At Reboot we not only create products for the startups and companies we work with, but sometimes we also create our own products. The idea for Billbot was born during the lockdown and we were shaping it in the following months. The concept is very simple: an app to manage all your subscriptions and recurring expenses.
As usual with most side projects, it was forgotten shortly after launching it and we focused on the studio's work. However, a few weeks ago we decided to re-launch it on Product Hunt and see how successful it could be in the community. This past Saturday, November 28, Billbot was #3 Product of the Day and we want to explain how we have done it and what the impact has been.
How to prepare to launch (when you don't have time)
There are tons of articles on the web about how to prepare a product launch on Product Hunt. In our case we will explain how to prepare the launch when you do not have time to invest in it. At most, we don't spend more than 1 day preparing the launch of Billbot and, considering the result, I think the return is clearly positive.
There are a few fundamental things to keep in mind before launching:
- Not all products will success on Product Hunt. The most successful products in Product Hunt are those of the generalist type, utilities, those that can add value anywhere in the world and that have low friction to try them. This is why websites work better than apps. And the products that do not requiere a login to start using them much better than those that do.
- Choose the day well. We launched Billbot on a Saturday and it clearly worked in our favor. I'm sure the visits to Product Hunt during the weekend drop enormously, but so does the number of products that are launched and, usually, the quality of these. Great products tend to launch on business days, and if you get a couple of these on the day your product comes out, you don't have much to do.
- Prepare the assets well. Product Hunt does not ask for too much information about your product, but it is important that you invest time on the assets your will show up. First of all, the icon needs to stand out. You can use saturated colors or animated gifs so that your product stands out in the list even if it is not in the first positions. Also take care of the screenshots so that they explain your product well and add a video where you can show it.
- Not everything is in your hands. At the end of the day there are many factors that are out of your control when launching in Product Hunt: the products you are going to compete with, the algorithm of the platform, the support of other key members of the community, etc. So take it easy and enjoy the day.
¿Do you need a hunter?
In our case, we asked Chris Messina, Product Hunt's # 1 hunter with more than 25,000 followers, to launch Billbot. It was not romantic at all, Chris has a section on his website where anyone can book a day to launch their product. You just have to reserve a day at his Calendly and pass on all the information about your product through a form.
Do you need a popular hunter to launch your product to be successful? We'd say no, or at the least, the push is not that much as people may think. In fact, Product Hunt in its official guide clarifies that they stopped sending an email to the hunter's followers notifying a new launch, so the call effect no longer occurs, except that the hunter proactively announces it in their network (something that did not happen in our case).
However, what does seem to have an effect at the level of positioning are the votes your product receives. The users with the most karma points on the platform have a greater weight than the rest, and in the case of the most popular hunters they have a lot of karma. This can make a difference for your product to occupy prominent positions as soon as it is launched, something important as we will explain later.
Launch day: the phases
It's the day. You don't know what will happen in the next 24 hours, nor the products you will have to compete against. However, there are 3 clearly differentiated phases that we have been able to detect and that are common to all launches.
The name of the phases it's ours, although you may notice that we have spent too much time watching Queen's Gambit these last few days.
You must schedule your product launch for 12:01 am PST to have a full 24-hour window to get upvotes. If you ask a hunter to launch your product normally they will do it this way. If you are in Spain this coincides with 9:00 am, a perfect time to start activating your community.
However, before this, the first thing you should do is to post a comment introducing yourself and explaining to the Product Hunt community the motivations behind your product and the main features. Ideally, make it quite schematic, leaving space between paragraphs and adding many emojis (the latter is optional).
It is important that you be the first to post the comment so that it is the first to be read when someone lands your products page and thus be able to expand the information that you have not been able to include in the description.
During the first minutes after the launch it is essential to be in the top 10 positions. Having the vote of a popular hunter will help you but it is not enough, so make sure your friends or community can start upvoting your producto shortly after the launch so you can position it and stay in the featured area for the next few hours.
We have classified the next 8 hours from launch as the Mid Game. At this stage the American market is still sleeping, so the majority of the votes will come from Europe. Here it is important to have a community or group of people who can give you their votes during this period.
In our case, we had nothing prepared, so we announced the launch on our personal Twitter accounts hoping it would make some noise. Luckily we got some retweets in a short time from makers and people from the tech / startup community of Spain and that provided us with a constant source of votes for the next few hours.
These are the stats of the tweets that Toni and I publish in our accounts.
It should be noted that the Product Hunt algorithm tries to minimize ad-hoc votes as much as possible. That is, the people who only register to vote for our product. We cannot say for sure, but we are quite sure that the impact of these votes is minimal or null.
In this phase we also tried to announce the launch in different Slack groups (bad idea on weekend), WhatsApp groups from the Spanish startup community and known websites such as Hacker News, IndieHackers or Dev.to. In the latter we do not get any impact, so if you intend to use them in your launch it is interesting that you start to create a small community of people interested in your product several weeks before the launch.
When the American market wakes up, everything can change and the rate of voting increases (although in our case, as it was a weekend, we didn't notice it so much). For this phase your product must be in the top 3 positions (in our case we were in the 2nd position) and from here on you are completely dependent on the Product Hunt community.
If you are in the first positions, it is possible that the Product Hunt account on Twitter highlights your product and that can give you a good boost. If you are even more lucky - we were not - Ryan Hover (Founder of Product Hunt) may vote, comment and highlight your product in their networks. If this is the case, your chances of ending up as Product of the Day are very, very high.
No one knows for sure how the Product Hunt algorithm works. Clearly not all votes are worth the same, and a product with hundreds of votes less than yours may end up ahead. This happened to us with the product that finally ended up taking away the second position. What does seem important is that the votes are as organic as possible: users with seniority and activity on the platform, without landing directly on your product file, distributed throughout the day, etc ...
As a last tip, it is important that from the beginning you are active and reply to the comments and feedback from the community as soon as possible. Starting a conversation in public with your users or potential users is a good idea in order to create a fanbase around your product.
Impact and first results
Well, after all this and getting to be the third Product of the Day... What have we achieved? It is still early to do an exhaustive analysis, but we can share with you some first metrics of the impact that the launch has had.
+400 new users
+1.000 subscriptions created
Users by country
Although Billbot was born as a side project within the Studio and it was not in our roadmap to monetize it as it is not our main business, depending on the evolution that we will see in the coming weeks and the new feature roadmap that we have defined thanks to the feedback from the Product Hunt community, we may venture to launch a payment plan for Billbot.
In any case, our intention with Billbot has never been to make money, but to build a tool that can add value and serve as an example of the kind of products we build at Reboot.
When we have more stable metrics we will write a new post with the real impact of the launch on Product Hunt.