Launching developer tools on ProductHunt
Dec 18, 2022
What goes into a successful Product Hunt launch for Developer Tools, and what are some insights and resources to get it right?
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in 3 “Top 5” Product of the Day launches on ProductHunt, which usually entails quite a coordinated effort between teams and the community. It’s also an incredibly “common” path for growing new products, particularly in the SaaS space — and therefore quite the recurring topic in our Developer Marketing Slack group.
Over the past few months, the topic’s come up a few times, and there were some incredible insights from others in the group, something I thought worth cataloging in addition to my own learnings from launching on ProductHunt.
Over my time at GraphCMS I was part of 2 major launches:
- The all-new GraphCMS, rebuilt from the ground up with a proprietary GraphQL Engine and brand new features.
- Build Your DXP, a community-curated catalog of best-of-breed APIs to build microservice-led digital architectures.
A lot of our success on ProductHunt was attributed to Jamie, from our Developer Relations team, who had incredible knowledge about the platform and had been a long time Hunter.
Whenever we wanted to launch on PH, we’d collectively plan assets and timelines in advance — usually around 2-3 months before our expected “launch” day. With new learnings from each launch, we finetuned our process until eventually we came up with our internal “recipe” for what goes into a successful ProductHunt launch for API products. By no means is that perfect, but it’s something that worked quite well for us specifically.
- We got "hunted" by a known/trusted hunter in the community. This was important since (apparently) hunter karma is a ranking factor, but not something I can verify and not a hill I’m willing to die on.
- We spent some effort in having an animated logo to stand out, as well as made custom images of features and the UI to showcase in the slideshow rather than just using website screenshots.
- We had a very technical approach to what was in those images and description since we were launching an API. No stock images, no marketing fluff, just pure technical bullet points.
- The "first comment" was a slightly "emotional" one from the founder/CEO to humanize the API a bit more since it's tough to visualize/emotionalise (?) API products.
- Everyone on the team was a "maker" to encourage them to share it with their personal networks alongside a feeling of pride for having shipped the product out.
- We had a corresponding blog post, email newsletter, website banner, etc. to live in "parallel" with the launch to direct traffic from one platform to the other for upvotes.
- We "promoted" that we're on PH via our own socials, CRM channels, website, Slack community, and socials and asked partners/customers/friends to help amplify the reach.
- The team was very active trying to respond to comments as quickly as possible to show that we were engaged and not just in it for the upvotes.
- We aimed to go live at 9AM local time (CET) to "be there" first thing in the morning when the product list refreshes, and from 1min before we kicked off all our communications. From everything I’ve heard - this is key 🔑
This topic of launching Developer Tools on ProductHunt got quite a bit of traction on the Slack community, and others chimed in with incredible experiences and insights as well that add a whole new level of expertise on top of what we were doing.
Flo chimed in with his own (absolutely baller) insights on how Specify launched on ProductHunt, sharing an incredible deck filled with actionable items.
His top 5 takeaways to share were:
- Finding a Hunter — You may read it’s not a requirement. Personally, he thinks it’s best to get featured as well.
- Visual assets — Product Hunt is a surprisingly visual channel. Show the product as much as possible.
- Prep and schedule your content in advance as much as possible — On launch day, you’ll be focused on your PH dashboard, you won’t have the time to create anything.
- Going live at 9 AM CET is a must — Your objective is to be in the Top 3 within the first hour. If you aren’t featured after 5 minutes, reach out to the support team (they reply fast). What worked great for Specify was a series of tweets that teased the launch. That really helped them get momentum early.
- Engage. Upvote comments and reply. Don’t just thank people, start conversations. We mentioned the best comments on Twitter. It created a nice compound effect.
I’ve also read the PH algorithm also bases ranking on acceleration of upvotes throughout the day, so a planned approach across regions should definitely help!
A gotcha moment however, was first making sure that your actual buyer is even on ProductHunt.
The coveted #1 slot can feel good, but if it's not moving the needle on your inbound loop, it's probably not worth a major investment to boost your launch. PH is great for tech-y products or for some tech-y buzz. But for B2B SaaS, more often than not, your buyer likely isn't perusing the latest PH launches and your resources are better spent elsewhere like newsletters, events, etc..
Sagar from VideoSDK.live
Sagar also launched VideoSDK on ProductHunt and reached #1 Product of the Day and #4 Product of the Week. While his recommendation was having the entire team active on ProductHunt for about 10 days before a launch, he considers the 2 hours after a launch the most important.
You must have at least 100 people to support your friends, team and family. Those people should upvote within 30 minutes. You and your team respond to all comments.
In addition to the above notes, there were a few other incredible resources shared that could be helpful: