What is content marketing? Put simply, it describes the creating and distributing of content like blogs, infographics, or social media posts that will help bring traffic to your business.
Many people think of content marketing as a crowded space. I've personally seen more "content marketing is dead" speculation over the last year than ever before. But if Superpath's success is anything to go by, we'd say content marketing is still having its finest hour.
Jimmy Daly is Superpath's solo founder. Since 2020, he's done an arguably incredible job of growing the business, which is a community that helps content marketers connect with each other, work opportunities, and more.
We sat down with Jimmy to learn more about Superpath, how he's grown it to over $500,000 a year run rate, and how he's done it all with no-code tools that cost him less than $500 a month.
Hi! I’m Jimmy Daly. I've been working on Superpath full-time for nearly two years.
Prior to that I had a series of various content marketing roles; a few of these were in-house roles, and a few were agency roles. Most recently, I was the VP of Growth at Animalz, a content marketing agency.
Meet Superpath: A community for content marketers
Superpath is a Slack community for content marketers.
We have four lines of business:
- A job board: companies pay to get their job listings in front of our community and newsletter.
- A paid membership: companies can sign their team up to get courses, office hours, networking calls and a few other goodies.
- Sponsorships: companies pay for ad space in our newsletter and Slack community.
- A marketplace: we match companies with vetted content creators and take a cut of the payments.
We may consider starting a few new lines of business in the future, but right now, each of these needs to be nurtured.
Superpath is built almost exclusively using no-code tools. We’ve built the entire thing with Zapier, Airtable, Squarespace and a few more.
A few no-code tools, and 7k members strong
The Superpath Slack community has about 7k members. I use a handful of no-code tools to streamline things in the community.
Here’s an example: We have a career advice channel. Members can use an Airtable form to ask anonymous questions about employers, work, and more. A Zap is set up to post those questions anonymously and automatically on our career advice channel in Slack.
We also pull in a feed from our job board, and use Zapier to automatically post jobs to the relevant Slack channel.
We use a tool called Campfire to send an automated onboarding message series on Slack that looks like it comes from me but it’s entirely automated!
I also use a great tool called Calndr.link for AMAs, workshops, etc. I use this to create calendar invites completely seamlessly – and the best part is that it’s free. We send a weekly newsletter to our members, we use ConvertKit for that.
The job board
We host our job board on a tool called Niceboard. I thought about creating something of my own, but it was gonna get pretty expensive. We used to use Notion for an MVP, which was sort of the process to check if it was worth paying money for one (that answer is yes!).
Membership & events
Our membership runs on Podia, it includes courses, office hours, networking events, 1:1 calls.
We have 1:1 calls once a month as an engagement and community building opportunity. We randomly match people from our community through a randomized list of Google Sheets.
Via Zapier, I send a custom email to all the pairs of people that contains an agenda for the month’s call, and options to schedule it. We use Notion for our meeting agendas, I have a CRM that runs in there that connects to a SavvyCal form. Whenever a potential customer wants to book a call, we collect info through SavvyCal to book the sales call.
Our website runs on Squarespace.
The Superpath marketplace on Airtable
The Superpath marketplace runs entirely on Airtable. It’s the most interesting part of our no-code stack. It's essentially a giant kanban board where we keep track of all our customers and their purchases.
We have various different Airtable views set up that are connected to different Zaps. For example, when we assign an article, it sends an email to the freelancer with a brief, style guide, etc. It also sends an email to the client letting them know that their article has been assigned, with the freelancer's details on it.
Our dashboard can be viewed on a tool called Dock. It gives them a link to the dashboard, which is a shared space for the client and customer companies to work. Essentially it’s just embedded Airtable views.
We have a view for the writers so they can keep track of the work; when it happened; how much we’re paying them. They get automated emails to remind them that their work is due. Google docs are automatically generated when articles are assigned, and writers get automated email reminders to send their invoices.
We pay $24/month for two pro accounts, and $28/month for Dock. This business alone generated $40k MRR, so it’s totally worth it!
Why I built Superpath
I started this Slack community three years ago on a whim, because I saw this trend of creating Slack communities, but I didn’t find a good one in the content marketing space. I thought I’d make a good one and see if anyone was interested. A few peers that I knew joined, and all of a sudden we had a nice way to communicate!
This led me down the path to start a business, get an investor, and then eventually go full-time. In many ways, it was inspired by Makerpad!
The gap I found was the fact that it wasn't easy to connect with content marketers that worked in other companies, unless you did it on Twitter. Twitter was too public, and many people don’t wanna share stuff so publicly. It’s nice to have a more private space, like a Slack community.
Everything else (the job board, membership, marketplace, etc.) began when I decided to go full-time and started thinking through potential ways to monetize.
Finding the right funding
I have an investor. He’s someone I worked for in the past and owns a big chunk of equity at Superpath. We agreed on a few core values before coming to this agreement. For example, we agreed that Superpath should be a cash flow business.
The goal is to create a sustainable, profitable business that I enjoy running. If we do that, both of us get a great return (me on my time, him on his investment).
We are not technically bootstrapped because I did start this business with someone else's money. My takeaway from this is the understanding that there’s a big space between bootstrapping and VC money. So it helps to consider ways to fund your business that align with personal values, and align with the business you’re building.
Superpath is set to make over half a million dollars this year
Everything we’ve done has just sort of been hacked together with some form of Airtable, Zapier, Squarespace, and Google Sheets. It’s been nice to get this business up and running, but for now, it’s still just me.
But the good news is we’re on track to make over half a million dollars this year, and our software costs are maybe $500 a month or a bit less.
I’m so inspired by how many great businesses you can build with no-code skills and very little upfront capital.
We’ve got the same challenges
Most of our obstacles are the same ones that any startups face: How do you get customers, how should you price your product, is your offering a good one? We’ve been figuring out how to build partnerships, how to build a pipeline of leads, and how to report those things. How do we get more people to sign up and join the Slack community, or subscribe to our newsletter.
I wrote an article about this on my personal blog. One thing I've found is that having an audience before you build a business is extremely helpful. Before going into this, I had an audience of 4k subscribers on my newsletter and between 5-6k Twitter followers. I had spent ten years in content marketing, and written hundreds of articles. I had a reputation in the content world, and that helped Superpath get going.
So my advice to anyone looking to start a similar business is this: Build an audience NOW, build one yesterday! Whether you're thinking about starting it, or already doing it, this is so important.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jimmy! You can find out more about his work here.