Last Sunday I published a piece of content for the very first time on hacker news and it ended up getting the #3 spot for a few hours and stayed on the front page for an entire day. The post was about how we managed to get our AWS bill to < 2% of our revenue.
This was a super thrilling experience for me because I have been a reader of Hacker news for a while but never actually posted anything or even created an account. This is why I had to ask my co-founder Preetam to post on my behalf as I did not have enough Karma points to even make one post!
So I decided to continue this feedback loop of writing -> being recognized -> writing some more as a result by talking about what went into writing this post and what were the consequences of being featured on Hacker news.
There were 3 primary reasons for this post
Power of Hacker news and Reddit
I posted this piece on reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/ and Hacker news and at the time of making the post it did not occur to me that I should track the users that are visiting my blog as a result of these posts even though that was one of the primary intentions behind the post.
I finished writing and publishing the post and went offline for a few hours when my co-founder Preetam texts me saying my post is on the front-page and I should add Google Analytics to my blog ASAP if I have not done it already. I quickly do so and start seeing results immediately
As you can see I got ~14k visits on my blog the day I posted it and since I added GA a few hours late, I am assuming I got around 20k or more visits. This was mind blowing to me.
Looking into the data further it is quite clear that most of the traffic came from Hacker news. The fact that I had access to this kind of traffic and all I had to do was write about something that I myself experienced has given me a new perspective that is backed by actual numbers and graphs. We have all heard people tell us that it is important to write, but this can clearly be backed with actual numbers.
A few more things happened as a result of this post. I gained some new twitter followers, had engaging conversations with some of them and somebody even suggested that I add an RSS feed to my site so that they can follow my blog easily.
For someone who started writing for the first time, seeing so much visible evidence of the benefits of writing has certainly done a lot to fuel my desire to write even more. I am yet to discover what this means in the long run when the post matures enough to start ranking on google search.
Learnings from people who read the post
Here is a TLDR for folks who have not read the post: Use Lightsail, Amazon's approximation of a dedicated server.
The post highlighted how we managed to save a lot on AWS bills in exchange for sacrificing a bit of resilience and some folks did not take kindly to this fact.
When I set up my app on AWS, it did not occur to me that Redundancy was super important. This is because we had the ability to do point in time restores of the Database and launch a new instance in case a disaster ever stuck, but what I failed to consider was the fact that sometimes an entire region in AWS can go dark in which case we won’t have the ability to do a restoration from a backup if that backup is on a region that is down. This is something that I have duly noted and will take into account going forward.
The above comment though harsh was a useful learning for me which would probably help me in the future but there were also comments that were not going to help anybody at all and my learnings from those comments was to not let them affect you. Find the feedback that will be useful in the long run and ignore the rest. The rest is just noise.
There were also many positive comments from people who found the post helpful and someone even commented that they moved all their instances to Lightsail after reading my post. There were people who appreciated the fact that I put a disclaimer at the end of my post explicitly saying that this is not a holy grail solution that will work for everyone and it is just something that worked for us.
Overall the learnings were all net positive and I look forward to sharing more and learning even more from the comments of all my future posts.
I would like to conclude by encouraging anyone wanting to share their experiences to write and not be afraid to post it in public because it is totally worth it. You get some validation and you also get criticized but you will certainly find out that even after getting criticized, you are still alive and life goes on.