If they were successful, what can you learn? If they didn't do well, are there any mistakes you can avoid?
Decide whether to use Product Hunt Ship
Ship is a product by Product Hunt that provides you with a pre-launch landing page and a way to communicate with the people who are interested. It also gives you some randomized exposure on their website and email newsletters. It is designed especially for startups to capture early signups for their product before it ships without needing to build out a sophisticated landing page.
The main downside of Ship is that you cannot do Ship and ALSO post your product to the Product Hunt homepage at the same time so you are missing out on the gobs of traffic that the Product Hunt homepage could send.
If you are comfortable having a bit of a "pre-launch" period and don't have the time/resources to build your own teaser website, I think Ship is a great resource. However, I would avoid making Ship your big launch strategy since Product Hunt can send so much more traffic. Even if you are launching a private beta, I would recommend the same strategy — use Ship as a lead-up but actually launch the beta on Product Hunt.
Read some stories about successful launches and glean the relevant nuggets for your launch
I hope this guide will help you but there are tons of other great resources that you can check out online (I started a list below)
Brainstorm the overall narrative you are telling about your product
If someone goes to Product Hunt and takes 6 seconds to look at your page, what is the impression they should get? What value are you providing to them?
You may know all the crazy things your product can do but you need to boil it down into a concrete and simple story that instantly connects with the Product Hunt community.
Who are the users you are trying to reach?
What are their specific use cases? Make sure that whatever you choose is persistent across the tagline, the screenshots, the description, and even your landing page.
Brainstorm and decide on a tagline
Your tagline can only 60 characters and will show up on the Product Hunt homepage. Make it intriguing and relatable, not vague and slogany.
Write the description
While your tagline can only be a few words, your description can be a couple sentences. This might be a distilled version of the overall narrative you wrote earlier.
Get inspired by other Product Hunt pages
Learn from the products that did well. Some did well DESPITE their product pages and assets but others are inspirational. Use the Product Hunt leaderboard linked to the right to find the top products.
Tell a story with your screenshots. I would even recommend including a few words with each screen that highlights the value your product provides. Make sure there is a flow to the screenshots that tells your overall narrative.
GIFs can tell a powerful story in a few seconds and I would highly recommend using at least one of them. We took many hours to create impactful GIFs and I think all the work really paid off.
The thumbnail is the "icon" that shows on the homepage. It can be a GIF. Be careful though. It is really small so if you don't do it right, your GIF may just feel cheesy or distracting. If you can pull it off in a way that actually compliments or tells your story in a tasteful way, go for it. Bottom line: using a GIF thumbnail will tend to make your product stand out but not always in a good way to be careful.
A lot of the most successful Product Hunt products use a video. However, videos take a ton of time and/or money to do well and they ALWAYS show first so if a video isn't your best foot forward, don't waste your time. If a GIF can communicate just as well, I would recommend that — they are easier to pull off well. If, however, you have the means to create an amazing video, it can be a powerful asset to draw people into your story.
Fill out all the elements of the Product Hunt page (see form below)
If you've completed the previous steps, most of the hard work has already been done. Now it's just a matter of filling out some meta data.
Over time, build up a network of friends and mentors who might be willing to support you on launch day.
Build up a pre-launch mailing list
You might do this by publishing an early teaser site with a sign up form. You could also use Product Hunt Ship for this. You can promote your page on social media and with friends / family. Even if you could get a couple hundred email addresses, it will make a difference to your Product Hunt launch.
Get contributor access or find someone in your network who does
The process takes a few days so be sure to plan for it. If you go the route of finding a "hunter", look for folks who lend some credibility to your launch and who have larg Product Hunt follower counts.
Post your product
Since we've already created everything needed for the page, now it is just a matter of posting it.
Add a maker comment
From PH: "Briefly introduce yourself, the team, and the problem that you’re solving. In a total of 3–4 sentences explain what the value prop is, what’s the use case, who its for, and why you are building it. If this is the second time you’re launching on PH (i.e. a big product update or huge feature announcement), explain what’s changed. Tip: Make it as easy as possible for people to care. For example, if you’re a 16 year-old launching your first product and answering questions in the middle of math class… THAT is what you should lead with. If you have a business background and taught yourself to code — tell people. Create a narrative that makes people relate and want to help you."
I would add that it is always good to ask for feedback (and feel free to specify what kind) to get the conversation going and show you care.
Optional: give a deal
From PH: "PH users love a good deal. Feel free to include a special promotion or offer in your opening comment. These special launch day offers can increase engagement, help capture people’s attention, and encourage people to try what you’re working on (e.g. 20% off for 6 months). P.S. Giving community members early access by distributing promo codes via the comments can work wonders."
Promote Product Hunt page across all channels
Hopefully by now you have a list of influential advisors and a small list of people who expressed early interest in your product. This is the time to tell them about your Product Hunt page.
Get featured on the "Popular" page
If you get enough upvotes, you'll end up on the coveted Product Hunt homepage. If you have a ton of votes and are still not showing up on the "popular" page, it is possible that Product Hunt is holding your page until the next day so you get maximum exposure (for example, maybe you posted your product later in the day).
Make sure your servers are ready because getting featured on this page can send boatloads of traffic.
Get featured on the Product Hunt newsletter
If you are one of the top products of the day, you will show up in the Product Hunt newsletter the next day. This can also send enourmous amounts of traffic.
Get ready for next time
Thanks for taking the time to get all the way to the end! I hope this has helped you have a ridiculously successful Product Hunt launch. One thing to remember is that Product Hunt is not just a powerful way to launch your initial product, it is a great way to launch other majro milestones (mobile app, 2.0, or even major new product features). My hope is that after going through this guide you will be well equipped to own the Product Hunt charts every time. Good luck!