What are Product Hunt, Hacker News and Reddit worth to an Indie Hacker?

By Hugo LassiègeJun 2, 20246 min read

What are Product Hunt, Hacker News and Reddit worth to an Indie Hacker?

Product Hunt, like Hacker News, or Reddit to a certain extent, are all cited time and time again by Indie Hacking pundits.

It's said to be the ultimate weapon for bringing traffic back to your site, and the recipe for success.

When you put it that way, it sounds cool. So, I tested for RssFeedPulse.

Launch on Hacker News

Launching on Hacker News is pretty straightforward. If you're not familiar with Hacker News, it's a link-sharing site. It dates back to 2007, and anyone can post a link with a title.

Other users can then vote or comment to move your link to the top of the leaderboard.

We can estimate with ahrefs that HN's traffic fluctuates around 1.4M visitors per month, or around 45k daily visitors.

Being on the first page can therefore give you a big boost in terms of visibility.

There's a sub-category dedicated to side projects, SAAS and products, in the show section.

To be included, simply post a title starting with "Show HN:".

That's why it's so easy to post on Hacker News. Of course, the headline has to be attractive, and then... You have to bet on luck.

So I tried

And the result?

9 visits to my site came from Hacker News...

After rereading it, I think the hook was probably not incredible.

However, even with a good hook, there would be about 1300 new posts every day.

Being in the top 30 is a big part of luck too. It depends on when you posted and maybe how much you promoted it outside HN too.

And even if you're lucky, it's temporary.

Temporary doesn't mean it's worthless. If the product is good and there are viral elements (sponsorship, affiliation, usage loop etc.) then it may be enough to get you started.

But it's not a constant source of traffic.

Launch on Reddit

Reddit is quite different from HN. It's a sort of mega-forum where people can group together on every possible and unimaginable subject.

There are subforums dedicated to ponies, agriculture, grasshoppers, absolutely everything (I haven't really looked into whether these subforums exist, but technically, it's possible).

And so there are sub-sections for SAAS launches, side projects, entrepreneurs etc.

Reddit is, according to semrush, the 8th most visited site in the world with 5 Billion (!) monthly visits.

That's gigantic, but of course it has to be divided between all Reddit's sub-forums, which don't all have the same traffic.

If I take /SideProject, which is one of the sub-forums where you can talk about your products, it has 163,000 members.

Here again, like HN, we post information, and there's an upvote/downvote system that affects the visibility of our post.

But, unlike HN, we can post images or videos, and the proportion of text is greater.

Please note, however, that each sub-forum has its own rules which you need to understand before posting, otherwise you'll be kicked off the site.

I've tried twice:

And I got... 1 visit.

One fu*** visit.

Still, I wouldn't advise against using Reddit. Especially as Reddit is very well indexed in terms of SEO, so it helps build brand awareness over the long term. But it's not magic. At least, not for everyone. And I'm probably doing it wrong :)

Launch on Product Hunt

Okay, let's move on to Product Hunt. This is THE site to launch your product. In principle.

It's between 4 and 5M monthly visits according to semrush.

Every day, hundreds of products are highlighted and anyone can vote for them. It's about 130k average visits a day, probably more during the week.

So it's been a mecca for product designers for years.

The "Product of the Day" badge is highly coveted.

But you're not just up against Solopreneurs.

There are companies that have raised funds too (you might want to avoid them at weekends).

I tried a launch on Product Hunt on May 30.

On May 30, there were 120 participants.

Of these 120, there were 51 solo makers (42%), and 69 companies (58%).

I received 20 votes, which puts me in an honorable 36ᵉ place.

But a long way from first place, which stands at 879 votes.

Despite 42% of solo makers, only one made it into the top 10.

You can't improvise your way into the top 5. You have to bet everything on the first 4 hours, because during the first 4 hours the votes are not displayed and the ranking varies.

Once the first 4 hours have passed, the visibility of the front-runners only reinforces the votes towards the top of the table.

But the game is biased.

First of all, you have to be in the "Featured" section.

"Featured" offers a significant visibility advantage.

And that... is clearly up to the customer...

Next, it's important to be moderate in the first few posts of the day.

Because when the voting day starts, the moderation team goes through the products that have asked to appear that day and validates them one by one. This can take several hours. (RssFeedPulse was validated 4 hours after the start of the day).

And so, for several hours, you don't appear and nobody can vote for you. This creates an unbridgeable gap.

After that, if you have visibility on a social network, you can still get by, but overall, it's tough.


And it's for all these shortcomings that other platforms have launched, like devhunt or uneed.

In any case, the results were far superior to those of Reddit and Hacker News combined: **32 visits.


I think you've got the picture: the result is very mixed.

  • Product Hunt : 32 visits
  • Hacker News : 9 visits
  • Reddit : 1 visit

In the meantime,

  • Youtube : 63 visits
  • my blog brought 37 visits
  • search engines : 9 visits
  • Twitter : 9 visits

In my case, I've calculated that if I achieve a 2% conversion rate (I'll correct this figure once I've had a bit more time to look at it), I'd need at least 2,000 visitors a month, or around 70 a day, to aim for cost neutrality after two months.

That's a lot of assumptions, but what's certain is that this objective isn't possible with a strategy based solely on Product Hunt, Hacker News and Reddit. Especially as this traffic is temporary, and is likely to convert less well.

If you're launching on a SAAS, I strongly advise you to think about a marketing strategy that doesn't just rely on "I've launched on PH and I'm going to get 10,000 visitors on launch day!"

Because it's not as simple as that, as we've just seen, and you're likely to be very disappointed if it doesn't happen.

You need alternative marketing solutions.

And yet, I recommend the exercise. First of all, it's important in terms of backlinks for SEO and, on a misunderstanding, it can work.

It also teaches you how to pitch (summarize your value proposition in a few words) your product. And marketing is the major skill you need to develop to be successful, so you have to start somewhere, and these launches are a good opportunity.

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Written by Hugo Lassiège

Software Engineer with more than 20 years of experience. I love to share about technologies and startups

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