A few weeks back, I decided on a whim to launch a Quarantine challenge to myself.
4 launches in 4 weeks? Challenge accepted. Get it done.
To be honest, from the start, I knew one of them was going to happen regardless and had these other projects on the sidelines at 85-95% done. I wanted to clear the decks and get the rest of these projects out the door, so I formalized it, wrote the post, and then made it official – aka I tweeted it.
I wasn’t quite sure if I could match the schedule, but I had a decent start and a lot of free time, so I got to work.
As it turns out – I knocked out the 4 launches in 4 weeks, earned 3 top-5 product of the day badges while getting hundreds of new customers for each product and generating thousands of site visitors.
Here’s how it broke down week by week.
Week 1 – #5 Product of the Day
A low-carb, real food meal planning site w/ integrated grocery delivery
Week 2 – #4 Product of the Day
Integrated scheduling tools, analytics and Zoom conferencing.
Week 3 – Dud
A stretching database and mobility coaching site
Week 4 – #4 Product of the Day
A done-for-you free blogging setup service and tutorial site
Here’s how I did it (and what I learned along the way).
First of all, when talking about these projects, it’s helpful to know the size and scope of the projects we’re dealing with.
Ultimate Meal Plans and Start a Blog were completely new versions of projects that had been previously launched. Ultimate Meal Plans grew out of our paleo guide business. While Start a Blog was spun-off after the IMPOSSIBLE blogging guide began to have traction.
Woven’s remote work launch is a much bigger app and venture funded app that I’m advising.
MoveWell is a side project and offshoot of IMPOSSIBLE. It’s been small, but growing over the years and has a loyal cult following.
With that said, here’s what I learned and what I would do differently.
Get to know Product Hunt people
Multiple times in the 4 weeks, 12:02 PDT hit and we’d have a bunch of votes lined up and our product was no where on the front page.
There’s nothing more panic inducing than having a project that you worked on for months not show up on launch day when you’re slightly sleep deprived (it was 2:02CDT my time in Austin) yet overcaffeinated.
I’m not sure why this happens, but the entire PH team is really responsive and I was able to ping them and they were able to handle whatever the issue was.
They did not give anything a boost, but they were able to help troubleshoot stuff. They also got interested in the project (see point 3) and it’s been fun to connect with other makers.
Nail Your Timing
Ultimate Meal Plans was our first week’s launch and got a lot of momentum from the announcement of the 4 launches in 4 weeks challenge. Woven carried that momentum and had the benefit of a larger team behind it.
By the time I got to MoveWell, I had to date, the smallest project of the 3 and at week 3, people (lots of my friends offline were making “so…you Product Hunting this week again?” Jokes.
Correct. That’s exactly what I was doing.
What this meant though was that I basically timed the smallest project with peak Product Hunt fatigue from my audience. On top of that, I picked a relatively competitive day to launch (Thursday) which made it tougher to get traction throughout the day of the launch.
By the time I closed with Start A Blog, it was the end of the challenge and despite the audience at SAB being smaller, it was a more accessible project, free and the close of the challenge.
If you’re going to do something like this, spend a bit more nailing the timing and thinking through how the rhythms of the week will go. That said 75% hit ratio is pretty good I think!
Build a Story
People love stories. The people who realized I was launching 4 projects in 4 weeks had a reason to check in every week. My modest profile on Product Hunt has raised quite a bit, I got to know people at Product Hunt as well as other makers and each product seemed to benefit a little from the previous one.
I think if you have multiple things to launch, it’s much easier to do something like this than it is it to manufacture individual excitement each day months apart.
Keep Momentum Through The Day
One of the easiest things to do to make sure your day goes as well as possible is to line up your support throughout the day.
If you have a series of support lined up – if you can – stagger them throughout the day so you can “waves” of support rolling in.
It’s really common to see this happen where someone gets their entire audience to support them first thing in the morning and they shoot to the top of the charts. After that, they slowly slide from first place as they don’t have any reinforcements coming in and have to rely on the product being really, really awesome.
For some of these reasons, if you have a smaller project – it may be easier for you to avoid weekdays (more on that soon).
Spam Will Happen. Deal with It
One of the most frustrating things was realizing that even though Product Hunt’s spam detection is pretty good, there’s still obvious spam that happens. One good example of this was Resize Sidebar for Gmail – which lets you…resize a sidebar for gmail. Okay.
They got 1,732 votes in one day. Wow! Good enough for #1 product of the week.
Pretty impressive. When you click to their chrome extension though, Google says they have had 3,000 users – all time – and just reviews.
Maybe most of their actual users love Product Hunt reviews and hate Google, but that seems tough to believe.
There’s also exchanges like this which I particularly enjoyed….
A seemingly solid comment and review from a person who loves America…wait a second…
If you’re not familiar that’s the US Defense Secretary – his name is not “Mar Cox” – it’s Mark Esper and while he could be upvoting chrome extensions on Product Hunt, I think he might have other things to handle at the moment.
Possible? Maybe. Likely? Probably not.
It’s frustrating to see something like this happen. I don’t want to pick on one product or not (hey, they got the votes, right?), it’s a pain see people just on the edge of getting a top 5 placement get pushed out.
Obviously some piece of Product Hunt can be gamed, so don’t get too tied up in whether you get spot #2 or #4 (although that #1 spot placement does look nice). I saw this type of stuff happening on each launch we did and it’s annoying, but I guess it’s all part of the game – so don’t get your emotions too tied up in it one way or another.
Things I Would Do Differently
3 top-5 projects in 4 attempts is pretty good. I’m pretty happy not only with the performance on Product Hunt but the actual boost we’ve gotten on all of the projects, but there are a few things that I would do differently.
Launch Smaller Projects on Weekends
MoveWell did well for a Thursday but we didn’t really get the traction we wanted to with it. If you’re maker, it’s a lot easier to get into the top 5 on a weekend. Yes, you’re going to get less traffic, but it may or may not be a tradeoff worth making it in the “top 5” and having that banner to grab traction and build a bit more of an audience.
Also, since all of these were side projects I was “clearing my plate” on, they are not all 100% relevant to the entire core IMPOSSIBLE audience.
Encourage More Reviews
It’s one thing to ask for support, upvotes or comments. What I wish I would have pushed more was “reviews.” To be honest, before this project I never really noticed them (I thought people just meant comments).
But if you look closely, you’ll see a simple 🙂 or 🙁 – and those guys pull their weight.
By the time you read this, Product Hunt might fix this, but I have more than a sneaking suspicion that you could outrank other high-voted apps if you focus on getting your users to give you reviews (both reviews & comments work, but if you have to pick one, I’d go with reviews).
It seems dumb, but after noticing this and paying attention to launches across multiple days – this seems to be the case (part of what made me realize is this happened to us!). I’m sure someone more data aligned could put together a better model on their exact impact, but let’s keep it simple and just say lots of 🙂 help.
Do More Pre-Launch Enticement
With more time, I would build each project up quite a bit more. I think there’s a huge opportunity to build excited and enticement for each project that I missed out on because I was focused on just brute-force launching these and getting them out the door. I could do a lot more to tease out each new project and built anticipation. If I didn’t have so many projects going, I could have done this a lot more.
This ties directly into the next item:
Do Less Stuff
I’m constantly working not his, but this was truly a clearing the decks type moment where I had a bunch of projects stuck between 85-95% and just needed to get them out the door.
Now that the teams are individually running each of these projects – I can focus more on the core businesses at IMPOSSIBLE – and I’m attacking it with a vengeance.
With more of a focus I can probably drive a higher percentage of each audience to each project, but again – that’s a tradeoff when you have a series of spin-off projects.
There you go – my takeaways from 4 product hunt launches in 4 weeks. If you want to take a look and support the projects below – I’d appreciate it.