How To Get to the Top of Hacker News

Today, I’m going to teach you the secret to making the front page of Hacker News. And I have to warn you in advance, you’re probably not going to like it, but it’s the honest truth.

1. How NOT to get on Hacker News

When I launched my side-project, Kobra, I knew I had to make it to the Hacker News front page. And I did. But I received a ton of backlash.

The first thing I did was head on over to HN and create a new account, then posted a link to Kobra’s homepage. Nothing. In fact, my buddies weren’t even seeing the post in the “new” section.

Alright, on to the next master plan. I contacted one of my friends who I knew had a good amount of HN Karma, and I asked him if he could post it for me. He did, and then I immediately contact all of my friends that knew about Kobra and had them go up vote it.

Then a major problem happened. All of my friends began to comment on the post. Great right? Wrong. Every new user shows up with a green username, so everyone basically knew that I was having my friends up vote the post.

They were pissed.

And rightfully so, I was trying to game the system. Don’t try to game the system. I did wind up getting 14 up votes and made it to the Hacker News front page, but you’ll have much better luck if you follow my advice below.

2. How TO get on Hacker News

My advice is simple, and I have proof that it works. In fact, I got 100 Karma in one day following this method, and it resulted in my post making it to the front page and staying there for 8 straight hours and earned 125 points.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.17.41 PM

In fact, at one point in time I held position #2, and ranked above Tesla news.


So, what’s the secret, you ask? And how did staying on the front-page of Hacker News affect my traffic? How many new registrations did I get?

I’ll give you a hint. My traffic didn’t change at all, and I didn’t get any new registrations. Why?

I posted someone else’s website, not mine.

No, really, that’s the trick. I’ve been following Ionic Framework ever since it was announced (although I’m partial since they are fellow Wisconsinites). When they released news of their Ionic Creator, I knew that Hacker News would love it.

So I posted it, and the votes took off, carrying it to the front page for the entire day.

I got a hold of Max Lynch, the creator of Ionic, and asked him how his day went. Turns out that Hacker News doubled his traffic that day and he got 1400 more pre-signups than his average day.

So obviously getting to the front page is a great feat that will result in untold riches, the #1 spot is the holy grail.

3. So how do I Get on the Front Page?

Great question, but if you really read the above section 2, you would already know the answer to that question. You have to produce excellent content or an excellent product.

You have to produce content that someone else would willingly share without being coerced.

Recently, I wrote a blog post titled “How I Got 2200 Pre-Signups for my SaaS in 2 Weeks, then Failed Hard” as a sort of explanation to the users of my SaaS letting them know what was going on, then I emailed a link to the post to all of my users.

I didn’t write it to get on the front page of HN, I wrote it because I felt they deserved a full explanation as to why I had “abandoned” the project, and I wanted them to learn something from it too.

Then someone on the mailing list posted it to Hacker News and someone else posted it on Reddit. I was pumped.

I didn’t trick them, I didn’t coerce them, they thought it was a good enough post that they willingly posted it themselves.

I had just created this blog about 4 days before that happened, and the resulting traffic spike was amazing:

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 1.23.33 PM

Hacker News and Reddit sent a grand total of over 5000 visitors to my site and wound up getting 32 votes. 50 of those visitors signed up for my email newsletter.

I received over 20 great comments on the Hacker News post, received a handful of great emails and some very helpful blog comments.

4. No, really, how do I do it?

Need a numbered list with the magic formula? Here you go:

  1. Write Great & Useful Content that the HN audience will enjoy.
  2. Share it on your social or email channels.
  3. If someone likes your post enough, they will submit it for you of their own volition.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

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