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How Dani Bell built a $30k MRR done-for-you content marketing business with no-code
6 min read

How Dani Bell built a $30k MRR done-for-you content marketing business with no-code

Scribly.io
How Dani Bell built a $30k MRR done-for-you content marketing business with no-code

Hey! What are you working on and what led you to building with no code? Have you got any previous experience of building sites/apps?

Hey! My name's Dani and I'm the founder of the NoCode content service Scribly.io. I am totally non-technical, so when I decided to launch a productised service in 2018 I needed a solution that was simple, low-cost and would allow me to launch as quickly possible. I didn't set out to launch a NoCode business, I kind of fell into it by instinctively patch-working solutions together with tools like Zapier and Airtable. I have zero experience building with no code, and even less experience running a business. But fast forward 2 years and I'm now running a successful business that's powered entirely by NoCode!

What platforms and tools have you used to build Scribly.io? How long did it take to build?

In a nutshell, Scribly is powered in large part by 5 NoCode tools: Airtable, Webflow, Google Docs, SPP and Zapier. In a super straight forward use-case, our platform works like this:

  1. A customer visits the website, which is built in Webflow
  2. They buy a product on the website using SPP
  3. Once a product/package has been purchased, the customer will receive an automated email to submit the details needed for us to get started
  4. Our content strategist will get to work creating a plan for the client, and mark the content plan ready for review by the client
  5. Once signed off, the account manager will assign briefs to our team of writers using Airtable. Writers get an automatic slack notification as soon as they are assigned a task, and a reminder 24 hours before the due date (done using Zapier)
  6. As soon as a new task is created in Airtable, a Google Doc will automatically be created in the correct client folder, with the right permissions set
  7. The writer will work on the content, and when it's done, mark it as ready to edit. This triggers a Slack notification (again, using Zapier) that notifies the editor assigned to the task
  8. Finally, the account manager will deliver the content back to the client via SPP

This is quite a high level overview of a nice and smooth use case, but you can see how the mix of NoCode tools here have enabled us to automate this process almost completely. There are still parts that could be more streamlined, for example - we still manually assign writers but this is something that could be automated as it's almost always the same writers working on specific clients. Similarly, moving information over from SPP to Airtable is something we could look to optimize, too. Getting to this point has been a bit of trial and error, and I made iterations as we added more complexity. For example, the precursor to Airtable was Trello - but that is pretty useless at handling multiple clients. Best of all? Most of the tools here are FREE. With the exception of SPP ($49/m), Quickflow ($20/m) and the Google business accounts costs (around $15/m). All in all, I would say it took around 6-8 weeks in total to build to its current form (split into chunks), and so far these tools have enabled me to grow the business to $30K MRR in a year.

How have you gone about growing your user base? What has been most effective?

I used to be a freelance writer, so the very first Scribly clients were previous clients who I managed to convert over to the new model. They were effectively looking for a full-time content resource without the costs of hiring in house, which Scribly solved for them. Because the business was founded based on my experiences of working in the niche I was targeting, it wasn't too difficult to get those first clients on the books. I knew my ideal customer really well, and I fully understood their core pain points. This allowed me to build the embryonic version of Scribly around clearly defined user needs. Since then, our growth has been entirely driven by organic marketing and word-of-mouth. We have always insisted on delivering an exceptional quality service to our clients (and often have said no to new business if we felt it would impact service for current customers). Our clients frequently recommend us to their networks when they are asked about content or copywriting services, so our focus on customer experience has helped us to scale for sure. Other than that, I've spent quite a bit of time talking openly about my experiences as a first-time solo founder. I've taken every speaker / podcast / interview opportunity I could and also engaged in communities like IndieHackers and the Productized Services FB group. This has gained brand exposure and given me a chance to build trust with people long before they get in touch.

Have you monetised it yet and if so, what is your revenue model?

Monthly subscriptions to content marketing packages. As part of our content packages, clients get:

  • Monthly keyword and competitor research
  • An SEO optimised content plan
  • A dedicated writer and editorial team
  • An account manager
  • Unlimited edits
  • A monthly report

We noticed that lots of people feel a bit bamboozled about where to get started with content marketing. So we've packaged up everything you'd need into an affordable, scalable tool that businesses can integrate into their marketing plans with ease.

What has been the hardest part of building, growing or monetising Scribly.io?

I think there are two key challenges that I've faced: The first has nothing to do with the business and everything to do with me: burnout. When you're building a business, it's so easy to get totally absorbed with it. For around 18 months I was so focused on making Scribly a success that I was working insanely long days, checking my emails at all hours and never really taking a day off. This is totally unhealthy and unsustainable behaviour, and at some point it's definitely going to catch up with you. I burnt out big time at the end of last year, and since then have taken strict steps to put boundaries in place to make sure I have a work-life balance. These are simple things, like committing to not checking emails in the evenings (which I struggled with as a lot of our customers are in the US, where the working day is during my evening), setting myself clear goals so that I can prioritise work, and delegating to other people as much as possible. It's *so* important that you take care of your mental health as a founder. Your business needs you to be at your peak, so do what you need to do to make sure you don't overburden yourself. The second challenge for me has been hiring the right people to enable Scribly to scale. The things I've learnt along the way are that: 1) If you want great people, you have to be willing to spend money to get them. Great people don't come cheap, but the right talents will be *so* worth the investment. I doubled Scribly's revenue in 6 months when I finally found the perfect Head of Content, who allowed me to step out from the day-to-day running of the business and concentrate on growth. 2) If you want to set people up for success, you need to be super clear on what you expect from them. Define clear responsibilities, set objectives, and keep lines of communication open every day. Create as much process and documentation as possible to help your team do their jobs well.

Do you have any tips on building, growing or monetising a no code product/business?

My only real advice here is: Know your industry/niche/ target audience inside out. As an ex content writer, it was a very natural progression for me to transition into this type of business. I knew exactly what my ideal customer would need both from a business and platform perspective, so I could then just concentrate on building that as simply and affordably as possible. If you're not clear about what your target audience's burning needs and desires are, then stop building and start speaking to people. This temporary pause will speed things up so much later down the line, and you can make sure you're actually investing your energy into something that solves a problem and that people will use.

Where can we find out more about Scribly.io and connect with you?

Website: dani@scribly.io
Twitter: @dani_scribly
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniella-bell/

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