Bootstrapping Popsy to 5k users with $0 marketing spend

Hey Indie Hackers 👋🏻😊

About a year ago, the initial idea of a website builder on top of Notion was introduced by Mlex, who self-funds the entire project. We entered a very competitive and saturated market, so I wanted to share some insights of how we got to our first 5k users with $0 marketing spend in about half a year when we first publicly launched.

Popsy is a free no-code website builder for Notion. We basically kept Notion's simplicity and upgraded its technical aspects such as extended customization, SEO settings, page speed, and hosting—everything you need for a functional website. There are other services, but they're all too complex and costly for average users. Popsy lets you build websites for free, extremely fast and without any coding knowledge, which is a huge win-win for our end user.

What worked for us:
1. 100% free. By offering completely free and unlimited websites (that have 'Made with Popsy' badge), we were able to secure lots of organic traffic.

2. Community launches on Reddit and Indie Hackers. These two launches gave us a starting push because a lot of users tested our product and gave amazing feedback, from which we learned what the public wants and introduced new features.

3. Growing Twitter by sharing product updates, tutorials, Notion and no-code related info, free stuff (custom icons and illustrations) and especially interacting with every user personally. We don't have a founder with huge personal following from before so everything was built from ground up.

4. Active and quality customer support. We put a lot of resources and time into figuring out what the public really wants and then we delivered, including helping our users as soon as possible and fixing their issues.

5. Cold email outreach. We've used this channel to introduce our product to people inside of Notion community, and to reach out to bloggers, creators and other businesses, etc. to collaborate and explore different options of working together.

6. SEO. It's obviously a long term game, but we've already seen some early success by optimizing our site and by being visible everywhere possible (startup directories, communities, blogs, social media, etc.). This is one of the most important channels and I'd highly recommend everyone to consider it.

Now one might ask how we make money. Just recently we introduced a new Popsy Pro plan for $8/month which unlocks extended no-code customization (colors, fonts, background, content width, navbar, buttons, galleries, etc.), adds support for analytics and custom code, and lets you remove Popsy branding.

Hope this helps someone. Would love to hear your thoughts & feedback! 🤗

  1. 1

    Just played around with popsy for a while to create a portfolio site. Super easy to use and I love that I can just work in a Notion document! Awesome tool!

    One thing, though: when I tried to show my popsy site to my brother, it took foreeeveeerrr to load. I don't think that this was a problem on our end. Have any of your other users had this problem? (my website was [brandonstrellis.popsy.site])

  2. 3

    how is your monetization going, how many paying users do you currently have? :-D

    I know that free stuff can get a lot of eyeballs and users, but once you move them to a paid subscription, things turn around quite drastically

    just my two cents, switching from freemium to paid tiers, might change your core audience big time

    p.s. your site and the templates look really good, great job!

    1. 2

      Hi Daniel, good point! We currently turn about 5% of our users into paying ones, however this is not as important as the fact that number is constantly growing. We've just recently locked extended customization, support for analytics and custom code, and to remove Popsy branding, but only for new users so we haven't lost any of the old ones (they were able to keep these features unlocked but only for existing websites).

      Regardless of locking these features, we're still by far the cheapest option when you look at website building from Notion and also with the most focus on actual no-code customization. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. 3

    Awesome job! How did you get people follow an account that simply shares product updates?

    1. 1

      Hi Denis, thanks! I think key factor here was that people were actually excited about our product, because first of all it was free alternative to what they were already paying for, and second Popsy really offers generous no-code customization. Other Notion website builders focus too much on coding to achieve the same result, which is why most of our users prefer our solution.

      Activity is also extremely important. We started being active around Notion community by engaging personally with niche creators and in Twitter communities, and also by sharing free stuff. People love free stuff, especially if they can put a good use case to it (our icons and illustrations are Notion style and it's a huge user base). People also started sharing their Popsy websites pretty early and recommending it around as it's really a good deal (both free and paid options), so it all added up organically.

      On top of that Twitter is honestly the only social media we've developed so far so all the focus can be put into it.

  4. 2

    Awesome job! I will be checking this out (:

    1. 1

      Thanks! I'll be also sharing a lot more content as we grow 😊

    1. 2

      Hi, thank you! These kind of comments fuel us up with new energy to work even harder and deliver the best and easiest website building experience 🤗

  5. 2

    Thanks so much for this! Lots of great takeaways. We're in the beginning phases of building a few of these channels and it's great to hear about what your process was and what you used for success. Congrats !

    1. 2

      Hi, I'm super happy that it helps someone and I'll be even happier to share some more in the future with this amazing community 😊 Btw, what kind of product are you building?

      1. 2

        That'd be awesome! We're working on a contract management platform for SMBs. Seem to be a lot out there on the enterprise side but not lots of quality options for small/medium. Would love to give you guys a sneak peak in the new week or so once our MVP is ready.

        1. 1

          Cool, will definitely post more as we grow 😊 Sounds great, I'd love to check it out. You can reach me through gal@popsy.co too if it's easier. Talk soon!

          1. 1

            Fantastic! Super pumped to check out anything else you have :) And I'll post our MVP in the next week or so. Thanks again!

  6. 2

    I have tried popsy early on and it works fine! The USP for me was that popsy offers custom domain for free (with popsy branding), all other offer only subdomains (as far as I know). What held me back a bit was the absence of information on pricing.

    Any reason you do not publish your pricing? I tend to avoid websites without pricing information, and your pricing is cheaper than that of two other notion website builders I know.

    What could bring some traction is a lifetime deal, not too cheap, with a limited availability of say 50 or 100 places, directly from you.

    Good luck


    1. 1

      Hi Torsten, thanks for sharing your thoughts! We indeed offer both popsy.site and custom domains for free (which everyone else charge extra, you're right 😊). We have some CTAs in our live editor when you're customizing your site, where you can 'Upgrade to Pro' and find out what you're paying for, but we've realized this is not enough. That's why we're working on a dedicated pricing page where everything will be more clear, as it should be. I know sometimes people are unsure what they're paying for or they think $8 doesn't include everything so they don't decide to upgrade. We'd like to avoid that as being transparent is the way to go, we're definitely not hiding any fees ($8/month is for everything including unlimited websites and free hosting, etc.) 😊

      Thanks for pointing that out, we should really introduce it as soon as possible!

      Regarding lifetime deals we probably won't offer them, however we're working on annual pricing options.

  7. 2

    Well done, it's fantastic idea and fantastic result.

    I've been using IH, Reddit and HN for my project which is an alternative for Zapier:


    I have been very successful on those platforms and even before launching I've received massive support but I haven't been as successful on Twitter until recently.

    I realised, unlike other platforms, I hadn't targeted no-code community on Twitter, and as soon as I started promoting it in the right communities it started getting attention on Twitter as well.

    1. 2

      Thank you!

      Yeah, these communities are a real gem and we're so happy to be so invested in them, as they bring amazing results. Twitter is also very specific but super powerful, and like you said if you engage in right communities and include creators from your niche it should be working eventually 😊

Trending on Indie Hackers
What is your ramen profitable goal? 29 comments When is the right time to incorporate? 20 comments Going all-in on myself 18 comments Stablecoins not so stable — Terra (UST) crashed 18 comments Ask for early feedback: Script management platform 12 comments Paul Graham on ramen profitability 6 comments