Can you describe Made Without Code in 140 characters?
Can you tell us a little about how Made without Code came about?
Basically the idea came up by watching my twitter timeline. I noticed more and more tweets about products made with tools like Carrd, Bubble or Zapier and I thought it would be cool to have a platform to showcase these products and also connect with other makers. So while I was sitting in the library in Bologna working on indieteachers.xyz, I started to hack together an MVP, started to tweet about the idea and get, early on, very positive feedback.
Would you recommend others to use Carrd for building a site? I've heard some great reviews so far.
Carrd is really a great tool and I think the founder is doing a great job. Nevertheless it isn’t a solution for more complex ideas. I think it is great to build a MVP quickly, a Landing Page or a Portfolio. In my case, I wanted to build something quickly and launch it, but now, for example, I am struggling with the limited functionality especially with automation and database. But if you want to build something quickly, and functionality isn’t the most important thing, then Carrd is a great pick.
What was some of the biggest challenges you faced launching Made Without Code?
When it comes to the backend and functionality you often need to improvise and use a combination of tools. The best example is the recipe site of madewitoutcode.com. To let the user submit new recipes to the site I used Carrd, Airtable and Zapier to achieve this functionality. If you want to read more about it, I mentioned the workflow in my article I wrote about How to build a startup without code.
What are some of your favourite apps/ online tools you use to run Made Without Code?
There are really a lot of great tools out there. But I think one of the most useful is definitely Zapier which I use for a lot of workflow and automation. Furthermore I work a lot with Typeform to handle user input.
What is Sanctus?
We’re a community of people who believe in mental fitness. We talk openly about mental health, we talk publicly about it and champion Sanctus and it’s mission with pride. We do this by sharing our story on SanctusTV, wearing Sanctus clothing or coming to Sanctus meetups.
We also work with businesses to help them create an open environment where mental health is accepted within their workplace. We do this through educational workshops and ongoing coaching.
Can you tell us a little about how Sanctus came about?
Off the back of my own experiences with mental health. I felt the negative perception of mental health which made me not want to talk about it, plus there was just nowhere that I felt comfortable in to talk openly.
How did you validate the need for Sanctus initially?
I didn’t really think of it as “validation” I kind of just went with my gut. The validation came through blogging for me, I wrote the post mental health in startups that went viral. That was a big validation that there were many others like me who wanted to talk openly and normally about mental health.
You recently wrote on your newsletter that you chose not to build a website for your launch. Most startups would probably say this is first thing you should create, how come you decided to just go with a static site using Medium?
I just wanted to get going, I can’t code and didn’t want to spend time learning so I used what was there. I think it’s easy to hide behind a “launch” to avoid putting yourself out there, so I just went for it.
I was working as a solo founder for the first year. That was hard. Also just doing stuff that didn’t work is hard, I did stuff that nobody used, events that nobody turned up for. It’s demoralising, but you just have to learn from it and keep on keeping on.
What was it like being a solo founder before you eventually brought on your co-founder?
Hard. Lonely. I made a real effort to let other people in on what I was doing. I used social to share my journey really openly, so felt like I had lots of support. I also had people close to me that I shared with too.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received or read?
The founder of whatsapp Jan Koum e-mailed me back once with one word of advice - focus.
How did you manage to acquire readers/ users to your platform? and then manage to convert that traffic into paid customers?
I’m not really sure of the details or the conversion rate etc, I never tracked anything. I genuinely just tried to share my story regularly and consistently. I believe if you do that, then the people who believe in what you’re doing will gravitate to you and then some of them will pay for what you do.
Your a non technical entrepreneur yourself, do you feel the barrier for entry are getting lower? There just seems to be so many free tools and resources out there for non-techs to use and create something when previously this just wasn’t possible.
Unless you’re building a deeply technical product there are very few barriers to entry now, just get started if you want it that bad.
What’s next for Sanctus ?
We’re going to raise $50m in VC, scale to an AI based Sanctus coach with a machine learning algorithm and then IPO. Only joking, we just want to build a good honest healthy business that makes more than it spends and creates value to the people in our community.
You wrote a fantastic piece on Medium a while ago regarding Mental Health in Startups which was incredibly well received and went on to be featured in the Guardian. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who feel the pressure to succeed?
Carve your own path and stop comparing yourself to others. There isn’t one way, only your way.
Interested in finding out more about Sanctus? Join the Sanctus Community for a unique evening of inspiring stories from people who are open about their personal story of how they’ve worked with their mental health, to become the best versions of themselves. This event will have energy like no other; will incite curiosity and leave you feeling inspired.
Are you working on anything else exiting at the moment?
Of course! I’ve always got something on the go, at the moment i’m sticking to my strengths and working on a Marketplace for designers by designers for selling their unwanted or discarded Logos/Pixels at http://unusedpixels.com/ Yeh yeh, there’s CreativeMarket or Themeforrest, GraphicRiver etc. These are great and we’re not interested in their market. I think unused Pixels should be all about designers getting their worth, selling at the price they set, taking the most commision and selling only great pieces of work. It’s something i’ve always thought of doing and hopefully it helps others in the same situation as myself with around 100 unusable, not picked logos throughout the years that are just sitting in a dust dropbox folder.
Now that the barriers to entrepreneurship are getting lower, have you noticed the rise in the non-technical users looking to dip their toes in having an online presence?
Absolutely, i think it’s great, there’s now no excuse not to pursue an idea at least to the generation stages with the amount of resources and information online to help make a dream or creative idea a reality.
What free design tools would you recommend for non-designers?
Ahhh i’ve got tons on Freestack that i keep updated but for non designers i would say canva is a great tool. I sometimes use it myself for easy great design to quickly get a social media page setup. Font Ninja to find the font on any website, this helps massively when you randomly come across the perfect one for your project but have no idea what it is!
Any particular tools or resources you would recommend to be featured on NoCode?
NoCode has such an array of great content i’m pretty sure you already have these but some of the newest ones will have to be halfdollar, webgradients and cakeresume.
Why do you think good design is important, and what does good design mean for you
Design is so much more than a pretty logo nowadays, everything starts and progresses with a genuine story behind it. Think of your ideal target audience as a theatre full of people and how you might take them on a journey for as long as you’re luckily enough to keep them entertained for. The whole idea of creating a story or journey introduces the fantasy into your audience's lives and makes them want to be apart of it. Good design is pretty and pleasing but great design needs to pull on your emotions. Think of everything you have in your fridge, cupboard, laptop bag, house, car and pocket. How many of those things do you feel something about? Have you ever noticed you’ve been chosen to take part in their second act? You’re on the journey with them whilst they have your attention. That’s why design is important.
What's your favourite track/mix to listen to while designing?
Can you tell us a little bit about how The Startup Button came about?
The Startup Button was born from the sheer frustration I always seemed to face when trying to launch a startup or new product. Gaining early adopters and traffic is hard, so I wanted to build a fun and unique way for users to discover startups, whilst providing an effective platform for founders to share them. I launched the first version of the website on Product Hunt in February of 2017 and the community loved it. A second version of the site and Chrome extension followed shortly thereafter and I've just recently released an addition to The Startup Button atmosphere - Scrum; a place for creators to share the projects they're working on.
What problem is The Startup Button trying to solve?
The Startup Button is my attempt at building an unbiased startup discovery platform. Without upvotes or likes impacting results, users are presented with different community submitted startups every time they click a button.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced launching The Startup Button?
One of my biggest challenges has been moderation. Due to the site’s lack of requirements for submission, I would constantly have my index flooded with hundreds of links and startups that were unsuitable. I've since hired two super talented people who moderate and curate this list on a daily basis.
How did you initially get users to your site?
Like most of my launches, I used Product Hunt and Twitter to get initial users to the website. I sent emails to a bunch of my contacts and news spread quickly throughout the community. I'm actually still receiving users from my initial Product Hunt post to this day!
What’s next for The Startup Button?
I’ve been growing The Startup Button for a little over four months now and believe I’ve reached the pinnacle of what I am able to achieve given my skills and time. Due to this, I’ve decided to sell and hopefully find a new owner who can develop the website even more. You can learn more about the sale here.
Now that the barriers to entrepreneurship are getting lower, have you noticed the rise in the non-technical users looking to dip their toes in having an online presence?
I love the internet as it enables anyone to share something with the rest of the world. I started making products online when I was twelve and taught myself to code through YouTube and Stack Overflow. With the introduction of tools like Webflow and Shopify, users no longer require an advanced coding knowledge or technical background to develop an online presence. I’ve definitely seen growth in the number of non-technical founders and I believe this is something that we in the community should welcome with open arms.
Is The Startup Button a side project? If so, how do you juggle building this (amongst other things) whilst working a full time job?
The Startup Button was a side project and did a fantastic job of being so. It generated a small income, required next-to-no maintenance and grew every month. I’m a huge fan of making my websites automatic and built multiple cron jobs to run tasks and operations for me. I also build websites for a living, so working on new ideas isn’t hard to do.
You recently featured on Product Hunt twice in the same month with two new products, how did you pull this off?
Building a product that you think will benefit the community is the first step. Build hype, share it with coworkers and get some initial feedback before launching. When you’re ready, either hunt it yourself or reach out to someone in the Product Hunt community and ask them to do it for you. I’ve found that products posted on Wednesday (before the leaderboard resets) are those that reach the most amount of upvotes compared to the rest of the week - however, you’re more likely to be competing with bigger and better products from the likes of Google or Facebook.
If you’d prefer to receive less upvotes but remain on the top of the website for the day, post on the weekend.
Can you tell us a little bit about how EKKO came about?
Ekko was born out of seeing the disparity between business’s up-to-date Facebook Pages, and their out-of-date, often neglected, websites. With a few years experience building websites for smaller businesses, I was aware of the pain points they felt with keeping their site fresh with new content, or even just updating their opening hours, or address. I wanted to take something everyone knew how to use (Facebook) and remove the divide between the content they could quite easily pump into their Facebook Page, and worrying about having to fiddle with HTML, or contact their web designer to update a phone number, for example. My aim with Ekko is for everyone to be able to create a website for their business in under a minute, and then never have to worry about keeping it up-to-date again.
Did EKKO start out as a side project?
Absolutely. I originally started as a web design freelancer, moonlighting on the side of an unrelated (different industry) job, so working in the evenings has really been all I know. I’d been building side projects for years before Ekko, but Ekko was the first idea I’d had that I felt could become sustainable as a real business. Most of the other side projects, I’d had a bunch of fun building and launching them, but very little desire to do much else to them. Ekko feels different, I can see the numerous possibilities for it’s use, and that in itself keeps it interesting. Just trying to be aware of feature-bloat, which is all to easy to slip into…
What problem is EKKO trying to solve for business owners?
Honestly, for them to almost forget they have a website. I really see Ekko as a “set it and forget it” service. Unless you want to change the theme of your site, there’s very little maintenance to do to a site once it’s been creating and is syncing with your Facebook Page. As a small business owner, my guess is you’d rather be concentrating on your actual business, less messing around with website layouts and wrangling with CMS’s.
Are there any features of EKKO that you feel sets it apart from competitors?
The competitors in this niche space (auto-updating websites from Facebook Pages) are few and far between, so as long as I can keep Ekko easy to use, and make sure the themes we launch maintain a high standard of design, I’m hoping people will see that Ekko’s a solid choice for their business. If you broaden out the competitor criteria, we’re competing with site builders, like Squarespace, Wix, etc…but I take comfort in the fact that I know Ekko will never be a site builder (in the traditional sense). With those services, you sign up, then have to spend time and effort pumping content onto a blank canvas. With Ekko, you’ve already done the hard work by updating your Facebook Page, why do it twice?
What are your most successful marketing avenues you currently are using?
We’re still trying to figure out the successful ones, but word of mouth has been very successful. People really seem to dig the idea of Ekko and those positive vibes tend to spread. A friend of mine (who actually designed one of Ekko’s themes) mentioned Ekko on a podcast he was on and that sent a couple of people our way, one of which was interested in the Ekko Reseller programme.
There is a new wave of website builders popping up every month it seems all making it easier for users to build websites no matter their technical skills. Are there any features of Ekko that you feel sets it apart from competitors?
Yes, the fact that there’s very little “building” to do! You’re right, there are a big wave of site builders being launched, and that’s why instead of simply trying to build a better site builder, I figured why not remove that step entirely.
Now that the barriers to entrepreneurship are getting lower, have you noticed the rise in the non-technical users looking to dip their toes in having an online presents?
I think one of the biggest pioneers in regards to this is places like Etsy. Giving a voice and a space to smaller craftspeople, artists, etc…and bringing them online is delightful to see.
In October 2016, I launched my first newsletter using MailChimp. For the first two months I only had a handful of subscribers, then a few more subscribed. Now, thousands of people have joined the NoCode newsletter. Since then I have learnt a lot about MailChimp — so I thought I’d share some of my tips.
This is the first of few posts I’m going to share about MailChimp. There are so many hidden features to discover, too much for one post. So expect a few other posts with some of the handy tips and tricks I have learnt over the past year.
I treat my monthly email newsletter very differently than other brands or blogs typically treat their newsletter. Inspired by Kevin Rose’s monthly newsletter The Journal, where he intentionally issues only one newsletter per month ensuring that it’s as informative as possible and is not filled with content for contents sake.
The focus of your newsletter is to provide value to your subscribers. Always keep this at the forefront of your mind whilst creating each newsletter.
Think of these steps below as your opportunity to onboard new subscribers and introduce them to your brand. You can add branded assets and custom text to your forms and set up a welcome email with a coupon or special offer for new subscribers.
Double Opt-In email
I’m not going to bore you with the details about Double Opt-In email but with single opt-in, people fill out a signup form and are immediately added to your mailing list, even if their address is invalid or contains a typo. Single opt-in can clog your list with bad addresses and possibly generate spam complaints from subscribers who don’t remember signing up, although some would disagree with this. Double Opt-In is standard for MailChimp, so let’s make the most of this by introducing a simple but incredibly effective hack to the flow below!
So what can we do to maximise this slightly annoying process for the user? First lets look at making some subtle changes to the Opt-in email your subscribers first receive to confirm their subscription.
Path: Lists > select list > dropdown next to stats > signup forms > General forms > forms and response emails dropdown > select opt-in confirmation email.
As you can see it’s not the easiest feature to find. However, now you have the ability to edit a whole host of emails and flows.
I suggest keeping this email basic as we don’t want to detract the subscriber from clicking ‘yes subscribe me to that list’ call to action. I would change the header image to your personal branding and edit the default corporate text to something a little more personal.
Step 1: So the subscriber now clicks ‘yes, subscribe me to this list’. They are then asked to quickly complete a simple Captcha form to confirm they aren’t a robot. As a default they are directed to a MailChimp conformation page. Lets change that default redirect and instead take the subscriber your website.
Step 2: Add your website URL in the field above and click ‘save’ then boom, now your subscribers will be redirected to your site.
You can redirect your subscribers to any page on your site, but depending on what you want your subscribers to do on your site, you could, like me create a custom page for your subscribers. My page below was inspired by Tobias Van Schneider’s newsletter.
The Last Step
Another little known feature is the ‘Final welcome email’ feature. This optional email is disabled by default, but you can enable a welcome email at any time. The feature delivers an email after a subscriber confirms their subscription (last step we just looked at). You can use this message to send new subscribers a welcome message, coupons or promo codes.
Don’t overthink it. I like to think of newsletters like letters in your mail. When someone sends you a regular letter, you’re usually interested. But if your mail already looks like a random piece of spam, I’m probably not even opening it. — Tobias Van Schneider
Because I only issue my newsletter once a month this is a great way to include some of my previous content to get my subscribers up to speed and give them an idea of what they can expect.
I provide a few of the promo codes that I provide in my monthly newsletter, links to previous blog posts and some text about what they can expect in the newsletter. Again, at this point you could also provide a link to download exclusive free content for your subscribers.
Be sure to remember to keep the welcome message updated with your latest content as it can easily be forgotten.
Want to read more content like this? Subscribe to my newsletter, if you’re interested. Sign me up!
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3/26/2017 1 Comment
Who knew one FREE simple tool could have such a profound effect on my website…
Gone are the days when live chat software was only available to large enterprises. These days live chat plugins are available for free and only take a few minutes to setup without any prior technical knowledge required, making it a great solution for small startups, bloggers and entrepreneurs on a budget.
Live chat features provide fast, on-demand customer support anywhere on your website, giving you an opportunity to immediately address customer concerns, answer questions and even close sales before customers click away. In addition to speeding up customer support, live chat systems let you monitor visitor behaviour to provide personalised service, convert browsers into paying customers and improve your website to increase sales.
Nine out of ten consumers want to be able to use messaging to talk to businesses. And when you have a website experience that matches, you won’t just get happier visitors — you’ll get more leads and you’ll close more sales. — David Cancel — Drift
There are a number of fantastic live chat options out there all equally with their own merits, features, prices and complexities. However, for the purposes of this post I have chosen to discuss Drift due to a few reasons.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. These are my own personal words based on my experience of using Drift.
I have been using Drift for the past three months on my website and what started initially as some research, before I featured it on the NoCode directory (I test each featured tool), has now turned into a powerful tool I continue to use to interact with my users.
So firstly, what is Drift?
“Drift is a sales communication platform that helps businesses generate more leads and close deals faster using messaging. Nine out of ten consumers want to be able to use messaging to talk to businesses today, and when you have a website experience that matches, you won’t just get happier visitors — you’ll get more leads and you’ll close more deals.”
This description above does essentially explain Drift and it’s features. However, I think the use cases for Drift are actually far more broad and certainly not limited to sites trying to sell something as the descriptions suggests. I have personally been using Drift to directly chat with my users to my site, with the aim to gather candid customer feedback.
This approach has allowed to interact with my users on a much more personal level, apposed to traditional methods like email or social media. My typical interactions are from users looking for a particular tool or resource, so this gives me the opportunity to ask them what they are making, helping me discover my types of user, their requirements and what tools and resources I need to feature. I can also ask “How are you finding the site?” or “Do you have any suggestions to how I can make my site better?” and lastly “How did you hear out about the site?”. These are great analytics you wouldn't necessary get the opportunity to find out from your users.
“As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.” Eric Ries
The hard and sad truth is that your original startup idea rarely survives its first contact with your intended users. Don’t let yourself fall in the typical startup trap: investing too many resources, for too long, in some app features your audience won’t be really using.
So what’s the alternative? It’s called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and it’s becoming an increasingly popular method for startups to test the core feature/ concept of your product or service. Essentially it’s a stripped down version of your product or service in order for you to get real, valuable user feedback. What it gives you is the fastest way into the market without spending all your money on a product that might need lots of iterations to hit that growth curve we all hope for.
Building your MVP these day’s couldn’t be easier. With a huge host of tools and resources at your fingertips you can create a cheap (sometime free) MVP in a matter of hours or days to gain quick and valuable customer validation.
When the original concept for NoCode was born, I created an MVP in a weekend. The NoCode MVP was simply a landing page with an email signup form. This was all I needed to validate my idea. If people liked the concept I figured they would sign up; and thankfully they did!
Gaining early users
To gain some early users I posted my landing page on a few early user sites such as BetaList, Next and BetaPage. These free sites provided great early exposure and netted me about 70 email subscribers which was more than enough to get my started.
You don’t need a lot of users to support learning. You need just a few good customers - Ash Maurya
I also wrote two post on Medium mapping my initial journey which also drove some traffic to my landing page.
I setup a twitter account and tweeted some screenshots in an effort to interact with some further potential early users. I also did some targeted searches based on a few hashtags. This was great for some honest feedback but only drove a few newsletter subscriptions.
After I had a reasonable amount of email subscribers, I used my list to test some of my early mockups and wireframes for the website. The feedback was incredibly constructive and allowed me to makes some changes and before deciding wether to pursue building the site. This whole process only took a few weeks and helped me validate my idea before spending the time and energy building the website, dramatically reducing the possibly of it flopping due to lack of customer validation.
True to NoCode fashion, I have curated a list of tools and resources from some of my personal favorites listed on the NoCode site, although it should be noted there are plenty of alternatives resources for each of my suggestions below.
Weebly: I have been using Weebly for about 5 years now and personally find in one of the easiest, most intuitive DIY webiste builders out there. I built the initial landing page on weebly using an off the shelve theme. I then bought a domain name for £10 from Hover. However for the purposes of the MVP you can just use a free weebly domain.
The NoCode website is also build using weebly. I didn’t need to hire a web designer to build the site, nowadays a simple DIY drag and drop builder can do the job in the fraction of the time and cost. However, should you require more functionality from your website then you might need to consider hiring a developer if you don’t have the technical skills.
No landing page is complete without a signup form. If you are looking for a simple, free signup form then look no further than Mailchimp. It took me about 15 minutes to create an account and embed a basic signup form into my weebly landing page using the weebly embed tool. I also use Mailchimp for creating my monthly newsletter.
I used Canva to create some early mockups and wireframes of my site and sent these to my newsletter subscribers for feedback. Canva is an incredible free online graphics tool for all your basic graphic design needs. Their drag and drop builder is extremely easy to use and they provide a tone of pre-built templates, icons, illustrations and fonts to play with.
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Most of what I read on Medium, Flipboard, Inc, Forbes etc. seems to document the life of the typical Silicon Valley startup with young coders and designers working through the night in their garages or dorms creating the next Facebook.
But what if you don’t have the technical skills and you don’t write code? Are non-technical founders precluded from founding tech startups?
I hope you don’t think the answer to that is yes, because great ideas aren’t just the preserve of people who can code.
As a so called non-technical founder myself I have spent years scouring the internet for resources in an effort to learn for others in my situation.
Often you can feel helpless without the required skills and education to succeed in today’s technical world. However, if you dig a little deeper you will find there are thousands if not millions of others in your exact situation who have succeeded, and fortunately they have documented this in blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, documentaries you name it.
In this post I’m going to share my list of favourite podcasts which have provided me with some great insight and takeaways over the years.
These podcasts are incredibly inspiring and I guarantee you will be able to take at least something from each of them.
Need/Want is a design studio based in St. Louis. They are responsible for great products like Emoji Masks, the Mod Notebook, SmartBedding and Peel phone cases. In addition, they host Hatched, a podcast about early stage ideas, experiments and Need/Want. Hatched is great for it’s sheer transparency and insights into the daily happenings of a small startup.
Although they haven’t made a podcast in a while this is a great episode for non-technical founders as some of the Need/Want founders are from a non-technical background themselves.
Product Hunt Radio by Ryan Hoover
Each week Ryan Hoover (Product Hunt founder) and Erik Torenberg are joined by founders, investors, and product people in the startup community & beyond to chat about products, technology, and the people who make them.
It’s really difficult to say which exact episode I would recommend, however in the content of this post I would recommend the episode with Gary Vaynerchuk is a great one to start with. Gary V is a entrepreneur, investor, and best selling author. Gary transformed his father’s liquor store into a retail wine store named Wine Library, and started the video blog Wine Library TV, a daily internet webcast on the subject of wine. He then announced he would be stepping away from his daily wine video series to focus his attention on VaynerMedia, the digital ad agency he co-founded with his brother. Gary didn’t come from a technical background but has managed to build a successful media empire despite.
ProtoHack by Black McCammon and Cole Fox
Each week, ProtoHack co-founders Blake McCammon and Cole Fox interviews different non-technical founders on the ins and outs of being a non-technical founder in the technical world.
In this particular episode they interviewed Marc Hoag, Co-Founder & CEO of Twibble. Twibble is a better way to easily publish content from any RSS feed to Twitter with beautiful imagery in each and every tweet.
ConversionAid podcast aims to help software entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. Each week, they interview proven industry experts who share their strategies and insights to help you create software that sells.
Hiten Shah is a non-technical co-founder and president of analytics companies KISSmetrics & Crazy Egg. He founded KISSmetrics with Neil Patel in 2008. The company has raised over $10M in funding and is used by thousands of companies around the world.
Traction explores and share the stories of all the creative, unusual, and clever ways that entrepreneurs find early results. They talk to founders as well as executives, investors, and journalists, all of whom did something smart or sneaky or downright brilliant to go from zero to one in an important area of their business.
In this particular episode speak to Fred Shilmover. Since Fred is not a developer, and since he also wanted to launch a B2B SaaS company, he knew he needed market validation. For Fred, that meant actual paying customers. So he set out to build a fake product — a true “MVP” that added real, tangible value and improved upon an old way of doing something, but ultimately wasn’t the final product. It was worthy of paying for, but not exactly a scalable product just yet. In his own words “he created essentially spreadsheet-as-a-service”.
The Nice to Meet You Show is a podcast hosted by Tobias Van Schneider which is a podcast about the markers and builders. Although more design related this is a great down to earth podcast with some fantastic guests.
In this episode Tobias speaks to Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt. The original idea for PH started in the form of a simple newsletter in 2013. Ryan and his friends would search for cool products and share them with each other. As the newsletter got more and more popular he decided it might be worth pursuing further. Ryan wasn’t an engineer, so he wasn’t going to invest the time or money in building an entire site from the start, but he could build an email list. So he started one and invited a few dozen investors, founders, and other friends of his who he thought might like it, and who had an inside track of what kind of tech products were cool. And so Product Hunt was born.
A few days ago I noticed a post on Reddit (r/startup) asking for advice when launching his website on Product Hunt. This particular thread wouldn’t usually catch my eye, however, just last week I launched my side project on Product Hunt and felt obliged to provide some advice.
Whilst I had personally read multiple articles, listicals and blog posts providing detailed guides — how to obtain the most votes, tried and tested launch strategies, optimum time and day to be hunted… the list goes on — I thought I would provide some handy advice regarding the tools I used/ integrated on my website the day NoCode was featured on PH.
These FREE tools provided me with incredibly valuable user analytics, improved social media sharing, continued traffic to the site after launch and hundreds of newsletter signups in the process.
5 Must Have Tools for your Product Hunt Launch
Hotjar allows you to gain an insight into how your users interact with your website and what they are clicking on. Understand what users want, care about and interact with on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour by creating a heatmap like my example below.
Installing hotjar only took a couple of minutes, requiring me to insert the tracking code into my Weebly website footer (simple copy and paste!). After a few minutes data started to appear and a heatmap was generated.
AddThis is a fantastic free tool that allows you to add social buttons to your website allowing users to share the url or content of a particular page on your website. Make it easier than ever for your audience to spread your content around the web.
AddThis is extremely easy to integrate and only requires you to add some HTML to your website. AddThis provides a tonne of customisation on its free plan, allowing you to choose from hundreds (220+) of social media sharing buttons allowing you to adapt their look, colour and position on your website.
During the influx of traffic to my site from Product Hunt users could easily share my website to their preferred social media channel of there choice. This has spread like wildfire since and continued to drive traffic to my website post PH frenzy.
MailChimp is one of the best email marketing services available because it is extremely easy to use for anyone, regardless of how tech savvy one is or is not. It’s also an affordable choice whether you have 100 contacts or 20,000 contacts to reach. Create easy drag and drop newsletters in minutes.
I could praise MailChimp’s newsletter builder all day, but for this post i’m going to focus on specifically their subscriber pop-up tool.
MailChimp’s Form Builder allows you to create and style a signup form that launches in a pop-up modal when someone visits your site. The Form Builder allows you to customise the pop-up signup form and promote giveaways, contests, and offers on your website. Take a look at the simple form I built below.
Once the flurry of PH visitors ascended to my website I managed to collect over 700 emails addresses in a 24h period. This has been an essential tool that I’m glad I had setup during my PH launch.
I would have seriously struggled by myself to post content on my social media streams, reply to comments on PH, respond to emails received and work my full-time job if I hadn’t had Hootsuite setup in the run up to launching on PH.
Sign up to Hootsuite and start scheduling posts for your PH launch strategically over a 24–48h period so you can focus on the other tasks at hand! Spend just 30 mins at the start of the day once you have been featured and embed the PH url to each of your posts. Try using the AutoSchedule option to allow Hootsuite to determine the optimum time to post your content.
Once you have all your posts scheduled you can then focus on thanking voters and influencers for their support throughout the day.
And if you still want to read some posts about successful Product Hunt launches here are some of my favourites below.
Looking for more free easy to use tools and resources ? Checkout NoCode: A curated directory of the best free resources & tools for non-technical entrepreneurs.
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In this post I will show you how to create a logo from scratch using a fantastic free online tool created by ucraft. You don’t require any prior design experience or fancy software. This process can take as little as 2 mins to complete depending on the detail you are looking for.
As I’m sure you are aware this isn’t going to produce the words most original logo, but for the purposes of creating a quick, free, basic logo this is all you need.
I’m going to use ucraft as from experience it’s one of the easiest free tools online with a great library of modern logo icons to choose from. However, there a whole host of other online logo creators which i have personally tested similar to ucraft which can be found here.
Step by Step Guide
3. Let’s find and select an icon for your logo. There are a lot of logo icons to choose from and depending if you have a rough idea of what you are looking for it can take sometime to choose one that feels right. To save time trawling through the icon library, type into the search bar using keywords. I would then suggest having a look through the list and deciding which particular icon sums up your brand the best.
4. Once you have selected your logo icon you can now decide where to position the logo relative to your company name. Have a play about with the positioning by selecting the logo with your cursor and position the logo round your company name. Try a few options.
5. Now to choose the colour of your brand. You can change both the text and the logo icons colour by selecting the each of them with your cursor and clicking the colour pallet option. Need some inspiration? Check out Color Hunt.
6. Once you are happy with your logo design its time to download it. Simply select ‘export logo’ and save it to your computer. The file format is .png and automatically downloads with a transparent background.
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Maybe my initial concept of NoCode was underestimated. The more I thought about what I was looking to achieve with NoCode the more I began to realise it's part of a much bigger personal goal.
As previously mentioned in my first post, the initial idea for NoCode was born after creating various websites and small businesses without a tech background and an extremely low (£0) budget. After years of accumulating various tools, resources and hacks held in spreadsheets, notebooks, Evernote and bookmarks I decided to create my own online resource for non-techies on a shoestring budget.
I’ve always had a passion to create to businesses that contribute either socially or environmentally. My first business The Sustainable Glasgow Project was a social enterprise I started whilst at university in Glasgow. The SGP provided carbon offsetting for large businesses and empowering grass route communities to improve their local environment. It's still run today by a friend as a successful blog. Shortly after moving to London I launched Fiilo, a 3D printing business that created planters and a personally designed hydroponics system made from corn starch. This was later acquired by a US company and is still run today. More recently I have created Design[io] a tuition service based in London, teaching people how to create websites, portfolios, blogs, e-commerce stores etc.
So far most of my side ventures have consisted of social/ environmental support.
I'll be honest, when I originally set out to create NoCode it didn’t have a higher social or environmental goal, I just wanted to pull my list into one accessible place where I could direct friends or clients to.
It’s been a seriously long time since the my first post on NoCode but I have made some great progress and looking forward to sharing it with you below.
The first 8 categories I intend to launch with are almost complete. I have changed the categories several times now but now feel confident I have the right selection specifically curated to launch your website, app, business, blog, portfolio, you name it! without requiring any website, app, design or social media skills whatsoever.
I have provided a sneak preview of one of the category pages below. I have tried to keep it as minimal as possible. Each featured resource will contain a logo, my personal brief review describing why I chose it and its key features, a link to the site and social media links.
As usual I would love to hear any feedback you may have. Just hit reply to this email.
After months toying with the idea to create a directory for non tech’s I’ve finally started it. This is my story so far.
So, I'm currently in the process of creating my latest project NoCode.Tech, a curated (tried and tested) list of tools and resources for all non-techies out there who want to create an online presents without the need to get a developer or designer involved. This could be for a hobby, a business that you have always wanted to start, blog, portfolio, university project or bringing your current small business online, the list is endless.
I personally feel not enough people know about the plethora of resources and tools out there that don’t require any prior knowledge of design or coding.
I want to show people the tools that can lower the barriers to entrepreneurship and help them build amazing websites and businesses without a gigantic budget or years of technical expertise. I believe website creation should be for the many, not just the few.
I've personally been using drag and drop websites (and a whole host of free online resources) for the last 5 years creating my own personal online businesses and websites for other small businesses. My background and university degree couldn't be further from a computer science degree but, with various new tools and software launching everyday aimed at people with no background in code or design, I’ve rarely come to a point where I have required these skills.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not saying by any means web designers and developers are redundant, that couldn't be further for the truth. However, for the vast majority of people looking to create an online presence this is certainly the case.
The idea was born!
Just recently I created Design[io] a personal one to one website tuition service based in London. I wanted to personally show people in London how easy it is to create a fantastic modern looking responsive website in a matter of hours. Through this teaching I have struggled to keep track of the multitude of resources and tools I have recommended that I personally use to create my websites. I typically kept all my resources and tools as bookmarks on Safari or Evernote and would email my clients links. However, recently I decided in an effort to share my hacks, tips and resources with others I’ve decided to create an online directory.