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Making a living from no-code

Making a living from no-code

Katt Risen is a no-code founder and the creator of the No-Code Exits newsletter and co-creator of Build the Keyword, a way of finding business ideas that are validated by Google search volume data. After all, it's better to build something people are actively searching for rather than inventing something totally new and having to educate people about why they need it.

Check out this interview to learn all about Katt's journey as a no-code entrepreneur, her favorite marketing channels and why she has turned away from working only on a newsletter.

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Katt. I live in Leuven, Belgium with my husband and two kids. I used to work in the digital team of a big European travel corporation. But I was always dreaming of startups. I read all the classic business books, listened to the How I Built This podcast during my terrible daily commute and lurked on Product Hunt.

There were a few very weak attempts (we probably just watched The Social Network) on starting a startup with friends. We came together for hours writing business plans, creating mockups, designing fancy logos, brainstorming the perfect name and thinking of 1,000 unnecessary but very cool features. We always dreamed too big, never talked to a single customer and motivation trickled away after a few weeks.

Two things changed this. I discovered IndieHackers where I learned about bootstrapping a business. And I discovered no-code tools that enabled me to build my own stuff as a non technical person.

Can you tell us what you’ve achieved so far as a founder?

Although I had some tiny successes (and lots of fun), I’m still learning and looking for ‘product founder fit’ and stable ramen profitability. 

Product Founder Fit is crucial for me because:

  • As a mom of two toddlers it is important for me that my projects are feasible in combination with being there for my kids. 
  • During my internet project experiments I learned a lot about my skill set and what kind of work I truly enjoy and would like to keep doing. 

My tiny successes (in between there were many fails): 

  • No-Code Guru was a no-code tool (chatbot style) advisor I made in the pre-ChatGPT era. It was my first little side project I created and it was later acquired for $3,500. It’s not a life-changing amount of money but that small win gave me a huge confidence boost.
  • That acquisition resulted in a lot of questions and likes. So it inspired me to start my newsletter No-Code Exits. It evolved into a weekly newsletter that shares success stories of people building with no-code tools with 10,500+ subscribers. It generates between $1000-$4000 revenue per month.
  • Build The Keyword is my most recent project. I started it with Lee (a proficient no-code dev) in March 2024. We have 3,189 users and are focussing on growing this right now.

What’s the idea behind Build the Keyword?

In the two years of making stuff online, I wasted a lot of time on building things no-one cares about. You know the drill…. SUPER excited about a new idea, skip validation because with no-code it only takes a few weeks to then realize that one launch tweet is not all you need to get customers. Marketing is hard.

So when I read this tweet from Danny Postma I was hooked.

And not only me. It got liked and bookmarked thousands of times and people kept sharing it. But when I started his strategy it was not that easy: the free Ahrefs tool doesn’t show the exact numbers, it doesn’t show all the necessary data (related keywords).

Ok, you can upgrade to the paying version but it is crazy expensive and has a learning curve as Ahrefs has an overwhelming amount of features and tools. So Lee and I decided to build a simple tool to make this easier. Build The Keyword was born. 

  • It started as an Airtable base of curated ideas
  • Then we added a tool to see if your idea has potential 
  • Then we added a tool to find untapped keywords around a certain topic
  • Then we added a fancy database where we keep adding new ideas

Do you have any views on making one project vs several?

For 18 months I have been doing everything at once. Working my 9-5 (later freelancing) and my side projects. It was fun but it was also too much. I always felt in a hurry, doing half of everything and the to-do list was never ending. So in January 2024 I wanted focus. I stopped freelancing and decided to focus on No-Code Exits. I wanted to see if by turning it into my one thing, I could make real progress.

Well, it failed. Long story short… it sucked. I really love writing the stories. The problem (for me personally) is that the main ways to monetize a newsletter are sponsorships and courses. Suddenly everything was about $ and clicks, I was working with companies that I was not that excited about and I felt I was always pushing stuff to my readers. So it was 2 interesting months where I learned that running a newsletter business is not for me. 

So when we had the idea for Build The Keyword it was hard to resist this shiny new object. We worked on it for 2 weeks, launched it on Product Hunt (#1) and that gave us the validation to keep working on it. And this time it feels right. We are a good team where Lee loves the building stuff and I love the marketing and business stuff. 

How is the No Code Exits newsletter going?

I’m still working 1 day per week on No-Code Exits but I just focus on writing, distribution and only working with inbound sponsors. I enjoy it again. :-) The newsletter all started when my first No-Code project was acquired. When I tweeted about this I received a lot of likes, comments but also lots of DM's with questions.

So I followed the pull and in 15 minutes I set up a Substack and tweeted (I had around 600 followers) that I was starting a newsletter with interviews who built with nocode and got acquired. After 12 hours, I had around 250 subscribers. Topic validated: check

The next day I sent out my story and then left on holiday for 2 weeks. Thanks to the very specific niche subject and riding the nocode trend wave the newsletter grew fast. After one month I had around 1000 subscribers. This was mainly from tweeting about it and being active in entrepreneurship and no-code communities (tip: always add your URL in your user name).

Later I started doing cross promotion and taking content repurposing much more seriously. So from one interview I would create 5 tweets (mini thread interview, listicle, tool breakdown,...) that I schedule in the coming weeks and also use in articles to share on Indiehackers, Product Hunt, Reddit and Hacker News. Sometimes just a copy paste of the interview, sometimes in different formats. For example: 5 acquired projects built with No-Code. A lot of those articles flop but now and then there is a tiny hit.

Launching on Product Hunt also worked well (+1000). I waited until I had a few thousands of subscribers so you also have an audience that can support you. They can give you some upvotes early in the day which will result in more visibility.

Next to that I always try to look for companies, products, events or newsletters with a similar audience to cross promote our businesses. For example: I mention No-Code Summit Event in my newsletter if  No-Code summit mentions my newsletter to their email list.

I also publish the stories on Medium with a big CTA to my main newsletter. This also generates some extra revenue. 

Do you have a favourite marketing channel?

For Build The Keyword we are in the experimentation phase and trying out a lot of things. Successful so far are:

  • Trying out a lot of different tweets
  • Posting on IndieHackers
  • Writing a branded newsletter (we chose Substack to tap into their growth network)
  • Reaching out to newsletters in the entrepreneur category to get featured
  • Doing podcast interviews

No success or too early to tell

  • Posting on Reddit and HN 
  • Writing answers on relevant indexed Quora questions and Reddit posts with not too many answers
  • Listing in directories
  • Starting to write blog articles for SEO purposes

What are your future plans for Build The Keyword? 

The plan now is to focus on Build The Keyword until August. Then Lee and I will evaluate and see what’s next (keep working on it, sell it or let it run on auto-pilot). 

Do you have any favourite founders who inspire you?

Dan Kulkov and Marc Lou

Where can people find out more about you?





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