A personal website using a resource directory & portfolio tracking approach. This personal site contains: list of startup MVPs, Building in Public, NoCode articles, Book list, Consulting Biz page, Digital Products shop all in one place.

Personal Website

Portrait of the maker

Zoe Chew

Maker

Maker
  1. Migrated from WordPress to Carrd for simplicity. I started my personal website on WordPress before I migrated to Carrd. The reason: I wanted to quickly update and maintain my website without going through a complicated dashboard and plugins in WordPress. With Carrd, I can easily open an editor and start updating my content. If I want to integrate with Substack, Facebook Pixel, I can simply add an embed code and get the job done.
  2. Used Medium and Substack to compensate for CMS. Since Carrd doesn't provide CMS blogging functionality, I decided to use Medium and Substack for publishing articles. The distribution is great and I'm always amazed by the amount of inbound leads I get by using third-party blogging platform. These days, I spend $0 marketing on acquiring clients.
  3. Embed everything. Instead of designing a resource section natively on the website using Carrd, I've used Airtable and Notion to create resources and embed them on Carrd. This helps me eliminate the web design work and get to create useful content.
Starter Stack
3
hours to build

Use Carrd compared to Wordpress for your website

What is it:

A personal website using a resource directory & portfolio tracking approach. This personal site contains: list of startup MVPs, Building in Public, NoCode articles, Book list, Consulting Biz page, Digital Products shop all in one place. I started this project because I wanted to keep myself accountable in launching products, blog posts, coding, reading and learning.

Maker Insight:

"1. Migrated from WordPress to Carrd for simplicity. I started my personal website on WordPress before I migrated to Carrd. The reason: I wanted to quickly update and maintain my website without going through a complicated dashboard and plugins in WordPress. With Carrd, I can easily open an editor and start updating my content. If I want to integrate with Substack, Facebook Pixel, I can simply add an embed code and get the job done.
2. Used Medium and Substack to compensate for CMS. Since Carrd doesn't provide CMS blogging functionality, I decided to use Medium and Substack for publishing articles. The distribution is great and I'm always amazed by the amount of inbound leads I get by using third-party blogging platform. These days, I spend $0 marketing on acquiring clients.
3. Embed everything. Instead of designing a resource section natively on the website using Carrd, I've used Airtable and Notion to create resources and embed them on Carrd. This helps me eliminate the web design work and get to create useful content."

What did I learn:

1. The advantages of building minimal. I love Zoe story here because it is such a valuable lesson in building with discipline. Zoe stated she switched from Wordpress to Carrd to simplify her process in maintaining her site and blogging. It is a hard decision to switch from a tool you already have started learning and invested in because of sunk costs. I am inspired by Zoe because she made the difficult and painful decision to scrap her investment with Wordpress and start over with Carrd. This short term hit was an investment for the long term.

Her reasons, stated "complicated dashboard and plugins with Wordpress", and "quickly update and maintain her website" are both very valid things that I can attest to as well.

This is a perfect case study for using no-code tools in general that we all can learn from. Because out of the hundreds of people I have seen start their journey in no-code, my #1 observation is no-code newbies ask where should they start and what tools should they learn.

In my experience this is the wrong starting point. We should not start with the technology and decide what should I build or what customer should I try to sell my product too.

Instead as Steve Jobs famously said, "You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and then figure out where you are going to sell it.”

We should first start with our audience, what problem they have and work backwards from there. It is perfectly fine for using yourself as the first member of the audience that you're trying to build for as you scratch your itch. Once you understand what is the problem you're trying to solve, then you can work backwards from there to validate and build as minimally as possible. From there you will increase your odds of success, because often when we take that route to problem solving it starts us with tools that have much less of a learning curve. Learning a new tool or platform is expensive. It is expensive and costly with your time. The more time goes on without momentum the less chance your project will make it to the finish line.

Start with the problem or experience you want to provide, work backwards to find what are the tools with the smallest learning curve to provide some type of solution that you can use to get validation.

I built a free tool that helps anyone find what are the best no-code tools to use for the no-code solution you have in mind. It is a #1 Product Hunt of the day and has helped thousands of Makers start their no-code journey. You can try for free here: sidprojectstack.com/get-stackd-product-hunt-launch

2. Distribution
I thought it was really interesting to hear how Zoe is solving for bloggers distribution problem. She stated, "Used Medium and Substack to compensate for CMS." Since Carrd doesn't provide CMS blogging functionality, I decided to use Medium and Substack for publishing articles. The distribution is great and I'm always amazed by the amount of inbound leads I get by using third-party blogging platform. These days, I spend $0 marketing on acquiring clients".

If you're blogging I think you have to consider experimenting with different approaches by evaluating what are your goals, and what subject are you blogging about? Are you blogging about something that is often Googled about? So then SEO will need to be a big part of your long-tail distribution strategy.

If not, and you're customers or inbound leads are hanging out on Medium or Substack more, that makes more sense to spend your time publishing there. It's so overlooked to think, well I'll just publish everywhere. But the fact is if you're trying to breakthrough and you're working hard to create great content, publishing needs to be quick and easy. Because your time is sparse. As a Maker I have made the mistake time and time again of biting off more than I can chew, and not starting small enough. You can't be everywhere at once.

I think that my lesson and takeaway from Zoe is that you really need to think about where is my audience hanging out at that will give me the greatest value capture in return. Bravo to Zoe for finding this as its clearly working for her since "these days, I spend $0 marketing on acquiring clients".

Be patient, think through and know your audience, discover what type of effort and value you need to deliver to get the positive value capture in return. It's all an experiment!

3. Accountability
When I first started making things I didn't understand the true value of building in the open. I only saw it from my perspective which is, this person who I am following is sharing what they learned in the open and they are a great person because it helps me learn.

Until I started building in the open, I really did not grasp the benefits of it from the Maker perspective:
1. Marketing for your product (you get to talk about your product without really directly talking about it)
2. Accountability

I love how Zoe keeps accountability by posting a scoreboard on your personal site of all the things that she is doing to grow.

Zoe's personal goals for 2020 scoreboard (these are the topics). go to her site to check it out.
Task:Progress
Start NewCo: in Progress
Launch products: 7/7
Books per year: 21/24
Blog posts: 10/12

She goes on to list these other categories: email list, #100daysofcode, exercise, remote call with founders, IRL meetup with founders

What an amazing concept! So obvious but not many folks do it. This works for Zoe that much is obvious. But I am not advocating that everyone go out and copy Zoe to create a scoreboard like this.

What the principle I am trying to say that I have learned is that you have to figure out what makes you tick? What do you know that if you share publicly will help you keep yourself accountable.

It is so easy as a Maker or person in general to give up on yourself. We so easily justify in life things that we have good intentions of doing but don't follow through. If that weren't the case then New Year's Resolutions would work.

As a Maker I believe this is such a valuable lesson to learn from Zoe, pick things, a scoreboard, tweeting out progress, doing a weekly standup to share progress, having an accountability buddy, anything to help you increase the odds of making progress so that you ship that thing you're doing.

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