What does getting on the HN front page get you?

2013-04-19 2 min read

    A week ago, I wrote a blog post and submitted to Hacker News. Within a few hours it made it to the front page and I wanted to share the aftermath.

    • The post generated ~29,000 visits to the blog post over the next few days with the biggest traffic spike occurring on Saturday. GA Blog Post Spike
    • The post ended up being featured in the NY Times Bits blog which accounted for ~2,900 of the total visits; the Gizmodo network which accounted for ~1,000; the Guardian, which accounted for ~100; and CNET which accounted for ~60.
    • The way it spread is pretty interesting: I submitted to HN on Friday afternoon, it was picked up by the NY Times Bits Blog that evening and Gizmodo US on Saturday. After that, it expanded to the rest of the Gizmodo network, including the UK on Sunday and France on Tuesday. CNET and the Guardian both picked it up on Monday.
    • Gizmodo added an Amazon affiliate link to the book I quoted, The Idea Factory, but did me the favor of linking to my startup, Makers Alley. I suppose that makes us even.
    • Only 80 people ended up visiting the Makers Alley site, which is 1/3rd of one percent of the total visitors. These visits were pretty evenly split between the link in the Gizmodo article and the link from my blog.
    • I have no idea why it took off and don’t consider it one of my better posts. I basically quoted a passage from a book and added a bit of my own commentary. I suspect the topic was appealing due to nostalgia and a bit of geek lore.
    • It’s surprisingly hard to get on to the Hacker News home page these days but it does drive a significant amount of traffic. I joined HN five years ago and it was orders of magnitude easier to end up making it to the main page.
    • If you write, do it for yourself and not for the recognition. And if you don’t write, start writing. Nathan Marz has a great post that everyone who's interested in blogging should read.
    • It’s great having my blog hosted on Github pages. It’s free and I don’t have to worry about server load.