Market it without "marketing it" with Noah Bragg – The Reluctant Marketer Podcast #3

Noah Bragg is the founder and maker of Potion, a website builder that turns Notion pages into a website within minutes. Matthias and Noah talk about how Noah managed to find his own successful style of marketing, although he says that marketing "is not necessarily his strong suit".


Matthias Bohlen 0:12

Hello, this is The Reluctant Marketer Podcast. We explore marketing for people who don't want to do it, but feel they must. I'm Matthias Bohlen

Matthias Bohlen 0:35

Hello, dear listeners, this is another episode of The Reluctant Marketer Podcast. And today I'm so happy to have Noah Bragg here. He's the founder and maker of, a website builder based on Notion documents. I think we'll have to talk about this later, in great detail. And, first of all, I'm so happy to have you here. Good afternoon!

Noah Bragg 1:04

Hey, thanks for having me. Matthias. Glad to be here.

Matthias Bohlen 1:07

Great. So let's have a little bit of background from your side. What is Potion? And how did you come to the idea to make it?

Noah Bragg 1:20

Yeah, so Potion is a website builder that's built on top of Notion. So it's kind of like, you write all your content and everything in Notion that's where all that lives, and then Potion turns that content into a website that you can have your own custom domain.

Noah Bragg 1:33

It hosts it for you, and then allows you to kind of add your own styling and just different customizations to your website. So that's, that's kind of Potion in a nutshell.

Noah Bragg 1:44

And I started it around two years ago. And, you know, I was looking for a new SaaS to start at that time. And I kind of had this theory that for a solo entrepreneur, building on top of another platform was a really good way to go just because you're not then competing, you know, with all these other big tech companies, you kind of have your niche built in right for you on a platform and you know, what users you're trying to solve problems for.

Noah Bragg 2:11

And so I picked Notion as that platform, because it was a newer thing, it was seemed to be growing a decent amount. And I was using Notion at the time and really loved using it. And so I started like searching for different problems that I could solve for Notion users that made a lot of sense.

Noah Bragg 2:27

And I found this tool called Fruition that people were using, where what Fruition did was basically it was like this little hacky way to write some code, it would tell you the code to paste into Cloudflare. And it would override stuff to then give a custom domain, just pointing to a public Notion page.

Noah Bragg 2:50

So it was still hosted by Notion, everything, but it gave you a custom domain. And I looked at that, and I saw there was like a hundreds of people that were trying that and using that. And it was, you know, it was kind of a hard thing to set up for people. And so I was like "Oh, wow, like if I made something like this, that just made that whole process a lot easier, like this kind of shows that there's demand for this, like people want to build websites and Notion".

Noah Bragg 3:16

And so that's kind of how the idea came from. And I decided to start working on it and building it out. And that was kind of the early days of Potion.

Matthias Bohlen 3:26

When did this all start? When was that?

Noah Bragg 3:30

So it was like November of 2020? I believe. Okay. 2020. So, a little over two years ago that I started.

Matthias Bohlen 3:41

I found that an excellent point that you made: You saw something that sort of worked, so there will be demand for it. And then you decided to make it better. I think that's an excellent start!

Noah Bragg 3:55

Yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah, to find things where you can tell people are wanting that thing. And they're hopefully, you know, willing to pay for it. The other thing I really liked about Notion was this: just the community around it was just very lively and talkative. And like, yeah, see, a lot of people know some people talking about Notion on Twitter in different communities. And so it kind of showed that there was just like, a really vibrant community there that if I made something that they liked, maybe they would talk about what I was building, too.

Matthias Bohlen 4:25

That's also an excellent thing to know. Where does my audience hang out? What can I see them some where can I? Yeah, meet them somewhere? And that was also the case. So yeah, you were really set up for success, I think!

Matthias Bohlen 4:42

Our listeners are mostly solopreneurs who build similar things, or maybe also infoproducts, or maybe they are book authors or musicians, always creating something.

Matthias Bohlen 4:58

And what our listeners tell me that they struggle with is marketing. They say, "Okay, I'm busy building the whole week over or at least the whole weekend, when if I have a side job, for example, side project for a day job". And they say, where should I find the time for marketing? And I'm also not so good at it as an kind of introverted person, I struggle with bragging about my stuff, right?"

Matthias Bohlen 5:26

So they think, I thought it in the beginning, I thought it too, that marketing is kind of making noise and bragging. Turned out to be wrong. I was very wrong on that. But in the beginning, you think like that, and how did you think about marketing when you started Notion ... Potion, sorry, not Notion? Yeah, this would have would have been something right?

Matthias Bohlen 5:55

When you started, what relationship did you have towards marketing? How did it fit into your day?

Noah Bragg 6:01

Yeah, first of all, say I am, I definitely feel a lot of that struggle as well, because I'm a software developer, kind of "maker first". You know, marketing isn't necessarily my strong suit. But I definitely like learning and like, enjoy trying to, like, try to figure it out.

The early days: Building in public with daily 2-minute videos on Twitter

Noah Bragg 6:19

So anyway, in the beginning, a lot of my marketing was kind of just like, the "building in public" kind of stuff. I was starting to get pretty active on Twitter. And I think back then, you know, like two years ago, I think building in public on Twitter actually worked a lot better than it does now. Like, I feel like everyone's kind of doing it now. And so yeah, to some degree like it, it doesn't work as well, maybe, because it's just kind of too overloaded. And people don't necessarily care to hear everything anymore. But you know, in the early days, or you know, two years ago, I think that was kind of just when it was starting. And I was wondering maybe one of the first kind of solo entrepreneurs to really share a lot of the behind the scenes.

Noah Bragg 7:00

And so I would just share kind of everything on Twitter, I would make these like little two minute videos to put up on Twitter, where I'd show like, what decisions I'm making, little progress that I'm making.

Noah Bragg 7:11

And I did that from the very start of Potion. So I actually have all those two minute videos are now on YouTube. And I have around I think 75 videos of just the whole, basically, almost like the whole story of different parts of building Potion. ...

Noah Bragg 7:32

I was building a lot in public on Twitter. And that's probably where I got like my first 75 customers or so. Because, you know, I, my Twitter following grew pretty quickly. And kind of the funny thing too, was my one of my very first tweets of starting Potion was, I just kind of said: "You know, tomorrow, I'm going to start building a SaaS business. And I'm going to build it in public here."

Noah Bragg 7:56

And that tweet kind of went semi viral, and I got like, 1000 followers within 24 hours. So the very beginning of the journey kind of started at a really nice pace with the building in public stuff. And so I just kind of kept doing that, and kind of just sharing. And, you know, the whole idea with that is just trying to be transparent.

Noah Bragg 8:17

But then also, you know, trying to share valuable things that I'm kind of learning or going through that could hopefully be valuable to other people. And what I found, you know, that can work pretty well, when it's like, oh, this is actually valuable information that people are learning by following along what you're doing.

Noah Bragg 8:36

But in my case, where it worked out pretty well, is a lot of my target users are also entrepreneurs, they're also makers, they're people that are trying to make a simple website or portfolio website, online with Notion and Potion. And so those are the kinds of people that I think enjoy the built in public. So it kind of was a perfect kind of target audience kind of more kind of thing. Yeah, where, you know, if you're trying to do the build in public thing, but you're, I don't know, maybe you're serving bus drivers or something like that, I don't know, random example. Like, they're probably not the same kind of people that are really going to enjoy falling the building public stuff, and so it's not going to be maybe worth your time to put all that effort into it. So that was a good match. For me that really helped out in the early days of Potion. And so that's kind of how I got the business started that way on the marketing side.

Matthias Bohlen 9:33

How many followers did you have when when you said you suddenly earned 1000 of them? Well, how many did you have before?

Noah Bragg 9:41

I think back then I was at around 1500 followers.

Matthias Bohlen 9:47

That's pretty... Yeah, it's pretty much where I am right now. It's interesting. Parallel because I'm also starting a new SaaS these days to make marketing software for introverts. Um, but let's stick with with Potion. So let's say, How much time did you need to get to your first, let's say, the first user ever? And then the first 10, let's say what was that?

Noah Bragg 10:16

Yeah, so it took me two months to kind of build the MVP of Potion. And so those two months, I was kind of, you know, I was sharing everything I was doing. But you know, I had nothing for anyone to try out. After that, I then opened like an early access, and in the first month, I think I got those 10 users in are just an early access. And then it probably took around three months to get to my first like, 75 users.

Noah Bragg 10:46

So it went at a pretty decent pace, in the beginning. And yeah, I think like, again, I think that's all kinds of things to some of the build in public stuff, how that went, like, I really didn't have like a master plan of knowing that that was, yeah, like go really well. And it just kind of seemed to work.

Noah Bragg 11:05

And it really didn't feel like marketing, necessarily, either, because it was just me kind of like just sharing what I was doing like that. I think that was something that was helpful for me where it's like, I'm definitely not a marketer. And so like me, trying to really do marketing kind of things, I think, I don't know, this felt like I didn't feel like I was marketing, even though I kind of was a little bit. And I think that helped me to be able to stick to it and actually do it.

Matthias Bohlen 11:31

So that's, that's a good thing! If you can really, yeah, do it without doing it, right. Without thinking about it. It's, it's a fascinating situation there. In the beginning, when you said these 75 users, were they all paying users, or were they free users mostly, or what was the percentage?

Noah Bragg 11:55

Yeah, so they were all paying users, I had a seven day free trial with credit card upfront. And so people can try it for seven days. But then, you know, to stick around and actually use the product, they had to eventually start paying.

Noah Bragg 12:10

And I kind of stuck away, I tried to go away from having a free plan, just because I wanted to force that learning, I guess, for me quicker, where I knew like, Alright, there's this point where people have to start using it if they want to pay. And I really know if the products, you know, valuable and doing what it needs to do if people are willing to pay for it. So I kind of stuck up stayed away from a free plan of any sort for the first like year and a half actually with Potion. And that that did decently well, I maybe I could have gotten more out of the product if I had a free plan earlier. But that's that's kind of how I started at least,

Matthias Bohlen 12:47

Yeah, it's an important thing to know whether people really are able to pay and want to pay for for what you do. And it's a good sign if they do. Yeah. When you think about the later time did that digital marketing change one day from building in public to something else?

Noah Bragg 13:09

Yeah, it definitely has changed a bit. So yeah, in the early days, it really was all just from Twitter, people finding it that way. And then I really, you know, I wanted ...I didn't want that to be my only channel for my only source for people finding me just because it's very dependent on me, right?

Next move: SEO to become independent of Twitter

Noah Bragg 13:29

Like, it's very much like, "Oh, I gotta like, tweet out stuff about Potion or tweet what I'm doing". And so I wanted to find other channels that worked well, and the main one that I've been working on, and still it's kind of a work in progress, because it's not as good as I'd like it to be. But it's basically Google SEO. So creating content, things that people are searching for, that are trying to solve the problem of, you know, Notion website.

Noah Bragg 13:55

And then they kind of find my website that way and try it out. And so nowadays, Google's like, my number one source for refer to the Potion website, and Twitter is second, it used to be that Twitter was always first for the longest time, right? Yeah, so really happy about that, that now like SEO and content is kind of my main driver, but there's kind of another piece in there.

Third channel: Noah created an affiliate program for Potion

Noah Bragg 14:25

That's actually my main driver. And that's my affiliate program. So I have an affiliate program where 30% of the revenue that affiliates send to me, I give to them to kind of incentivize them to make content about Potion and stuff like that. And I just have, you know, I don't know maybe have like 100 people signed up for it. That affiliate program, but only like the top three or four people actually have content that's like continually driving people to Potion so it's, it's kind of heavy loaded on the top side where it's like you just need one or two or three people that are like, have really good websites that are in the niche, you know, they're in the Notion niche, and they're creating content. And you know, some of it sends people to Potion.

Noah Bragg 15:11

And so that's actually my main driver of revenue from people right now is then finding it through that content that affiliates have made. And then they find Potion. And so yeah, that's, that's my main source right now. And I really liked that source, because I don't really have to do too much other than just, you know, pay them 30% of the revenue. Otherwise, it's a pretty passive, passive thing. And then the other benefit of it is, again, I'm not like a big marketer, like I don't necessarily know what I'm doing.

Noah Bragg 15:45

Like, I've been learning a lot about SEO and how to like rank higher in Google and stuff. I'm definitely not an expert, where some of these, my affiliates are like, you know, they've been doing this for a while they're good at it. They know how to make good content. And I also feel sometimes that like, it kind of comes, it kind of looks better coming from someone else to someone like, oh, wow, like this random person is saying this other tool I should use, sometimes that that looks better than coming from the company itself, and converts people better. So it's been a great source for me, just because, again, like I'm not a marketer. But yeah, that's that's one of my main sources right now is that affiliate program and then kind of the the Google SEO stuff, and Twitter's kind of after that at this point.

Matthias Bohlen 16:30

That's fascinating. I should really think about making such an affiliate program for my product, too. For me, it's about Twitter right now. Twitter is the number one source. Google is slowly picking up. Started writing content, I think, three months ago. Yeah, I'm now I started at the beginning of September with my stuff. So September, October, November, December, January. Yeah, I'm now five months into the product. And I started writing, I think, four months ago. And Google is slowly picking up traffic now. How long did it take for you that SEO kicked in?

SEO takes time to become powerful

Noah Bragg 17:19

So I'm, it's still kind of hard for me to know sometimes, because so like, I get around 8000 unique visits a month to the website. And you know, a decent amount of those are actually people searching specifically for the brand. So my guess is, you know, I'd say maybe 50% of those. So that means those are probably people that heard of it heard of Potion somewhere, maybe they heard it from a friend, maybe they saw it from my Twitter, and then later they're like, oh, yeah, that Potion thing, I'm going to search for it. So in some ways, that's not really that Potion, you can almost take out of like the Google organic, like, ranked, you know, searches, in some ways, because it's just a branded search.

Noah Bragg 18:02

Yeah, it definitely took a while. And really like the last, I don't know, nine months, my, my traffic hasn't really improved that much over the last nine months, even though in the last nine months, that's actually been what I focused on the most is making more content for SEO and stuff like that. And I haven't seen much gains from that. So I'm still kind of waiting a little bit for some of the content I've created, you know, maybe four months ago to kind of have an effect. But yeah, like the first six months or so I think is, you know, the first six months, it was all Twitter. So it was after that, that I started to kind of see some traffic from Google. So it definitely took some time. And that's, that's one of the hard parts for me, for sure is just like, is just being patient to like, wait for things to happen. And, and I still I'm just, you know, I'm still learning about it. Because I feel like I have seen some people share where it's like they created content like two weeks ago. And now it's like ranking already in like, so I don't know, it's I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong sometimes. Or it's like, maybe I'm not doing something to rank it the right way. Or if it does just take time, or it just kind of really depends. Sometimes. It's faster, sometimes it's not. So I'm still you know, figuring that out a lot. Basically.

Matthias Bohlen 19:24

It's also the same thing I heard. Most people say Google takes tons of time until it kicks in. And other people say yeah, I've done for example, some programmatic SEO generating 350 pages in one day, and then I got lots of traffic in two weeks. And I always think, isn't that only a special case? It's reminds me of book authors, right? You have 100,000 authors and only 1% of them they really get to the top in the ranking list. So I think it's not. There is no magic bullet here. It's just trying figuring things out and learning from others. All this keyword stuff, for example, I didn't care about keywords yet. I'm just writing my content and then looking into Google Search Console, what happens? And I think after a while, I will see some recurring keywords. So maybe I can optimize them. But at the moment, I'm not thinking about which keywords to rank for.

Noah Bragg 20:30

Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. Yeah, it's a tricky world. And it's like, you know, Googling could change something. So then you're kind of relying Google a little bit to how well things perform and how it works. And yeah, so it's not an easy thing out there. But I've, you know, I've been, I've taken a couple of SEO courses and just trying to learn from some people, I've, I've been blessed to have a couple people that are really good at it, and like, have a lot of experience with it. So just being able to have someone like that to reach out to and ask questions like, hey, what would you do about this situation? Like, how would you handle this link or this title? Or, you know, things like that has been really, really helpful in learning and figuring it out?

An indie hacker to learn SEO from

Matthias Bohlen 21:13

That's cool. Can you recommend someone if I want to learn SEO, for example, or my listeners want to learn SEO? Can you recommend some courses?

Noah Bragg 21:23

Yeah, so let's see. I'm gonna forget their name. Just because whenever I'm on the spot, I always forget people's names. Names. Oh, here is so Jordan, Jordan O'Connor on Twitter. So I think his handle is @jdnoc, he actually is an entrepreneur, an indie hacker as well. And that's why he's a really awesome kind of follow. Because he, you know, he kind of comes from the same background, but his business, he grew up to, like 40k, MRR. And he really did all through SEO.

Noah Bragg 21:57

So he really learned a ton about SEO, and how to do that well. And that was kind of the main big winner for his business. And so now he still has that business. It's it's not grown as much anymore. And I think it's kind of starting to fall off a little bit just because of the competition and stuff. But now he's kind of moreso pivoting into teaching other people about SEO and what he's learned and stuff. So he has, he has like a course I think he's maybe about to release, but he also just shares a lot of good content on Twitter for free. So I've learned a lot from him. He's definitely a great one. Let's see There's Yeah, that would be the main one. Yeah. At least the one I can think off the top of my head.

Matthias Bohlen 22:41

That's good. That's, that's good. ...If he comes from ... the same background, this is, this is good. Because sometimes people talk about SEO and who worked for a big company, for example, and doing SEO for, for a physical product, for example, it's totally different thing. So if somebody gives me advice about SEO for Nike, I would say okay, that's nice, but maybe it doesn't apply to my situation.

Noah Bragg 23:08

So right, right, exactly.

Noah and the consistency of producing content

Matthias Bohlen 23:12

When you write content, I've got a different question here. How about consistency? How do you manage to stay consistent at writing content?

Noah Bragg 23:23

I would say that I'm not very consistent. So I'd probably not the great person to ask advice for on that. What I've kind of done is I've kind of done like almost sprints, where I'll have a period where I'm like, "Alright, I'm gonna like focus on getting some good content out there". And for like, a couple of weeks, I'll really focus on making some different articles, add him to my website, updating those things. And I'll do that and then kind of like, pause and like, go work on something else at that point, and then come back and check later and see how it's going. So that's, yeah, that's, I don't know if that's great. A good way to do it or not.

Noah Bragg 24:02

The other thing I've tried is actually basically paying a service someone else to create content for me. And they, you know, they created different little content about Notion related topics, how to kind of tutorial those kind of things. And they added that to my blog. So I think around fibers, I have around five or six articles, that is from a service that kind of helped with that. And they kind of just did like one article every two weeks for a period of time. And so that was, you know, that was a good way for me to stay consistent because I didn't have to really do much other than pay them to do some stuff. And out of that, because I think that was, you know, that was probably almost a year ago, now that I did that. And out of that content, there's maybe one piece or maybe two that get some decent, get a little bit of traffic. And so it works to a degree.

Noah Bragg 24:58

I don't know how many of those users actually convert. Because you know, that's the other thing is like attracting the right kind of users through Google that are actually the ones that are potentially searching for a solution that are way more highly to convert where it's like if I, you know, if I reach some people that have no interest in building a website, then it's kind of a waste of time in a little bit in some degree. So yeah, it's always it's kind of a hard thing to track with that. But yeah, that's, that's kind of what I've done. And some of that's worked. But yeah, consistency, I'm definitely not great at that. Because I, you know, I see some some project to work on something I do. And I just, I kind of just go for it for a period of time, and then I'll kind of switch to something else. And honestly, that's kind of how I enjoy it, too. Like, that's why I kind of like being an indie hacker is like, I'm able to kind of just figure out what I want to work on what I think needs to be done and just kind of go out and do it, instead of having to have like daily routines. But yeah,

Marketing routines, or not?

Matthias Bohlen 26:02

Yeah, that's, that's always the question, should I have a routine? Or should I just jump around and do what I like? For me? It's a big question I usually work with with routines. For example, I use this website by John Yongfook, this, it always tells me whether it's coding week or marketing week. And I have this rhythm with, which now kinds of kind of works for me, because it gives me the possibility to really code intensely for one week, and then do marketing very intensely for one week, and then switch back to coding. So I feel like I get something done that that is more meaty than if I would simply sit down for a day or so and write something.

Matthias Bohlen 26:53

The other thing I do is, on Sundays, I usually write my newsletter. In during the last weeks, I have changed that I write a newsletter on one weekend, and then do a podcast on next weekend. So whenever I meet people I record and on Sundays I edit and release. So writing and podcasting has has become a routine now. I'm not sure whether that's enough, but yeah, that's all I can do at the moment.

Matthias Bohlen 27:28

I'm trying to establish an email list, I have established an email list on ConvertKit. And I've created a freebie called "The Reluctant Marketer's setup workbook". It's a free PDF you can download and and to get structure into your marketing efforts. And, yeah, this is working quite well, or it used to it's a little going backwards now. Maybe I'm not announcing it anymore.

Matthias Bohlen 27:59

That's one of my problems: I don't like to repeat myself. If I, for example, at the beginning the beginning, it's always hype, I always say I've got something new people look at this. And then after a while I find it more or less normal what I created, but for other people, it might be a sensation, because they've never seen such a thing. So it's, it's it's difficult.

Noah Bragg 28:23

Yeah, definitely makes it difficult. I don't like to repeat myself, either, either. But I hear that's like a good marketing rule is to repeat yourself. That yeah, that's still something I'm, I'm not great at or like to do too much.

Surprise when something goes viral

Matthias Bohlen 28:39

Yeah, that's, that's right. That's one of one of the things. Recently I had written a longer article, I call it the the SPME marketing habit, that's like, S stands for strategy, P for positioning, M for messaging, and E for experimentation. So that's kind of cycle you go.

Matthias Bohlen 29:00

And I put that online, and suddenly, someone shared it on Indie Hackers. And hundreds of people were coming in, I was totally amazed and thought, wow. And this one article is still the top one on my entire blog of although I've written other articles since then, but it stays at the top. The same in your blog, one or two article articles are making the most.

Noah Bragg 29:29

Yeah, definitely. It seems like you know, if you kind of hitten the chord with people, you know, especially, you know, a signal like that where someone liked it enough, they were willing to share it for you. It's like that could be a good enough signal that continues to be true when people find it, that they're like, oh, like I really liked this one. And Google's, I think picks that up and they're like, alright, let's, you know, maybe rank this a little higher, or whatever like it. It's a piece of content that people seem to like and so Yeah, once you have like a winner it, it's hard to beat some of those ones out with your, your new content and stuff. So yeah, I've definitely seen that a little bit like I'll have, you know, content created, you know, probably two years ago now, that is still one of my top ones like, you know, ranking for a query in Google and I still get people coming through it and, and checking out the website that way. So that, you know, that is definitely one of the beautiful things of SEO is, you know, once you have some good content that's ranking well, it just kind of, for the most part is kind of stays around and is just passively making you helping people find you, which is great. So

Watching your audience in the wild

Matthias Bohlen 30:40

Yeah, that's good. Do you have some places where you see people talking about wanting to have a website, like, for example, the Notion community, are they actively discussing website problems? Somewhere?

Noah Bragg 30:57

Yeah, so little bit. My eyes aren't open to this as much as I was, you know, earlier on in the days with Potion but it the main place I see it still is like on Twitter, like someone just kind of ask, you know, in a tweet about like, hey, like, how do I make a website with Notion or I'm wanting to make a website with Notion, what tool should I use? And like, people share what's worked for them and stuff like that? So like, those are good opportunities for maybe me to reply and be like, Hey, you can check this out what I've built, you know, something like that. So yeah, there's still definitely people talking about it and asking questions about it. And it's just interesting, kind of like, what we're talking about with like the repeat yourself thing where it's, I think I've kind of stopped talking about, like pushing websites or Notion websites, on Twitter or other places, because I just, it's so normal to me, I've been doing it for a couple years now.

Noah Bragg 31:51

But the truth is, is that there's every day, there's new people realizing, "Oh, wow, like you can do this thing with Notion?" One, there's people, there's still new people every day that are learning about Notion for the first time, which is pretty incredible. And they're just like, oh, wow, like, I really like this tool, and they try it out. And then they're like, oh, wow, you can also do more stuff, like build websites with it. And so I think I probably should be focusing on that group of people more, because those are obviously people that are learning about it and exploring it. And they're maybe at a place where they're willing to try it out or buy. But I've just been used to talking about those kinds of things for so long that I don't like to repeat myself and talk about that again. So there's yeah, there's probably some things I could do to maybe have a voice in that area a little bit better than I do currently. So thanks for reminding me about that.

Matthias Bohlen 32:41

Yeah, ... replying is an interesting tactic. Because it's easier than posting, I think, if you see some content and someone asks a question, you can simply jump in and reply. It's much easier than thinking about what should I write now? And, yeah, it made me think when you said you see those questions, too. Are the questions directed to you? So are they people mentioning you on Twitter? Or do you have to look for those questions?

Noah Bragg 33:14

More rarely, they might be asking me specifically, like, if they know that that's kind of what I do. And they're wanting some help. But yeah, most of the time, it's just people just tweeting out on Twitter and asking questions to their audience or to Notion users. And so yeah, then, you know, it's, I have to go out and find it. And, and, or it just kind of comes across my feed, since I'm following a lot of the Notion kind of niche kind of people where those kinds of things just pop up. So yeah, that's that's typically how it works.

Matthias Bohlen 33:46

Yeah, I've recently had a course at Twitter mastery course by ... uhm... my memory for names ... Dagobert, Dagobert Renouf, of course.

Noah Bragg 33:59

Oh yep, I took that course. That was amazing!

Matthias Bohlen 34:01

Yeah, amazing, right. And he said, recycle your replies, recycle your best replies and turn them into content. I found that very convincing.

Noah Bragg 34:12

Yeah, yeah. Like, I think that's a good way to use Twitter in general, as is just, you know, trying out ideas, putting it out there with either replies or tweets, seeing what resonates with people. And then, you know, almost using that as a learning because it's like, oh, now you could maybe write a whole blog post about that idea. Or, you know, in my case, you know, we're talking about like, people asking questions around Notion websites, like I've kind of learned like, Oh, these are the things that made people don't understand about the process. What kind of blog posts can I write that's actually answering that same question so that maybe when they're searching for that, you know, they'll find that and it'll be helpful. See, I think using Twitter that way, is a really good way to just kind of learn about your niche. Learn about things within your product like As you can do, by just asking questions, seeing what other people are asking, trying out ideas. And so yeah, using Twitter in that way, I think is very helpful.

Sales Safari = observing the "watering holes" where your audience hangs out

Matthias Bohlen 35:09

Exactly, exactly. Twitter was fascinating community for that. I learned a lot from Amy Hoy, she's in into a concept called Sales Safari, or she calls it sales Safari, safari in the sense of when you go to Africa, you watch the animals who come to the watering hole to drink. And she says, don't run customer interviews. Contrary to what other people say. She says, if you run a customer interview, it's a kind of synthetic situation. Whereas when you watch our people in the wild, like Safari kind of thing, it's more natural, you see what they are talking about what their real problems are, what their questions are, and so on. So she says, Go out where your audience hangs out and try to answer their questions and then turn them into something educational, let's say an article or blog post something, or workbook, and then give it to them, give it back to them and say, Hey, I've created something for you. And I found that also pretty convincing. I thought, yeah, it's much easier than running customer interviews.

Noah Bragg 36:18

Yeah, yeah, I'd agree with that. Like doing research to kind of like, go see what people are saying, and, and stuff like that online is definitely a good route, if it's, it's possible. So the one kind of pushback I have on that is, I feel like there's certain niches are there certain products, where it's just really hard to find that, you know, that watering hole online, like the wild kind of thing.

Noah Bragg 36:43

You know, that was something that was, you know, definitely very beneficial for me with Notion because people that use Notion just like to talk about it, it's a decently sized niche, like, I think there's probably 30 million Notion users or more Oh, and so that, you know, I'm gonna be able to find that that watering hole, but I feel like there's certain niches where either it's just so small, the niche, or maybe it's the kind of niche where people just don't talk online, like maybe it's a kind of community where it's like the talking in person to each other, or they're talking on the phone, or I don't know, just different ways of communicating, where it's just, it might be hard to find them online and actually see, like, one of my previous products I tried to do was a intercom add on kind of tool, extension to intercom.

Noah Bragg 37:30

And those customers were a lot bigger, like b2b like business kind of customers. And it was a lot harder for me to find just people talking about, like, those kinds of people talking about stuff online, and seeing their problems. And my guess is kind of because you know, they're bigger companies. It's not as I guess, okay, for those, you know, roles to like, just openly talk about their problems in front of, you know, the whole world because they've got employees, they've got maybe bosses that could see what they're talking about, like, it's just a different world. And so Exactly, yeah, I found it hard with that product to be able to just find information about people's problems and what they're struggling with. And so in that case, I think the talking to users was more helpful, in a general was just kind of harder to understand the problems just because it was kind of different from me, you know, I was just like a solo indie hacker, and I was trying to understand how businesses processes work, and you know, that kind of thing. So I really liked that advice, that concept she's talking about, I just think maybe with certain problems, it might be harder to make that work or to find that out there in the wild.

Matthias Bohlen 38:43

That can be right. I can imagine b2b people, they have a big company behind, they have a boss, maybe they have employees. Yeah, they I don't know whether they are talking so openly about the problem. Or their problems. Yeah. Maybe on the golf course.

Noah Bragg 39:01

Yep, maybe, maybe.

The future of Potion

Matthias Bohlen 39:06

Okay, great. When you, let me ask you one more question about the future: What do you think is the future of Potion and in which direction do you want to go?

Noah Bragg 39:21

So I've been kind of debating this a lot in my mind. You know, it's kind of one of those things where as an entrepreneur, you have a lot of options, like there's a lot of things you could go do, you could go start a new business, you could go work for somebody else, you could kind of have your product like can transform it to be something else and go in a different direction. So yeah, it's sometimes that's almost the problem is like figuring out what you want to do and just like you because there's so many decisions, so many options. And so, all that being said, I yeah, I've just been thinking a lot about what's the future Potion word, I want to take it.

Noah Bragg 39:58

There's a lot of ways that could go with like trying to expand the business like I could try to expand it to other tools as well like other than Notion and support other tools that are similar to Notion, I could try to build it out to where the business isn't reliant on Notion like make it be, it's really like its own website builder, its own editor. So I could kind of go in some of those different directions.

Noah Bragg 40:24

And at least on that front, I think I've decided, like, some of those things, I think, could just be too ambitious for a solo entrepreneur, like myself, like, it just be a lot of work to build out a fully, you know, editable website builder or go in, like support other tools. And so I kind of, I think I've decided, in some ways, that means I'm limiting my potential growth with a business, because if I did that, you know, there's a lot more customers, I could potentially go out and get.

Noah Bragg 40:53

So I think I've decided I want to stay to the Notion niche, and kind of just do this part, you know, do this niche, this concept really well in the Notion niche. And I think it's easier to market it that way, because it's just for the Notion niche. And so that kind of being said, like, there's not, you know, there's some features and things I could do and improve on the product. But I don't think any of those is really going to be a game changer. Like the product kind of already does what you know, people expect it to do, it does the does its job pretty well.

Noah Bragg 41:26

And so now like, I'm kind of to the point where I'm like, maybe I shouldn't spend all my time on the business, like maybe I should, you know, do the marketing things. And like, that's kind of maybe the, you know, marketing, customer support stuff, of course. But other than that, like maybe I'll have some extra time to start something else started another business, that's maybe another kind of solo entrepreneur kind of business or do something different. So that's kind of where I'm at with it right now. I'm starting to maybe explore some different ideas, not spend all my time on Potion. And so I'm, I feel very blessed to be in a position to just kind of start doing that. But yeah, I'm still kind of figuring it out day by day, kind of what I want to do and that and it's funny that you asked that question, because that's, it's been something I've been thinking a ton about in the last couple of weeks actually. So

Matthias Bohlen 42:16

Interesting! Yeah. Maybe I've got a tip for you. I recently was very much into this jobs to be done theory thing. They say that customer wants to get some job done, and they are sort of hiring your tool to get it done. For example, they want a website. And what what these people want the job to be done, people say, they say, look at the adjacent jobs. What are they doing before they want to have a website? Maybe you can find something there where you can support them? Or what are they doing after they have their website? Are there other jobs to be done that they are trying to do so before? And after that? It's kind of around that? Maybe there are more jobs to be done where you can support them? So this would be an idea.

Noah Bragg 43:07

Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah, and even like figuring out you know, you could use those things as marketing kind of things to like engineering as marketing ideas where it's maybe it's a simple problem and you could make it for free. But it's hitting those exact same potential customers that would then maybe like your, you know, the website builder product as well. And yeah, finding those kinds of things that serves the same people. Yeah, there's definitely good ways to get new people in the door, do marketing and stuff like that.

Matthias Bohlen 43:40

Yeah, maybe kind of content calendar, for example, a free content calendar tool that fits into Potion where people can have something recurring in Notion so that they stay consistent with their writing or something like that.

Noah Bragg 43:54

Yeah. No, that's that's good ideas.

Parting words

Matthias Bohlen 43:58

Thank you very much, Noah, for being here today. I think we learned a lot from, yeah, you "doing the marketing without doing marketing". It's really a dream situation for me, too, to "simply be there", and the fact that you are there does the marketing for you. So yeah, that's the ideal situation, I think. Thanks a lot, and I wish you very much success and good luck for Potion!

Noah Bragg 44:28

Thank you, and thanks for having me.

Matthias Bohlen 44:38

Thanks for listening to the Reluctant Marketer Podcast. You can find me on Twitter at @bohlenlabs, or you can send me an email to

Matthias Bohlen 45:09

If you want to support this podcast, please share it with a friend, on your social media networks, and leave a rating and your favorite podcast player app. This will help other reluctant marketers find this podcast as well. Thank you very much for listening today. And see you in the next episode. Bye bye.

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