Trending on the Hacker News homepage: 40,000 visits and £10,000 in revenue in 48 hours
On May 13th a Roast My Landing Page blog post trended on Hacker News. The post, what I learnt roasting 200 landing pages in 12 months, remained on the Hacker News homepage for over 24 hours, generating 684 points and over 230 comments.
Here's what that meant for Roast My Landing Page - traffic, revenue, video views, email subscribers, and some crazy comments.
Context - what the hell is Roast My Landing Page?
Roast My Landing Page is a productised service for startup founders. For £199 founders of a SaaS, ecommerce, mailing list or productised service can book a 15-minute video audit outlining changes to make to their landing page to turn more visitors into customers.
The blog post that trended highlighted insights I've generated from auditing over 200 landing pages in the last 12 months.
How I learnt RMLP was on the Hacker News homepage
I have a Slack notification to alert me of new email subscribers to my weekly video roasts. I was flooded with 'new subscriber' alerts in Slack:
So I navigated to the Roast My Landing Page Google Analytics account where I saw this:
I was quickly able to establish that this traffic was coming from Hacker News. On visiting the Hacker News homepage, I saw this:
24 hours on the Hacker News home page generated over 40,000 blog post visits, 230 comments, 600 mailing list subscribers, 283 hours of roast videos views, £10,000 in revenue (and growing), 100s of LinkedIn connections and around 40 unsolicited messages of appreciation across Twitter, my chatbot and email. It also created some drama on the Hacker News comment section.
Here's a breakdown of how that looked.
How much blog post traffic?
At its peak over almost 300 people were reading the blog post at any one time.
As I saw the post continue to perform I rapidly refined it - adding video roasts, clarifications and tidy-ups, and call-to-actions to drive people into booking a roast.
In total, Hacker News drove over 40,000 page views on the post in May, with an average time on page over 4 mins. That's over 2,600 aggregate hours spent reading the post.
How many video roast views?
The videos of previous roasts I added to the blog post also ended up getting 1,000s of views. I received over 250 new channel subscribers, and 100s of hours of video 'minutes watched'.
How much money did you make?
According to Google Analytics conversion tracking the post drove $1900 in revenue directly from Hacker News visitors. This was with a tiny conversion rate of 0.04% vs my normal cold landing page conversion rate of around 1%.
However I also ask customers where they heard about Roast My Landing Page when booking a roast, and this tracked over £6,000 revenue to this post.
In fact on May 13th and 14th alone I generated 26 new clients and over £6,000 in revenue. On these days almost everyone found me on Hacker News.
Many of these people have gone on to book other landing page services from me, like landing page rebuilds and copy rewrites. In total I am attributing about £10,000 revenue to the post trending on Hacker News.
A note on Hacker News comments, feedback and abuse
It's important to note that I did not actually post the blog to Hacker News, someone else submitted it (thank you, unknown friend).
However once I saw the post performing I went out of my way to engage with commentators. View the post here.
There were two reasons for this: more comments on my post would be seen on the HN homepage, which would drive more clicks onto the post, and it was a great opportunity to learn from the community.
The Hacker News community is... tough. So it was important for me to try and stay objective and keep a calm, positive approach to commenting.
What about new connections? LinkedIn / Twitter / Emails
I didn't track new followers, connection requests or congratulatory emails, but broadly I would estimate they numbered around 100. Here's some examples of the amazing messages I received.
And your mailing list subscribes?
The blog post had over 40,000 reads. It also added around 600 people to my weekly video roast mailing list. Which is conversion rate of 1.5%. This is consistent with my normal on-site email conversion rate.
In fact there were so many new subscribers I had to remove my Slack alerts as they were incessant. A good problem to have.
These are new leads for my business. They may not have bought a roast yet, but can be warmed up over time through my mailing list and blog posts.
Any other stuff?
Hacker News also led to coverage in (or on) other conversion and marketing newsletters, websites, communities and social accounts. It was a great place to be discovered by other influencers and publications.
Lessons and reflecting on a wild 24 hours
Although it's difficult to re-create the success of the post on Hacker News, there are some key lessons I learned through the process:
- It's fucking awesome to know 100s of people are reading what you've written.
- Hacker News will drive lots of traffic, and some revenue for productised services, even if the conversion rate is relatively low.
- The Hacker News community is tough, but there are some real gems and if you've got a thick skin you'll get some meaningful feedback that can help you improve your product.
- Be ready to respond to a lot of questions, a large traffic spike, and insights that you may want to act on immediately.
- To fully make the most of the opportunity you'll need to stay present and monitor things.
- You can't choose to trend, so if you do, enjoy the ride.
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