How Raneto got to the front page of Hacker News for $0

Published 5th June 2014

On Monday morning around 11am I released Raneto my new project for creating Markdown powered Knowledgebases in Nodejs. After I came back from lunch (around 2pm) I was stunned to see I was at spot no. 6 on the front page of Hacker News and remained there for the rest of the day.

Over the course of the next 12 hours Raneto had 7,000+ pageviews and had around 70–100 users on the site at any one time. Thankfully the days of server crashes due to traffic spikes are pretty much over, but how did I do it for an open source project with a budget of $0?

GitHub

First of all the project is hosted on GitHub. This means that all the downloads are served from GitHub which costs me nothing in bandwidth (and public repositories are free). It also means I can easily collect feedback and bug reports from users without having to pay out for a premium solution. Good start.

Marketing Site

The second thing I did was setup http://raneto.com on GitHub pages. GitHub basically provides free website hosting for your projects in the form of a separate branch of your repo. For a single page, simple HTML site this was easy to set up and took me no time at all.

Demo & Docs

The third and final thing I did was host the documentation site for Raneto (which doubles up as a demo of the project) on Heroku. Heroku is a cloud hosting platform that allows developers to run one “dyno” for free. I was actually surprised that one dyno was enough for the traffic but it seemed to handle it fine.

Total cost: $0

Tell a lie, the total cost was $20 for the domain name but technically that was optional.

Anyway I think we really have to give a big thanks to the folks at GitHub and Heroku who make running open source projects like this (with no budget) possible. Cheers guys.