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Ask HN: for those who successfuly launched on HN, how many attempts did it take?
64 points by sharon_k on Apr 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

Launching on HN is a risky business. Your product typically only does well if it exists within the HN target market. Don't ignore luck as an important factor. HN traffic also doesn't tend to convert that well. It's a little like Techcrunch - getting a post on TC doesn't guarantee your startup will be a success.

How to Launch on HackerNews

1) Understand

Read, contribute and build a reputation.

2) Research

Read swombat's Post: http://swombat.com/2011/1/13/how-to-get-your-startup-on-hack...

Read jacquesm's Unofficial Hacker News FAQ: http://jacquesmattheij.com/The+Unofficial+HN+FAQ

3) Time It

Typically, there are good times to submit on HN. However, take this with a pinch of salt as if too many people consult these resources, you'll find some stiff competition.




4) Ask

Reach out to your community and ask for feedback on a post - before you post it. Make revisions and then ask your community/friends to check out the /newest page. If they feel like commenting or upvoting, they will.

5) Luck Out

Produce something of high enough quality that the HN community deems it worthy of the front page. Then enjoy the server thrashing around 10K-100K visitors

HN is a terrible place to launch if it doesn't coincide with your target market.

I think this might be the most useful comment here.

Traffic is great, but if it's not your demographic, all you'll have to show for it is a new server bill to handle the foot traffic that won't be buyers.

david, that's pretty obvious. Let's assume that OP asked his/her question regarding to products or services that target HN readers. Come on, share your stories.

It isn't obvious at all. The OP was 13 words (besides "Ask HN"), and the poster has no contribution history on HN. davidw's point is completely relevant.

We soft launched https://starthq.com through comments and got a few hundred visitors. This showed that time on site was high so we launched as a Show HN linking to a blog post, which got to the front page the first time and drove a couple of thousand uniques. Let me know if you are interested by upvoting this comment - would be more than happy to share the details in a blog post.

and here's a question for you-- when you posted your Show HN, did it "organically" find its way to the front page? Or did you receive "...a little help from your friends.."?

As I understand it HN has various methods built in to prevent this. i.e, if a post receives an usually high number of votes in a short period it will be limited.

I'm always a little skeptical of these questions given that these threads are made on throwaways and aren't more than a few hours old rather.

It always feels like some PR person trying to figure out how to "game" HN, rather than trying to add value to the community in the first place.

Kind of like how Reddit is with AMA's and new movies/albums. The Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman debacles.

I have a niche cycling site[1] that I successfully launched[2] (and by that, I mean that I posted a link to it when it didn't have many users) here. By successful, I mean it spent a while on the front page, got 61 upvotes and 78 comments, and my site got about 5000 visits and a hundred or so signups (even though the majority of those did little more than sign up) in the following 48 hours or so.

It's a niche site — it appears that all my users are either competitive cyclists who train using power meters or heart rate monitors, or cyclists with analytical minds who want to get as much out of the data that their bike computers as possible — yet it did fairly well, probably because it appeals to many here, even if they're not potential users themselves.

Oh, and that was the only attempt at "launching" here that I made, and I did nothing more to promote it as a story here than posting the link (I didn't tweet a link or get friends to upvote it or anything like that).

1. http://www.cyclinganalytics.com/

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4453967

I submitted two Show HN posts with link to my Hacker News iOS Client app, the first post didn't got a single point, I was so disappointed that I just deleted it.

The second post got 4 points and brings about 120 page views to my app's website, and about 10 sales for the next 24 hours. After that only about 1~2 download per day.

It's an app for reading Hacker News on iOS, 100 percent HN target market, so maybe my app just sucks? I really don't know.

I really want to get feedbacks on this, what kind of Hacker News iOS App do you want? or you just use Safari?


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Recently, I've submitted exclusively ( only here ), free to use (MIT/OFL license) icons font set linking to github page. My title was "Show HN ..." . I'm not posting the link on purpose. And I got 100 page views for the next 24 hours. My post was rated 2 points and basically didn't get to the front page. It was very strange for me, two days after my submission, when I saw that I got most of my visitors from Japan, including from Japanese blogposts for my work.

Also, I got no comments, which I expected, since here people are critical + constructive in their discussions.

I know for sure that if any post didn't make it to the front page, this doesn't mean that is invisible for most of the community. There are a lot of blogs that follow what's been posted here. I hope the visitor impact isn't related with the time when people submit stuff here!

I tried to launch my app marketing tool twice, to no avail. First I posted a link to the site itself (appmarketingtool.com), a few days later to my blog post about it (http://leoncullens.nl/post/2013/04/13/Windows-8-app-marketin...).

Both stories were only upvoted by a friend of mine. I can't figure out why... A lot of submissions that reach the frontpage took only a few days to build/write, I've been working on this with my friend for 2 months.

If you believe that success if proportional to the amount of time you dedicated to the project, brace yourself for a very cruel disappointment. This is just not how it works in startup-land, sorry :)

But don't obsess about trying to crack a big-bang launch. Big-bang launches are the ones we all hear about. But they're the exception rather than the rule. And they're not necessarily a good thing (remember Color?).

Far more startups become successful the old-fashioned way: by getting one customer at a time over weeks, months and years. In your case, you've got the ideal business for this: you've got a very niche product aimed at a fairly small, well-defined and reasonably easy-to-reach audience.

So forget about getting to the front page of HN, TechCrunch or other startup hipster places. Just go and get your customers: - contribute to discussion forums about windows development and have your product in your signature. Promote it there if allowed - reach out to relevant bloggers - attend local Windows developer meetups. Some have open-mic opportunities for local startups to promote themselves. - join BizSpark and see if Microsoft would be interested in helping - experiment with a few Google Adwords campaigns - ...

Did you use any other networks to link to the story? Did you tweet the HN url? Or post it to social media? Did you email anyone who you follow/respect and ask them to share their thoughts - with the HN thread linked? Your make it sound like you just added to HN with a single upvote and hoped it would rise from the noise.

You're right, I didn't do those things. I don't know many people with a HN account. I got a few stories to the frontpage before by just submitting them, so I figured that would do the trick.

the first question to ask back would be what you consider a "successful launch on HN"?

with our service thinkery.me we had what we would define as success after launching on HN: we got initial traction, a lot of great feedback and signups. we have been refining the service and growing since then.

A related question I had was whether you are better off submitting your site as a link or an Ask HN style question with a link to your site in the text? It seems like submitted links are much more likely to be completely ignored than "ask" submissions from what I've seen. However, I've heard that "ask" submissions drop off the front page at a quicker rate.

Hope your product is in line with the HN's audience - but having said that, many HN users (I believe) are interested in startups in general, so I find it interesting to see what areas people are trying to innovate. I posted a link to my project (http://www.sideprojectors.com) and received a few hundred signups. I found them more than sufficient to do my beta testing.

It's not really the initial post that matters, but what you do with them after your launch. Even if you get say, 100 users, they are GOOD 100 users! (better than zero!) and if you believe in your product and continue to iterate + get feedback from them, I'm sure you can take your product quite far. Of course, you'll need to do many other things.

I submitted a "Show HN:" Link (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5544603) for my demo video this past Saturday.

It received only 4 upvotes but the video has about 115 views two days later.

My favorite posts on HN are about new products/startups and even failed products/startups, but to be fair I should warn if you submit on HN multiple times for purposes of showing your startup- without a new feature, achievement, ect...- people may associate your product with spam.

Mine wasn't a launch per se, but a Chrome extension I had been working on. I thought it was right up the HN crowd alley, but I only got a few hundred hits and maybe 10 downloads. I posted it in hopes of getting some feedback (positive or negative) which didn't really work out.

I would so firstly to engage in discussion in this community. I take more time and expend effort when I see someone has at least some karma through adding value to this community as a signal of quality. Im sure I miss some good stuff but it filters a lot of crapola out.

I'm not sure that HN is a place for launching a site. It is, however, a great place to ask for feedback regarding most new software applications. I've been given great feedback on a couple of different websites I have done.

I just did one submission for Startup Threads (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3518728) and got us a solid number of signups (around 45).

Really interesting thread I was thinking of post something like this myself. Tons of good info thanks guys

Tried twice and received no up votes. Haven't bothered trying again.

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