53
56 Comments

I just crossed $250 MRR with my 'Notion to Blog' product! AMA

Hi everyone,

I am Bhanu Teja, Founder of MDX.one.

I started my career as a software engineer at Swiggy, one of the unicorn startups in India. It was relatively good pay. But I quickly realized that working a job for someone is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I always wanted to start something of my own since I was in college.

So, I have quit my job as a software engineer 6 months into my first job. I have then teamed up with someone I know and started working on a product, mostly in stealth. We worked on it for more than a year, but it just didn't seem like it was going anywhere. So, I have decided to part ways with it.

In May of this year, I have started working on this new product called MDX.one. It's yet another blogging platform, but the key difference here is it's built on top of Notion. I also decided to build this in public. I have worked on it for 2 months and launched it in the last week of June.

Now, it's been more than 3.5 months since the launch, and I just crossed $250 MRR very recently. So, that's where I am at right now.

Even though $250 MRR is relatively small, if I look back, the major thing that helped me to even reach this very small milestone is building in public. I wouldn't have gotten to this if I was building everything in stealth mode as I did at my previous startup.

So, that's my story.

Some stats for those that are interested.
Revenue: $1.5k
MRR: $261
ARR: $3,132
Total Signups: 803 (including free users)
Total Paying customers: 34
Traffic since launch (13k visitors and 29k page views)

MDX.one Product Page on IH

AMA!

  1. 3

    34 paying customers seems amazing to me. Keep it up, I'm also 6 months out of school, still at my job though. Hopefully I can take a similar leap soon!

  2. 3

    First of all, congratulations, you're doing a great job.
    Your journey is inspirational.

    Questions -

    1. How do you think about differentiation from other Notion-based sited builders like Potion and Super?

    2. What do you think makes Notion the best CMS solution for MDX.ONE ? Have you thought of using something like Coda as a CMS?

    3. Is BIP your only marketing strategy? How are you getting customers and how do you plan for future growth?

    1. 9
      1. I don't think Potion and Super are similar to what I have built and what I am building. The main differentiator is that MDX.one is hyper-specific to blogging. So, every new feature I add and the improvements I make are related to blogging.

      The one other major thing I have is I use Notion purely as a CMS. So, instead of storing the content of blog posts in the database, I am letting users store it on their own Notion workspace. That is it.

      Also, look at some of the features I have which might not make that much sense for generic notion website builders like Potion and Super.

      – RSS Feed
      If it's just a normal website, RSS Feed doesn't make that much sense. RSS Feed will only make much sense when it's for a blog

      – Tags / Categories
      In MDX.one, you can assign category tags to every blog post. A new page will automatically be created for every category you have. Again, this doesn't make much sense if the website isn't a blog.

      – Related Posts
      You can choose related posts for every blog post, and they will show up at the bottom of the blog post as the "You may also like to read" section.

      – Pagination
      Again, I can do this because MDX.one is for blogs and I treat blog posts purely as a data source.

      – Canonical Tags
      People usually won't have the requirement to change canonical tags unless it's a blog post that they are crossposting somewhere else.

      – Newsletters (coming soon)
      I will also be adding a newsletter option natively for all the users. Again, this only makes sense if it's a blog.

      – Comments (coming soon)
      I will also be allowing the visitors to leave comments on blog posts. The MDX.one user doesn't have to do anything extra, they just have to ✅ a notion property, and I will automatically add comments blocks on the bottom of each blog post.

      MDX.one is not one to one mapping between the Notion Page and the generated website. I add so many extra things automatically on top of it.

      If you compare the Notion page, and the end website side by side, you would see so many extra things in MDX.one site than that is present on the Notion page.

      Hope I am making sense. Let me know if it's not clear.

      ----

      1. I can only speak about Notion since I haven't used Coda. But as far as I experienced, Notion has a very rich editor with a lot of native integrations. You can add videos, images, Google Docs, Figma Designs, and so many other things. In the future, I would also be creating some custom embeds/widgets of my own (like comments widget, newsletter widget, etc) which will allow me to extend its capability even more.

      ---

      1. Until now, I have been getting customers only from Twitter (because of BIP). But I have started concentrating on SEO, and that is the next thing that I am going to do for getting the customers.
      1. 4

        Fantastic answer, love your focus on blogs. I think you're on the right track, keep going!

  3. 2

    Congratulations, this is a super neat product!

  4. 2

    It's amazing to see you grow Bhanu , I had few questions in mind

    1. Do you use Vercel Enterprise Plan ? Because Vercel has a limit for 50 Domains per project and how much does it cost on average to run mdx on vercel with serverless functions pre-building etc

    2. is there a way normal bloggers like can money out of this from emmeding google ads or something (can be a huge market ) since your platform is 2x faster than Wordpress and it's easy to use.

    3. How did you get your first paying customer and how did you decide a price (I can now see that pricing is updated)

    1. 1
      1. No, I am currently not using the enterprise plan. But the usage is way higher than the allowed usage. Currently working with them for best practices to reduce the usage and get it back to allowed limits.

      2. Yeah, theoretically it is possible to place Google Ads. It's just a normal code injection. One of the customers even placed ads on their blog for a day or two. But they removed it now. But it works. So, customers with their own domain can place ads if they want to.

      3. Not sure if it helps. But my first paying customer is someone I know from a circle community that I was a part of. I am still experimenting with the prices. Nothing is set in stone yet.

  5. 2

    Congratulations and really inspiring :)

  6. 2

    Congrats Bhanu!

    You right earned this and have no doubt more good things are waiting for MDX!

  7. 2

    Keep growing, mate. 🚀

  8. 2

    I am a fan of your work and I follow your activity on Twitter, I think you are doing great so keep up the good work.

    Best of luck

  9. 2

    Congrats man! I know how exciting it is :)

    If you need a community and customer support solution, feel free to DM me(shameless plug) :)

    1. 1

      Thanks. Will definitely keep this in mind and will reach out to you.

  10. 2

    Well done! I currently use Substack, as I have 50% of my views in email, 50% is visting a blog. Have you considered adding email functionality? Just curious, not sure if I would switch as I'm a free user now.

    1. 1

      Yes, I have considered it and I am adding a native newsletter feature pretty soon. Check the first reply in this thread (the reply I sent to @ ayushchat)

  11. 2

    Hi Bhanu, congratulations for reaching this milestone.
    Some questions I wanted to ask

    1. Did you initially thought of having multiple currency support? I saw that you have one pricing scheme which is USD right? So any thought process behind having a single one over multiple for different regions with PPP maybe?
    2. How are you handling the marketing aspects of your app? Some brief thoughts about this would be great.

    I myself am on the road to build a side project which could be converted into SaaS, hope to reach milestones like these someday myself as well. Good luck for your journey ahead!

    1. 1
      1. Yes, I wanted to have multiple currency support with PPP. But postponed it until I have some good number of customers and proven that this product works and is something that people are willing to pay for. I didn't want to complicate things right at the start itself.

      2. I have no clue about marketing. I'm still figuring this out. Right now, I post updates on Twitter and call it marketing 😅. I am also starting to write some SEO content but it takes a lot of time for it to show any type of results.

      1. 2

        You are based in India right? Is there any specific reason why you choose paddle for payment processing? I have spend more than 1 week to realize it won't be easy to setup international payments with non INR currency. It might be possible but this part is taking way long time and moving focus away from product development.

        Would you suggest trying out paddle? Or any other platform for Indian devs trying to sell digital services in international space?

        Any links you followed that you could share would be really helpful.

        1. 1

          Yes, I am based out of India. Paddle might be the easiest option for us to get started. All you need is a bank account. You don't even need to incorporate a company. It might take a week or two to get approved. But it's worth it.

          1. 1

            Awesome, will look into paddle integration. Thanks for sharing the information :)

  12. 2

    Amazing work, congrats!

    In terms of your growth tactics, what would you say is the biggest contributor for free -> paid conversion?

    1. 1

      Tl;dr I haven't figured this out yet. I only have customers who were paid users right from the start.

      ---

      Paid users in my product fall into one of these following categories.

      1. They came to the website for the first time, created a blog, liked the workflow of publishing posts from Notion, and immediately converted to a paid user. There is no trial period.

      2. They already know me from somewhere (Twitter) and I have talked with them in DMs, they signed up to the site with the intent to become a paid customer.

      So, in these two cases, they have never been a free customer to start with. They are paid users from the start.

      As far as I can remember, I only had one user who converted from free to paid, after using free plan for quite a while. They converted when I sent an email that I will be increasing prices in a few days. They wanted to lock in the old prices.

      The immediate things I will be doing to try to convert free users is:

      Providing some sort of free trial and then adding them to a drip campaign when they start the trial. Other than that, I do not have any other ideas in my mind yet.

  13. 2

    Congratulations Bhanu! Keep going.
    Few question
    What was your initial evaluation process, When the idea of ​​MDX.one first came to your mind?

    1. 1

      I created a very simple landing page with a waitlist form, and waited to see if anyone would show interest.

      You can see the time line of how everything went on my product page on IH.

      https://www.indiehackers.com/product/mdx-one

      By the time I launched, I already have around 250 people on the waitlist.

  14. 2

    Just want to congrats, Bhanu! You've been making awesome progress, Notion to Blog is a great idea for a bootstrapper, too!

    1. 1

      Thanks, @phuctm97. Yes, I still have many ideas that I want to implement in MDX.one. Let's see where it goes.

  15. 2

    Awesome 👏
    Congrats on the $250 MRR mark! That's huge 🚀

    1. 1

      Thank you Simon 😀

  16. 2

    That's impressive, congratulations and good luck

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

  17. 2

    It's awesome that you got to $250 MRR! Congratulations on this!

    Did you already have a follower base on Twitter when you started to write about your progress? If no, how what did you do so that people can find you?

    1. 1

      I had around 750 followers when I started working on MDX.one.

      I have a technical blog where I write about React, Javascript, Web development, etc. Most of those 750 people have found me through my blog and through my tweets about my blog posts.

  18. 2

    This is incredible and takes so much dedication and hard work! Congratulations!

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

  19. 2

    Congratulations! I love the idea. A blog always has the same components and requirements, and having a solution like yours to set everything up in a few minutes is great. Like that we don't have to build everything from scratch (again 😉).

    Keep up the great work 💪

    1. 1

      Yes, you have the same view as me. I think concentrating and optimizing one particular usecase (in my case Blogging) would be better than becoming all in one solution.

      Besides, I can always go and build other similar products like 'Notion to Help Docs', 'Notion to Ebook', etc once I have proven the market with one specific usecase.

      1. 2

        "Notion to Help docs" could be a great idea too 😉

  20. 2

    Wov it's actually a great product :) But it's costs a lot for it. Since my local currency is really weak to the USD, and I have 2 layers to pay. Your product, and notion.

    I would prefer the google docs version. Still really cool idea :)

    1. 2

      Hey @NoFunnyMan, you don't need to pay for Notion. You can use the free version of Notion. Even I'm using the free version of Notion for my personal blog.

      1. 2

        Also, I have chosen Notion as a CMS because of its flexibility and a large range of native integrations. You can embed almost anything on your Notion page. The best part is I can create my own embeds/widgets and give it to my users. They can then embed those on their Notion page.

  21. 2

    Congratulations! I hope all goes well for you.

    How did your following find you on Twitter? Was it purely organic? Did you actively spend time trying to gain an audience?

    1. 3

      No, I did not actively spend time to gain an audience. It was kinda organic. I think at the start, replying to other people's tweets also helped them to discover me.

      1. 1

        Ah okay, that makes sense. I often forget how curious people are, we like to click on peoples' profiles and see who they are!

  22. 2

    Congrats! I wonder what your strategy is to convert your first customer.

    We are building a similar project but finding it difficult to convert. (https://sitefast.live/)

    1. 1

      Hey!

      Honestly, for your kind of product it's way too pricey. Like I understand that for $29 we get 15 websites that is a lot, BUT:

      1. We may not need to have 15 sites. E.g. Dorik.io's top plan offers 5 websites for $5, and completely beats you feature-wise.

      2. $29/15 websites means $1.93 for one website. This might seem cool when super.so and other similar platforms offer one site for $10-12, etc. But, personally I'm more inclined to pay $10 for notion-to-website with notion's built-in blocks and stuff, than $29 out of nowhere to run a website on google sheets, block for which have to be configured by your team (because google sheets don't have native blocks).

      Ultimately, I believe that your USP fails to provide enough value for money (again, we may not need 15 websites, but have to pay way beyond what your competitors ask to just connect a custom domain).

      I truly believe that conversion will be next to zero if you keep your lowest plan at $29.

      Also, people are used to having free trials being truly free. Paying $1 for no custom domain introduces even more friction.

      I believe that softr.io is a somewhat gamechanger that allows a custom domain with their free plan. Which I'm pretty sure converts like hell (I have not seen many saas offer custom domains on free plans).

      1. 1

        I think we are in different markets comparing to Dorik and Super.

        If you look at https://siteoly.com/ and https://sheet2site.com/, their pricing and USP are closer to my product.

    2. 1

      I have posted regular updates on Twitter right from the first moment. I can just look at my Twitter feed and know every feature I have ever built and every problem I have faced while building it.

      This is what helped me to get the first few customers. People who were engaging on my tweets when I was building the product, ended up becoming my customers.

      Most of them are now spreading the product through word of mouth.

      I had a pretty bad experience building a startup in stealth for more than a year. That's why I have chosen this approach to build everything in public. It may not work for everyone, but it helped me.

      1. 1

        thanks a lot for your advice.

  23. 2

    Hey! Congrats on the $250 MRR mark!

    How do you plan on growing the project further? What marketing strategies do you plan on implementing?

    1. 1

      I am still figuring it out. I don't know what to do on the marketing front. The next big thing I am concentrating on right now is SEO. Will have to see how that works out.

  24. 2

    Thank for sharing these details, Bhanu. Congrats on your growth!

    If you don't mind, I have a few questions:

    1. What marketing techniques have you tried?
    2. How are you differentiating your app from other Notion-to-Blog Saas?
    3. What's your biggest challenge as a solo bootstrapper?

    TIA!

    1. 3
      1. The only strategy that I really tried is building in public. I just share the updates that I do on Twitter, and people seem to be noticing it. I also got a few customers through word of mouth. That has been great.

      2. I answered the same exact question in the above reply to @ayushchat, please let me know if you have any more questions on that.

      3. The biggest challenge for me is marketing. I am not good at it at all. That's why I am shifting my focus to SEO and will see if I can do something on that front.

      1. 2

        I like how you focused on a specific niche (blogging) and how it's setting you apart from the other Notion-based apps. You know your product and market well. Excited for the rest of your journey!

  25. 1

    Amazing work! How did you get your first 100 customers? Is it a single source like an email list or multiple ones like SEO, communities, etc.? Quite interesting.

  26. 1

    Great story, very inspiring to someone like me who is hoping to launch their first product soon.

    I have one question, and it's: how did you get your first initial users?

  27. 1

    Congratulations Bhanu. This post is an inspiring one. Keep going.

    Just one question:
    Tell us something about the sales & marketing strategies which worked for you...

Trending on Indie Hackers
Share your product if you haven't made your first sale :) 45 comments I redesigned my landing page to something completely unconventional/unprofessional 20 comments How we automatically provision SSL for SaaS customers with custom domains 14 comments Breaking down one of the most successful ecommerce SEO strategies (IKEA) 11 comments On productized services, a crappy logo, and a shift in perspective that changed everything: Jaclyn Schiff's story 9 comments New vlog: Bought my dream car after 10 years of hard work in entrepreneurship! 7 comments