Looking back: How I made $20k in one year from one button

I quit my programming job towards the end of 2019, mainly because it was getting too boring and repetitive. I craved for the freedom that indie hackers had, and finally.. I took the plunge!

Oh oh! I had underestimated the feeling of sheer horror of living off of my savings, so I had to concoct a plan: I was to make small products first, enough to get to passive ramen profitability, get some experience launching indie products, and then I could focus on making it big(-ger).

After downgrading myself from a cushy desk and 5K display to tables in cafés and a 13" MacBook Pro, I felt my creative juices constrained. How will I build the next big thing if I could only see one app window at once? How do I manage 20 open apps effectively?

An idea was born: Mission Control Plus: a simple "X" button that shows up on top of app windows in macOS' Mission Control, and a couple of keyboard shortcuts, to manage these apps.

I thought that if I had that problem, others would too, and so I'd make a few sales per month out of this product, enough to pay for my coffee in aforementioned cafés.

I hacked the app in about a week, made some neat visuals and a landing page, and submitted to ProductHunt. It got featured, and downloads/sales started pouring in.

Over one year, Mission Control Plus has remained the same, with the occasional bug fix.

Looking back at the numbers, the app definitely made more than I would have expected, increasing my confidence that there's a niche market for macOS utilities that still has a lot of potential:
Sales via Paddle: $11,731.08
Sales via SetApp: $8,325.00

  1. 3

    So great, that's a nice example of how to solve a problem

  2. 2

    Nice little app and congrats on the revenue you got out of this.

  3. 2

    How did you market this neat tool?

    1. 2

      ProductHunt, Reddit and a few Mac blogs picked up on the story. That's mostly it :)

      1. 1

        Nice - thanks for sharing!

  4. 1

    Such a cool idea. Congrats on the success! Did you consider doubling down on Mac utilities and build out some more tools and bundle them into a suite?

    1. 1

      That's a good point! I have made more (utlities)[https://fadel.io/], but haven't bundled them in a suite.
      Current focus will be on creating a bigger product (100% focus) with recurring revenue.

  5. 1

    Awesome story and congrats on the freedom, Rony! Which other niche markets for macOS utilities do you think will have the most potential in 2021?

    1. 1

      Thank you!
      I think there's big potential for menu bar apps that cut the time you need to get to resources you check often, e.g.: your Paddle/SetApp/Stripe/other revenue, or apps such as Raycast (raycast.com). I think the potential is up there.

  6. 1

    Amazing! Useful, quick, and a nice passive income source. Bravo!

  7. 1

    Impressive! Great job. Responding to a need is the key of success!

  8. 1

    As indie hacker as it gets! So simple and effective! Cheers Rony!

    1. 1

      Thank you Marco, I appreciate it!

  9. 1

    Pretty impressive! What was your channel for acquiring customers beside ProductHunt?

    1. 2

      A couple of Apple/Mac blogs picked up on the story after the ProductHunt launch, and after that it has been mostly word of mouth and a few discount bundle promotions here and there (BundleHunt, StackStocial).

      1. 1

        This was my experience after my first of three Product Hunt launches took off, others published my tool around the internet. I now have some ideas where to ask for links for my future tools, especially when I wasn't lucky enough to get that PH effect on the 2nd and 3rd try.

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          Let me know if you have any suggestions. I couldn't get too creative getting quality links to my products beyond blogs reporting on them :)

          1. 1

            What worked for me, probably won't work for you, since mine was a design tool. Maybe you can Google dev resources to find sites that link to tools like yours. If nothing else, check out which blogs gave you good traffic to approach again for your new work.

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    This comment was deleted 10 months ago.

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    This comment was deleted 10 months ago.

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      After it was shipped, I made a couple of other utility macOS apps, which are currently generating a cumulative of $2k/month in passive income. I also worked on a couple of SaaS products that stayed under wraps since I wasn't able to get that initial traction from B2B customers.
      Since covid hit, I've been freelancing mostly (just so I don't get bummed out from indie hacking in complete loneliness). That provided ample amounts of savings for my war chest, and I'm back at indie hacking now, conducting customer interviews to validate the idea I'd like to be focused on for the foreseeable future.

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