Product Hunt’s not fair - and you really shouldn’t care.

Over the last few days there’s been a small amount of hubbub around the Product Hunt service.

From what I can tell it started with this post, “How Product Hunt really works” by Ben Wheeler…which came to my attention via this tweet:

And two follow up posts (in defense of Product Hunt) came to my attention today (also via social media though I can’t find those specific tweets - sorry):

This is neither an informative nor self-aware summary of Product Hunt” by Tyler Hayes

In Defense of Product Hunt” by Austin Smith

Debates like these fascinate me because the reality is that EVERYONE involved is right.

Services like Product Hunt (and most tech. news sites like TechCrunch, ReCode, etc.) absolutely cater to “insiders”, and there are a lot of reasons why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I should step back for a minute and disclose a few things

1. I’ve never really been an “insider” myself, but I have known a few over the course of my career. The ones I’ve known, worked hard to earn that status (and worked tirelessly to keep that status). They all generally have the best intentions when taking advantage of their insider status, but they are all just “people” too (i.e. they can/do make mistakes and are more inclined to help their friends over strangers)

2. I’ve had products randomly picked/featured in many of these systems. It *always* provides a huge initial spike in attention, but that attention also fades just as quickly (if you don’t properly capitlize on that lightning in the bottle).

3. Some of those mentions were organic and because a *real* user just liked the product…and some of those mentions were because of directly “working” the network. The organic wins are *always* way bigger and last much longer (i.e. better products, better intentions, have a better chance at winning).

OK - so what?

Well I guess my take aways/advice is:

1. Build insanely great products first, second, and third. Great products and experiences are what cause people to stick around…and talk.

2. Don’t hitch your success to a big, or even good, launch plan. Plan it, and work it, as much as possible - but don’t really stress over it. If you nail #1 above and get enough people talking about it, all the services, blogs, and press are going to be talking about and featuring your thing regardless. Everyone loves a winner (and a winner’s story).

3. There’s more than one path. If you don’t have the network to work system like Product Hunt (or you just miss on your shot), move on to the next system or the next network; again if you’ve got users who love your stuff, just focus on finding more of those (and go to the places where they are already engaged)…but you have to be brutally honest about how insanely great your thing actually is…because until you have that right, everything else will be near impossible.

4. Nothing about life is fair; it’s probably never going to be. Most of us just have to work harder, and be 10x better just to compete. Yeah it kinda sucks, but it is what it is. Learn it. Live it. Beat it. Then change it.

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin also talks in more depth about many of the these things around twice a month via his drip campaign and has a day job as CTO of Veritonic. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).