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!

I write about my experiences every week, if you would like to get notified when I publish a new article, please subscribe here:

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!

I write about my experiences every week, if you would like to get notified when I publish a new article, please subscribe here:

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!

I write about my experiences every week, if you would like to get notified when I publish a new article, please subscribe here:

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.

I write about my experiences every week, if you would like to get notified when I publish a new article, please subscribe here:


Is building apps a viable business?

The reason

I’m writing this post because I can hear from people that the gold rush of the App Store is over. This is absolutely true in a sense of building a shitty ios app probably makes you 0 revenue now. A lot of people are downloading less and less apps nowadays than a few years ago. Just read this twitter thread and you’ll get what I’m talking about:

This is definitely not a good sign when you want to start doing what I’m doing. Although I think this question is not that easy to answer. It’s something that we should not ignore of course, but my opinion is that this whole marketplace is more mature than it was a few years ago. Which means more competition and a more income for the winners.

What led to this conclusion

I think it’s easy to say nowadays that doing App Store Search Optimisation (ASO) is mandatory to get downloads. It’s still on of the best ways for sure, but I think it’s not enough. It also has some risk involving if all of your sales are coming from one source. What if Apple will change the algorithm? What if somebody will do it better than you and lose the first place? To be fair it’s absolutely true that the people are using the app store discovery and the search less and less. A good solution, in my opinion, is building other streams of downloads. This could be a blog doing SEO for the keywords which are related to the app. Or building up your online presence or creating Youtube videos to generate leads. Maybe using App Store Search Ads or cross promoting inside your applications. The conclusion is to create at least another channel to sell your apps. Personally, I’m really bad in this right now, because the majority of my downloads are coming from the App Store search, but I’m experimenting with the Search Ads and I started building my online presence as well as you can see here. I’ll write another post about the search ads as soon as I’ll have enough data to share but it looks like that it could work.

Bad signs

There are some examples that show that the App Store business is over. And there are articles telling the same thing.
There is nothing wrong with this article, but I would state that when you are talking about the people who are building apps are in two separate categories: The ones who are not really committed and the ones who are. I was in the first category for a long time, I had a few apps I built and even some revenue, but I never took it that seriously because I had another income stream, it was just a hobby. I believe there is always space for the second mentioned category, while the first one is increasing heavily with the newer tools and easier ways to publish apps. This is distorting all the data we have, and can not really say anything about the people who are 100% committed going indie.

So what is the way to succeed?

I wish I could know this! I’m still experiencing and trying to figure out what to do and how to improve my strategy, but in my opinion is that having multiple streams to generate downloads highly impact your success rate in this field. My strategy is that if there are 100s of other devs who are trying to sell their apps, the best thing I can do to stand out is finding those steps they are not comfortable taking. One of these is writing about my journey, including my failures as well! In long term, this is helping me being more structural with this process and maybe getting some awareness in this field too.

Possible outcomes

When I started this experiment, I considered it as a huge risk, because worst case I lose the money I could possibly earn in this year. Well, this is actually true, but my opinion about the size of the risk changed. How I see now, is this is an investment with a few possible outcomes. The best one is if I am able to build up a portfolio of apps that generates me enough money and I don’t really have to worry with this anymore. The second is that I fail to deliver what I planned and I need to go back to freelancing. This is still a win in long term because with the portfolio I’m building I can charge much more than I did before so still it’s a win. The third is if I don’t do anything and I have to just go back where I was before, I would still consider that as a win, because how many 25 years old guy can afford to spend all of his time what he likes to do and not worry about money. So basically I could have an awesome gap year. This is not happening for sure because I already started working on my own apps not just having fun in the library day by day. After all, for me, only the first two outcomes are possible now, which is not really a big risk.

I’ll post about my experiences about once a week, and if you would like to get notified when I publish an article, you can subscribe to my email list here:

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Why am I going indie?

This is the first post on this blog and I would like to explain the reason I am leaving freelancing a going into the indie world. This whole story is for me about the freedom and control what you could have over your life. When I started working as an employee it felt great to have a salary and it was the first moment in my life when I had that option to spend my own money. Before that my parents supported me so everytime I spent on something I needed to rationalize to myself that why I’m buying this and that. This was the first step of going into the direction that could lead me to an absolute freedom and control over how I spend my time. I did work for a startup and then to a more like a normal company. (having revenue and all the boring stuff) I worked there for a while and I learned a ton about how to do proper app development. In that time, I started thinking about this new movement called digital nomadism, which now is probably super bad sounding, thanks to all the drop shipping courses and life coaches who are trying to sell a dream to other people, but this is a different story.

Continue reading “Why am I going indie?”