TIMS stands for The Indie Maker Stack. It's a searchable database of 200+ free no-code tools and resources to build, launch, and grow your online projects.

TIMS - The Indie Maker Stack

Portrait of the maker

Quentin Villard

Maker

Maker

My challenge with this project was to show that it is actually possible to build a professional looking website, a valuable product and a profitable business without having to spend any money.

While building the project I realized that the tools I planed to use are even more powerful and offer so much more possibilities than I though in the first place, even on their free plans. For example:

  • Brizy is a very simple website builder but it also allows to create very customizable designs and offers custom domains for free!
  • Airtable bases are also extremely customizable with many different views options and features like password-protected access to bases.
  • Gumroad is not just for selling digital products, it also has powerful extra features like analytics, custom audiences and emails workflows.

The biggest learning here is that I didn't need to use as many tools as I though to build this project. Building online projects is getting easier as the tools available are getting more powerful and complete. You just need to know they exist and use the right ones for the right projects.

Starter Stack
57
hours to build

How to make your no-code side project for less than $10 and generate $2500 in revenue

What is it:

TIMS stands for The Indie Maker Stack. It's a searchable database of 200+ free no-code tools and resources to build, launch, and grow your online projects.

It is made to help aspiring makers and entrepreneurs with a complete set of tools and resources to build their projects with the tiniest budget possible.

Maker Insight:

My challenge with this project was to show that it is actually possible to build a professional looking website, a valuable product and a profitable business without having to spend any money.

While building the project I realized that the tools I planed to use are even more powerful and offer so much more possibilities than I though in the first place, even on their free plans. For example:

- Brizy is a very simple website builder but it also allows to create very customizable designs and offers custom domains for free!
- Airtable bases are also extremely customizable with many different views options and features like password-protected access to bases.
- Gumroad is not just for selling digital products, it also has powerful extra features like analytics, custom audiences and emails workflows.

The biggest learning here is that I didn't need to use as many tools as I though to build this project. Building online projects is getting easier as the tools available are getting more powerful and complete. You just need to know they exist and use the right ones for the right projects. "

What did I learn:

1. Using Brizy.cloud looks like a breeze. It is a single web page builder where you can get started for free. I would definitely recommend checking out tims to see how a professional looking website can be built using it.

What I like about this Brizy.cloud is how it has pre-made templates called blocks to help you get started. This is a huge benefit when planning to stand up a page in a matter of hours. Every tool comes with some type of learning curve. Identifying tools that reduce the time to launch are a reason why you should consider one tool vs another. Most competing website builders like Carrd come with templates to help you get started fast. But I can tell you from building many websites, that I've never used all the blocks or sections in a full template. I've always had to delete or spend the time to create my own custom block.

With Brizy.cloud you don't have to worry about spending time to find the perfect template. Because with blocks you can quickly choose a template that gets you most of the way there. Then use blocks to build. fast. Looking at the landing page for tims, I felt it was obvious to see a professional looking design. Throw in the fact that you can get a custom domain for free and have blocks, this tool rises as one of the top tools in the Side Project Stack database to use to get something launched quickly.

2. Launch lean and fast. Using all the tools in this stack would be my recommendation when getting started. The beauty of this stack is not only is it free, but the learning curve for all the tools is low.

Why does this matter? The #1 mistake I see Makers do is overbuild. Quentin's product is a great example that proves you don't need to create a completely customized web application to give value. In fact when first launching a product that can do more harm than good twofold.

1. In the beginning you should be spending more time talking to potential users to validate the problem. Or in Quentin's case, spending time on research to put together the list of tools.

2. Prior to launching Quentin did not have the ultimate level of validation yet. Until people actually spend money for your product, it's very hard to tell at what value do people see the product or service offering. The only way is to ship it. To minimize the risk, the key is to ship quickly. The more time you spend overbuilding, with higher learning curve tools the more time you could be spending on creating the wrong thing.

I have learned this lesson many times. Quentin does a great job, of using the best tools and moving fast by validating fast. Using lower learning curve type tools is half the battle. As a product Maker, you'll need to demonstrate discipline like Quentin to ship quickly. The impressive thing with tims, is Quentin made it looks highly professional without sinking his time into other no-code tools that would take more time to learn like Webflow, and dynamically integrating with Webflow CMS would guarantee a much longer build time.

3. Get validation. 69% of Makers that I've interviewed have not made and successfully shipped a product. Besides overbuilding a large reason for that, is when you are creating something new, a certain level of self doubt will surface. How do you know you are building it the right way? Nothing beats gaining confidence during your build that it adds value. The ultimate way to validate that is by standing up a landing page for email sign up or collecting payment for pre-orders. I learned from Quentin how he overcame that by shipping something. So often as Makers we think of product launches as big fancy things on Product Hunt.

The non obvious thing is there are in fact many launches you should be doing. One of those is launching a pre-order page to twitter. This reduces your risk in launching to a larger audience like launching on Product Hunt. You will only get one Product Hunt launch. How do you get good feedback, validation, testimonials and insights to improve your product before your official launch?

The best Makers I know launch many times. Launching a pre-order page is a great way to validate before you're ready to launch to a bigger audience.

4. Visual design stack. I was really impressed with the design of this page. It takes a designer to recognize how to put together a great UX/UI. But the good news is we all can learn from great examples like tims, and model it for our own projects. What helps with that is knowing what tools to use. Thanks to Q, you can too:

For the design/illustrations on the website, I used:
- http://blush.design for the main illustrations.
- http://scribbbles.design for more visual assets
- Finally, I used @Figma to mix it all, adapt sizes and colors + create small additional designs."

Here are additional insights and notes from my Maker interview with Quentin:

TL;DR Interview with Quentin

How to make your no-code side project for less than $10 and generate $2500 in revenue.

Learn pricing strategies and insights when using tools like Gumroad. Learn the good things and lessons learned from Quentin to help with you project.

Find free awesome design tools to help make your project look professional on a budget.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your story?

QV: My name is Quentin, I’m 32 and I’m from Paris. I am working as the Head of Growth in a French startup by day, and I am a nocode maker by night.

Before that, I started my professional career working as a project manager in the music industry for about 4 years as this was my passion at that time. I then got interested in the tech startup world. For the past 5 years, I’ve been working for different early-stage French tech startups, mainly as a business developer and growth marketer.

That led me to discover the nocode world as it is know today, and I got passionate about it. Since the beginning of 2020 I started to build and launch my first projects. Up to date, I launched 3 projects about nocode. Nocode Essentials which is a directory of nocode resources and a newsletter, Nocode Mentors which allows anyone to book a 1-on-1 call with nocode experts, and TIMS which is a database of more than 200 free tools and resources for Indie Makers.

Can you tell us about the story behind Tims and why did you choose no-code?

Was there an itch to scratch or problem you recognized. How did you spot the problem and then decide to make something to help solve it.

QV: For the past few years, I’ve been curating all the best tools and resources that I found and used as a maker and early stage startup employee. At some point I realized that I had sourced many powerful tools and useful assets that were free to use or offered valuable free plans. That allowed me to easily find the right tools to test, build, and grow my online projects ideas without having to know how to code nor invest big budgets.

Nowadays, there is a tremendous amount of free tools and resources that anyone can use to build, design, promote and monetize their online businesses.

Having a well organized and easily searchable database of all those tools and resources has been extremely helpful for me. I then realized that if it was helping me to save a lot of time and money while launching online projects, it had to be valuable to other aspiring makers and entrepreneurs.

This is why I decided to make it a full digital product and create Tims, The Indie Maker Stack.

The funny thing about this project is that I used the database to build it. That allowed me to launch this project with less than $5, only paying for the gettims.co domain name. And I got validation for it as it already generated more that $2.5K in revenue.

3. What is your stack to create Tims?

For the website, I used brizy.cloud
For the design/illustrations on the website, I used:
* blush.design for the main illustrations

* scribbbles.design for more visual assets

* Figma to mix it all, adapt sizes and colors + create small additional designs.

For the database/director, I used Airtable
For selling the database, I used Gumroad
For emails to customers and subscribers, I used MailerLite
I also used Zapier to connect Gumroad customers with MailterLite

4. Did you start off with this stack or did it change while making it. If yes, please give insights into what you discovered.

I knew from the beginning which stack I wanted to use for this projects. All the tools had to be simple and free to use. I basically used my own product to build it. I selected free tools and resources from my own database to build the project and brand it as a digital product.

5. Can you share your thoughts on pricing. How did you arrive on $29 pre-order and general strategy?

Pricing is always a tough question when it comes to digital products. As this is my first paid digital product, I had to do some research to understand the good practice and how other makers were pricing their products too.

One interesting way to have a first idea of what the product’s worth is to know how many hours the maker worked to create it. Then count $1 for each hour spent on building the product.

It took me about 50 hours to build Tims, including organizing the database, building the website, setting up a Gumroad account and creating emails automations. That is why I decided to price it $49 as the original price. But as it is a good marketing strategy and as I wanted to test a lower price first, I set up an early bird plan at $29.

I quickly got some pre-order customers and that was a first validation of the pricing.

But for digital product makers, my overall advice would be to test a pricing that seems fair to them, listen to peers and potential customers’ opinions before launching, measure conversion metrics, and iterate if needed.

Can you give 2-3 details using each tool in your stack. If a friend asked you about each tool, what important insights would you share about each tool to help them save time or would benefit from knowing?

example: any insights, advantages and disadvantages, things that surprised you, disappointed you for each tool:
Regarding the website, I decided to use Brizy because of one key feature it offers: free custom domains. That is a real game-changer in the website builder market. That means anyone can have a website that looks professional (with its own custom domain) up and running for free. That’s incredibly empowering when willing to test ideas with a professional-looking website URL.

The free plan also includes a lot of features like forms and many design options. if you don’t know it, you should give it a try (you don’t even have to sign up to get started).

About Gumroad, it is the must-go-to tool for selling digital products. Not only it is super intuitive and free to use (it takes commissions), but it also has powerful extra features like analytics, custom audiences, and email workflows. Moreover, Gumroad covers pretty much every usecases for selling digital products offering the ability to set up pre-orders, discount codes, and affiliate programs.

One tip though, when using Gumroad’s pre-order feature, don’t wait more than 1 month to actually release your product. You will end up with failed credit cards when Gumroad is actually charging them on launch time.

Regarding the database, Airtable is a no-brainer. It is so powerful and user friendly at the same time. In addition to the well-known features that are the ability to create different views of the database and use their powerful filtering options, it offers easy to set up sharing options.

It even offers the possibility to create password-protected bases which can be very useful for digital products.

One tip for Figma, there is a plugin that lets you use blush.design directly within Figma. That makes it even easier to create and customize all the awesome illustrations you can find on blush.design.

Finally, MailerLite is extremely easy to use with a clean and simple interface. Its workflow feature is super powerful. And the ability to create forms inside emails is a key feature of its own.

7. Where do you see Makers/Startups/Businesses missing opportunity? This could be a high level thought/philosophy on opportunity with no-code.

Many makers and aspiring entrepreneurs still don’t know that they can now build online projects and test their ideas without the need of a tech team nor big investments. There are so many powerful tools and resources that they can use for free to build, design, illustrate, promote, and monetize their projects. All makers that are not aware of that are actually missing a lot of opportunities and maybe missing their chance to enter their niche market at the right time.

At a higher level, I think there is a huge opportunity for companies to use nocode tools for many purposes to improve their productivity and performance. A few of these opportunities are:

Free up the tech team’s time and let it focus on complex tech things. Stop using their precious time to build a website, a blog, a landing page, a newsletter template or any simple automated workflow. Learn to use nocode tools like Webflow, Zapier, and MailterLite to do that.

Building better internal tools to improve operations and processes. There are many nocode tools made for that like Internal, Retool, or Stacker. But sometimes simply implementing a good use of Notion and Airtable is a first good step toward that objective.

Use nocode for growth purposes. Scraping and sorting data, automating growth tactics to fill up the sales pipeline with hot leads, building side products for some side product marketing.

I believe that nocode will lead to the creation of multiple new jobs and positions such as consultants, nocode devs, and even internal nocode experts. This is already happening and will expand very quickly in the following months.

8. What is missing while making and launching that if you had more of would help save time, money, boost success?

Having a complete set of tools and knowing which one to use to get started quickly with a low budget is one thing that I missed a few years ago. This is actually why I created Tims, because I needed it and I think it can benefit a lot of other makers too.

Being able to find and choose powerful free tools that allow building, marketing, and launching a complete product is the key to saving time and money. It makes it so much easier to quickly put an MVP on the market, see how people react and iterate.

As money and time are saved, the decision to pivot or to stop the project is also easier to make.

But even before starting to build something, joining communities of makers is also something I missed before I got into the nocode world. Talking to other makers and entrepreneurs is a very good way to find the right direction and save time.

9. When building anything there is always something unexpected that occured. What parts did you get stuck and learn most from?

One unexpected thing that happened to me while building Tims is that I waited a bit too long between the pre-order launch and the actual release date. Right after the pre-order announcement, I got a lot more pre-orders than I expected and I decided to take extra time to make the final product as good and valuable as possible. I finally released it 1 month and 2 days after I got the first pre-orders, and the unexpected thing happened. I realized that for all the pre-orders I got in the first 2 days, payments were rejected by the customers’ banks.

This is how Gumroad works. When using the pre-order feature, it blocks the amount on the customer’s account for 30 days and then charges it on the release date.

The key learning here is that if you release your product more than 30 days after the first pre-orders, you might end up with failed transactions. Something to keep in mind.

10. Please provide what links to your project website, your twitter, where can people return the love?

Tims’ Website: https://www.gettims.co/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/quentinvllrd

Other projects I launched:

Nocode Mentors: https://www.nocodementors.com/

Nocode Essentials: https://www.nocodeessentials.com/

11. Is there anything else you would like to share or some feedback/request/action that you’d like to ask the Side Project Stack Audience to do for you?

About gettims.co, I would really appreciate it if anyone could spread the word to all aspiring makers that are willing to launch their online projects but are struggling to find the right tools that will allow them to get going with virtually no money.

I haven’t set it up yet but it could be an interesting idea to launch an affiliate program for Tims, anyone interested in this can reach out on Twitter.

Other than that, I would be very interested if anyone had any feedback about the value proposition, the pricing or anything else.

Twitter is the best place to reach out to me.

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