How I launched on Product Hunt (Top #1) and featured on Lifehacker?

Here's my toolkit & resources on building and launching "I Lazy To Read" app.

Two weeks ago, I built my first app call I Lazy To Read” and launched it on Product Hunt. The response was overwhelming.

Here’s an overview of the app launch performance:

  • Total 26,078 URLs generated for article summary (in 14 days)

  • Over 1,172 upvote on Product Hunt 

  • Averaging 300 daily visitors (in 14 days)

  • Featured on Lifehacker

  • Featured on Webrazzi

In this story, I’m going to share my toolkit & resources that I used to build and launch the app in 24 hours. 

👉In case you miss out, I can send my upcoming toolkit/resources to your inbox —Click here for Zoe’s Build & Launch newsletter!

1. Starting point 💡

I usually decide my product concept before I start making prototype or writing any line of code. 

In many cases, I usually start off by identifying my personal problem. See if it’s worth to turn into a solution in the form of a product.

I wanted to solve a simple problem that I face every day:

  • I love reading about tech news and startups, but… 

  • With tons of information and limited time, I figured I needed a solution that can help me to summarize the “important part”.

Here’s how I incubated the app idea from the start:

  • A landing page that explains what the app does in one sentence

  • Users can paste a site URL of any online article to summarize

  • Users hit the “Generate” button to get the bit-sized insights without reading full article

2. Design tools 🎨

Once I decided the usability layer for the app, it’s time to create the look for the web design before I transition to the front-end programming.

As a non-designer, I’m not skilled in using Figma or Sketch.

Instead, I opted for Elementor, a Wordpress plugin to “drag-and-drop” almost anything, including main sections, sub-sections, images, buttons, forms, etc.

Here’s the initial design of “I Lazy To Read”:

3. Tech stacks 💻

Now it’s time to prototype the app, including the back-end functionality.

As a new coder who just went through Day 52 of #100DaysOfCode, I have to be “technically frugal” about using what I already know to build what I need.

I wanted to be able to create a prototype and take an idea to live as soon as possible — in 24 hours. That’s what I attempt at Hoveo prototype accelerator.

Therefore, I opted these tech stacks to launch my idea fast: 

  • Python (programming language)

  • Django (Python web development framework)

  • CSS / Bootstrap (for front-end programming)

  • Rakuten RapidAPI (to discover APIs resources for this app)

  • Text analysis API (to handle article summarization)

  • Heroku (to deploy the app)

4. Launch on Product Hunt 🚀

For a prototype project like this, I didn’t have to spend months building the audience before I “feel” ready to hit the launch button.

In fact, I launch my app to the public right after I deployed on Heroku.

If you saw this Tweet, you might know I was cooking something.

Some visual work before posting on Product Hunt:

  • Optimize pitch for product headline & description

  • Use GIFs for thumbnails display (240 x 240 pixels)

  • Use ideal image size for gallery display

  • Use stunning graphics on image gallery

  • Share the product page on social media

The next thing I did was to Tweet about my Product Hunt launch. That’s all I did for “lazy marketing”: 

  • No email list at that time 

  • No pre-launch 

  • No upcoming page

  • No spamming on FB groups

  • No asking for upvotes

🙏Some lessons:

If you have a proper startup product, I highly recommend you to do pre-launch / early access campaign / email list / Beta testers outreach — before you launch on Product Hunt. 

This is to make sure you get the most traction / adoption / lead generation / early sales during your Day 1 launch. Don’t be lazy.

5. Receive user feedback 😍

“It’s okay Zoe, it’s just a prototype. It won’t get much attention anyway.”

As it turned out, it was an EPIC launch. 

After launching the app, I received tons of comment, product review, message, and feedback from early adopters.

Many are kind enough to suggest me additional features, improvement and business idea to monetize the app.

Forever grateful to the amazing tech community around the world:

6. Become #1 Product of The Day 🏆

I was the unluckiest when I launched my product on May 24th. 

It was highly competitive among the Top 3 products, with Upvote number ranging between 400 to 500. 

That means if I were to become #1, I would need more than 500+ Upvote to surpass the rank.

Which is something I’d never thought possible with my under-prepared launch plan.

As it turned out, I received 600+ Upvotes (now 1,100+)

7. Press coverage 📜

Getting featured on popular media outlets such as Lifehacker (US), Webrazzi (Turkey) and Tekcrispy (Spain) was never in my launch plan. 

First, I was not receiving any emails from journalists asking to write about “I Lazy To Read”.

I discovered the media coverage right after I checked my Google Analytics’s referral traffic source:

🙏Some lessons:

PR outreach is important for any successful startup product launch. Since these media outlets are well-ranked in SEO, getting a feature would mean gaining free traffic with $0 cost spend on paid ads.

I believe it takes some groundwork to build a relationship with the writers. It also takes communication skills in pitching your product to bloggers, journalists and influencers to write about your product.

Alternatively, you can focus on building useful product, and let them write about you without outreach effort.

8. Secret sauce: what worked for me? 💯

I received a lot of questions from founders, investors and developers who were keen to learn about my product launch success.

From what I shared so far, I’d love to summarize into some pointers:

  • Build something people would want to use repeatedly

  • If people use it, they will re-share it and spread the words organically

  • Make your product so INSANELY easy to use 

  • Sharpen your “product design” skill

  • Create that kind of product with “built-in marketing” 

  • Be so good at writing product pitch / description (available for hire)

  • Personal branding helps

Here’s what I shared in an interview about getting featured on Product Hunt #1:

  • Getting featured on PH is great for product awareness, validation and traction 

  • In the long-term, the post-launch matters more than your initial launch on Product Hunt 

  • So don’t feel disappointed if you don’t get featured. Focus on the ongoing marketing & sales effort

9. What’s next for the app? 😱

I never expect a prototype like “I Lazy To Read” would get so much public attention. 

Not to mention it’s least feature, scrappy and un-polished characteristics.

But one thing is for sure: 

I’ve finally built something that people want to use; have identified a problem facing many busy online readers.

I don’t have a roadmap yet, but here’s the might-be plan:

  • Monetize the app with subscription business model

  • Find interested buyer to acquire the app 

  • Update new features to train my coding skills

I regretted not tracking with Google Analytics since Day 1. My data only came in from Mar 29th.

10. More about my work ⭐

I build, launch, code and write publicly. I work on the side to build products until product/market-fit + founder/market fit is found.

My day-to-day is working with founders in the area of fast prototyping, product plan/launch & growing community base.

👉In case you miss out, I can send my upcoming toolkit/resources to your inbox —Click here for Zoe’s Build & Launch newsletter!

👉Where to find me?

[1] If you love this article & feeling generous, send me a coffee? ☕

[2] I’m active on Twitter you can follow me there! 🔥

[3] I have a personal website with all my secrets 💌