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Why being ignorant and naive sometimes is a good thing

Almost 18 month ago, I quit my job and started looking for a new one. After countless annoying interviews all over the place, numerous tests, long waits and some missed (thank god) opportunities, I eventually gave up and decided I want to be an indie developer.

I didn't know what that entails except the part that I will be my own boss, will work from home, and hopefully will be able to decide what I want to do. My premise was that me being an OK iOS developer, I would be able to make something similar to what iOS developers make in the Silicon Valley. Don't ask me why, its not like I have googled and read about indie developers that already had some experience. If I did - I would probably be working for some big company right now, probably WalkMe, or some other big Israeli or international corporation. Would earn a good salary, had some nice perks, like leasing and lunch money, and would be "happy". Happy part is questionable though...

But I haven't - thank god for that. I just assumed. And set a goal - to earn $10K a month (for my American readers thats $120K a year) by the end of 2017. Now that goal was ambitious to say the least. Just look at what I earned on App Store a year before that, when I was still working for someone else, before I decided to become an indie:
Not very impressive isn't it? 12 month - almost $620... which means I earned on average $50 a month. The only thing going for me was number of downloads... 65K is not a lot but without spending anything on advertisement, and with some rudimentary app that performed basic tasks its not nothing.

So I started working, I wrote a roadmap (of sorts) of the features I always wanted to add to my app, and I started adding them one by one, and publishing updates. Between those updates I took some time to read and understand how ASO (App Store Optimization) works. I can't say I fully understand it now, but I learned some valuable things, like I can double or triple my keywords using this: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sensortower-itunes/blog/2016/07/sensor-tower-keyword-localization-guide-2016.pdf?src=blog (Thank you Sensor Tower).

Then I started playing with the screenshots, using plain app screenshots, adding device frame, setting background color, adding keywords to the screenshots, adding short description of the features, and finally localizing them. I want to thank guys who created Fastlane - taking localized screenshots for > 10 languages would have been very gruesome with out it... At some point I wrote a tool to frame the screenshots and embed keywords and description in them (fastlane has something called frameit - but it didn't work exactly as I wanted and its performance isn't stellar). I spent like 10 hours on this tool, and I wish I have done it sooner... it would have saved me a lot of manual labor :)

Too much text... lest insert some pictures shell we...
Here how next 17 month looked like:
Still not there yet... but I'm getting close... very close. So far in October daily average is around $275, it has to be around $330 to meet my goal. But I think it will get there by the end of the year.

SearchAds is very helpful - sure they take a big cut from the revenue, but for my paid app its still worth it as you can see here:
This data is for last 12 weeks.

My app price is $5... take 30% from that = $3.5, so even at maximum CPA of $2 - I still have $1.5 left for those apps sold via SearchAd. Thankfully those are not the only sales I have.

So in conclusion - if you have an idea, just do it - following Nike slogan. Start small and see if there is a market for it, and if there is and you can afford it - run with it. You might end up wasting your time and money, as many indie developers do, but you might get lucky, and even the gold rush of the App Store is behind us, you still can make a living (in some countries a good one, in some even great one - based on your taxes and cost of living), and be happy.

I'm thankful for being able to work on my own ideas, being my own boss and spending time with this lovely creature, which never ever wants to return home from a walk:


for now...

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