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#001 Watch Something - 10K visitors, one day

10K visitors in one day: how I launched a Netflix recommendation app

Around a year ago, when COVID hit and we all went on lockdown, I noticed that whenever I'm trying to find something to watch, Netflix bombards me with 1000 options. Overwhelmed with choices, mostly bad ones, I end up wasting so much time choosing a movie.

This led me to an insight: When I’m searching for something to watch, I don’t need 10000000 mediocre options, I need one great movie/show.

I decided to scratch my own itch and built Watch Something (Yeah, yeah I know - what’s up with this name?).

So as I started thinking about my first post - I said to myself - why not launch Watch Something?

Sure, I don’t really think there’s revenue potential here. But, the app is already built, so why not launch and learn?

Watch something app UI - find a movie on Netflix Hulu Amazon

Preparation

While Watch Something was already built I had a few additions I needed to code:

  • Add a jpg fallback: when I coded the app, I used webp for images. Unfortunately, this format is not supported on old iOS versions, so I had to add a jpg fallback.
  • Add “buy me a coffee”: Not for the money, but I was curious how many people will buy me coffee
  • Add a request to bookmark: Even if my launch is successful, my traffic will go down quickly as users will forget about the app. So I added a reminder to bookmark the page for future use.
  • Add social sharing buttons: Again, to learn and measure how many users share the app

Launch Plan

I decided to launch on three places:

Beyond that, I did 0 marketing. I did not ask anyone to upvote my launch, nor did I share it on any other place.

Product Hunt

I know there’s a full art/science around launching on Product Hunt. Many people try to optimize their posts and market them to get as many upvotes as possible.

I did none of it. I launched the website on a whim and spent only 20 minutes preparing my launch post. The only tactical thing I did do, was to launch around Midnight PST, where the leaderboard refreshes. I later found out that another small tip. Use a gif as the product logo - apparently projects with gifs tend to get more clicks.

Reddit

When you launch a cool web app that targets the general population the best subreddit to launch is at r/internetisbeautiful. I chose the very short headline of “I built a website that finds you a great, highly-rated movie/TV show to watch on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I'm sick of Netflix dumping their entire catalog on me. I don't need 1000 mediocre movies! I need 1 amazing movie to watch tonight. Check it” 😀. I have no idea what made me write such a long headline but it just goes to show you how little I spent on optimizing my launch.

About timing, I decided to launch at around 6AM PST so it’ll be morning across the US.

Hacker News

Not much to say here. Simply submitted to SHOW HN on 6AM.

Results

Google Analytics 10k visitors in the launch

  • 11K unique visits with the majority of them on the day of the launch
  • 2.8K reddit upvotes
  • 143 PH upvotes
  • 4 people bought me coffee (total $20)
  • 3 random websites posted on my launch (example)
  • 0 Hacker News upvotes
  • My site crashed (Heroku free tier 🤪)

Overall I’m happy with the launch results (and very surprised). I did not expect it to get much traction.

Google Analytics launch sources

Learnings

  • Bias for action Your side business will never take off if you don’t launch it. You can spend months formulating the perfect plan, but sometimes it’s just about putting your stuff out there.
  • Play with the wind on your side My launch was successful, because it was relevant. It’s lockdown and everybody’s binging. Of course an app for movie recommendations will get traction.
  • Think about the day after as you can see, my traffic went down significantly the days post-launch. Optimize your launch to create repeat usage.
  • Target your audience make sure you launch your app where your audience is. My app was very successful on Reddit but got no engagement on HN. It’s just not the right fit with HN audience.
  • Why launch on the same day? I didn’t gain much by launching on all places on the same day. Consider, launching in one place at a time, so you can learn and iterate.
  • Set UTM parameters I have 1k users that GA attributes to “direct source”. UTM parameters would make my analytics clearer.
  • Measure your clicks Google Analytics tracks “clicks” to 3p sites by default. But, it doesn’t save the link URL (i.e. which button was clicked). Set up custom dimensions to make event parameters (such as button_url) persistent.
  • Just throwing buttons on the UI will not make you go viral few people shared my app just because I had FB/Twitter buttons. I should have done a more prominent share request.
  • Good people out there will buy you coffee but it’s not a sustainable business model (Shocking!)

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