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November 26, 2020
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How Freelance designers can benefit from no-code.
Are you a freelance designer or maker, or aspiring to be both? Then this is for you.
Pedro Codina

With the rise of unbelievably powerful tools that require little or non technical knowledge to use them, they have opened a tremendous opportunity to designers, makers and freelancers around the world. 


I am referring to the now trendy movement known as the no-code space. No-code isn't completely new, but it is today that software makers have realized that they need to design and adapt their products to accommodate and serve this very niche audience that is eager to create extremely powerful solutions and products without having to write a single line of code.

No Code List
NoCodeList.co The No Code List is curated by Drew Thomas.


Why no-code isn't a new thing? Without going into a history lesson, back in 2003 WordPress already allowed anyone to create a Blog website which you could customize the visual aspect of it without having to know how to write code. It offered templates and forms that you just had to fill in with text, add pictures, choose fonts and colors and you were ready to go. 

Another example and probably a more recent one is Shopify. It launched in 2006 allowing merchants to create their very own ecommerce website without having to build anything from scratch. Again, you could do so with no-code.


THE PROBLEM

More than ever before, companies and businesses (small, medium and large) are looking for ways to remain competitive as well as to grow their business to reach a larger audience. This can only be done digitally. In addition, due to Covid a lot of businesses have been obliged to completely change their processes. For example, restaurants and other food and beverage outlets have had to convert their traditional menus into QR codes that let customers download their menu. In some cases, even order and pay from their phones. 

There has always been a lack of top programmers and when you find one, it is extremely expensive and time consuming for almost any business but especially to small businesses.


THE SOLUTION

No-code. No-code tools enable anyone to build and launch digital products and solutions without having any programming knowledge. They often offer a very easy to use interface or editor where you build a product visually. Thus the also now popular term/title of becoming a visual developer. Which means exactly that, someone that develops digital products or solutions visually.

For instance, Bravo Studio allows designers and makers to create fully native iOS and Android mobile applications without having to write a single line of code. Bravo Studio turns app prototypes designed in Figma into mobile apps instantly.  Basically a designer can now go from Figma to mobile app in just seconds. This completely removes the need of having a backend developer, a frontend developer, an iOS developer and an Android developer. Now, you only need a visual developer, no-code expert or a Bravo expert to build an app. Or, why not build your own app?


THE OPPORTUNITY

With companies and businesses still adopting or having to adopt new ways to run their businesses in the digital transformation era, the opportunity for designers and makers today is bigger than ever. Also, if we take into account “the new norm” during and post COVID, there has never been a better time to reinvent yourself and start that side project you have always dreamed about or even start a new career becoming a maker building awesome digital solutions for others.

Being able to build and launch products and solutions in just days instead of months or even years means you can acquire a much larger amount of customers resulting in more revenue, faster. 

WHERE SHOULD YOU START?

Take advantage of what you already know, your background, your contacts and your interests! 

Don't try to come up with a million dollar idea (at least not yet). Instead, think and write down possible problems you wish to improve or solve. Those that have affected you or might be affecting others. Always remember that no-code tools are there to help you improve and solve problems fast. It doesn't matter if they are small problems or big problems. The whole point is to create a big impact with the solution.

CASE STUDY - HOW TO IDENTIFY A PROBLEM AND YOUR FIRST POTENTIAL CUSTOMER


Precisely during Covid lockdown in Barcelona, I was having trouble buying real good bread around where I live. At that time I was not allowed to go further than 1km radius. That meant that there was no way I could go all the way to Yellow Bakery. Yellow Bakery is a family owned business located in the Gothic area of Barcelona. If I wasn't able to get my sourdough bread, it was very probable that many people were facing the same problem. Luckily, Yellow Bakery started a delivery service per area three days a week. I learned this through their instagram account which is where i was then able to place my order. I was offered the option to order via Instagram or Whatsapp. It was convenient but it meant I wouldn't be able to pay for my order nor know exactly if it was confirmed etc…


After I asked for a menu to choose from, I got a screenshot of their menu and placed my order. Late at night on that same day I received a Paypal link to pay for my order. 


Before I continue, lets analyze what's happening here:


  1. Small family business bakery: Husband and wife, 2 small kids and a 3rd one on the way!
  2. They accepted orders via Instagram and Whatsapp.
  3. They manually sent payment links via Paypal (late at night).
  4. They have to wake up at 4am to start baking and open the shop.
  5. Deliver orders and serve walk-in customers!.


I right away realized I had a problem in front of me that I could probably solve or at least improve the situation in a great manner.

Problem

  • Non automated order taking system.
  • No CRM to track orders/payments.
  • No payment system connected to order taking system.
  • Lots of wasted hours handling orders manually via various social media platforms.


Solution

  • Mobile App designed in Figma
  • Bravo Studio to convert a Figma design into a native iOS and Android app.
  • Mobile app available in App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Digital menu.
  • Order form (Typeform).
  • CRM/database (Google Sheets).
  • Payment gateway (Stripe Integrated to Typeform).
  • Win back quality time to spend with the family and friends as well sleeping time!


Build time: 1 day 

#madewithbravo


YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED A PROBLEM AND YOU HAVE A SOLUTION, THEN WHAT?

Now that you have created a solution, it is time to implement it, test it and study how you can scale it.


Once you start getting better at identifying problems and come up with solutions, it is important you don't lose focus. Keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing. Maybe your sole interest is to learn and play with no-code tools. But, if you are after the dollar, remember that it is key you have the clear goal in implementing those solutions that offer the most scalable potential. 


What do I mean by scalable potential? Simply said, something you can easily sell again and again without having to alter much the original solution. A solution that is needed by multiple potential customers in one same vertical or industry. 

How to approach/acquire your first potential customer?

If you haven't sold your first gig yet (at least in a proactive way), it can be very overwhelming and sometimes frightening to actually put a price to your work and actually get paid for it. Always remember that we are all used to paying for things therefore you should be able to get paid for your work too.


If you think you have a potentially scalable solution in hand, don't worry about coming up with a price for it or at least, not yet.

What you should be eager doing first is to get it to the hands of a potential customer that might be needing this solution. This will be your very best POC (proof of concept).


With the building speed that no-code tools offer, rather than selling or promoting an idea, you can actually ship the idea directly to that identified potential customer. For instance, Bravo Studio enables you to share any of your apps by simply adding an email address thanks to Bravo Vision. In a matter of seconds your potential customer will receive an email with a link to download the solution you have just built. He/she will be able to experience your app or solution and right away provide you with feedback.


Yellow Bakery App project in Bravo Studio.


This is exactly what I did when I built the Yellow Bakery app. I texted the owner of the bakery saying I had built an app to help them take in orders, process payments and centralize all orders in a simple google sheet.


To make sure they would understand what I was talking about, I also made a screen recording of the app and sent it to the bakery owner via Whatsapp. Here's the reply I got:


“Good morning, that's amazing! Can I ask what something like this costs?”


This is exactly what you want to be looking for, the most revealing message telling you that you have something that a potential client definitely needs. Most importantly, many others will also be looking for that same or similar solution!


What's key here is that you are not over-selling or pushing to close a deal. What you are doing is being proactive and anticipating a need. 


Even if you could charge this first client, it is up to you how to run your business and especially your very first customer. You have to think that you will want to use this case as a case study and include it in your portfolio to actually promote your business to other potential customers. This is your best marketing material. It is invaluable.


Build a long lasting relation and business partnership with this first customer which you can grow professionally with. Remember that you will want to further develop that initial solution and keep improving it.


Instead, offer you service for free (if you can afford so). Maybe not forever but for a considerable amount of time to further prove the value you have provided which will and can define what you can charge other customers for the same.

HOW DO YOU ACQUIRE YOUR FIRST PAYING CUSTOMERS?

You have launched that first solution, there are real users making use of your product, you have built a portfolio site where you showcase the solution and included a quote from that first customer. It is time to sell!

LIST YOUR (PROSPECTS) POTENTIAL CLIENTS

It is now that you want to start listing all potential customers that could make use of your solution. Create a database with company name, owners name if you can or other direct contact, social media handles, email address, phone number…Check the “about us” sections, LinkedIn, Facebook pages and other social media platforms.

CREATE REALISTIC DEMOS

In the case of Bravo Studio, you can easily duplicate your app project in Figma, create a few demos for that potential customers lists. Keep in mind that reaching out to potential customers with a custom demo designed with their own branding and visual assets will create a greater impact and rest assured it will call their attention.

It doesn't have to be the full fledged app but rather focus on branding like colours, logos, images, font when and where possible… Pick a few of their most recent images or videos shared in their social media or website. Create an awesome splash screen with background videos of their own, images, list some of their products… you have to make them feel that the app is ready! Yes it is a time investment but you will touch their emotional nerve. You want to get that reply saying: “Good morning, that's amazing! Can I ask what something like this costs?”

Yellow Bakery app with an integrated Typeform ordering form.



YOU HAVE YOUR DEMOS READY AND YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS DATABASE. IT'S TIME TO SELL.

Step 1: Send a personal email to your potential customers list.

💡 Personally address the company owner introducing yourself and go straight to the point. 


Email checklist Guide: (of course adjust to your own style)


Email Subject: Your <prospect business name/shop name> mobile app is ready.

Personalize the email addressing by name

✓ Email body example:

Hi <business owner>,


This is <You>,

I recently created <this app> (you can link it to your portfolio page showcasing the app in question) for a similar business to yours and thought I would share it with you in case you would be needing a similar solution.
I see you currently do not have an app for your business and maybe it would help you reach a larger audience and thus help you boost your sales.


This same app can be fully branded to your business, in fact I have just shared a demo of your actual app via email. Follow the link you just received on a separate email and you will be able to actually see your very own app on your own mobile device.


If this is something of your interest, I will be happy to get on a call to provide you with more details about your app. 


You can book a call with me here. (Link a Calendly account connected to your google calendar and Zoom).

Step 2: Follow up

Don't panic if you don't receive any answers or replies within 24h. Wait 24h - 48h to start following up with your potential customers. 


After 48h it is probable you have started receiving some answers from the business owners you have approached. Pursuit those initial replies and clarify any questions they might have right away, this is what it could be the very first step to onboard them! It's time to show your customer service which will set the note on how they could expect you to service them if they sign a deal and become your customer.

Be ready to answer this initial questions:

  • How much does this cost? (Plan your pricing strategy)
  • How long does it take to build or implement?
  • How does the payment process work
  • Who owns the app?
  • How and who maintains the app if i need to make changes?
  • Does it work for iPhone and Android phones? (For instance, when you create apps with Bravo Studio you are actually providing building fully native mobile apps for both ios and Android. This is perfect when sharing your app demo with Bravo Vision app since they will be able to open the app regardless of using an iPhone or Android mobile device.

STEP 3: Continue to follow up

Reach out to your potential customers calling them up or even via direct messaging them through their social media platforms. Sometimes you will find this a better way to engage with them versus emailing. 

PRICING YOUR NO-CODE WORK


The goal of your pricing strategy should be to close the sale. You want to build a good base of different customers to keep your portfolio growing. 


MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue)


We are all used to buying services that cost small monthly amounts. It happens with most digital services we are subscribed to. Why not use the same strategy for your no-code business?


If after approaching your potential customers lists you see you have received a general positive response, you could test one or all of the following pricing plans with different customers:

Option 1: First month free.

First month free followed by a fixed monthly fee of E.g. $99/month. You will have to define the actual value of your app. Most importantly how valuable is this app to your customer. The more value is perceived the more they are ready to pay for it.

Option 2: Set-up fee

Charge an initial set up fee followed by a monthly fee. For instance E.g. $199 followed by a monthly fee of E.g. $99/month

Option 3: Monthly fee

Charge only a monthly fee from the first day.  E.g. $99/month or whatever amount you feel it's the best in your case.


Note that these are just example amounts and you must evaluate each solution you build and the market they are designed for. Same for the different pricing models, in the end go for that one that makes you feel proud and satisfied. You will always have time to adjust your pricing levels and models as you grow your customer portfolio.

WHY MRR? (Monthly Recurring Revenue)


Traditionally, designers and developers as well as agencies, would charge a full package set price for a product/service. They would deliver the product/service, get paid for it and they would both walk away.


The problem of this traditional way of selling your product or service is that you will most likely forget about your clients. What's worse, your clients will forget about you.


Offering an MRR pricing plan will help you maintain a long lasting relation with your customers. It will make you follow up and connect with them more often which will give you opportunities to upsell more services. 


Having a constant growing recurring revenue stream will provide you with “lifetime” revenue instead of a one time payment.


One time payment: Simple mobile app at $ 500


Recurring revenue: Simple app mobile app at $49/month ($49 x 12 months = $588… keep in mind that your customer continues to pay the same amount the following year $49/month ($49 x 12 months) = $588… = 2 years at $1176…


Note: These numbers are just examples and are only showing 1 app or one customer. Here you want to focus on scaling and selling more of the same to increase your monthly recurring revenue.


Enjoy designing and launching digital solutions with no-code but specially, making a living from it!


Want to learn more about turning your ideas into reality or how to sell them? Feel free to contact me at pedro@bravostudio.app or book a call.