re not willing to follow my tips anyway you lazy mug.
IMPORTANT: Don’t Embrace The Dark Side

As a Growth Hacker, I’m always looking for ways to hack sh!t. So when I first saw Product Hunt, I thought “Oh hell yes, I’ll just get heaps of fake upvotes and dominate this — suckers!”.

But then I did my homework, and discovered a few things:

They have vigorous anti-fraud — you’ll probably get caught
You don’t get a second chance. You get caught, you’re DONE on Product Hunt, and just made their shitlist.
You don’t NEED to do it. If you do everything I outlined above, and your product isn’t a total piece of shit, you’ll do great anyway.

Want More Hacks?

Go to www.NewHackEveryWeek.com where (and this may shock you) you can get a New Hack Every Week. Plus access to my archives of awesomeness.

GIMME DEM CLAPS! (like 20–50 of those suckers)

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