What's The Front Page of HackerNews Worth?

by @edent | , , , , | 4 comments | Read ~434 times.

One of the things that jollies me along during NaBloPoMo (where I have to write a blog post every single day in November) is seeing that people are reading my blog. I like watching the visitor counter tick gently upwards. I also love to see people discussing, arguing, and commenting on the posts I write.

When I started this month, I looked at the blog's statistics and decided I wanted to get 30,000 views in the month of November. I normally average 600 views per day. So, how to get that up to 1,000 per day?

I had two main strategies (other than writing interesting and engaging content.

  1. Share my posts on social networks - letting my friends know that I'd published something.
  2. Submit my posts to external sites - use HackerNews or Reddit to share my writing.

I used the JetPack Publicize plugin to send my content to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

For external sites, I thought that Y Combinator's HackerNews was the best destination for some of my posts.

My first post - about smuggling USB sticks - was submitted at 1300GMT on Sunday 11th November and, fairly quickly, made it to the front page as readers upvoted it. Near as I can tell, it remained on the front page for 24 hours.

SD Card Stats

So, 216 points and 93 comments on HackerNews resulted in roughly 30,000 extra visitors.

You can see a graph of the performance throughout the day on Hacker News Rankings.
HN Stats USB

My next successful post was about the antics of Helen Goodman MP and her self-proclaimed inability to use the Internet.

I figured 1300GMT on a Friday was a good time to submit again. It catches UK workers having or returning from lunch - and it's 0800 on the East Coast of the USA, so catches commuters there.

The post stayed on the front page for roughly 12 hours before dropping off.
Goodman Stats
The blog got 112 points and 103 comments. It netted roughly an extra 12,000 visitors.

Again, you can see a graph of the performance throughout the day on Hacker News Rankings.
HN Stats Goodman
The majority of these visitors came directly from HackerNews - but people obviously started sharing the posts on Twitter, Facebook, and via newsletters.

Once the fuss had died down, these were the sites which sent my blog the most traffic.

Referrer Stats

Now, not every story I've submitted has done so well. Most have never even troubled the front page. I obviously haven't yet hit on the winning formula of decent content, inflammatory headline, and serendipitous timing.

As an extremely rough metric, every hour on the front page of HackerNews was worth around 700 page views. It's too early to say whether that has lead to a pronounced increase in my regular visitor numbers.

I don't have adverts on my blog, although I do have Amazon affiliate links. They netted me a total of £4.04. I also encouraged a bunch of people to join the Open Rights Group, which has put me in the running to win a MaKey MaKey

A special "thank you" to my hosting provider - Vidahost (affiliate link). They stayed rock solid even as I received over a month's worth of traffic in a single day. You can use the discount code "edent" to get 10% off your order with them.

4 thoughts on “What's The Front Page of HackerNews Worth?

  1. Good work! I'd like to hear of some other decent places to whack your content up at other than HN, can't think of many!

    1. Depends on your content. Slashdot and Reddit are both pretty good for technology pieces.

  2. Tim Dobson says:

    You're also doing a "NaBloPoMo"? yay, so am I! 😀

  3. Mark says:

    I wrote a similar post very recently that looked at almost the exact same thing for a post that hit the front page in June 2013. The difference in the numbers is fairly interesting but I guess this might be accounted for by your preexisting audience potentially. If you want to take a look you can find it here: http://aberrant.me/front-page-of-hacker-news/

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