Last week I posted about my new experiment, living without an internet connection.
I took all of five minutes to write it, and edited it once. Just for fun, I decided to submit it to Hacker News. It was my first submission.
It hit the front page. Oops, wasn’t expecting that.
This made for interesting results. Before submitting the post, I was the only visitor to my site. So I can attribute every visit to that post from the fact that it hit high up on Hacker News.
Here are the results, plus a few lessons.
12804 Unique Visitors, 4:52 Average Time on Page
12804 uniques. The first wave came from Hacker News itself: 5736 in total. Yes, that’s less than half.
There were quite a few referrals from social sites:
- Twitter: 1132
- Reddit: 661
- Google: 292
- Facebook: 248
Many visitors came to the site directly. I’m assuming much of this was email, and the amount was rather large: 3,986 visits. That’s nearly as much as Hacker News itself sent, and almost four times as many visits as came from twitter. Email is far from dead.
The engagement statistics were very interesting. 4:52 average time on page, and a 92.79% bounce rate.
The bounce rate is to be expected – most people just read the article and left. But they really did read the article. Five minutes is an eternity on the internet.
Traffic Data From Google Analytics
The flat line before April 6 is 0-1 visitors (i.e. me).
Overal Traffic Sources
Time On Page
1. Be Ready For Luck: Until proven otherwise, I’m going to assume that luck was +90% of the reason my post hit the front page. I can’t count on that happening again.
On average, people tend to get the same amount of lucky breaks. But some people are much better at grabbing hold of them. Lucks favours those prepared for it. Was I ready?
By and large, no. I hadn’t set up simple things such as an an RSS feed link, or a link to let people follow me on twitter.
You don’t usually get things you don’t ask for. I somehow still got 13 RSS followers, but I’m sure I passed up a chance to get many more.
On the plus side, I had installed a caching plug-in for WordPress. As far as I know, my site didn’t crash under the traffic load. Phew.
I spent all of five minutes writing the post. It would have taken only five more minutes to include social media links and edit it properly.
It’s worth taking the effort to do things right.
2. Some Things Are More Attainable Than You Realize: I did not expect to hit the front page of Hacker News. In fact, I had assumed I couldn’t do it, for some amorphous reason that I never defined.
I don’t know what I thought: maybe to hit the front page you have to be a startup founder, or VC, or a major tech blogger, or “insert reason X”.
Nope. No special qualifications required. Just write a reasonably well-written post that’s of interest to the community. That’s obviously not a sufficient condition for reaching the front page, but I wasn’t missing any necessary conditions either.
Don’t set up false barriers to tell yourself that you can’t do something. Some things are a lot more achievable than you think.
About the Author
I’m Graeme. I’m a self-employed LSAT instructor in Montreal, and I write about how to do things well.
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Blaine Light says
Cool, thanks for sharing. What did you do to get it to the front page? Did you just submit it?
Yup, just submitted. There’s a lot of luck involved. For example, I just wrote a new post on my experience with Udacity. Didn’t get a single upvote on Hacker News, yet it’s now on the front page of the programming SubReddit.
This results post got no traction anywhere. Again hard to say if that’s because it was less interesting, or just luck.