- James Brooks is a social media marketer who turned to AI and no-code apps to create extra revenue.
- He created an app without writing a single line of code.
- He uses the AI tool Magai to help whenever he gets stuck using no-code tools.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with James Brooks, 35, creator of Thingy Bridge. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My whole career has been in social media. I mostly work with food brands like KFC, Subway, and Taco Bell to create social content and market them. But lately, I’ve been losing clients.
In the last year, the economic landscape has changed significantly. Brands have really been struggling because of the increased price of things like ingredients and fuel, and the marketing budget is often the first thing to get cut.
I wanted to figure out a way to create some more revenue for myself while helping these brands. I thought a software as a service (SaaS) product could help brands market themselves using influencers at a low cost. But I have no background in coding at all.
I decided to to build my idea with no-code tools
I’d always heard about people building apps without having to write a single line of code (people call this no-code) and how powerful it could be. I decided this was the time to get involved. I used no-code tools as the foundation to my product and utilized AI to help when I got stuck.
A few days later I had my product: Thingy Bridge. It allows brands to sign up for a monthly fee to be connected with influencers who are willing to do promotion for free. A lot of brands can’t afford paid influencer collaborations anymore but are happy to run what’s called a gifted campaign — where the brand sends the influencer their product rather than payment.
I used AI to help me
Thingy Bridge is very database heavy so I used AirTable, a low‒code database platform, and Make, which helps connect services.
I used AI whenever I got stuck — mostly Magai, which has GPT-4, as well as some other large language models (LLMs) like Claude, which is good for writing. So I asked Magai how to do things on AirTable.
For example, when an influencer signs up, some of them put @ at the beginning of their username and some don’t. I went to Magai and asked, “I’ve got a column of data. Some data is going to have @s at the start and some don’t. I want a clean version of that column without the @s. Can you create a formula that I can use in AirTable to do this?” And, it did it! Sometimes it doesn’t work but you just explain the error to it and go back and forth.
The backend of Thingy Bridge is mostly AirTable and Make with Magai filling in the gaps whenever I get stuck. For the front end, I use Glide Apps, which make front ends for database-type apps, and I have a WordPress website alongside that.
I didn’t need to use AI for the front-end stuff, because both Glide and WordPress are pretty straight forward. That said, I’ve heard of people creating entire WordPress plugins without coding by using ChatGPT — although that’s not something I’ve done.
For me, using AI really came into its own for the more complicated stuff on the database end, which sometimes concerned the front end. For example, if I wanted to show some of my data on the front end in a better way (i.e. standardizing text), I used ChatGPT to create a function that allowed me to do that.
I was surprised with how fast I could get everything working
All of the no-code apps worked with each other really nicely and Magai answered questions I had instantly. Previously, I would have had to sit in a Discord or a forum to get these answers — like I have with my social media work in the past — but AI removes that waiting time.
I launched Thingy Bridge in April and since then we’ve worked with many clients.
I’ve made two other no-code products since but neither have been as successful as the first. That said, JournoMofo — a platform that helps filter journalist requests on Twitter — was an idea that I had on my walk home from work and within two hours I had a working prototype. The next day, I had my first customer — that’s mad!
What you’ve got to remember, though, is that AI isn’t creative
Creativity is the magic that you, a human, bring to the table. AI isn’t just a magic bullet that’ll make you a multimillion-dollar business — you still need to put in effort and be creative.
But, it’s now possible for creative people to build apps without having to write a line of code. I think that is hugely powerful.
There must have been millions of people, just like me, who have always been into tech but have never had the ability or desire to code. For me, it’s opened a whole new world.
If you have used AI to build a product or generate revenue and would like to share your story, email Jenna Gyimesi at email@example.com.
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