I’ve always been a huge fan of building side projects. Asides from being a valuable learning tool, they’re a lot of fun to work on in your free time. Over the years, I’ve built side projects ranging from platforms to review your university / college courses, to a tool that lets you build social microlanding pages, and even a press kit builder for game devs. They were all a blast to work on and I got some decent results, but none of them ever really took off and none of them were really ever “launched”.
Recently after seeing countless questions pop up online about how to get started building Chrome Extensions, I decided to turn a number of the starter templates I’ve built over the years for my own extensions into one unified digital product. I got to work cleaning up the templates, adding some additional common use cases, and I also put together a small Ebook with guides on how to prepare to publish your extension, how to publish it, and even how to grow your extension user base after publishing. This was my first “digital product” but I was pretty excited about it. It eventually turned into ChromeExtensionKit.
Once everything was ready, I started to get it out there into the world like I would with any other side project, which was mainly sharing it among friends and posting it to sites like IndieHackers, Hacker News, and Reddit. Much like the other side projects, traffic slowly starting coming in, however unlike the others, so did the sales. Within the first week or so, I had already hit 20 sales which was a huge confidence boost. This was the first product I had built that had even the smallest bit of traction (granted, 20 sales aren’t anything to write home about) out of the gate, so I was hooked immediately. Despite the early “success”, I still didn’t feel confident launching it on Product Hunt much like my other projects. I kept thinking it needed more work or that I needed to add more to the kit, and pretty much every other excuse I could come up with. It would have probably gone the same way as my other projects, however the difference this time was that Chris Messina reached out on Twitter and asked about the project. After some back and forth, it was prepared to launch that very night! I was shocked at how quick and efficient the process was and I was beyond excited to be hunted by Chris.
The next morning, I woke up to the project launched on Product Hunt and got to work sharing it around. It moved around the front page (and stayed on it!) throughout the day, peaking at around the top 10, but ultimately falling back a bit. The final results from the launch were:
↕️ ~300 upvotes
👤 ~700 pageviews
💵 20 sales
Was that the best launch in the world? Of course not! But it was a blast and I was excited to stay on the front page throughout the day. I also got some great feedback and a decent amount of sales, relatively speaking (single day record for my product). Most importantly, I learned a lot and will feel much more confident in the future.
The Lessons Learned
- Probably the biggest lesson learned is to not be afraid to launch. Had Chris not reached out, I probably would have never been confident enough to launch it. Going forward I’m going to a lot more confident in launching and trusting the fact that I’ve built a great product.
- Somewhat of an obvious one, but rank definitely matters. Sitting outside the top 10 (and still on the front page) brings in traffic, but I imagine that is exponentially higher the higher you get on the page.
- Having someone hunt your product is hugely helpful, especially when you aren’t quite as aware of how everything works on Product Hunt as a first time maker.
- The type of product has an impact on popularity. If you look at the top products on any given day, they all typically have some way to test if paid, are open source, or are completely free.
- Related to the previous point, since my product is purely a paid digital product, not having a way to test it out made it a little harder for Product Hunt users to convert in some instances, despite a lower price point. I had a couple reach out to ask if there were examples of the code, which got me thinking how I can tackle this hurdle in the future on the landing page.
- Offering some sort of discount to Product Hunters seems to help conversion quite a bit. I have offered coupons here and on some other channels, but it completely slipped my mind for Product Hunt. Looking back, I think that may have positively impacted it to some degree
The Next Steps
I’ll keep building and growing projects! With respect to ChromeExtensionKit, I have plans to build out a showcase to show off extensions people built using the kit, to add a blog, and to continue adding value to the kit.
I hope that this was helpful and if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation where you don’t feel like your product is “good enough”, just go for it! Don’t be afraid to launch as you’ll learn a lot. Not only that, but it was extremely fun.