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Leaving the nine-to-five for no-code

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I’m Drew Thomas, from Austin, Texas, USA. I have officially been an entrepreneur since I was 19, when I co-founded a digital agency in Philadelphia. It grew to around 20 people before I left, and they’re still going strong. Since then, I’ve been consulting and making independent products under the name Work and Whistle.

Being resourceful to get an edge

So far, I have two products with customers, Really Simple Store and Joustlist. I have a couple others in the works, too.

Really Simple Store is a no-code ecommerce platform that’s very fast to set up (under 10 minutes). Products can be sold through the store itself or embedded onto any website, so it’s a really versatile and low-commitment way to sell things online. It came about after working with several clients who needed ecommerce that would integrate with their existing websites. As it’s grown, it’s become more of a “maker” product, offering a low-friction way to help people make money from their hobbies and side projects. I launched it on Product Hunt and ended up in the top 10 for the day.

Joustlist is a tool to organize peoples’ job searches. Someone can find a job on any website, add it to their Joustlist sheet and track progress, get follow-up reminders, and more. I work with a partner on Joustlist (it was his idea originally, and I joined him).

Both products help people who are facing challenges and need to be resourceful to get an edge, whether it’s selling something as a side business or finding a full time job. Both are low cost (or free) and take the approach of helping people first and making money second. It’s a little counterintuitive, but I love this approach and think it will pay off.

The technology stack for each of these products is a combination of a PHP API with React and PHP front-end applications. However, everything behind the scenes is run on no-code products. I use Airtable, Notion, Meet Edgar, Mailchimp, Simple Analytics, Stripe, and probably a lot more I’m forgetting.

Work and Whistle is my full-time gig, and Really Simple Store and Joustlist are each side projects. Most of the money I earn is from consulting, but since leaving my agency, I’ve been trying (slowly) to transition out of consulting and into products.

I have a lot of freedom with my time because I don’t work a nine to five. Without full, open days to do whatever I want, It’d be a lot harder to keep up with both side projects. Or the others in the pipeline (Dance It Yourself, Yesterday’s Weather, and I’m Lost).

Bringing awareness to the no-code movement

On the consulting side, I’ve gone from doing traditional development and marketing work to almost all no-code work. I love the no-code movement, and even as a developer—especially as a developer, actually—I see huge potential in the future of the movement. I’m absolutely blown away by the quality of no-code tools that are out there today. I’m building all of my new products with a custom (coded) API and all no-code front-ends. I really believe in that set up, and it’s been a powerful and efficient way for me to build.

In the future, I’d love to help bring awareness to the no-code movement by showing what can be done without code. Although my two current products are coded, I’m already working on a few that are built with no-code tools. For example, Yesterday’s Weather is an app I had in the iOS app store years ago. Recently, I re-built the ap with Thunkable, made a web app version with Bubble, and made a marketing site with Carrd. I’m currently a little snagged in the app store approval process, but when it’s approved and running, I have a write-up ready to go about the building process and the no-code stack I used.

Working in this way allows me to do a lot with a little. I can have several businesses that earn money without employees and with few expenses. The “gig economy” is more than driving Uber and renting your apartment. It’s selling products, making software, fostering communities and creating content. It’s people finally getting paid to do what they love, and it’s possible in large part to no-code and other SaaS tools. It’s hard to imagine ever going back to a nine to five.

This article was made possible by MakerPad, the platform to learn how to build powerful applications without code.


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