Building a new app in public on YouTube!

Moodmonk app header

After our first app Avocation hit a million downloads a few months ago, I wanted to share a lot more about what we learned along the way to help and inspire other indie hackers.

For the last two months I have been working on a new app, called Moodmonk, and I decided to take this opportunity to try something new. Earlier this year I started to build-in-public on my Twitter which showed me the huge impact this can have! I had a lot of fun, but there was an idea in my mind for quite some time.

I really enjoy watching "Devlogs" from indie game developers like ThinMatrix for example. I loved the style of his videos and watched every video since then. Later I thought to myself that it might be also interesting to do something similar for my work as a full-time indie app developer.

So I decided to give it a try and start my own YouTube channel where I build a brand new app and share every step of the process with my videos.

After I decided to start a channel, I had to choose a new app idea. The idea that I picked was already in my head for some months so I got started right away.

The first video was a big struggle. I had no idea about video recording, editing, and YouTube itself - there was a lot I had to learn. But after many hours my first video was done and I forced myself to upload it, even though I didn't like it.

First video thumbnail

In this first video I shared how I start to write down my idea and figure out in which direction this app could go. I show how I organize my projects, how I do competitor research, and how I create first mockups.

➡️ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4l8e7pJCsA

Second video thumbnail

A few weeks later my second video followed where I shared how I create app designs in Sketch. With a lot of information on how I organize my Sketch document and how I find inspiration.

➡️ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1uBoRboIyA

Third video thumbnail

Later I decided to learn something new with this project and create my first native app! My previous app Avocation was written with React Native, so I only had a little bit of experience with Swift.

In this video I shared how I learned how to use SwiftUI in the project and how I start setting up the code, git repository, and localization for the app.

➡️ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOVT-6L9_Ew

Last video thumbnail

And finally my latest video where I share how I found our first 50 beta testers and how the app looks like right now!

➡️ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV6--NAw26E

In these last few months, I learned a lot about how to create videos on YouTube and I had a lot of fun sharing my work online. All the positive feedback gave me a lot of motivation for the app itself and to continue the channel.

This month I want to release the first version of the app which will be super exciting and I will share a lot more about publishing, marketing, and developing my idea further.

➡️ More details about this app: https://moodmonk.app

  1. 2

    A very delightful and different build in public way! So inspiring :D

    1. 1

      Thanks, I am glad you like it! 🙌

  2. 2

    Love the images in the onboarding screen for moodmonk. Did you design those?

    1. 1

      Thanks! All illustrations are designed by my partner, she is very talented 🤩

      1. 1

        would she happen to be available for some freelance work?

  3. 2

    Awesome work! I just watched the first planning video. It was well done, I can't wait to check the rest out.

    What software were you using to take your notes? Was that built into the mac?

    1. 1

      Thank you! The software I use for notes is called Notion :)

  4. 2

    Really really cool! Great idea to leverage your progress into tangible audience interest within #buildinpublic. I will follow your journey 🚀

    1. 1

      Thanks for your feedback! 🙇‍♂️

  5. 2

    Zwena, this is great!

    I recently attempted the same on twitch, but find it very overwhelming to try and explain what my thought process is. I feel very self concious and actually spend 99% of the streams silently working. I originally started it as a way to keep myself accountable and motivated to work on my project every day, but after 2 weeks I actually unpublished my streams.

    Did you find it difficult in the beginning to talk to yourself to explain what your thought process was? Did you feel awkward doing this?

    Any tips?

    Again, this is great. Thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot! 🙇‍♂️

      Honestly I also haven’t really figured it out yet. My main problem is that it’s very time intensive to make the videos the way I want them to be.
      It’s still quite hard to find the right balance here.

      I only record interesting bits and cut quite a few parts away in my editing. I want to avoid making the videos boring so I think live streams would not work very well for me. Most of the time I do the coding alone and then share what I did and how I did it in the video.

      Hope that helps a bit :)

      1. 2

        I just watch 2 of your videos. I LOVE how you did them! I like the voice over the week's work as opposed to the live coding stream like I've tried to do it. I'm really looking forward to watching more videos and seeing your progress.

        1. 1

          I am glad that you liked them :)

  6. 2

    This is awesome, please do more of these

    1. 2

      Thanks :) There are many more videos coming!

  7. 2

    Awesome! I’ll definitely be watching these today.

    Btw, how did you make those thumbnails? They’re pretty slick!

    1. 1

      Thanks! The thumbnails I created in Photoshop 👍 Been working with PS for many years already, so I know my way around with it 😅

  8. 2

    Amazing post! Watched all the videos, like the high quality.
    I'd improve the titles and thumbnails on the videos so they will rank better on search.

    Also, as a mobile developer, it's inspiring to see your execution from zero to an app

    The idea sounds pretty useful! I myself wouldn't use it since my phone is on airplane mode most of the day.

    Did you design the UI assets yourself or paid for them?

    1. 2

      Thanks Jonathan!

      I am glad you liked the quality of the videos and the idea behind Moodmonk!
      The UI assets are designed by ourselves, it's my partner who is very talented with this kind of stuff 😄

      Do you have any tips on how I could improve my titles? I am trying to include more keywords, but sometimes its very difficult 😅

      1. 1

        Sure, sending you a DM on Twitter to share some ideas:)

        1. 1

          Awesome, I would appreciate that!

  9. 2

    First off, big kudos on moodmonk, @Zwenza! Your idea looks like a potential one. I'm rooting for it's further success. Also loved how you have gone ahead with a minimal design in notion. Execution over pondering 💯

    This is exactly what I love about building in public. Everything is out in open, specially for entry level founders who just don't know how to get started. I've been trying to doing a similar thing with Ruttl lately through my posts on social media and the community. It amazes me everything to see all the different types of questions people ask while reading through the content. Makes me look at things from a new angle too!

    1. 1

      Thank you, I really appreciate your words! 🙇‍♂️

      I totally agree with you. Getting started to code your idea can be easy, especially if you already know how to code, but there is a huge amount of other things that you also need to take care of. These are the topics I am trying to cover with my videos.

      And sometimes these things seem so obvious for us, especially when you are doing it the second time already. But many people are just getting started and I think this type of content can really help people to avoid common mistakes!

      While sharing my process, I actually also refined many parts of it when I started thinking more about why I do things in a certain way 😅 Many positive side effects of just sharing your work online!

      1. 2

        Haha yes that's true. Great job, keep up with the hustle! ⚡

  10. 1

    Hey another fellow Indie Hacker YouTuber!

    Your videos have such a chill vibe to them. Love the cinematography too!

    Just started my channel about a month ago, got a video in the works similar in concept where I document the whole app creation process 😁

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