December 30, 2014
Ah, Hacker News – a blessing and a curse for startups trying to drive traffic to their site. Submit an interesting blog post of yours, word it the right way, and you could see thousands of people visiting your website and commenting. Make a slight tweak, and you could fall into oblivion – despite asking all your friends to upvote it.
Greg Muender, founder of Whttl, has submitted 60 posts to Hacker News so far and decided to sit down to analyze what does well. He’s seen over $15,000 of monthly traffic from Hacker News in the past 90 days, and he included 31 posts in his analysis.
From his experience, the best days of the week to publish are Thursday and Saturday. (His standout Medium post, “Uber vs. Lyft: An Insider’s View,” got 11,000 views from Hacker News and 16 upvotes, so it’s the “outlier” here and excluded from the Medium (adj.) bar below.)
When you submit to Hacker News, you add a title – which can be different from the one on the original article. Muender found that the ideal title length is 50-52 characters:
When you post to Hacker News, you may be inclined to post articles that appear on your startup’s blog – after all, that’s the easiest way to get traffic to fall directly into your lap. But Muender’s analysis suggests it may be better to post on a reputable source – Medium or a big tech blog, if you can score a guest post – and link back to your site.
One thing Muender didn’t mention is that who you are makes a big difference. He’s posted 60 times on Hacker News and has a “karma” score of 153, which isn’t incredibly high but is still better than being a newbie. If you haven’t used Hacker News before, you’ll have a lot more difficulty getting your posts seen. On top of that, Muender has an amazing eye for topics and titles that will catch people’s attention – this article being a case in point – which I think is ultimately the reason for his success.
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