How I Grew My App to $2.5k/mo Without Learning to Code

Tell us about yourself and what you're working on.

Hey there! My name is Dallin, and my company, Credible, is a Shopify app making $2,500 per month in passive income.

Credible is a Shopify app that helps both big and small stores increase their sales by displaying recent purchases on their site. This builds credibility and urgency with new visitors. Think of a busy retail store or restaurant — we do that for online stores.

The app is about to hit its 1 year mark at the end of this month, so we were able to go from zero to $30k/year in just under 12 months.

How'd you get started with Credible?

I was looking for a new side-project to work on, and I stumbled upon the idea for Credible when I visited Hotels.com. They had a site widget that showed me that someone had recently booked the same hotel that day. I knew immediately that this concept was something special.

When I investigated further, I found a company that did this already. It was a small Shopify app called Notify (now Fomo). The app had solid reviews and appeared to be selling well, but I recognized that there was a big opportunity to hop in and compete. It looked like they had stopped innovating and marketing the app, but continued to sell well. Shopify has about 250,000 stores, so I knew there was a ton of potential.

At the time, I knew zero about Shopify apps, so I did my due diligence by following up with app developers on Reddit. Overall, the feedback I received from app developers was positive, and so I decided to pull the trigger.

How'd you get the app built as a non-developer?

Getting the app built was a big project for me as a non-developer. I didn't want to go the freelancer route, because I knew there would be a lot of things that I would never think of. I started looking for Shopify-specific developers who could help me look out for bumps in the road that I wouldn't know to look for, and I found the perfect match when I met Gavin Ballard (also via Reddit). He was very affordable and really knew his stuff. I attribute so much of the success of the app to hiring him to help with the development.

Together, we were able to build the vision I had for the app, with a lot of customization and design improvements over what already existed out there.

We decided to not have the app itself professionally designed, because we wanted it to have the same look and feel as the backend settings of Shopify — which were what most stores were already accustomed to using. I also only wanted Credible to be native to Shopify at the time, because Shopify does such a great job of promoting its apps on the app store.

I ended up funding the project completely from savings. The total cost to launch was just under $7,000.

How did you find the time to do all of this?

At the time, I worked as a sales manager full-time. (I still do.) I also have a family and kids, so it definitely took sacrifices to launch Credible.

I was able to work on the app at night and on weekends. After so many previous projects that failed, I feel like I was able to recognize where to best use my time and get things done quickly. By my best guesses, I would say I spent about 2-4 hours a night on Credible before we launched.

Currently, the app is a great source of passive income that doesn't require much of my time. I'd say I only have to spend about 1-2 hours per month on Credible now — mostly due to 2-3 support issues that pop up.

How have you grown your user base and your revenue?

The biggest source of growth for us has been developing a really solid product that people love. We get a lot of referrals from current store owners on Shopify. We took a lot of extra time to really think through little usability improvements, and it's really helped in reducing support issues, as well as making our customers happy with Credible.

The other primary source of growth has been through Shopify itself. Shopify is amazing at promoting their apps. They take a 20% cut of your subscription fees, but it's well worth it in what they provide for you. When you first launch an app on the store, they feature it in the "New & Upcoming" section for store owners to get a first glimpse of your app. After you prove yourself with some solid growth and positive reviews, they will feature you in the main "Featured" section of the store. Both of these were huge for our growth. When Shopify put us on their main featured page, we netted about 180 new recurring customers.

Additionally, we worked with some of the Shopify team to be in the "Popular Sales App" section, which was posted in the settings/apps section of Shopify's store dashboard. This was a great source of new customers.

I've also worked on a few sponsorships with small podcasts and blogs, and we've partnered up with some similar apps to cross-promote each other.

In just under a year, we reached the $2,500 per month mark — that's profit, after Shopify's cut.

If you had to start over, what would you change or do the same?

The same? I would definitely hire the same people I worked with on the app. Paying extra to hire the right people has made all the difference for us.

Different? I would spend a lot more time working on Credible if I could go back. I think I took for granted the opportunity that was there and let some new competitors come in and steal a bit of the market share. There is still so much potential for big growth, and I haven't really buckled down to go after it.

I'm looking at potentially selling the business to someone that can really take over and maximize the awesome opportunity out there for a product like this. I've since moved on to work on another big project, and I would love to find a new home for Credible if the right team came along.

What's your advice for aspiring indie hackers?

I think that way too many folks are trying to come up with something brand new. My best advice is to find something that is already working and just do it better. Follow their blueprint and the blueprints of others in different categories, and just focus on making your product, marketing, service — whatever — better than your competition's.

Where can we learn more about you?

Check out our website: convertwithcredible.com.

I also wrote a pretty extensive post on how I launched Credible over on Medium: Side Project: How we successfully outsourced our Shopify App.

And, as mentioned above, Credible is for sale! If you're interested in making an offer or talking more — reach out to me at [email protected].

You can also leave a comment below, and I'll try to get back to you!

Dallin Koski , Creator of Credible

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  1. 4

    Dallin, thanks for sharing your experience with Credible. A friend of mine and I also had a Shopify app and it made money fairly quickly. I love the ease that Shopify provides for its app developers.

    Do you feel that openly sharing your ideas is valuable? I feel like far too many times people go into their proverbial room, not telling anyone about their plans and then coming come out only when something is fully built.

    I also loved your advice towards the end of the mantra, don't reinvent the wheel, just make it better. And I love that you saw someone else doing the idea and just made it better. Shows that that pool is always big enough for competition.

    I did have a question for you:

    At the time, I knew zero about Shopify apps, so I did my due diligence by following up with app developers on Reddit. Overall, the feedback I received from app developers was positive, and so I decided to pull the trigger.

    Could you share a little bit about this process? Since you aren't a developer did you just openly share your ideas on a subreddit to developers to see if anyone was interested in working with you? Could you share which subreddit you did this in?

    1. 3

      Hey there michaellee - I'm glad you found the experience of Credible interesting! What kind of app do you guys have?

      In regards to sharing the idea with developers, we really didn't have much of a choice. I reached out to developers on reddit and asked them if they had portfolios of other apps they'd worked on and if they had the bandwidth to work on a new app as a freelancer.

      I checked a few subreddits, like r/Shopify r/Startups and r/Entreprenuer - searched 'Shopify' and other various keywords and directly messaged those that looked promising. I find that most people are super responsive on Reddit.

      I didn't share the idea on a direct post - instead I shared it in email / skype conversations directly with the developers that I was considering hiring. I find that most people aren't nearly as interested in my idea as I might think - they are just looking to code it and move on.

      But like I said, we didn't really have much of a choice to not share the idea, since we couldn't code it ourselves.

      That being said, after our launch, I wrote a big write-up on the story of how we built it and I've noticed quite a few new competitors pop-up after that post on Medium (link is above in the interview). In fact, Shopify picked up the article and shared to all of their developers - in the months following, we saw a huge increase in competition. At the time, it was just Credible and Notify - but now there are about 8 competitors and Notify was recently purchased and revamped by another company.

      Luckily, the market is just so huge that we really haven't felt any impact on growth with the addition of so many new competitors.

      1. 2

        Very cool! Thanks for the information. We provided a simple way to integrate a third-party CTA (Call To Action) bar service into their Shopify application. The people behind the bar service eventually found out about our service and had asked for Shopify to take down our service since it competed with an internal offering they were developing. On top of that we kind of let support for our app slip.

        As a result, the app was pulled from the app directory, but we still got to keep the subscriptions for existing customers that we already had.

        Glad to hear that although you weren't the first to market, you came out ahead of the competition and even inspired others :)

  2. 2

    why sell instead of continuing to generate passive income, and have you considered profit-sharing deal with a dev who takes over?

    1. 1

      Are you still interested in selling your app??

  3. 1

    I like your story, awesome!

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