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Show HN vs. TechCrunch vs. Product Hunt: what's most effective to launch a product (frontapp.com)
189 points by mathouc on July 2, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

Worth noting is that this was essentially number one on product hunt, above all other items.

Meaning, the product hunt results shown are the absolute best result you could hope for and most users will receive a far smaller amount of visits. PH gets a bit of hype because its invite only and people assume it has a big impact, but for most folk it would be much more impactful for their launch to even be on a smaller tech blog like Read/write or recode.

For the average person who gets on PH and gets the normal amount of upvotes (around 10-20 ) you can expect a blistering 250-500 visits. You would get more traction just posting a comment in a HN article. PH seems more powerful because its invite only and has tons of hype around it, but it does not deliver on results yet.

Surprised that HN numbers were so high, but not surprised that Techcrunch was number one. They still have a great share of the market when it comes to initial exposure.

A good rule of thumb with Hacker News is that you get 90-100 unique visitors for every upvote on a post given that it hits the front page. (as someone whose blog has hit the top of HN multiple times, I can attest to this)

The app received 6100 hits with 76 HN points, so that's a good estimate.

I'm not a fan of Product Hunt because it's an echo chamber personified. It's what happened to Quora, and I don't think that strategy will work twice.

I'm not a fan of Product Hunt because it's an echo chamber personified. It's what happened to Quora, and I don't think that strategy will work twice.

Here here. I think Product Hunt is interesting to look at once in a while to see what others think is hot, but I hate the closed nature of it. There's no obvious way to get selected to make submissions or comments.

In fact, when I read Carlos Bueno's post on QZ, the first thing I thought of was Product Hunt--an echo chamber of like-minded folks with their own exclusive club on who gets to submit which startup; and not only just submit, but even comment! It's a fantastic article worth reading:

The next thing Silicon Valley needs to disrupt big time: its own culture


Someone's created a "product hunt-like" subreddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/producthunt) that I think is actually a better idea: Anyone can up-vote a submission, anyone can comment, and moderators can separate the wheat from the chaff. Too bad it's not more popular.

EDIT: Fixed typo

The way to get selected to submit or comment appears to be ryans buddy or that buddies buddy. Its a really misogynistic way to do it and minoritys and women seem to be under represented.

I am sure if he chimed in here, he would say something along the lines of "We are super excited to open it up to everyone but want to do things correctly and not hurt the quality! With that in mind we are only letting a few people in at a time!"

Which of course means a huge amount of straight white dudes on the site and no transparency about what is submitted or chosen to be on the site.

Product Hunt started with my startup friends -- mostly guys, not dissimilar from Silicon Valley in general.

You're absolutely right that Product Hunt needs more gender diversity and it's something we're working on. This topic has been on my mind well before it came up in a recent thread on PH (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/made-with-code). Erik and I spent the last few weeks emailing dozens of women in the community to (1) get their thoughts on the product and (2) ask for recommendations of other women they know that might be interested in contributing. We have a long way to go but it has helped.

We're working on a recommendation system to give people in the community the opportunity to invite new contributors. Additionally, we will soon have a new posting flow to allow anyone to submit products to be curated by the community. These won't solve the diversity problem but will help make things more transparent.

If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can make it more inclusive and welcoming to a broader audience, please share.

EDIT: I'm also trying to get more women on the Product Hunt podcast (e.g. https://twitter.com/rrhoover/status/480421396690907138). I have 3 scheduled over the next month with women founders and investors.

Open it up to everyone, that's how you can make it more inclusive.

edit: The invite-only thing is incredibly lame. I signed up a few minutes ago to see what product hunt was all about because it was being discussed in this thread (never heard of it before). I doubt I'll lose any sleep over forgetting its existence.

That's a great point. So many sites - including TC/VB - are the same folks all the time. And they might be keeping up with startup news, but they aren't potential end users.

"The way to get selected to submit or comment appears to be ryans buddy or that buddies buddy. Its a really misogynistic way to do it and minoritys and women seem to be under represented."

Quick anecdote to rebut this, I was 'selected' to submit.

I don't know Ryan, other than I know who he is. I don't know anyone that knows Ryan (I don't think). Like pretty much everyone reading this comment, I am pretty sure he has no idea who I am. I follow him on Twitter, he doesn't follow me.

I was 'selected' because I hit Ryan up on Twitter with a quick link to our product, he took a look and decided it was interesting enough for PH, so gave me permission to submit. It was that simple.

Granted, I certainly don't tick any diversity boxes, but I think it would be a stretch to suggest that my ethnicity, gender, or sexuality had anything to do with my selection.

For transparency, here is the conversation that lead to my 'selection': https://twitter.com/phixx/status/469208498597679105

And here is the outcome: http://www.producthunt.com/posts/alleyoop

Disclaimer: I like shiny new things, and PH scratches that itch for me.

> to be ryans buddy or that buddies buddy. Its a really misogynistic way to do it

That's an odd way to say that; are you trying to say that nepotism in general is inherently misogynistic in some way? I mean, sure, Ryan's buddies are straight white dudes because Ryan is a straight white dude, and people tend to make friends with people they share culture with. But if Ryan was a gay black lady, nepotism wouldn't somehow cause her to want to hire straight white dudes nonetheless, would it?

That would be prejudice or sexism anyway. I'm with derefr; please explain how PH's processes are characterized by the hared of women. That's a rather strong claim to be tossing around flippantly.

Ryan is a straight white dude, and people tend to make friends with people they share culture with.

Diversity is a cultural trait.

For some.


There were a lot of guys at the Apple + PH event a few weeks ago, as with most startup/tech events in San Francisco from my experience.

@derefr Yes, that would happen. Thats why the PH way of doing things is shitty.

I mod /r/SideProject, which is a subreddit similar to Product Hunt. Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent the subreddit from turning into an echo chamber?


I think that much of it comes down to community management. (e.g. preventing trolls from taking over, continuing discussion threads)

Have you thought about joining forces w/ /r/producthunt and/or /r/startups?

/r/startups and /r/sideproject currently have linkbacks to each other. Are there any other ways you would suggest?

I just pulled a list of the top most trafficked products (by unique outbound clicks) posted to Product Hunt in the past week:

1) Meeet http://www.producthunt.com/posts/meeet - 4,827

2) ProducTind http://www.producthunt.com/posts/productind - 4,301

3) Fatherly http://www.producthunt.com/posts/fatherly - 4,036

4) Moment http://www.producthunt.com/posts/moment-2 - 3,833

5) NEED http://www.producthunt.com/posts/need - 3,815

6) Grasswire http://www.producthunt.com/posts/grasswire - 3,802

7) HTML 5 Up http://www.producthunt.com/posts/html-5-up - 3,775

8) Machete http://www.producthunt.com/posts/machete - 3,534

9) Withings Activité http://www.producthunt.com/posts/withings-activite - 3,052

10) YIX http://www.producthunt.com/posts/yix - 3,043

Note this includes clicks in the email and on the site but doesn't account for referrals via Twitter and other WOM channels.

Based on my relatively small sample size (a couple of times on HN frontpage and TC), a feature about a utility like this that sits on the Lifehacker homepage for any significant amount of time will demolish the sources mentioned here in terms of actual resulting usage.

I'd love to compare. Any tips?

I think Lifehacker editors read a variety of blogs, so if you appear in one of those, you probably have a better chance of getting noticed. It's been a while, but probably smaller blogs that are focused on new companies - KillerStartups, MakeUseOf, ProgrammableWeb, that sort of thing. You can also try emailing them (tips@lifehacker), but I imagine that they don't read all of those.

I'll try. Thanks

It's also worth noting that these services do not live in a vacuum. People seeing the story on Hacker News may well have later seen the story on Techcrunch but skipped over it. I read all three websites daily so I would be counted where I simply saw the story first.

The most important lesson to learn from this successful "launch" is that they iterated on their product for seven months of beta before officially launching it. How often do you see "Show HN's" of half-finished side projects with no actual customers? All the time. And the feedback is rarely good. Even if it is, the percent of qualified leads will likely be drastically lower than if you release a refined product, since people will quickly realize its rough state and promptly forget about your product.

The lesson is here to chillllll. Wait. Hold on. You don't need to "launch" your product as soon as v1 is deployed to Heroku. HN, product hunt, and Techcrunch will still be here in seven months. Don't waste your window of opportunity for "launching" by announcing an extremely rough, underdeveloped product. Hold out until you have customer feedback and have refined it sufficiently. Then, the leads you get will be infinitely more valuable.

I know you're talking about product launches, but you reminded me of something I've been wanting to clarify about Show HN. I hope it's ok if I share it here. It's not exactly off-topic, since Show HN is definitely for product launches—but it's for other things too.

The way Show HN has evolved over the years, the bar for it is naturally low. Show HN is for something you've made that other people can try out and talk with you about in the thread. That can be anything from a first project or weekend hack to a feedback-honed product like you've described above. The only rules are (a) you made it and (b) it works.

By "it works" I mean that it isn't a landing page or an email signup or a fundraiser, but rather something other people can play with and give feedback and ask questions about. That definitely includes new products, but also other things. Who knows what people might come up with! It just has to be interesting.

A risk with setting the bar too high is that some users will feel like contributing isn't for them. We want to avoid that. There are many talented people who maybe haven't done anything of their own yet, or haven't yet shared what they've done, or who suffer from that curse of our field, impostor syndrome. It's painfully easy to look at the polished work of others and think, "I could never do that". One reason we want Show HN to be welcoming to all levels of work is so there will be plenty of examples where people think, "I could do that". Not as in "meh, that's nothing," but in the DIY spirit of "hey, me too".

But the main reason is that many kinds of things—including seemingly trivial things—can be interesting. There's a secret relationship between the high and the low. They thrive together.

Masterful paintings are wonderful but first sketches are interesting too, especially in a workshop or a studio, which is the kind of place we want HN to be. Besides, first sketches have a way of turning into something masterful later. Most won't, but some will, and we love it when HN helps that happen.

Would you guys consider adding /show like you have /ask?

Show HN is best HN.

I've emailed you. :)

Maintaining control of your launch is important as well.

I recall seeing discussion on Product Hunt recently where founders were worried about their product being submitted without their knowledge, effectively launching them before they're ready in a beta/soft launch state.

Obviously that would be bad, but it's potentially even worse, because (as far as I know) you only get one shot at Product Hunt.

If this has actually happened or not, I'm not sure. There were a lot of founders worried about it though.

Per the discussion, I believe rrhoover said they're looking into ways to address that, and the prevailing consensus was to lock down your beta. Some other ideas were additional provisions in beta tester NDAs, and Product Hunt implementing some type of blacklist system to prevent premature submissions.

Personally I would just have a bare minimum public-facing website during beta, though it seems that this would inhibit your ability to get beta users unless you're either well connected or your product is hyped.

Of course, this same phenomenon has been happening with HN for years now, the difference being it's much more rare because HN isn't laser-focused on new products, and its submission volume is massive.

> Hold out until you have customer feedback and have refined it sufficiently. Then, the leads you get will be infinitely more valuable.

I think what you're getting at is suggesting that people do a soft launch or a private launch of their minimally viable product. (I agree with this).

You can't get "customer feedback" unless you have "customer(s)".

>You can't get "customer feedback" unless you have "customer(s)".

Yeah, but my experience is that the feedback from people that are actively trying to help you is less valuable than the feedback of people telling you what they actually want and would pay for.

It's the difference between "I would pay for X" and "I think that other people would pay for X"

you have a valid point here but isn't the whole purpose to get the product in front of people's eyes as soon as possible to validate?

My product (www.machete.io) has been on both HN and PH in the past week. Its hard to measure HN because rel=nofollow => no referrer in google analytics. Also, our HN post wasn't specifically about our product, but rather a visualization of seed funding by accelerators (machete lets you easily create interactive pivot charts). PH was more focused specifically about machete.

HN: ~10K sessions, 293 requests for beta access, on a Tuesday+Wednesday

PH: ~1800 sessions, 495 requests for beta access, on a Friday+Saturday

I have a very hard time separating out HN's impact long term because of the no referrer, PH doesn't do that and from last friday to tonight (wednesday), we've gotten a total of 2,687 visitors from PH and 709 signups (yes, a 27% conversion rate). We got even more indirect signups from PH via tweets that I don't think we would have gotten otherwise.

I don't know how things would have been different if my HN post was specifically geared at telling HN about Machete and our data visualizations instead of just a sample visualization we made. Had tons of PH readers email me asking about specific features, if we were looking for funding and when they could actually get into the beta. Didn't really have that at all with HN. Although I would say that we had equal numbers of VCs from HN and PH sign up (assuming they didn't use their gmail account)

A bit off-topic, but it's not the "nofollow" that leaves you with no referrer in analytics, it's SSL.

HN forces HTTPS and your page is HTTP. The browser never sends a referrer when you follow a link from an encrypted site to an unencrypted site, so you can loose quite a bit of data in analytics by not using HTTPS since more and more inbound links will be from encrypted traffic.

Add HTTPS to www.machete.io and you'll get better data.

ahh.... wow. I knew that google was going to stop sending referrer info on https, but I thought that was some how optional and not the default. Thank you very much for the info, I'll have to go find a cheap cert.

Are your customers likely to be other startups or related companies? If not, then probably none of the above. "Wherever your customers hang out" is the right answer.

Yes, this can't be emphasized enough!

For instance, I've had LiberWriter on the front page a few times, and it basically does not convert, at all. Most people here can make their own eBooks without problems. Our target market are self-published authors who are not at all technical and need some help.

I've found HN to be a high quality community. There is a higher concentration of people that can give you meaningful feedback when you post your product under a Show HN. Product Hunt on the other hand seems to get you really useless feedback. Product hunt just feels like it belongs to a clique, is way too hyped up and lacks substance .

To be fair, I do think product hunt brings in a tiny amount of traffic.

We have a long way to go to reach HN-level numbers but I think we're doing OK, considering Product Hunt's been around for ~8 months. I shared more numbers earlier in this thread here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7981057

Above all I enjoy the diversity and intellect of the perspectives within HN comments. It's truly a special place with a high caliber of valuable exchange.

Except for the few startups that consider tech power users as their demographic, I think it's naive and counterproductive for many of them to put so much time into getting their links on these sites. If they put the same effort into getting their product in front of their actual customers they would stand to benefit much more.

It depend on what you want.

HN/TC/... are good to show a new product to people that want to see new products. Thats it.

That did not mean that you get customers or a wider audience.

One year ago i launch http://apidocjs.com (OpenSource for RESTful API documentation), i show it to HN and got 2.500 Visitors in one day (yeah!), but the next days nearly zero.

Further development and step by step more users find their way to apiDoc -> organic growth.

Just like to add my two cents.

I'm the little guy in the story. 300 followers on twitter, only just starting to develop a name for myself.

I launched theNews ios (http://bit.ly/thenews-ios) recently which basically lets you read Hacker News & designer news in one app.

You'd think that would go down well in HN but nope, it faded into the bowels of HN & im not surprised. There is so much content due to how "open" it is.

Meanwhile people auctually took notice of my app on PH & DN because u dont't entirely need points to be relevant due to the moderate number of submissions. Frankly a better system for the little guy.

Show HN has its place for hacks & product launches while PH is like a brilliant way to launch your product & get feedback from amazing people that you look up to

& i don't think PH is tryna be like Show HN, it's doing its own thing. giving its own spin on Show HN.

All communities can't be open & frnakly the number of products on PH is already overwhelming at its current amount & with more its only gonna get more where it just becomes impossible to keep up. Thats probably the biggest challenge PH faces.

it's a nice alternative to Show HN & will shine in a different way.

It seems Product Hunt is closed to most submitters... how did you post there? Did you score an invite?

As previously mentioned in this HN thread, we'll be opening posting to everyone to submit products for review by the community (not everything can hit the homepage or it will get too noisy with the current design) in addition to a recommendation/invite system so that the community can refer others.

Have something worth sharing? E-mail and happy to review and submit if relevant.

See @nothxbro's comment, above

Fun, but how many products have actually "made it" from such "launches"? I think you get a small bump from "da geeks" and that's all.

A "statistical analysis" with one sample product is certainly enough to tell you what platform is most effective to launch it. /s

The Product Hunt results for sign ups, leads, and shares are skewed. You're pointing at a completely different part of your product (mobile).

You should be pointing at the same link across all three sources before you compare the three sources. Note: fixing this does not affect the number of links clicked, of course, but it could significantly change the number of sign ups, etc.

I've submitted my site to Show HN (last week) and to Product Hunt (well you can't actually submit but I sent an email to Ryan Hoover) and haven't been able to get any clicks from either of them because the Show HN link wasn't promoted and PH haven't added us yet. TechCrunch just ignore my emails. So your mileage may vary!

For business-related products, it's also helpful to gain exposure in the industries you're in. For instance, if you're launching a product that might serve both the healthcare and legal sectors, any type of exposure there not only proves legitimacy for potential customers, but to investors as well.

Really cool to see how far Product Hunt has come, rivaling TC on visit traffic and HN on signups /leads

We had similar numbers with Planleaf, minus TC. Except our conversion rates were quite high, but that lends itself to the product more than anything. Great job with Front App. 7 months is a long time. I think StatusPage.io waited a long time before doing their Show HN as well.

Next please teach us how to launch and make TC, the front page of HN and the top of PH.

Most people struggle to get even get one of those. The trifecta is quit impressive.

Our product (http://grasswire.com) was recently also on the top of HackerNews and ProductHunt (Show HN:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7954327 , ProductHunt: http://www.producthunt.com/posts/grasswire). No TechCrunch writeup yet.

Not all posts are created equal, so it's important to note that we never hit #1 on HN to my knowledge. We were #2-4 for the majority of the day, and fell off the front page about 24 hours later. We also had a blip where we were removed before we could show our post wasn't a dupe, so we lost an hour there.

HackerNews Traffic:

HackerNews day 1: 5,750

HackerNews day 2: 1,115

HackerNews day 3: negligible

HackerNews Total: 6865

HackerNews was posted on a fairly slow Friday, so it's probably different if you post Monday morning. We had 82 total upvotes on HN.

On ProductHunt we were/are one of the top products ever, so I have no idea what it's like if you don't get a lot of upvotes. We also posted to ProductHunt on Monday morning.

ProductHunt Traffic:

ProductHunt day 1: 1,273

ProductHunt day 2: 465

ProductHunt email: 1,114 (this is rough, because I only have it as "direct" traffic, so I'm estimating what our direct traffic is on a given day and subtracting that out. But we're new enough this could be off).

ProductHunt day 3: 247

ProductHunt total: 3,126

Day 3 is today, so I don't have much data, but ProductHunt certainly has a slower drop if you're going to die. Though, again, that's probably only true if you have 150+ upvotes on ProductHunt.

But that's quantitative. Let's go qualitative.

As far as the feedback we got, HN was 10x better. Almost all of the people commenting on PH work for PH, so I assume there's a lot of dog fooding going on. It's a very young product, so it's understandable, but I can't see that growing unless there's more happening there.

Some negatives of ProductHunt are that I've had people go through and tweet at everybody who voted for us (including me) because your twitter account is publicly listed when you vote. That's kind of annoying.

Overall, why not post to PH? But it has a lot of ground to make up before it catches HN. Anecdotally, I check every single "Show HN." I've maybe clicked on two or three things on ProductHunt, mostly because I don't care enough about other people's products to seek the site out specifically.

Thanks for posting. I saw grasswire when it was posted on PH and immediately took to it; I think you're doing a great job with "visual news".

Re your question:

Overall, why not post to PH?

Because, for the most part, you can't. You have to be invited to do so, making it (near?) impossible to get on unless you know someone who knows someone who already has access.

What do you mean by "Almost all of the people commenting on PH work for PH"?

I (founder of PH) have the same question re: "Almost all of the people commenting on PH work for PH." You can see the list of people that are or have worked on Product Hunt on our about page (http://www.producthunt.com/about). ~95% of the posts and comments are submitted by people that don't "work" for Product Hunt.

aagha is correct in that we've limited the number of people that can post. If anyone could post a product to the homepage, it would be overrun with self-promotion and frankly noise, with the way it's currently designed. We're working on a recommendation system so that people in the community can refer others to join the conversation in addition to a new posting flow that allows anyone to submit a product to be curated by the community.

It's early days and I empathize with the frustration of not being able to comment or post on the site. We're working hard to open it to a larger audience.

We're working on a recommendation system so that people in the community can refer others to join the conversation

Don't you this just perpetuates the "bros" ethos? How likely is a solo entrepreneur in his mid-40's working on a web startup and plugged into the Digital Valley but unable to attend meetups in the city to get an email from someone in the community of your friends and their friends? I think the chances are low.

Perhaps you should allow people to request a membership. I tried to submit a cool startup I found to PH last week and quickly determined I couldn't. Before that, I'd been checking PH ever morning to see what was cool and out there. After not being able to participate in the community (or the conversation--you could easily moderate comments) its basically fallen off my radar and I've stopped visiting.

Speaking about our post specifically, two of the three commenters had "x for ProductHunt" in their bio.

Some negatives of ProductHunt are that I've had people go through and tweet at everybody who voted for us (including me) because your twitter account is publicly listed when you vote. That's kind of annoying.

Wait, what? Is that expected behavior for PH?

What were they tweeting exactly and why were they messaging people that voted for the product? We have seen founders reach out to people that upvoted on Twitter, thanking them for their support but that's different than what Austen described.

They tweeted at everyone that voted for us and said, "I see you voted for grasswire on PH. Check out our similar product." If you want, Ryan, email me and I'll send you details. Don't want to out anyone publicly.

I see. Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing that cross my "Product Hunt" search column on Twitter. That's not the first time someone has promoted their own product in that way but from my knowledge it's uncommon.

More people visited is not sure bring good effect. It influence by other factors. So complicated.

Its about how big the STORY you make!


Build a good product.


That's true, but it didn't receive any significant attention. When an item hasn't had significant attention in about the last year or so, a small number of reposts is fine. We want good stories to have more than one crack at the bat.

We're also working on some new ideas for making a much bigger dent in this problem. Story quality is a priority.

Gotcha. (deleted OP since URL was appropriately changed)

Didn't know! Already more upvoted though

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