When we started working on devo.ps and a few other products at Wiredcraft, I set up guidelines for marketing on our internal playbook (which we are now in the process of making public). One of these was a series of advices for our team when posting on Hacker News. Several people asked me to share it with them, so I decided to post it here on our blog.
Keep in mind that this was put together 18 months ago, we do a few things differently now. Nonetheless, here it is:
Submit at 8:00 AM EST. If you miss the window (after 8:20 AM), simply post the day or week after.
Preferably on Wednesday. Weekends front page are easier to land for example, but Wednesdays seem to be the peak of traffic for HN (more eyeballs).
Have a great title. That means being relevant and catchy, use capitalization and potentially use slang (a simple “sh*t” in the title can go a long way).
Be opinionated. Having a strong opinion about something will help create some level of discussion and buzz among readers, which helps getting upvotes.
Be relevant. HN is a community of hackers and entrepreneurs, so either post about entrepreneurship, technology or the related lifestyle and interests of such kind of people.
Now there are a couple rules to how upvotes work on HN:
One upvote per IP address. This means that if we’re all voting from the same IP (for example at the office), it just won’t be taken in to account. We also need to submit the story from a different IP.
Direct links to the post don’t allow people to vote. The link we have at the bottom of the post for example (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5200847) won’t work for upvoting. We need upvotes to be made from the newest page or the front page.
Knowing these rules, here is how you should try and schedule an HN submission:
Put the name and the direct URL, no URL shortener.
As soon as submitted, share the newest page link (http://news.ycombinator.com/newest) on Twitter, GTalk, with your friends on IM and ask for an upvote. Edit: after much experimentation, I may not recommend doing this since after all. It seems that HN protects itself against voting ring and may recognize if your friends are always upvoting you.
If you get on the front page, update that link to the front page link (http://news.ycombinator.com/),
Make sure you use seperate connections if your team upvote the post (using your mobile phone or doing it from home).
HN doesn’t seem to care where your post is coming from or who you are. It only cares about the speed at which you collect upvotes. Depending on the other stories on the front page, you may not need that many votes to get on the front page. From there on, things may snowball.
However, keep in mind that this is a temporary boost; you may see tens of thousands of visitors in a single day, but this will fade away quickly and may very convert very poorly.