How NotionForms got to $10k MRR in a year
Most founders try endlessly to achieve a true viral loop and organic search results. Julien did both accidentally.
Table of Contents
Sep 8, 2022
If you’ve used Notion before, you know the tool is powerful. Notion is a note taking, project management and digital workspace tool that many companies and startups use internally. There are a whole host of products branching off of Notion, from tools that turn Notion pages into Websites to ones that turn Notion into a content CMS.
NotionForms also falls into this category. In Julien’s own words, NotionForms allows people to “create beautiful forms to fill your Notion tables. It takes seconds, you don't need to know how to code, and it's free.”
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Think about use cases like surveys, lead forms and contact forms. The product has a range of plans from a free plan to a pro $50/month plan.
By default, all customers are existing Notion users, and more often Pro users.
A lot of the free users can be everything from small company projects to freelancers. Most paid users are the pro “power users” of Notion – even some larger companies who use Notion. In big companies, some team sections use Notion and some don’t, so this can be a great entry point into larger companies.
Julien first had the idea for the product when Notion released its API. He built NotionForms in just 4 or 5 days. It started as a simple form with text fields. There wasn’t any initial hope to monetize it. This changed when he shared it on Twitter and other Social Media platforms where Notion communities existed. The response and feedback were great, and Julien officially had his first users. He started to iterate on this.
While Julien knew about Product Hunt, he wasn’t super familiar with it. Luckily, someone put it on Product Hunt for him. He got a handful of upvotes. As he started to launch paid plans, he re-launched on Product Hunt himself, which was significantly more successful. He even got #1 product of the day!
When he started monetizing, Julien decided on a set of features that would be “pro” features. If it was something cosmetic (like setting your own branding), or if it costs him money (like hosting files), it become a paid feature.
He didn’t do much marketing, but gave away a lot of free accounts to Notion influencers. The first step was him reaching out and asking if they’d like to use it. As he got paid plans he started giving free accounts. Around half of the people would respond. Some people used it, but most people didn’t reply at the time. As he got bigger, the response rate improved.
Julien would find influencers by starting communities and participating in existing ones. Luckily, he found someone post a list of Notion influencers on Twitter that he reached out to. He now has an SEO page specifically for influencers and ambassadors from Notion to try to attract them.
Because the product was free at first, many people started using and embedding forms on their site. Essentially, they were linking to NotionForms by way of using the product. This created a viral loop because each form you create and send acts as an advertisement to the recipient, which creates even more backlinks. Google sees that a ton of websites are linking back to the product, and (rather correctly), assumes the site is good and useful for the term. NotionForms ranked super high for “notion” + “forms”, a result guaranteed to have high intent.
All SEO efforts were accidental because of the product. Julien did a couple backlink exchanges. He created a couple pages early on and optimized the landing page, but it was based entirely on the feedback he got. It did seem to help SEO though. He also had several “help” pages with information on how to use the product, which also had some impact.
As discussed in the SEO section above, Julien had a very clear viral loop through the nature of the product. Trying to build some kind of virality into a product by nature is much harder to do, but makes marketing and growth way easier. Most products, frankly, do not have this clear loop. If your loop falls into this category, create free small tools for free that have this effect. It’s much easier to build a small side product with virality than it is into the key product.
The most valuable thing Julien has learned so far is that it’s wildly important to invest time into doing customer support. This helped him develop the journey of the product. He found out what users needed, what they were building with his product and how to serve them better. Even today, he is the one still doing 100% of customer support. At some point he will need someone to help him, but wants to keep doing most of it.
Currently he get’s about 10 people reach out a day. In total will spend a couple hours a week. Julien did a lot that made support easier. Documentation was created on how to do things, help guides were posted and he made the product easier to use. All of this makes support time very manageable. Julien recommends collecting a log of request questions so he can re-use info. He has mostly automated the support process.
Julien now spends less time on NotionForms. Most time is spent on support and he hired a dev that works on features and whatnot. Julien spends most of his other time planning new features. He wants to invest more of his time into education content with use cases and whatnot to help people get started. The hope is that this will increase his conversion rate. At some point he will try to find someone to help him so he can spend more time on other projects.