Build Notes #1


Welcome to my twice-monthly update on the highs and lows of building indie software products.

1. Boords Growth

October was Boords' best growth month in 3 years. It was the first time we've exceeded our self-imposed month-on-month growth target, and we cleared a significant MRR milestone.

I put it down to continued work on our SEO-driven content marketing strategy. This normally takes at least a couple of months to pay off, so it's gratifying to see work which started in the summer come to fruition. It's reminded me that success is often about doing the basics well, repeatedly.

2. Rails API post

Last week I wrote a blog post about setting up a JSON:API with Rails. It started as a reference for myself, but as I had to consult so many sources to get the thing finished, it felt like sharing that legwork was the right thing to do - hence the blog post. I tend to white-knuckle difficult technical problems and move on as soon as they work, even if I don't fully understand them. It was rewarding to take my time and turn a problem into something positive.

Read about building an API with Rails →

3. Notion as a CMS

I've had a Notion account for a couple of years, but it wasn't until I watched August Bradley's YouTube channel that it clicked for me. Effective use of complex software is about the effort you put in to understand it. From a tangled mass of files and apps, I now keep all my notes, bookmarks, tasks etc inside Notion. It's great.

It occurred to me that I could significantly reduce the friction required to publish a new blog post by using Notion as a CMS. Although Notion doesn't have an official API (as of November 2020 at any rate), there is a React renderer for Notion pages. In a few hours, I was able to wire up a new Next.js app to my Notion account, and the result is the blog you're reading now. All posts on this site are Notion pages. As hoped, it's significantly reduced the friction.

James Chambers
Good morning. I'm James.

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