How To Build Impactful Notion Products: Joanne’s Story

How To Build Impactful Notion Products: Joanne’s Story

Notion powers projects, wikis, and docs for students, creators, and large companies. But it also lets others with great ideas build third-party products and integrations for the wider Notion community.

Meet Joanne Lodge, the former Head of Business Intelligence in London. She left the corporate world behind and now runs Pop Invoice — a handy Notion invoicing integration.


But how do you create a digital product that users genuinely need, not just another fleeting idea? Joanne shares how she and her husband, Farez, conducted exhaustive research to identify a gap in the market before developing a practical and essential tool for Notion users.

Using a checklist to find the right product fit

Joanne and Farez jotted down around 30 different app ideas on paper during the pandemic. But it wasn't about picking the idea that sounded the most appealing. Instead, they methodically evaluated each one using Farez's SaaS idea checklist.

Looking at factors, such as the severity of the problem they're solving and whether people frequently experience it, helped them check off ideas until one was left: Notion invoicing.

After they decided to focus on an invoicing product, Joanne dove into Notion with full force. So much so she now runs her Notion consultancy service after waving goodbye to her 9-5. But unlike many Notion users, Joanne didn't come from a note-taking background. With her data expertise, Notion databases got her attention.

"I began planning holidays and more in Notion. Essentially, I learned about Notion simply by using it extensively. My consultancy work actually originated through Pop Invoice's chat app, where people asked for help," says Joanne.

"Initially, I assisted others with Pop Invoice questions. However, requests often extended to seeking general Notion advice for their businesses, like 'Could you help us set up Notion?'"

"So, my consultancy services developed organically out of those conversations."


Utilizing Notion's engaged user base

The initial product was called Notion Invoice, but Joanne and Farez rebranded it to Pop Invoice to keep possibilities open for expansion —whether it's Google Sheets, Airtable, or other tools. Another factor was avoiding any trademark issues.

Renaming the product meant a slight dip in traffic from Google search results. For anyone searching "Notion invoicing," their tool was one of the top results — this was how they attracted most of their initial customers, building up a solid user base. After all, Notion has an already strong community, which was one of the reasons they chose to build in this niche.

Still, the product is steadily growing with the new branding, even if Joanne hasn't yet pushed any larger marketing initiatives. Getting new user sign-ups is on Joanne's radar, but customer churn isn't a worry.

Let's face it: invoicing is tedious, no matter how you look at it. And that's one of the reasons Pop Invoice customers stay. Once they use the product and it works, there's no reason to look for a replacement, especially if Joanne and Farez are always on hand to help with any queries.

"There are no automated or pre-written responses set up. It's just us replying in real-time to each inquiry whether we're at the supermarket or wherever else," she says.

"This approach works well for now since we're still small-scale."


Finding your winning product idea

For any builders out there, Joanne advises starting with the basics — first, find the problem you want to solve for your customers. For example, the duo built a free product called DatePop. It's a date autofill for Notion databases.

The idea came from reading Reddit threads. Many users sought ways to input the year's dates in their habit trackers or other Notion tools. There wasn't a product available to meet the demand, which gave them an idea to build one.

Free forums like Reddit's Notion community can be a goldmine for anyone interested in building a product. You learn how others use Notion while spotting any issues they face.

"I use the same method," says Joanne. "I have a YouTube account with videos about Notion. The ones with the most hits are of me showing users how to solve an issue. Think about useful content instead of creating compelling video ideas nobody looks at."

"You may want to create something exciting, but if people have a tedious problem, they'll pay for something that makes their life easier."


"In the end, boring problems make the best products," she says.

Getting the product out in the world

Once you have a product idea, what’s next? Joanne and Farez’s Notion invoicing product journey went as follows:

  • Bought a domain for their holding page and waiting list form, which they shared on social media.
  • Following some interest in the product, they started with an internal proof of concept to ensure their idea could be done. At the time, the Notion API was only in its early stages.
  • Created product mockups for how they envision the tool would work.
  • Started coding the product in Laravel and used a frontend template from Tailwind. All of the Pop Invoice’s content is currently managed using the Laravel code, but the duo wants to change this soon so they can manage content outside of the app.
  • Reiterated along the way, considering the early user feedback and requests.
  • Rebranded to fit Notion’s updated brand guidelines, moved the website to the new Pop Invoice domain, and fixed any errors that came up.

Working with a product built for Notion is an ongoing process. As Notion releases new features, you'll always find something new to learn or improve.

Delegating strengths as co-founders and partners

While vetting ideas and identifying the right problem to solve was critical, another key factor in Joanne and Farez's success was strategically dividing responsibilities as co-founders and partners.

"We collaborate to generate business ideas," Joanne explains, "but then I manage our marketing efforts while Farez devotes time to advancing the AI offering and product development."

They have a weekly catch-up about the planned work and focus on their roles, including separate consulting work. This clear role designation and consistent communication helps them effectively coordinate as entrepreneurial partners.

Surprisingly, the product building hasn’t been the hardest part of the process. It's marketing. Joanne didn't need to market in her corporate job, but it's critical if you want to grow a digital product customer base. And it’s more complex than simply posting a YouTube video. Long-term success means testing different strategies to see what resonates and which efforts generate the most traction.

"It's been a steep learning curve as I try to pick up marketing basics through hands-on experience, getting advice, researching, and just pushing myself out there," Joanne says.

"I find the technical and Notion-related parts interesting and exciting, plus I enjoy assisting customers directly. But becoming a skilled, effective marketer will be an ongoing improvement process for me in the coming year."

"There's no point in having a great product if nobody knows about it, right?"

Solving real pains and building community

Joanne and Farez's invoicing product resonates because it solves a genuine pain point for business owners — the hassle of sending and tracking payments. While flashier ideas may be tempting, it’s the mundane tasks that often cause the most pain. And users will pay to relieve it.

More deeply, creators can find fulfilment in helping users, fostering community, and crafting solutions.

After all, making life easier for others is at the heart of quality product building.


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