Stephen Campbell is a no-code maker and founder of Virtual Ghost Writer - AI based copy writer built with OpenAI's GPT-3 and bubble.io. He has background in the field of Chemical & Process Engineering.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share your story about what brought you to the nocode space and what you are doing now?
After I became interested in doing business online and had been doing a bit of research in late 2018, it became clear that a solid strategy was selling digital assets (not getting involved with shipping physical products myself) or generating a residual stream by selling a service. I was interested in getting into artificial intelligence to build an application that people would find valuable and buy. Because of the great hurdle in learning to code and understanding machine learning algorithms I realized that maybe the quickest way to go about getting into the space was through website design and site development via wordpress and manipulating a few premium themes.
I built a few sites as projects as well as work for hire and started trying to figure out ways to monetize the skills that I garnered. Getting traffic then became another hurdle I had to overcome. More research led to eventually getting involved with domain name investing where I would buy and sell domain names. I still do that to this actively even now. I share a lot about that experience on my twitter page: @flipwebdomains. That was quite a learning experience and I am still learning there.
I then stumbled across a tweet, where Michael Gill mentioned selling a no code related domain name. I had not heard about the no code movement before this, but this tweet had caused my world to collide with the no code movement.
I quickly went all out into research on what #nocode was and what it meant. I was excited to find out that I was already doing no-code by building a lot of the sites that I did for projects and that was actually how my brain was wired. I always wanted to continue doing applications and sites without writing code. This was me, this was my thing, this was finally what I was looking for. I started calling myself a no-code maker.
Tell us about the projects that you have developed using no-code tools. What nocode tools did you use, how long did it take and how was your experience in using them?
A lot of no-code makers rarely ever talk about wordpress as I think it is a not so popular no-code tool. This for me though, is one of the most powerful tools to use and has proven itself over a long period of time on the internet. It is my go to in building websites. I have used it for about 2 years and it was very intuitive to learn. It took me just a few weeks to get a handle on building very decent websites in my opinion. I still have several sites built on wordpress and will keep them active until a buyer comes along. A few of my wordpress projects include:
- MaternityMatters.com: an e-commerce store in the maternity niche.
- SuperChargerMap.com: find a tesla supercharger within 10 km of your current location
- NoCodeMakers.com: my MVP forum platform for no-code makers
The next tool I want to talk about is bubble. This has become my favorite tool and the only tool I use out of the “popular” tools in the no-code space. I have been so consumed with bubble that I have not been able to launch out to become extremely proficient with a lot of the other tools in the space, though I have tried a few. After taking a few days to complete bubble’s 12 part crash course I started building ideas with the examples they provided. I then fell in love with the logic based visual programming language and decided to build other tools on it. A few of my bubble projects include:
A few other tools I really like using are Dorik.com & Carrd.co. I would love to learn more about zapier, integromat and webflow.
So what milestones have you achieved for your business and what are your future plans
I had set a few goals at the start and I would say I have achieved some of them. A few notable milestones include:
- Achieving my first paid user from a SaaS application I built: November 23, 2020
- Getting to 100 users of my application: November 23, 2020
- Getting to 50 paid users: December 22, 2020
- Getting to top ten (10) product of the day on ProductHunt.com: December 31, 2020
- Getting to 100 paid users: January 21, 2021
Can you share a story of the biggest challenge that you faced as a no-code maker? What did you do to address the challenge?
The biggest challenge I have experienced is getting an audience to share my products with. When I just started I wanted to grow an audience on twitter in order to create traction on the products that I would launch there. It is extremely difficult to gain traction on twitter when followers are less than 100. It’s like tweeting into an abyss. I started thinking about projects that would attract interest in the no-code space. So I started out by building no-code related projects, since our no-code audience is pretty active on twitter.
What I learned also is that I had to grow an audience on different platforms simultaneously (facebook, linkedin, indiehackers, twitter, youtube, email list). Once I started putting content out on various platforms simultaneously something started to happen. I would get a few emails & DMs here and there and it was indicative of something I was doing right. What really changed things was posting my stuff on reddit.com and producthunt.com. This by far changed the game for me when I launched my biggest project to date: virtualghostwriter.com. This is still where I get most of the traffic to my SaaS app. Here are my stats as of Feb 2, 2021: https://plausible.io/virtualghostwriter.com.
Based on your experience, what are some of the mistakes that you think that beginner no-code makers make and how can these be avoided?
I personally think that there are no mistakes per-say when getting started as a no-code maker. Everything that is done counts towards gaining more understanding and know-how to navigate the space. Now if that learning is not put into action then there can be paralysis on a continuous basis for as long as there is inaction. Action has to be taken daily and intentionally. Shipping quickly.
I guess it also depends on why persons are coming into the no-code space. I guess some are just doing it for fun and it’s just a side thing. Not everybody wants to build a business out of a “hobby” and that is okay too. If the intention is to start a business using no-code tools then a lot of action has to be taken.
Each one of us has our own strengths. If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you are the best at and what do you do to continue being best at it?
I think I am best at being passionate about my ideas and pursuing them until they become what I imagine them to be. If I am not passionate about something I drop it very quickly.
I stay passionate by writing my ideas down, day-dreaming about them, pondering them while I am doing other activities and talking to others about them. It also helps when I get excited about it within myself lol. I think this is how I was wired and I am happy with the talents that I have.
Entrepreneurship is committing oneself to a pretty long haul with a fair share of anguish and pains, disappointments and failures. What was the most painful point in your entrepreneurial journey and what kept you motivated?
The most painful point in my entrepreneurial journey is depending completely upon my business to generate income for living expenses and having terrible income generating results. This is a hard point that causes one to consider going to find a job or freelancing and putting the business on hold.
For an individual like myself who took a leap and left my 9-5 job, it was painful to know that the business wasn’t generating nearly enough to cover my living expenses. On the “physical” side, what kept me motivated was the memory of how horrible and miserable I was being in that job. On a more “internal” side, the greatest motivation knowing that God was there with me leading me down the path that I was on. That was enough motivation for me to get up everyday and keep trying.
What are three things that you wish you knew before you started your entrepreneur journey and what you would have done differently had you known them before?
I would have done it no differently, I don’t count most things as mistakes and I try not to live in regret.
Three things I wish I knew before starting my entrepreneurship journey:
- I wish I had stopped holding on to what people would think of me if I went all in with online business.
- I would have wanted to know that creating various types of content on multiple platforms and pushing out consistent content was the key to building an audience.
- Knowing how to say “no” more often.
As a nocode expert you have demonstrated a lot of trust in the nocode movement. How do you see this nocode phenomenon shaping up in short to medium terms? What are the opportunities you foresee ?
No-code has absolutely ‘democratized’ technology in every sense of the word and will become the first step for everyone interested in building software with a non-technical background. It removes that great barrier of entry for persons who don’t know how to code.
I foresee that it will become the standard way to launching an MVP and testing an idea built on the internet.
What learning resources will you recommend for non-technical entrepreneurs who are quite enthusiastic about building products using no-code tools?
- Inside No Code Newsletter
- Doc Williams Youtube Channel
- @NoCodeMakers_ on twitter
How can our readers connect with you?
Mainly twitter: @stepocampbell_