Starting, growing and monetizing a community is hard. Max Haining of #100daysofnocode shares 4 essential things he learned while doing just that, while building with no-code, for no-code.
1. MINIMAL Version one: WHAT and WHY should you be EMBARRASSED shipping the v1 of your thing? What could possibly be the benefit. Max’s experience is a text book reason why. Often we as Makers have a perfect vision of what we want to build. And anything less than it feels unfinished. And that is OKAY. It was not until I realized the benefit of this was I able to overcome it and leverage it.
2. FRAMEWORK for building: Imagine getting into the mind of a Maker to see HOW they evaluate building something. Max Haining shares a perspective in building that I wish I had prior and something I am going to be considering going forward. Because our time and energy is not infinite, set your self up for success.
3. Marketing: Generating sales and monetization without spending money on ads. How? How do you give value to others and how much should you give so that it begins to compound in a way that you can capitalize on without feeling like you are salesly?
4. Prioritization: So little time so much possible to build. How do you choose and focus?
- Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your story and journey into no-code products.
Hey everyone! I’m Max and based in London. I first stumbled on the concept of no-code when I came across this article by Ryan Hoover: “The Rise of No-Code”. Reading this was a turning point. It slowly dawned on me that I’d no longer be reliant on developers, my ideas would no longer get old in notebooks, and ultimately, no longer would I have to wait in order to bring my own ideas to life. This was particularly pertinent for me, as a year prior, the “Airbnb for storage” startup I’d attempted to build at university failed; in part due to the fact all our team including myself were non-technical, so we couldn’t iterate quickly enough to user feedback.
This is when I realised it was time to leverage the power of this emerging tech and finally overcome the technical barriers that had hampered me in the past. Enter 100DaysOfNoCode; a challenge set up by myself in March 2020, all in an attempt to learn to no-code in the quickest possible way. What started as a challenge, has now evolved into a community of fellow no-code learners, entrepreneurs and makers.
2. Can you tell us about a recent product that you have built?
M: Most recently, I have re-built the 100DaysOfNoCode landing page using Softr and Airtable, with the view to increasing conversions and more accurately reflecting the value of the community. The beauty of using a ‘true’ no-code tool like Softr, is that you can iterate so quickly, and also focus on the content, as they simplify the building process for you with pre-made components that you can just drag and drop onto the page.
3. What is your stack to create #100daysofnocode?
Can you share what was the original stack that you started with?
My original stack was super lean and intentionally so, because at that point I was yet to validate whether anyone wanted this thing. That’s why I initially just used Carrd.co and Mailchimp.
4. Can you share your experience starting with the simpler stack, getting validation then investing the time into other no-code tools to create a more robust membership app? Why ship something that feels unfinished or as Reid Hoffman says “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Let’s just say I am sufficiently embarrassed by my V1. Some people even said the colouring and font made them feel queasy looking at the site. Take a look at it here – you’ve been warned! But, although it was ugly, minimal and extremely DIY, people still signed up to it – that was the truest indicator for me, that people actually liked the concept. It could have been super slick, polished and clean, but people may have just signed up because it “looked good”, rather than resonating with the concept of #100DaysOfNoCode itself. So by creating a quick and dirty landing page, it helped me filter out potential false positives, from those who were entering my mailing list.
- How do you handle log in and purchase flow #100daysofnocode?
I use Softr’s authentication feature to gate content behind a login flow. This content is visible to new users depending on which membership tier they’re on. This is possible to do with Softr, as they have a Stripe integration, which means content can only be seen by logged in users whose email matches the correct products in Stripe.
6. Can you give any insights to your framework for building your next thing?
- Validate if the idea is a business. One of the best ways to do this is research and see if there is something like it already. If so, that’s good validation. Competitors = good. You can then research what they are or are not doing well.
- Consider the actual business model. At the highest level this is doing some financials, asking myself what would it take for this to get to a $10,000 business. Depending on your aspirations, try to model it, and try to ask questions like “How many users at £X would make this plausible?”. Does this make financial sense? To go deeper here you can use the Lean Business Canvas and list out things like value propositions.
- Think about what you want to achieve and whether this excites you or not. I write these down on a notion doc and use the concept of listing anti-goals here i.e. I built a newsletter that is automated, one of my anti-goals was I didn’t want to be curating it every day, that would be timely and painful.
- What’s your business’ identity. This is when I start to think about how I want this thing to look and feel. Is it fun, serious, socially responsible? Here you want to think names, colours, assets. If you’re definitely moving forward with the project, grab that domain!
- Think about your architecture and start building. What will the stack be, what have others used for similar usecases? As much as I’d like to build the rocketship, I think of ways that I can validate this as quickly as possible, to stop myself from building something nobody wants. This can be done by a simple landing page to gauge interest or building in public. If you think you can build V1 quicker than you can validate it, start sketching down the user flows and understand the core feature set you need for it to work. Then pick your toolkit and start building.
7. Where do you see Makers/Startups/Businesses missing opportunity?
This could be a high level thought/philosophy on opportunity with no-code. See anything that is interesting people are building within #100daysofnocode?
I see a lot of no-code makers try to build things for other no-code makers. This can work of course and the irony is that I am doing just this, but I believe there are bigger, untapped markets that have a wealth of problems that just aren’t being solved for. We should sooner start building things for dentists, lawyers and physios etc… than we should be serving no-coders. The point is that we can use no-code to solve problems for people and industries far beyond the tech that enables us to do so in the first place.
8. Can you share about what are key things you did in this project to generate sales with $0 in marketing?
I was fortunate enough to have a reasonably consistent distribution mechanism baked into my product from the get go; that being the #100DaysOfNoCode hashtag that people share everyday as part of their no-code learning journey’s. So this helped a lot.
On a more general note, it’s about playing a long term game that involves giving value to your audience consistently over time without expectation of anything in return. When the time comes that you want to sell something to this audience, it’ll be far easier to do, because you’ve already built trust, relationships and added lots of value to these people already.
9. When building anything there is always something unexpected that occured. What parts did you get stuck and learn most from?
The hardest thing for me has been knowing what to prioritise. As a company of one, my resources in terms of time and money are limited, therefore I have to proritise what to build and focus on carefully. That’s why I believe taking small experiments consistently, lowers risk and increases the likelihood of building something special. But if you’re looking to invest a lot of time in one thing, make sure to ask your existing users, get feedback from trusted friends and perhaps breakdown that project into a series of mini-projects that you can test + iterate on as you go.
10. What are you excited about that is to come with #100daysofnocode?
I’m excited to embed even more structure into the 100 days program and continue facilitating connections between members of the community. It’s always incredible to see the projects people are building and launching without code, so I can’t wait to see more!
Hi👋🏼, I'm Michael.
The maker of this site