Went Viral on Hacker News

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Yesterday at around 18:00, I started writing a post on my new Substack newsletter around mental models & decision making. Little did I know that this post will go on to feature on the front page of Hacker News.

When I woke up today, I checked my Substack and this is what I found.

While it is great that I got a lot of traffic from Hacker News, I didn't get a lot of subscribers primarily because I didn't add a subscribe button on the post. I gained just 53 and I have since then added the button to the post.

I also noticed that there is a discrepancy between data from Google Analytics and Substack's native analytics. While Substack shows the traffic to be around 20k, GA on the other hand shows only 10k.

Here is a further break down with the source/medium which shows that majority of the traffic was from Hacker News followed by Twitter, Indie Hackers and Reddit.

While I am happy that this went viral, there are a few things that I wish I had done.

  1. Add a subscribe button in the post.

  2. Add a sponsor/affiliate link in the post

  3. Structure the post a little better.

  4. Respond to comments on HN to drive engagement.

Here is the original post: https://models.substack.com/p/circle-of-competence-avoid-ambiguity

If you like that post, consider subscribing. I'll answer any questions you may have in the comments.

Illustrations from Icons8.com/ouch

Shiva Prabhakaran  2020 | All rights reserved