I like building projects online. Most of the time I want a custom and beautiful-professional-looking website for my projects but I’m not a developer and know just the basics of HTML and CSS. My solution for this problem was two fold:
- Ask a developer friend for help
- Pay for a website builder on a monthly basis
The first solution worked for a while but I didn’t want to bother my friend every time I wanted to build a quick landing page for a project or build a quick prototype of my idea. The second solution seemed useful but I needed to pay on monthly basis for each project idea I had. With this frustration in my mind I found Carrd.co.
Carrd is a web application that lets you build a one-page-site for pretty much everything: Portafolio, online product, personal website and more. What’s different about Carrd — and why I fell in love with it — is that other site builders out there are bloated with features that I don’t need or carry a monthly fee for each of my projects’ websites. With Carrd you can have 100 projects with the Pro Max plan.
I’ve been using Carrd to build side hustles and other projects but found myself building the same components over and over again: Hero sections, pricing tables, testimonials, footers. One sunny afternoon I decided to build a basic template with every component I’ve used so I didn’t have to start from scratch for my next project’s website.
After that sunny afternoon I got inspired and kept building components with different use cases for different projects. I assumed there’re online creators out there with this same issue: They want a custom website for their product or service but don’t want to start from scratch or don’t know how to start at all. This is why I decided to build Components UI.
I’m an industrial engineer by trade so I don’t have a professional background doing web design. I’ve always love the notion of how you can have an idea and then build it online for the whole world to see so I’ve been learning all I could about web design and related topics.
The initial idea was quite simple: Build some sort of template with components that people can use when building a landing page for a new book, their agency, a new online project, or something related, within Carrd. They will be able to choose which components to use according to the project needs — Hero section, pricing tables, footers, testimonials — apply their brand colors and publish.
ComponentsUI.com allows you to build a professional looking website in Carrd.co using pre-built components without knowing any code and without paying a developer for it.
Since I didn’t know if this idea had any legs I went to the source: I sent @ajlkn — creator of Carrd — a message telling him what I was building and to ask him what he thought about the project. He asked me about the project, gave me some encouragement and thanked me for reaching out. I kept updating him on the process and kept building the project.
Once I had a decent size of components I started to build a landing page for the project — using the same components. Very meta, I know. Building the landing page was pretty simple using the pre-built components I already had so I knew this project was going to be helpful.
This was going to be a for-profit project so my target audience had to be willing to pay and had to have the ability to pay. I settled on:
- Carrd Pro user — people already paying for Carrd: You have to have a Pro account to use the project so this was a natural fit. As I’ve learned from past experiences, free users tend to demand a lot of your time and resources and rarely convert to paying users.
- Online Creators — specially people using Gumroad to sell products online since that was what I’ll use to sell my project: People selling online products are already making money — ability to pay — and could appreciate the benefits of a project like this.
Carrd makes it pretty straight forward to integrate Gumroad payments to any project. I went to Gumroad.com, filled the forms to set up my new product — name, prices and other info — and linked it to my Carrd project. Finally I bought the domain componentsui.com and pointed it to the project.
Just like that I had a product available to sell online.
Up to this point I considered this the Beta version of the project. Before I invested any more time and resources into Components UI I wanted to validate it with sales and get feedback. As Jason Fried says:
The only two people who can give you real feedback about your product are people who just purchased it and people who just canceled. — Jason Fried
With that in mind I sent a tweet:
I didn’t expect much since I didn’t have a mailing list — something I regret and should have started to build the moment I had the idea — but sent it anyway. A couple of minutes later, @ajlkn retweeted it and people started to comment on it. And then the sales started to come in.
It’s an amazing feeling to receive an email from Gumroad telling you that someone purchased something you made.
I wasn’t going to be able to buy a new Tesla with these sales but they served as a proof of concept and helped me validate the idea: There was a need for something like Components UI and people were willing to pay for it. From that moment I decided to keep building on Components UI and start to market it properly.
One final note
This story might look pretty straight forward but it’s filled with fear and uncertainty at all times. I assume the majority of indie makers are scared — as I am — every time they have to ship a new project. I’m scared. I’m scared what will happen when I hit Publish. I’m scared people will hate my project or even hate me.
Paraphrasing what Cus D’Amato said: The hero and the cowards feel the same thing. They feel fear. It’s what they do after that separates them. If you are and indie maker feeling like this, please remember that you are not alone and whatever you are working on might be worth it to the world. Keep on shipping.