Ever used a product and found yourself constantly needing help along the way?
Dominik built a tool to help businesses minimize the friction involved in this step. How? By using HelpKit to create a Notion-powered knowledge base. FAQs, tips, how-to guides, it’s all easy to create and store, thanks to his work.
Here’s his story and experience with building a no-code tool!
My name is Dominik Sobe. I’m an information systems grad student at the Nova University of Lisbon, with a background in economics and strategic management. Besides studying I am a self-taught software engineer and fell in love with the concept of bootstrapping and indiehacking.
I’m currently bootstrapping multiple side-projects with a focus lately on no-code. My goal is to become ramen profitable by the end of my degree this September, so I can start focusing full-time on growing my projects. (Note: Ramen profitable means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders' living expenses.)
I’m particularly interested in trying to make software more accessible and easy to use. The project I’m currently focusing on is called HelpKit.so, which is a no-code tool that turns Notion pages into a professional knowledge base.
Businesses need reliable knowledge bases
There are already a couple of knowledge base softwares out there to help you improve your customer support. And while most of them are certainly doing a good job, are they actually making use of the best content management system in the world?
I have been using Notion for a few years now. It's an amazing tool for storing and organizing all of my company's knowledge and documentation. After a while, I realized that I need something that I can expose to my customers.
I didn't want to leave Notion. Furthermore, it should feel similar to tools such as Intercom or Zendesk. Since I couldn't find the right solution – I built HelpKit. Sure, you can publish your Notion page on its own but it might come across as unprofessional. The Notion URL, distracting links pointing to Notion and the lack of customizability are just a few disadvantages.
HelpKit is solving all of this. It’s for businesses who need an easy no-code way to create a reliable knowledge base powered by Notion. You write your help articles in Notion and HelpKit takes care of the rest. It's as simple as that.
It’s built so that search engines can easily find the help articles. I’ve added in a search bar, analytics, live chat integrations and password-protected access. In addition, users can integrate an embeddable widget for their website that allows customers to view knowledge base articles without leaving the website.
Businesses need a knowledge base
Before I started HelpKit, I was working on a mobile app and another SaaS product. Unless you have built a flawless product (congratulations 🤩), your customers will always have questions.
I learnt the hard way that they want to get immediate help when they need it most. A knowledge base can provide all the information that your customers need in one place. It can range from FAQs about your product/service, common issues and their solutions, videos with tutorials on how to do things and more.
So whenever I shipped a new product, I had to either tediously build my own help center or use a dedicated software. Believe me when I say, I have tried every knowledge base software on the market. None of them resonated with me.
Typical knowledge base software is either crazy expensive, lacks certain important features, feels outdated or everything combined. The most important aspect when working with a knowledge base for me is focusing on writing great quality help articles.
All of the providers failed at this one very important task. For years, I have been using Notion’s amazing editor to structure my personal and business life. Then one day it struck me; I already handle 90% of my business workflows with Notion, why not serve the data directly from my Notion workspace?
This would theoretically allow me to use all the amazing block types Notion offers and most importantly make it super easy to focus on writing good content. Turns out I wasn’t the only one with this issue. Ever since I launched HelpKit three months ago, the feedback has been amazingly positive.
So many people have personally reached out and thanked me for building such an intuitive and easy way to create a beautifully designed knowledge base. From solo content creators, NGOs from Paraguay or Russia, all the way up to mid-sized enterprises are now using HelpKit and Notion for their help center/documentation.
Building my no-code tool with custom code
HelpKit’s pre-launch website was using a couple of no-code tools in order to find out if there’s a product-market fit. I used Gumroad for early payments, Typeform for gathering feedback and Zapier for handling some logic that made it easy to follow up potential customers.
In terms of the actual technical infrastructure, HelpKit is 100% custom-coded in Nuxt and Node. The reason for this is that I needed maximum flexibility in order to deliver an easy and intuitive way to use Notion as a content management system.
While HelpKit is super easy to set up as a customer, the frontend/backend code that glues everything together is quite sophisticated and took dozens of iterations to get right.
This way allows me to offer customers the easiest no-code solution for creating knowledge bases.
My learnings along the way
I strongly believe that in the process of creating a valuable business, there will always be obstacles and challenges in your way. The biggest obstacle for HelpKit was coming up with a smart IT infrastructure that allows it to use almost all Notion block types and display them exactly as would see them in Notion.
Furthermore, it took multiple tries to finally come up with a intuitive onboarding interface that makes it easy for users to integrate their Notion site. Luckily HelpKit’s early customer feedback was phenomenal and really helped me iron out all the kinks.
As almost every Indiehacker knows building a product is only half part of the game. The other, arguably more important part is marketing. Getting initial traction is tough and there is no magic formula for it. What helped me the most is building in public on Twitter. Constantly sharing my progress on HelpKit gained initial interest and slowly the Notion community picked it up and started sharing it as well.
This helped me a lot getting to the point right now. There’s still a lot of room to grow, so I’m excited for what the future holds.
Don’t hide your product from the world
Get your product in the hands of potential customers as early as possible. Do not hide from the world. Share your progress on Twitter, talk to your cats, ask for feedback from Reddit or IndieHackers, and listen closely to the feedback.
Ask for harsh and honest feedback. Read ‘The Mom Test’ by Rob Fitzpatrick if you haven’t. Sharing my journey on building HelpKit on Twitter helped me turn 300 into 1000 followers and opened up so many amazing opportunities. I encourage you to try out a bunch of things. Throw a lot of ideas on the wall and focus on what sticks.
If there's any way I can be of help, reach out to me via my Twitter DM and I’ll try my best to help you in whatever way I can!