Third month of existence for our repo and we got to 254 GitHub stars. We also reached the milestone of 100 stars earlier this month. It’s a nice round number we’re very proud of.
We’re here to tell you what has worked for us.
Create a nice README
We have a README with badges, GIFs showing the product, and the faces of our contributors and stargazers. A lot of times people will not scroll past the top of the README, and these visual elements allow people to get hooked.
Beyond that, we have various sections that explain how Watermelon works. We describe our features, we outline the system requirements needed to run our VS Code extension, we provide instructions to install, we give the list of commands we have, we provide contribution guidelines, we explain what we track and what we don’t with our analytics and we link to our open source license.
Have a nice landing page
Whether you’re building an open source project or an open source company you need a landing page. Almost always, you’ll build it by instinct. Whether you realize it or not, you’re doing marketing.
Some brief tips:
- Generic statements like “understand your code better” might work for other software verticals but they don’t for developers. For example, for us, “go beyond git blame” is a specific value proposition that makes developers want to try our extension.
- Have high quality product screenshots
- Link to your GitHub repo. With some text that says “Star us on GitHub.”
The blog post you are reading right now is evidence of this. Write high quality posts of 500 words (you don’t need to start with 2000 words as some might suggest) and you’ll get indexed by Google.
Our YouTube channel is also something that has worked great for us. The discoverability is great if you are new and unknown (in comparison to other platforms). If you see the description of our videos, they always link to our GitHub repo. It gives the repo visibility and adoption.
We also recommend you check it out. We've talked about Git vulnerabilities, granular access control, and code quality analysis.
Engage With Developer Communities
This means: Ping everyone you know. Start with whoever is recent on WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage or whatever you use. If you’re reading this, you have at least 10 friends who are programmers and have a GitHub account.
If you got to 10, it should be straightforward to get to 100. Post on every dev community you’re part of. These communities exist in places such as Slack, Discord and Reddit. It will be better if you’re previously known in the community, but not a requisite.
Getting contributors will also give your repo exposure. In fact, Watermelon can help you with this. Tell your contributors to install our VS Code extension to do archeology over you codebase. They will get tons of context with our extension and will be able to contribute faster. We will show you relevant Git commit history and pull requests for a specific block of code.
What you’ve read until now got us to 100 stars. Then, Show HN got us to more than 250.
First, know before posting that you are a hacker looking for feedback. Salesy people will come off as annoying on the Hacker News community. If you post a link to your repo, other hackers will give you feedback.
Second, prepare your whole day to answer questions.
Third, you need a small point threshold to appear on Show HN. Tell your 3 closest dev friends to upvote you and give them comment ideas. After this, you will be on Show HN and depending on your success, you can expect to be there for up to 3 or 4 days.
This will give your repo lots of visibility. That’s how we got past 250 stars.