Richard Kovacs

My Experience with Push Marketing

Richard Kovacs
Richard Kovacs
14 min read

I am an indie developer. Like many of us, I started my first few apps by building dozens of features and didn't care about marketing at all. I thought users would automagically appear after I implemented another killer feature. When they didn't, I said to myself, "Maybe this new feature will be it", and "It only needs a better design". I added the new feature, finished the facelift of the landing page, and then...


I also had another problem. For some reason, I thought for a long time that marketing is evil. I thought apps that need marketing are simply not good enough to attract visitors and users. This thought, sitting in the back of my mind, prevented me from doing any marketing for any of my apps. But boy, was I wrong!

I had to identify the root of this thought and eliminate it as soon as possible until it developed into something more harmful. Thankfully, I managed to find the problem that was the obstacle between me and marketing:

My apps were simply not good enough. That's it. Promoting them didn't feel right because I couldn't convince even myself they were better than the alternative. Because, to be honest, they indeed weren't. I wondered for a long time how others can shamelessly write about their apps without feeling the same way. Then I realized they believe in those apps with every single cell in their body.

The problem was in me. I felt marketing was evil because I tried to promote something I didn't even believe in. This had to change.

How to Compete with Product Hunt

We follow each other with a guy on X (formerly Twitter) called Saïd Aitmbarek, who is building a platform called MicroLaunch that helps anyone launch their products and get the first users for free. Sounds pretty much like Product Hunt, right? Except that it isn't. If you ask Saïd, he will say that his platform is so different from Product Hunt that it isn't even a competition for him. They are almost nothing alike. He started building MicroLaunch because, with Product Hunt, you have only one chance for 24 hours; if you miss it, that was it. You have to extensively promote your app before a Product Hunt launch (and also on the launch day) to get to the top of the leaderboard.

MicroLaunch features products for a month at least, with a chance to be part of the leaderboard for an extra month if you are in the top 20 after the first 30 days. You have much more opportunities to get feedback and upvotes during a month than during 24 hours. Even if you are inactive for some days, you can climb to the top in the remaining time. This is what differentiates MicroLaunch from Product Hunt, and it's fundamental.

I saw on X that Saïd mentions his platform in every single conversation where he feels it is fitting. Sometimes, it is even a bit pushy, but that is the minority. (You cannot please everyone.) He tries to answer something relevant every single time. I asked him about this in a DM and told him I really like how he manages to mention his app so often. He told me that I should also start doing push marketing to get visitors to my apps because, otherwise, nobody will find them.

Push marketing. A new term in my vocabulary. I never heard about it before (remember that I have never done any marketing before), but the term was so descriptive that I instantly understood what he meant.

What is Push Marketing?

Push marketing is when you actively bring your product before the customers' eyes. And Saïd is a master of it. I knew he never felt bad about doing it because he truly believed in his platform.

It was my time to shine. I had to choose an app I am really proud of and believe in with all my heart and try doing push marketing with it. My choice was my latest product, HighlightCSS. It is an extremely simple, frontend-only application that lets anyone generate CSS highlight code snippets for their landing pages.

I truly believe in this product because I had a hard time finding the perfect highlight effects for my other apps. I had to look for multiple websites, blog posts, and tutorials. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. Also, getting the code from some examples was harder than it should have been. To my surprise, I could not find a generator anywhere for this effect. This was enough motivation for me to build the website.

I feel good about this product. I think its interface is intuitive, modern, and simple. (Others also mentioned this.) I also think there was a need for it on the market. It was the perfect candidate for push marketing. I had to come up with a simple strategy that does not sound promotional and that I can morally agree with. I also wanted to mention my app everywhere but didn’t want to be pushy. Here is what I did.

My Push Marketing Strategy

The strategy I will share with you right now can be applied to any application, not just mine. I will demonstrate it using specific examples regarding HighlightCSS, but the underlying idea can be generalized to anything.

Collect Relevant Topics

My first step is to identify the topics where HighlightCSS could be relevant. Let's collect these. I've built it with Next.js, Tailwind, and shadcn/ui. The icons are from Tabler Icons. The app has only a frontend, and it is free to use and open source. The goal of the app is to let anyone generate CSS code snippets. Finally, it is a Saas. Even with a simple app like HighlightCSS, I could identify nine topics where it could be relevant.

  1. Built with Next.js
  2. Designed with Tailwind
  3. Uses shadcn/ui components
  4. Has Tabler Icons
  5. Frontend-only application
  6. Free to use
  7. Open source
  8. Generates CSS code snippets
  9. It is a SaaS

The next step is to find conversations where people speak about these topics.

Find Relevant Posts

I am mainly active on X, so that is where I went first. I am part of the Build in Public and Startup Community there, and they looked like great candidates. Here, people often ask others what they are working on. Posts like this are a no-brainer. They are directly asking for my app. I simply mention it, but I pay attention to writing something meaningful instead of just pasting the link. I usually explain what feature I am working on or currently doing some marketing. I also mention the link, of course. The key is that even though a link would be sufficient for a question like this, I think of something more to write. But this example is outside the nine topics I identified, so let's see some examples regarding those.

Let's say someone asks whether they should start learning Next.js. I could simply write that "I recommend it", but that wouldn't really help the post's owner. Instead, I write a more meaningful answer. I will still start by saying that I recommend it, but I will follow up with a reason: you can build websites like in a matter of hours with Next.js.

Post about learning Next.js

See what I did there? I mentioned my application, stayed relevant to the topic, provided value in the comment, and never asked anyone to check it out.

Here is another example where someone was asking the community about what icon libraries they are using in their projects.

Post about icon libraries

I answered the question and provided a link to my app so they could see some examples in production. They were even thankful for my link. Again, I didn't ask them to check it out.

I think you get the idea now. So far, people have usually been happy that I shared my project, or they have ignored it, but nobody has complained.

Let's see some counterexamples. Let's say there is a post about backend frameworks and our preferences.

Post about backend frameworks

I could write a funny post saying, "None of them, because is a frontend-only application 😄" but that wouldn't be relevant to the post. It would definitely sound promotional, and the writer would probably not be happy about it. This is a post that I just scrolled through.

However, if I was currently promoting one of my other apps like ReadSonic, I could easily answer with the following:

"I went with Express.js while building, and I haven't regretted it. I have the most experience with Express.js, so it was a no-brainer for me."

This post is totally relevant to the question. It provides a real-world example, doesn't contain an irritating call to action, and also explains the reasoning behind my choice.

I would also never mention HighlightCSS under a post asking about payment provider preferences. I would not write a comment like "Build a free app like, and you won't need any payment provider."

This would simply be spam. It is irrelevant to the question, contains a link with no purpose, and is definitely a promotion. Don't do it, please.

Benefits of Non-promotional Push Marketing

HighlightCSS traffic in Google Analytics

Well, the image speaks for itself, but let me still analyze it quickly.

I have reached these numbers strictly with free push marketing. Did I mention that I did this for free? I didn't run any ad campaigns; I just wanted to experiment with writing posts about my project. As I mentioned, in most of the comments, I never precisely asked anyone to check out my website, except if that was somehow related to the original post, like "Show me your landing page, and I will rate it." In that case, I usually mention that I am interested in their feedback.

The users in the image above visited my website because they wanted to. I didn't have to push anything. And most of them were pretty happy that they did. Many people mentioned that they love the product and will definitely use it when building their next landing page.

As you can see, my app experienced a 6000% growth in users in a matter of days. It recently reached almost 90 users in a single day while staying at around one daily visitor one week earlier.

And even when I spent less time writing posts, the daily user count was over 20, still 20 times more than the daily one single visitor.

Another benefit was that I received plenty of feature requests. For example, I learned that many people would prefer if HighlightCSS could also generate Tailwind classes. I never thought about it, but it totally makes sense. I am currently in the middle of implementing it.

I also received some bug reports. Someone mentioned that the mobile design is a bit off and doesn't fit on their screen. They also sent me a screenshot as proof. I thanked them and made a note that I must fix it later.

Note that just like in the case of website visits, I never asked for feature requests either. They happened organically. When people were interested in my application, they checked it out and wrote some feedback. I just had to make sure it reached the right eyes.

Is Marketing Evil?

This was my thought for a long time. I was scammed in some MLMs back then and I've built apps that already have better alternatives. Not a good track record to have before advertising. The turning point was when I realized that I have to truly believe in what I am promoting. If I am a true enthusiast, I won't feel that I am being pushy, because it will come naturally.

Some of you might think that my strategy is still too aggressive. I am okay with that. I genuinely believe my comments with my links provide value to the readers, and the responses speak for themselves. They usually thank me instead of being mad. The worst I have received so far is no reaction.

I now look at marketing with a different eye. I think it is a must. If I have a product that others can utilize, I am responsible for getting it before their eyes as fast as possible, and marketing is the fastest way to do that.

The Bigger Picture

Before you start following my strategy and get surprised that it might not work as well for you as it did for me, I want to point out a few important things.

First, let's not forget that, at the time of writing this post, I have more than 5500 followers on X. Although I usually write these comments to smaller accounts, they instantly have 5500 times more chance of being seen by anyone than someone else just starting their profile and having 0 followers.

I occasionally also write comments about my products to posts written by large accounts, but there's less chance in their case as their posts are usually not questions.

Second, I might have mentioned that push marketing can be free if you do it my way. However, I pay a large amount for this traffic on my site with my time. It takes lots of time to write so many comments and come up with insightful ideas that provide value.

Also, it takes time to find relevant posts. Social media is designed to suck you in. What I am doing is the opposite of what any platform wants. They want me to become a consumer. I have to be disciplined and mentally aware to not just scroll through X but to look for the correct topics and answer those actively. If you see too many meme accounts while searching for candidate posts, consider blocking them to clean up your timeline.

But let's finish the post with some good news. You might have heard about Google's most recent algorithm change, the Helpful Content Update (HCU), and that it hurt many blogs and websites, and in some cases, it totally killed their visibility on the web.

It is truly awful when you rely too much on a platform like Google. Push marketing can help in this, too. Even if Google disappeared tomorrow, the strategy I outlined above would still lead visitors to my website because those visitors would skip the Google search and go directly to my website from the posts I've written.


Let's collect the steps I outlined above in a short list at the end that you can take with you anywhere. Print it on a sheet of paper and hang it in your room or something similar to always have it before your eyes (just kidding, we are in 2024). Here is your action plan.

  1. Build an application that you are proud of and truly believe in. This is the most crucial step. Without this, you simply cannot be authentic.
  2. Write down every single topic that is relevant to your app. What tech stack are you using? How did you design it? What problem does it solve? Is it open source or not? Do users have to pay for it? Any of these (and much more) can be a conversation starter.
  3. Find relevant posts on social media and start writing comments.
  4. Ensure your comments add value to the original post, and mention your app somewhere.
  5. Do not ask anyone to check it out or give feedback, except if that is what the original post is about.
  6. Do not mention your app in irrelevant conversations because that would be spamming.
  7. Profit.

And that's it. I hope you can integrate this strategy into your workflow and your app receives the number of visitors it deserves.

See you in the next one.