I was browsing Product Hunt last week and realised that they have a category dedicated to newsletters. And it’s a pretty popular one, too: the top product on that list has close to 20,000 upvotes. You can find everything in there, from email templates to curated content and tools to declutter your inbox. As there’s a high affinity between Product Hunt and the Maker Mind audience, I decided it was worth a shot, and I launched it there a few days ago.
The results: almost 2,000 new subscribers, my first paid sponsors, and several consulting opportunities. This article is about my preparation, launch strategy, and experience during the whole process, as well as what I’ve learned. Keep reading if you have a newsletter and are thinking of maybe one day launch it on Product Hunt.
Productise your newsletter
Well, it is called Product Hunt. People come there to discover the best new products. A newsletter is a product, but if you point people to regular page on your blog with a simple subscription form, it may not convert well. Instead, take the time to create a dedicated landing page.
This is what the subscription form looks like on my website. As you can see, there’s a menu and links to my social channels—lots of opportunities for visitors to get lost.
And this is the dedicated landing page I created for the Product Hunt launch. One single call-to-action. Everything on the page has one laser-focused goal: to convince visitors that it will be worth it to give me their precious email address.
I included several elements on this landing page, following the usual codes, language and structure you find on product pages.
• Big visual header with social proof
• Key value proposition
• Screenshots of the emails
• Testimonials from readers
• List of key features
• Example articles (the product demo)
• A short biography
• A sign-up form
A few days before the launch, I reached out to readers who had mentioned they enjoyed the newsletter, and asked them if they could share a testimonial. Beside the number of subscribers that’s shown straight away in the header, that’s another nice social proof element people will see if they start scrolling down.
I didn’t have much time to optimise so there’s probably lots of things to improve, but the important point is that it is a single page with one unique goal, rather than a page on your blog. It will also give you much more room to play with the design. Small caveat to this: if your content is already presented in a productised way—see Marketing Examples by Harry Dry—you don’t necessarily need to go through this step.
Leverage the community without spamming your subscribers
This is probably the most important part. Do not launch until you have an audience. In the case of a newsletter, a Product Hunt launch is like added fuel to an already fast-moving car. If you only have a couple hundred subscribers, it’s probably too early to launch on Product Hunt.
I would wait until you have at least a thousand subscribers, with a decent open rate and engagement. I personally waited until I had 2,000 initial subscribers, and kept my open rate above 50% at all times.
Then, create big, bold images that show your value proposition. It can seem hard because newsletters are mostly text, but you can insert screenshots inside a device, use a colourful background, etc. so your page stands out.
One thing many people do and I didn’t is emailing my newsletter about the launch. To me, this would have gone against the implicit contract we signed when they subscribed to Maker Mind.
Instead, I relied on the extremely supportive indie maker community to share the word and support the launch. Here was my checklist for the day:
• Post on Product Hunt with a first comment introducing myself and the newsletter
• Share on Twitter
• Share on Telegram, Slack and Facebook groups where I’m usually active
• Share a milestone on Indie Hackers
• Post on my official company pages on Facebook and LinkedIn
As you can see, these are all places where I usually contribute and support fellow makers. I didn’t spam random communities of strangers with the launch. The Product Hunt team also offered me to organise an AMA, which was another great way to engage people. Other creative ways to amplify your launch include organising a livestream, like Danielle and James did today for the launch of their product.
I also made sure to reply to every single comment on all of the platforms where I posted. This is a full-time job, so make sure you’ve cleared your day to be available.
Back to business
Launching on Product Hunt is a great way to gain new subscribers, but it’s not a long-term strategy. After your launch, get back to business. In my case, I made sure to wrap it up by thanking everyone that helped, replying to all related emails, and writing the wrap-up you’re currently reading.
Building a newsletter takes a long time and there’s no magic bullet, so if your launch doesn’t go as well as you hoped, don’t worry too much about it. But I hope these tips help you have a successful one. Good luck!
p.s. In the spirit of the article, make sure to subscribe to Maker Mind if you haven’t done so yet. And please let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions, this is a work in progress!