Being a developer by heart makes any kind of marketing and promotion a foreign ground. It cost me some time to overcome the weird feeling coming with publishing and talking about my little side project www.startupnamecheck.com — a tool to save time when you're researching a new name for your next startup, band, side project, hobby, etc.
startup name check was ready for a few days before I managed to push myself over the line to post startup name check on ProductHunt. ProductHunt seemed like a great place to start off as it's very close to the tech scene and has a active community of indie makers. I spend a few hours reading about the recommended steps for a successful launch on ProductHunt. This included preparing screenshots, preparing a comment text and a few tweets to get started. I ended up replacing the screenshots a few times as they looked blurry on the ProductHunt page all the time. With a resolution of 678x407 it seems to be alright now. I was trying to get a screencast converted to a usable gif - no luck on this one.
The launch itself was around an hour after midnight SF time. I still decided to push on as I didn't want to wait any longer. At the beginning I thought "okay, not a lot happening at the moment. Let's get back to some other work." I guess my expectation of an immediate response was simply incorrect. It kicked off with a bit a delay: Around 6 am SF time traffic increased from less than ten visitors per hour to between 80–100 visitors per hour - all from PH. People visited the startup name check and did a lot of searches. A lot of them were more tries than actual searches. At the same time startup name check got reviewed, commented on and upvoted on PH and ended up on the third place for the launch day:
startup name check badgeThe second morning (SF time) the traffic from ProductHunt spiked from the overnight low of around forty per hour to 252 in the hour 7–8 am just to fall off again afterwards. I've got no idea about the reasons behind this. Maybe the project got featured/mentioned somewhere with PH? I'm not sure. Noteworthy are two more things:
Incredible positive feedback from other indie makers and devs on Twitter and via email. From simple "awesome product, keep going" to detailed feedback with improvement ideas and bug reports everything was in there.
Another unexpected result: the affiliate link to Namecheap got me two sales over 99 NZD (20 NZD) commission.
After one week on ProductHunt my project got 503 upvotes, yay! The traffic flattened out as expected. Now there are usually 5–10 visitors per hours from ProductHunt.
After the initial success with ProductHunt I decided to follow up with more submissions. HackerNews seemed the logical next step. I signed up and wanted to publish my "Show HN" post. But HN said not soooo fast: "Sorry, your account is too new to submit this site." I got this fixed by emailing the admins and posted with a day delay. I followed the same approach as with ProductHunt in posting this on Twitter inviting people to check it out. The result was very different tho: Almost no traction on this, in total 11 points (upvotes) and no noticeable increase of traffic. I'm not sure if I judged the fit of my project for HN wrong or me being new to HN might have been the problem.
Reddit was the next platform I guessed could be good fit. I settled on the idea of posting my project to these subreddits:
None of the posts got much attention. The post in r/SideProject got the most attention with 4 upvotes haha. I guess posting the links on Twitter alone doesn't do the trick. On Reddit my account isn't new, but I'm seldom active.
Marketing is still (and probably will be for longer) a foreign land for me. Yet I'm learning. That's key. I made great connections on Twitter with other indie makers and founders. That alone is gold. I got amazing feedback that keeps me motivated for further iterations.