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🥳 Launched my first gig! Here is what I’ve learned connecting Notion + Webflow + Google Sheets + Zapier + Mailerlite.

Hi all, after 1.5 months of work. I wanted to share insights about what I’ve learned launching my first side hustle. www.indieux.review

Reason behind this idea

I always dreamt of launching something of my own. Sadly, I always had excuses why I could not. Back in autumn, I decided to take the plunge and started brainstorming.

I assumed that when Indie Hackers start, they spend most of their money either on no-code tools or marketing. UX is something they think of later.

Knowing that there are UX fundamentals you HAVE TO get it right. If you don't they will be a deal-breaker for your customers. So how do you do them right without hiring a freelance UX designer?

And then the lightbulb struck. What about creating an accessible service myself and use extensive UX experience to help people.

Who is the target customer?

My target customers are Indie Hackers who are not yet as profitable to hire a full-time UX/UI designer but still want to do something about their app and make it better.

I validated the assumption using the “Mom test” and got somewhat decent results.

I built a database of best practices.

I used Notion to build a database of best practices in various areas. Such as landing pages, login/register forms, onboarding, informational architecture, navigation, form design, visual design, general usability, and eCommerce.

Notion databse

I collected close to 80 different best practices with a problem statement and solution. This is my internal google.

Notion databse

Using Notion's database feature, I created a checklist for every topic. When I see that something is missing, I click on the topic and brush up on the theory behind the best practice. This allows me to better tailor the recommendation for the client.

Webflow + Google Sheets + Zapier + Mailerlite

I chose Webflow to build my landing page because it seemed to offer great design flexibility. Did it though? I am not sure. I think I could have done the same job faster with Bootstrap and HTML/CSS.

Reflecting back, here are my thoughts. If you know a bit of the front-end. Try Statamic. This is the best static CMS I have used. October CMS is also quite decent.

Sometimes they lack eCommerce and payment integrations. So you have to weigh the pros and cons. Webflow offers great payment integration with Stripe. That's one more reason why I chose it.

What if I got 1000 orders in a day?

Because what I offer is time-sensitive and I can only take on a few orders a week due to my full-time job. I had to think about how the hell do I manage expectations of the delivery time?

I needed a fail-safe system that would update Webflow on when a customer could expect delivery. This is where Google Sheets come into the picture.
Notion databse

I created a few calculations with the following logic:

  • There are 3 plan types. Each plan has different points.
  • Every week is like a bucket that can only contain 12 points.
  • The smallest plan has 3 points. So I can take in 4 orders a week.
  • The Standart plan has 4 points. 3 orders a week.
  • Extensive plan 12 points. 1 order a week.

The formula calculates how many points are left and if I go over the limit. It goes to the next week. I make sure I never over-promise if an order spike would occur.

See those dates on the right? That’s the time that is dynamically calculated on when I will be able to fulfill an order. This gets passed through Zapier back to Webflow for customers to see.

Webflow API sucks if I am honest.

Up until this point, everything was going well and I hit a wall. Mainly with Webflow eCommerce.

Do you want to customize your checkout form to add additional information? You can’t. Do you need to customize the order confirmation email? You can’t.

As a plan B, I decided to transfer the order information using Zapier to MailerLite and then create a decent email there. I ran into a problem AGAIN.

Zapier looks if a row or column has been updated and then passes the info that’s in the cell to MailerLite. For fields like name, surname, the price that’s fine. Works great.

But when it comes to order information. This is how they the API passes the information:

count: 1 height: 0 length: 0 productId: xxxxxsadasdasdasdxx productName: Extensive audit productSlug: extensive-audit rowTotal: {'unit': 'USD', 'value': 100, 'string': '$\xa01\xa0'} variantId: 324234234234sssasdasdas variantImage: None variantName: Extensive audit variantPrice: {'unit': 'USD', 'value': 100, 'string': '$\xa01\xa0'} variantSKU: None variantSlug: extensive-audit weight: 0 width: 0

You need to filter out this massive information dump yourself and with Zapier you can’t do that quickly or without custom code.

Good luck if you want to use a third-party email service for your orders.

Biggest insights

  • If you know a bit of front-end. Grab a static CMS and build your site there. You will save some time and headaches. But be aware of how well your payment providers integrate.
  • Webflow offers flexibility in terms of web layouts, but they struggle with e-commerce things. Customizing emails, grabbing order info via Zapier becomes a massive pain.
  • No code allows you to save money, but not necessarily time.

What’s next?

Now that Indie UX is launched, I want to experiment with different channels and see If can get a steady flow of orders.

I will be using this PDF as a starting point. If you have any idea on which distribution channel would work best. Please comment below. Also if you have any further questions, I will be more than happy to answer them.

Thanks guys and gals!

  1. 2

    Hey Arthur,

    Thanks for sharing your insights -- this was an interesting read.

    Have you thought about just selling that incredible checklist you created?

    I think you could offer both things: the checklist by itself AND the checklist + audit.

    Thus, people with lower budgets or a FYI mentality could potentially buy it and you, in turn, would start making money without selling your time anymore.

    Hope that helps.

    Have a great day!

    1. 2

      I have to be honest I am thinking about it. But I want to refine those practices and suggestions based on real experience. I want to do at least 20-30 audits so I could understand the most comment problems people face. I have a hunch, but every target market is a bit different.

      An idea is also to launch a paid newsletter.

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