No Code - Build an Online Business with Zero Coding Knowledge (2021)
People are building $million businesses with No Code Platforms
Hi 👋, Sahil here.
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Anyone can now build internet businesses, no matter how much coding they know.
Micro-businesses on the internet will flourish as entrepreneurs build more products, services & websites using no code.
Branding, building a social media audience & distribution will become key differentiators as no code platforms reduce the barriers to entry.
No Code is still a fragmented industry “with numerous solutions, platforms, and submarkets.”
After 6 months of running this newsletter and podcast, Siddharth & I realised we were desperately in need of a website. We could’ve gotten a web developer, but it would’ve cost money and taken a lot of time that we didn’t want to spend. Plus, any future changes would require developer help again.
So - we decided to build it ourselves. Throughout the entire process of building a website with 50+ pages, dynamic content and Twitter & Spotify integration, we never once wrote a single line of code.
How do two guys with zero money & zero coding knowledge build a website?
In this newsletter, we’ll explore the No Code, Low Code Platforms that have popped up over the last few years and the opportunities that these provide for aspiring entrepreneurs.
P.s.: This is the website we built - not the prettiest but it works as a V1.
🧐 Market Gap
Building internet businesses has always required coding skills or web developers who can be quite expensive.
But what about the entrepreneurs and designers with great ideas and no coding skills?
All businesses nowadays (online & offline) need an online presence but few have the necessary skills to code their own website.
⚒️ What is No Code?
No code is basically a movement trying to democratise the tools needed to build a profitable internet business. Theoretically, with these tools, you do not need coding skills (or a Whitehat Jr. degree) to build the products that you envision.
“The promise of no-code platforms is that they’ll make software development just as easy as using Word or PowerPoint so that the average business user can move projects forward without the extra cost (in money and time) of an engineering team.” - VentureBeat
I’m going to take you through our own journey of using various no code platforms and evaluating our take on each one of them. There are plenty of enterprise level no code platforms as well but the focus in this article will be at the small business level.
No Code Blogging or Newsletter Publishing
A lot of people start off their internet business journey by building an audience through blogging, newsletters, YouTube, etc. We’ve written about this in detail before
We also wanted to start off this way and started looking for the best no code platforms to build this audience.
So what are the tools that you can use to build your own blog or newsletter?
Substack - my favorite.
Revue - just got acquired by Twitter who added a newsletter tab for Revue.
Mailchimp - Newsletter only - no blogging.
Ghost - for people with large audiences already.
Our Pick: Substack
We use Substack because:
a) Absolutely free and they provide you with an easy monetisation option (they take a 10% cut).
b) Our past newsletters are stored as web pages on the internet - we get significant Google traffic from this. Mailchimp does not do this.
c) We paid a one time fee to connect our custom subdomain to Substack. To see what I mean - go to our website and click on ‘Trend Reports’ at the top - it will take you to our Substack page.
Building a No Code Landing Page
I recently had a chat with a cousin who was confused about how to start building the digital presence for his family business from scratch - website + social media + directories + more can be quite overwhelming.
My advice to him was to simply start with a landing page and slowly build up from there. This landing page can capture people’s contact details and you can even experiment with Google/FB ads if you want to check the product’s appeal. My main requirement for a landing page builder is simplicity so that anyone can use it.
Landing Page No Code Platforms:
Our Pick: Carrd
We made our first ever landing page on Carrd. It was kickass.
I absolutely love Carrd for making landing pages because it is:
Cheap - only $19/yr
Very easy to use. I was able to build our landing page in less than 30 minutes.
Integration with Mailchimp allows you to capture emails.
The templates are clean and built with conversion in mind.
Building a No Code Website
Building a website. This is when shit starts getting serious.
Whenever I’m building a new website, the #1 priority for me is how easy it will be to make changes in the future. The problem with platforms like Wordpress or Magento (I’ve used both) is that even the smallest change may require coding, thus tying you to whomever built your website.
Webflow - I could not understand it at all - Webflow works best for designers who already know a lot about building websites. My wife (an NID trained designer) built a website within an hour of opening Webflow.
Bubble - Another popular tool which I could not understand despite putting 5 hours into learning it. Too much customizability.
Bildr - Again, a bit too complicated for me (I’m noticing a pattern here).
Glide - Really easy to use but only for mobile apps (I realised this after I built the whole thing).
Ghost - We might use it for our next website.
Pory - Relatively easy to use.
Sharetribe - To build Marketplaces.
Softr - Our final choice.
Our Pick: Softr
We use Softr because:
a) Uses blocks which are relatively easy to move around and build the website. Building a new podcast page (example) takes me 5 minutes.
b) Affordable - we pay $100 per year for the website.
c) Responsive customer service - small startup which just received $2.2 million in funding. I joined their Slack group (~200 people) and the founders are very responsive to anyone who has an issue, question or product request.
d) New features almost every week.
e) Good SEO integrations. These are our SEO results one month after launching (help us grow):
No Code Ecommerce
We’re currently building an audience with our podcast and newsletter and eventually we might look for different ways to monetise this audience. One way to do this would be to start selling products (digital or physical).
No joke, we’ve thought about selling popcorn.
There are plenty of no code platforms to help with monetisation.
Shopify - The best ecommerce website building platform. If you believe differently, change my mind.
WooCommerce - Yawn.
Dukaan - for entrepreneurs in India
Gumroad - Marketplace for creators to sell digital products.
Kajabi - Selling digital products on your own website. Expensive.
No Code App Development
I never thought I could build an app with no code. Most of the no code app development platforms listed below allow you to build an app using a database like AirTable or Google Sheets.
Glide - really easy, integrates well with Google sheets. Do you want to use our custom The Indian Dream podcast app?
Bubble - A tool that requires strong design knowledge.
Thunkable - One of the best tools on this list.
No Code Platforms to Build Community Engagement
Think Facebook but completely controlled by you.
If you’re trying to build an engaged community around a certain topic, these tools might be useful for you - they integrate directly with your existing website. We’ve signed up for both these services but we’ve not yet integrated them with our website because we don’t have a large enough user base yet.
No Code Workflow Automation Platforms
This is where I wish I knew more than I do. I’ve heard so much about Zapier but I’ve been too lazy (scared) to actually learn anything about it.
Microsoft Power Automate - Not intuitive.
IFTTT - Easy to use but kinda useless?
Other No Code Platforms
Scraper.ai - Scrape data from websites and automate notifications when something changes.
Buildbox - No Code mobile game development.
Atra - for blockchain
C3 Ai Ex Machina - No code for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications
Grid - helping businesses build process management apps using no code as a replacement for clunky ERP systems.
NoCodeAPI - Self-explanatory name.
How do I learn No Code?
You can take my approach of just flailing around until you find the correct tools.
Or you can use online resources/courses to acquaint yourself with all the tools available right now. Just remember to check the age of the content - this field is changing so fast that even 2 year old courses may now be invalid.
NoCode.mba - 7 day free trial, then $199 / year
NoCode.tech - £40/month
Udemy Course - about a year old.
Zeroqode Labs - lifetime access for $149
No Code Communities
These are the two biggest communities that I’ve found. There are many others but they’re not active enough to be useful.
My Favourite No Code Resource
I always go back to this website whenever I’m looking for anything No Code related. It’s beautiful, easy to use and I love it.
🙏 Our Predictions
Developers will move to difficult problems while simple automations/problems are solved by no code tools.
Website designers will no longer rely on backend developers for simple websites.
Software companies will build internal no code tools.
This will allow non-coding members to ship products faster.
Companies are already creating customised knowledge management solutions on no code platforms like Notion. (p.s. Siddharth is an expert at Notion)
There is going to be a gold rush in this field over the next few years but the biggest winners will be the tools that provide the picks and shovels. Expect to see:
No code apps.
No code communities.
No code agencies.
No code cohort based courses.
No code everything.
No code templates.
No code White Hat Jr.?
Learn Webflow & Bubble if you’re already a designer.
Sell the full stack (design + development) to future clients using your new Webflow skills. This guy already does it.
Build templates for these complex no code platforms.Crossed INR 100,000+ today JUST from templates sales. Call it passive income, or 'build once sell twice'. The pace has slowed (haven't published many new templates), but it is steady and it still makes me happy seeing a sale notification email from Stripe.
Amit S. @sardamit$1,000+ in @glideapps template sales. Never imagined that my first taste of selling digital goods will involve selling something as niche as Glide Apps templates. 3 months, 28 published templates, 28 sales, buyers from 14 countries, prices ranging from $4.99 to $99.99.
Create content around No code.
Build a YouTube channel teaching basic concepts - none of the videos for No Code are in the millions of views yet -> large capacity for growth.
Write a newsletter or a blog helping people build no code skills or keep track of changes in the industry.
Build a no code community in India.
Start a no code agency to help people build products or websites FAST.
Consult companies to help with their digital transformation using No Code.
Using no code requires a change in a company’s culture.
For example, this API provides you unlimited API calls of high quality images of Dogs.
Productise your services using no code platforms.
Help existing traditional businesses set up their ecommerce stores.
Teach no code.
Build that app idea that you’ve had for the past decade.
Or that website you’ve always wanted to make.
🧐 Looking to explore this market?
Send us an email and we’ll be happy to connect you with people we’ve spoken to in this market.