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What you must have to go indie

And how it worked out for me up until now

part 2

So let's deal with the easy stuff first, focusing on independent development and not consulting, cause it's what I wanted to do, so it's what I'm doing :). The list isn't sorted by importance cause I feel like it's all must have.
You should have enough money to get by, taking into account you can totally and miserably fail. You should define a budget for this thing - both time & money wise: for example, I'm going to try it for 6 months, and I spend $2K a month for living, thus I need ~ $12K. This is what you must have and willing to lose. You can take into account various income you are eligible to, like unemployment and etc. Obviously, if you need to purchase tools to implement your ideas you should take that into account as well. Do the math, and wrong on the cautious side.
You should have ideas about what you are going to do, preferably before quitting your day job, and you should do MVP (minimal viable product) to test their feasibility both technically and financially. You also should have a backup plan - don't put all the eggs in one basket (or in this case one project/one app).
If you need to learn some new skills to implement your ideas - do it on someone else dime, continue working your day job, learn and implement your new skills until you feel comfortable, you have enough knowledge to go on your own. Spending time on learning new things while you are not getting paid can be stressful. Making mistakes in the learning period can be painful. So if your workplace allows you to learn new stuff, or gives you the opportunity to do something different - take it, don't say "it's not my responsibility".
Being your own boss isn't fun as it may sound (if you want to succeed). You should have enough discipline to be able to plan your work, set goals, and stick to them. No one else would do it for you. You might get help from your bank statement, though - either you start making money and want to improve, or you lose enough money and would have to improve (or go back to work for someone else - but you probably didn't like that very much if you decided to go indie, in the first place).   
If you read Part I, you already know that even in my last jobs I was kinda my own boss, for the most part. I had 6 months of unemployment coming to me, which should have covered the cost of my living, and I had a couple of ideas for the apps, two of them already implemented and on the App Store, so they were technically sound. They also generated "income"... $50 a month :). And I had the tools and the knowledge.

So I started working on transforming pet projects (that I mostly did for myself and uploaded them to the App because "why not") to real apps/products people can and would want to use. It meant for me: better functionality, nicer UI, support channel, website, analytics, monetization strategy.
Better functionality wasn't hard for me - as I'm using those apps almost every day, and have a pretty long list of thing I wanted them to do and I also added an option for users to ask for features. In my previous jobs I was lucky enough to work with UX/UI designers, and to learn from them a couple of things, also noticing how other apps looked, and did, provided some guidance. I feel like if you not a huge company like Facebook, don't invent stuff and teach users how to do stuff, build upon what they already know. 

Support channel and website in now days is as easy as paying the very small amount with your credit card (or even getting it for free) so that wasn't hard too. The tricky part is what to do with monetization... The choices are many, and here are some I considered:

Paid app
Take the money upfront, easy enough right? Not so much, users are not willing to pay for apps, they want to get them for free, even if the app costs less than they pay for a cup of coffee. And what about your costs - if you require server side for your app to work, or you going to spend time giving support, would $1 or even $5 dollars to cover it for the lifetime of the app?
This model has advantage over paid upfront model of making it easier to get users to install your app, cause there is no initial cost. It has all the disadvantages as paid model, and some new: Apple doesn't have a notion of trial, so you would have to implement it yourself, and find the right balance when to cut your users off, and require them to pay, you would have to implement whole in-app purchase logic, validate the receipts if you don't want to be scammed by people with jailbroken devices. Also people don't spend too much time trying to understand what your app does - so you would have to deal (now its just deal in your head, but soon we would be able to reply) with some negative reviews, by people who didn't have enough time to read the description of your app, but had enough time and effort to write a review. This is where support can help but don't think it will be a silver bullet.
You can make money from ads, and its a great choice (I myself hate ads, but its great choice for the users, they get something for free, and you get paid). But if your users will spend only moments in your app to achieve some tasks, you won't get much, both from ads themselves and from in-app purchase to remove them.
You can go totally free, grab some market share and hope for the best. Best being someone willing to buy you for your user base. WhatsApp made $19B that way.
Because my apps are designed to help people to achieve some task and continue with their life, people don't tend to spend much time in them (drive app allows you to play videos, but it's not main functionality). So the revenue from ads was minimal... every couple of month I got a check from Google (I'm using AdMob) for $100 and that was it. 

So I took my own advice not to put all eggs in one basket and decided to use multiple strategies: paid app for those who want to pay upfront, one time and be done with it. Free app with ads, and trial period - for those who want to try it before they pay anything (hopefully people understand that there are no free lunches in life, and don't get mad about it).
I don't have running costs - there is no server side component (except for the welcome tour which is now HTML based, cause it allowed me to tweak it easily and quickly without releasing new versions, but if [or more accurately when] I decided to internationalize my apps it will have to be native) to most of my apps, they only require you to have an app installed on your phone and your Mac.

So last year ended on a positive note, I hit the milestone of $2K, which allowed me to smoothly transition from living on unemployment benefits to living from app generated income. My hope now is to end 2017 with ~ $7K montly revenue. Which may seem high as it's $84K a year, but it will get me roughtly to the same level of income as may previous job did. And looking at the graph of 2016 getting from $50 to $2000 a month gives me some perspective. I hope to achieve that by banking on everything I did so far, and in addition to doubling down on advertising. I spent some small amounts of money on it this year using $100 Apple gave each developer to use on SearchAds, tried Facebook ads (failed miserably for me), and even tried AdSense, paid for some PR stuff (used a firm called PrMac to write and distribute PR announcement).

end of part 2