6 Dec

What Does the #1 Spot on Hacker News Get You?

A couple weeks ago something really cool happened. An article I wrote made it to the #1 spot on Hacker News. For those who don’t realize how exciting that is a friend described Hacker News to his non-techie parents as “Like the New York Times for Silicon Valley.”

HN is my favorite website and I visit it at least once a day. The quality of the community on HN is so high that often the comments are just as valuable as the article being linked. While I have had an article I wrote make it on the front page, I’ve never before reached #1. So what does the #1 spot get you? Here are some stats for those interested:

  • 487 Votes
  • 200+ Comments
  • 3 job offers / requests to interview for a position.
  • 25 emails
  • 51,052 unique visitors
  • 300+ retweets and mentions on Twitter

You can read the post here: How I Made $19,000 on the App Store While Learning to Code and the HN Comment Thread.

It was expected.

I wrote that post specifically to do well on HN. After being around the community for a year I learned that stories revealing financial data behind startups are well received and often reach the home page. But to reach #1 it would need a little bit of a twist.

The first titles I wrote for the post were:

  • “Revealing OneVoice Sales Data”
  • “Pulling back the curtain: A detailed look at my App Store sales”
  • “OneVoice Numbers”

Boring. None of those would have had the desired results. If you aren’t already familiar with OneVoice why would you click the link? So I decided to add the sales numbers to the title:

  • “How I Made $19,000 on the App Store”

That’s pretty good. I would click that link. But $19,000 isn’t that much. There are plenty of stories of developers making $200k+ on the App Store. So the title needed a twist at the end. “… While Learning to Code” is the final touch needed to make it a really catchy title.

  • “How I Made $19,000 on the App Store While Learning to Code”

It would be interesting to test the difference the engaging title made.

Any Downsides?

When revealing detailed financials there could always be some downsides. The main one being that I may have generated some more competition in an already crowded field. For anyone looking to make some quick money, this isn’t the way to do it. To me this is success, but I could have made considerably more by doing contract work.

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2 Responses to “What Does the #1 Spot on Hacker News Get You?”

  1. Good meta-post!

    It’d be interesting to know what were the tangible benefits of that post (or somewhat tangible) – say # of new subscriptions to your mailing list or (unlikely – wrong audience?) the number of new app sales.

  2. […] In this post Nathan Barry says that he got 50,000+ hits to his site when it was posted to Hacker News. […]

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