Podcast Preview – May Update

It’s a bit late because it’s the middle of June already, but I haven’t updated what happened with Podcast Preview in the second month of being out in the app store. There are two reasons why I did not write the update earlier. The first is that I am currently traveling in Bali for June so I’m not working that much and writing a blog post is not the most productive way to spend my time. This post will be a bit short and rambling because I just sat down to write it without a concept, so sorry about that!

The second reason is more interesting. It wasn’t a great month for Podcast Preview. The sales are down and the downloads are down too. It’s partly because I did not spend as much time on it as I planned and partly because a lot of competition appeared from nowhere, which I’m happy about it actually. I’m happy because it shows that there is a real market here and a lot of people are looking for solutions to this problem! But on the other hand, it makes my app harder to find so I have to work on this in the future.

So to the numbers:

I got $27.46 after Apple’s cut which is 21% lower than in the previous month and 153 downloads which are 8.9% lower than in April.

These do not look so promising but knowing that I had almost zero effort in this month on the app it’s not that bad! Especially knowing what happened in June already, which I’m gonna tell in the next update hopefully in two weeks! I’m uploading a new build to AppStore Connect today which will add a few new features and bug fixes which hopefully will help to convince the users to keep using my app after the first download.

So that’s it for April if you’re interested what happened in June, please check back in two weeks!

How to Create Preview Videos from Podcast Episodes? The Story of My New App – Podcast Preview

I had an idea after sawing Tim Ferris’s Instagram Story. It was a short video from a part of his podcast, one smart quote from the guest. It was really interesting and I decided to listen the whole episode. I really liked this small promotional video he created and I asked one of my friend who has a podcast show that he would use videos like this to promote his podcast. He said absolutely but there are no good tools to make this at the moment. There is a web service called headliner which promises to do this, but it only works on desktop, and you have to upload the whole mp3 file to their server and what you get it basically a really simple video editor. Not exactly the short video made in seconds which was in my mind, so I decided to make an app like this.

At this point, I still wasn’t sure about the idea, so I decided to ask Courtland from Indie Hackers about the idea. He has one of the best podcast I always listen so he has experience with products and with podcasting too. He replied and gave me so many suggestions I am really thankful to him!

The MVP

Based on Infinite Stories I had a huge advantage, I already built a video editor app and I was able to reuse the video editing engine I built for myself. This made the development so much faster. When this happened I already had a deadline. I had my flight ticket to the 6th of April to fly to Spain and walk the el camino there. I had only two weeks to release something and I felt I can not wait until I come back to try out this idea. So I worked all the evenings and weekends to ship the first MVP on time, which I was able to do it, the 1.0 was out on the 5th of April.

It was able to do a simple user story: add your RSS feed, select an episode, select the timeframe and aspect-ratio, customize the final video and save it to your camera roll.

Product Hunt launch

I decided to quickly get more feedback about the application by launching it on Product Hunt. I got a few emails suggesting me features which I started to implement in the newer versions of the application. This was great because this was based on podcasters who are actually using the application.

Being Open

I decided to build this app with complete transparency. April was the first month for this application and I want to share the progress how I will try to make this app popular. Even if I fail it’s a fun experience and I’m happy to be open about the result of this small application.

In the first month the app got 166 downloads:

This doesn’t seem to much but you have to keep in mind that this is a super niche app so, in my opinion, it’s not a bad start! You can clearly see the results of the Product Hunt launch

According to the monetization, the app has a subscription model. It offers two kind of subscriptions, $5/ month or $40/year for the starter version and $10/month or $80/year for the professional version each has a 7 day free trial in the beginning. This might seem like a lot of money for this but my idea was that this app helps you to increase the number of downloads of your podcast which can make you money, so it’s a much easier value proposition.

In terms of revenue, I got 3 free trials after the product hunt release and two of them converted to paying customers, which made earn $35 after Apple’s cut.

Right now there is another trial for a starter monthly plan but that will elapse in May so I’ll include the revenue there if he converts to a paid user

Plans for May

In May I’m planning to focus more on promoting the application and try to increase the revenue to at least $100. In the meantime, I would like to make the user experience better. I already added two more ways to visualize audio:

 

Summary

This is obviously not the normal success story which people likes to share, but it’s a good starting point and gives me a reason to write about in the next month too.

You can find the app in the App Store or just clicking here!

If you are interested in the future, you can subscribe to my email list and I’ll let you know when the next update will come out!

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Infinite Stories 2.0 – create the best Instagram Stories

A few weeks ago I finally finished and launched the 2.0 version of Infinite Stories, which was a huge update. My idea was with the update to have a bigger piece of the making of Instagram Stories. With the 1.x versions the workflow looked like this:

Shot videos and photos -> Edit them in an app or on the computer -> Use Infinite Stories to slice them -> Share on Instagram

After 2.0 I wanted to offer simple editing options, so the users will do this workflow instead of the previous one:

Shot videos and photos -> Edit them in Infinite Stories and then save the slices -> Share on Instagram

This was not an easy task, but I spent so much time working with AVFoundation and now I have a basic understanding of video editing on iOS. At that time one of my main selling points, to share landscape videos without cropping became part of Instagram Stories so the sales were dropped too. What I decided is to try increasing the number of downloads while offering a lot of stuff for free, so the lower conversion will be compensated by the number of users and the overall revenue will be higher. When I finished the 2.0 I was a bit worried about releasing it because I already had a lot of active users who I didn’t want to piss off, so I made a test flight version of the app and spent one week testing everything and trying to fix all the issues.

This turned out to be a good idea because there were many problems. I fixed most of the crashes and then I decided to share it on Product Hunt which in terms of upvotes worked well:

I got some really nice feedback about how to improve in the future but in terms of downloads, I only got a small bump. I think the reason of this is that Product Hunt users are mainly not my target audience. However, there are good sides of launching on Product Hunt too, the app was featured on iDownloadBlog too! (Link to the article) This boosted my number of downloads.

So what is the state of the app now? The number of downloads is about 2 times higher than before and the revenue is a bit higher too, but not as much as I expected. The app is out and you can find it here.

It was a nice experience to work on the app and nowadays I’m thinking about how I could improve the sales and the number of downloads. I also learned a lot during the development which gave me some new ideas how I could reuse the knowledge about video editing in other iOS apps, which I started already.

I released a new app called Podcast Preview 2 weeks ago, which is based on Infinite Stories but I’ll tell you about it in the next post!

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Indie Year in Review – 2017

The end of the year 2017 is near and I would like to reflect what I accomplished this year and what I did not. In this post, I would like to share some numbers and the key things I learned. If you read my previous posts you know, but if you don’t then it’s worth noting that I started my indie career this year with an idea to make a living by selling apps in the App Store and didn’t do freelancing. Well, it worked! Mostly. I say mostly because I did some freelancing besides the indie apps which take some time from my main goal. I started this experiment and my main goal was to reach 2k USD revenue in a month because that’s like a good salary in Hungary as an iOS Developer. I’m happy to tell that in September I made 2.2k after Apple’s cut, which is fantastic in my opinion. There was a drop after that peak but I’m not concerned about reaching it constantly next year. I’ll continue building apps and growing my existing ones next year as well, but I’m sure I would do this even if I didn’t reach this goal because generally, the sales are still growing.

As a financial goal for next year is to reach $5k/ month in 2018, which sounds incredibly high right now, but 2k sounded crazy to me in the beginning too! So how I’m planning to reach this? I have some ideas already. First of all, I started collecting email addresses in my apps to sell them my future apps too. There are different lists but in total, I collected about 4000 email addresses this year. I would like to finish next year with 20k subscribers total and an example when I monetized the list but this is still pretty far right now. My other plan is still growing my existing apps I believe my audiobook player app  – SmartBook can be really successful next year. I still need to add a lot of new features but that will happen soon.

In terms of numbers, I had 183k downloads total during the year, I released 11 apps and don’t really know how much updates but a lot. This seems like a lot and it is but next year I would like to release fewer apps and double the number of downloads. To do this I’m not going to release apps without any supporting channel to drive traffic.

I learned a lot about marketing and sales this year and I would like to continue educating myself next year too. I’m going to experiment more with Quora and with email marketing firstly, but I have a list of books that I would like to read too.

An average I spent 35 hours in a week working, which I tracked with my own time tracker app, Locate. This is something I’m really happy with. I don’t like working 50-60 hours and I’m happy that I was able to convince myself to work a reasonable amount without the need sounds an achievement to me. I would like to keep this productivity for the next year too.

With this blog, I didn’t write as much as I planned, but the traffic grew a lot thanks to some good rankings in Google. This is the weekly sessions this year:

Sessions in 2017

It’s not a lot but indie iOS development is not really a mainstream topic and I do this mainly to have a diary from my journey and from my thoughts. Next year I’m planning to write at least 24 posts, which is two in every month. I hope I’ll be able to allocate some time to do this.

In terms of travel, this year started slowly but when I summarised I realized that I visited a couple of places here in Europe and I didn’t leave the continent. I traveled to Catalonia, Austria, Slovenia, Sicily, and Portugal. In 2018 if everything goes according to my plan, I’ll leave the old continent for a while and will live abroad somewhere.

As you can see I had a really interesting year in 2017 and I hope I’ll have an even better next year! The interesting part of 2018 is that now I have these expectations written down here so I know, what to achieve exactly to feel good. Bill Gates said that:

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

Which is probably right for this planning too but it doesn’t stop me from trying. Thank you for reading it and happy new year to you!

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What will be the future of Infinite Stories

Last week, I released two new version of my app Infinite Stories and I started thinking about what will be the end of the development of this simple tool. Now you can add labels to the videos which will stay there for the whole playback, not just for one 15 seconds slice, how you would be able to do it on Instagram right now. Then I thought about adding a feature to change the position of the labels in time, just like in Final Cut. I decided to leave that later especially because I’m going to Portugal for a week tomorrow and I wanted to release this version before I leave. So what I think is that this app will transform into a simpler video editor tool to help people make the best stories for Instagram. This won’t happen in a week but I really want to move in this direction in the next few months. I already learned how to handle videos and layers so I think it won’t be a problem in the technological point of view. This will be probably the biggest project I do since I started working as an indie, especially compared to how tiny was this when I started.

If you’re interested how it’ll evolve in the future just keep checking my blog because I’m planning to write about the progress and share my experiences.

So that’s it for now and see you in the next week, once I am back from Portugal!

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Engineered marketing

So in this week, I’m super busy learning Android development and Kotlin to ship my app I wrote before, Infinite Stories on the Google Play Store as soon as possible. Luckily the dev tools and the platform looks promising so I will keep working on it during the week.

Meanwhile, I have an idea that I really want to try out, which I read about a few months before. It’s called engineered marketing. The main point of it is, to create apps that solve problems for the same audience to reach more people in the same niche and then lead them to your main product. I really liked the article when I read it but I didn’t do anything with it, so let’s change this! My Instagram story generator app is already doing pretty well but still, I’m not even close to being the biggest player in this field, even though I believe my app is the best in the App Store right now. So I decided to release in the near future a few simple apps in this niche and see how things would work together.

These apps will be:

  • An app that helps you to repost images or videos with showing the original creator on the image
  • A simple analytics tool for your account
  • A tool to manage your hashtags
  • Post and story scheduling app

These are the main pain points for an Instagram Influencer at the moment. So what I think is that if I cross promote my apps for this audience, I can get much more downloads and more revenue in the long term. This is right now just an idea and I don’t have much time to experiment with it, but I’ll share the lessons learned from this in the next month, once I’ll have at least one app out from this list! Probably I’ll start with the easiest one to see how things are working

If you have any recommendations for other apps, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

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Building the Baby Tracker app

 

So this could be an interesting one for you guys, because I’m not a dad and I’m not even close to the point where I’ll be one, therefore I’m not part of my target audience.

I watched Patrick McKenzie’s presentation about Marketing for Minorities and it really made me think how should I plan my future apps.

I really recommend you to watch it, it’s only 7 minutes:

The main point, in my opinion, is that developers like us tend to build something for us, developers. The only problem with this is basically that we will have a huge competition in this market. The solution is to create software for other groups of people. This is what led to me to ask around my friends and family that what’s their day-to-day struggles in their life and as I talked with one of my relative who has a small boy running around now, she mentioned to me that logging all the stuff about the baby when he was a newborn was a pain in the ass. It turned out that she had to write down all the logs of the baby such as the foods and the weight changes and a lot of different stuff.

This was an interesting topic to me especially after watching this presentation, so I decided to dive into this topic and I set up a lot of Skype calls with different moms, who I knew or somebody suggested. Slowly I collected enough information and learned a lot about how to take care of a newborn. (heck, this could be useful in the future!) In the same time I checked the app store for similar apps and what I found was really interesting. There was a couple of apps providing the same functionality, but all of that was really outdated, the market leader doesn’t even support the iPhone 6 size! So that was enough information for me to start working on a solution to this problem. The designing process wasn’t easy at all because I wanted to create a complex app which at the same time should be able to log everything in a few taps. You can check the end result in the app store but I’m happy with the result.

After this for the making, I decided to try Firebase for the first time. It was a great experience my only concern was that accessing the real-time database wasn’t really simple enough. As I saw now they released the Cloud Firestore which solves this problem now.

What I used was the database and the storage for my app and both worked great! The app is able to log the most common logs about the babies based on the data, I collected during the skype calls. After I was finished I decided to start testing it on the Hungarian market first, so I contacted a few Hungarian baby sites to ask them to write about my app.

Luckily one of the owners of these sites agreed to share a guest post so I wrote this:

Baby Tracker – Baba napló alkalmazás

(sorry it’s Hungarian!)

So this brought me to the 3rd place in the Medical category in the Hungarian App Store! This doesn’t mean too much downloads but I got a lot of real-world feedback what to change in the app so time spent contacting this sites paid off!

Even though I got a lot of feedbacks, ASO perspective the app ranks really poorly yet, which I think is because it’s relatively new so it’s gonna be better if I’m gonna stay consistent with the updated in the future too!

I also tried search adds but with an app like this, which is free and there is an in-app purchase in it, it’s really hard to make it work, so I decided to focus on more on ASO first.

 

So that’s it, I hope you liked the article or learned something, see you in the next week!

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What did I do in the last 4 months?

I really hate to say this in the beginning, but yeah I did not write anything for a while. I’m gonna focus more on writing here from now, but first I would like to summarize what I did in the previous months while I wasn’t sharing anything here.

I did travel to Slovenia and to Italy. I loved Slovenia, it’s a beautiful country. If you’re around here in Europe I would definitely recommend to check out the lake Bled and in general the whole country!

I released an app called Baby Tracker which is a tracker app for moms and dads in the first weeks. The app was not a big success yet, but I’ll get into the details in another post. In technological perspective, it was a great project, because this was the first time I used Firebase and I have to say it made my life so much easier.

I also updated almost all my apps to support iPhone X and iOS 11, which wasn’t that hard since I used autolayouts already. Now I still have 3 apps waiting for me to update them but my schedule is full right now but let’s talk about this later.

As I wrote about I really do think that AR will be something super important in the future so I already made two apps with some AR features. The first is How a Car Works and the second is a little update to my flashcards learning app called now Flashcards plus AR. I don’t really see how this will end up in the future, but I see how useful these apps will be with a glass, so my plan is to keep releasing new AR apps.

According to my sales, I don’t really know the reason but the sales skyrocketed and went back a bit, but as I wrote in my first post my goal was to reach $2k / months which I’m happy to tell you that I did in September. October was a bit lower but still close to this, so I’m really happy with the financial results.

What I do focus on nowadays is making my apps more complex other than releasing a new one in every single month. My current plan is to dominate the niches where my apps are and I’m gonna write about the reason for that in a separate post later.

So that’s it for now, you can expect the next post in next Monday about the Baby Tracker app!

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Building apps is about serving people

I just had one of my best days since I started this experience. I wanted to seem like a professional business. I used “we” instead of “I”, I also called my users in the app professionally. What I did change in the last months is that I changed my communication back to what I really am, as an indie dev, who has just trying to figure this out.

My sales are growing so it may be better to be honest about being small and not trying to impress everybody. I made a few changes, in the in-app purchases I tell to the users that by buying my app, he/she is supporting me personally to keep working on these apps.

I also started an experiment, I wanted to thank the people who spend some time suggesting features to me in emails. Of course, I replied to all of the emails I got, but I wanted something more. So I started thanking the suggestions in my release notes personally. This is not a big deal for me, it takes a few second, but sometimes it makes them smile when they read my update notes. Or at least I hope! There is some proof that this works as well. I got 5-star reviews from people who read my release notes.

This is helping my sales for sure, but what happened yesterday was different. About two weeks ago, I got an email from a guy from Brazil that he purchased the pro mode of my Instagram story creator app, Infinite Stories, but he can not place a square video in the middle. This was something I never tested, I don’t know why but I only used videos which had 16:9 ratio for testing the app. So I replied that yeah that is not working, but I’m on it and I’ll release a new version of the app as soon as possible. What I also wrote was that if it’s urgent, please send me the video and I’ll slice it up for your once I fixed the app, so he doesn’t have to wait for Apple’s review cycle. He was really happy that I offered this, we chatted back and forth, and once he sent me the video, I was already finished the bugfix, so I whilst I travelled with the metro to the gym, I instantly generated the sliced video, uploaded it to my google drive, and sent him a link to access it. It didn’t take me more than a minute.

This guy is an Instagram Influencer, he has almost 10k followers on the platform. After this, I also included it in my release note that this guy, Duca helped me spotting this bug. Yesterday he shared a story about my app and underlined that he was mentioned in the release notes. What I saw from the download and revenue numbers is that influencers have a power. The downloads are up than it was before, and for this app in sales term, this was the best day since it’s out.

So the biggest takeaway for me is building apps is about serving people, just like the title says and to be good at it requires the same as any other businesses, the best customer service you can give.

I wanted to share this story with you guys, cause it definitely made my day when I watched that story, and thanks Duca for this, I’ll release the next version of the app on the weekend, with some requested improvements and feature and I won’t forget to write a release note!

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The App Store of the AR apps

Apple just introduced ARKit in the WWDC this year. In my opinion, this is the most important thing they released this time. Of course, the new iMac Pro is awesome, but it doesn’t change the world in 5 years. This is what’s gonna happen with AR for sure.

Why do I think that? Let me explain it. Apps using ARKit could look really futuristic with AR integrations, but to be honest, it won’t be the best interface for them unless they are some multiplayer games or some corner cases. But! There were some rumors about that Apple is working on a new smart glass. After releasing this new feature, I’m pretty sure, what Apple is doing right now is building a new interface, and convince developers to create apps for a platform that does not exist right now. If you are still not impressed with ARKit just look at this:


This is right now a nice to have feature. The main interface of our mobile devices is the screen. It’s gonna change in the next few years and when Apple announce the glasses, they gonna have already a handful of apps which is optimized for a more futuristic interface, using AR. Could you imagine sitting down and sorting the Tinder cards just like real cards? Or having a Group Skype call with real 3D faces around you, just like in the Star Wars?

AR In Star Wars

This interface does not have the same constraints as the mobile screen such as size and 2 dimensions. We are talking about much more creative ways to do the same stuff we are doing right now. We can show 3D objects floating around in the room, or add posters to the walls of our room the options are endless. In the long term that means we don’t need any of the devices, we are using right now. Who needs a Kindle when I can project that to where I want and I don’t need to hold it at all. (I think this is only a danger for ebook readers, not real books) Also, we don’t need a computer with big screens because we can project that everywhere in the room without any problem. These changes are not in 2 years but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna happen.

Personally, I’m super excited about this and as soon as I ship the current project I’m working on and some planned updates for my existing apps, I’ll dive into this and start experimenting how I could use it.

What I suspect is that it’s gonna be another gold rush just like it was with the App Store, because there’s gonna be only a couple of apps ready when this will happen. If you build an AR app, that’s not just going to be cool to say and get some upvotes on Producthunt. It’s gonna be an investment for a platform in the future.

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