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11 Comments

Looking for some indie mobile dev inspiration

Hey fellow developers, I am trying to build my indie journey with mobile apps.

Recently, I have been exposed to a lot of content, which points in the direction that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to be a full time indie mobile developer in 2020. The mobile landscape has changed, only the early adopters made a lot of money and now its almost always the big guys making money.

Today, Apple's tax reduced from 30 to 15 percent for indie developers. Even though it is a very welcome news, I also found this.

Put another way: Apple is keeping its 30% commission on the roughly 2% of companies that generate 95% of its App Store revenues.

So I assume the indie developers who make about $50K a year, will be a very tiny fraction of the remaining 5% who make less than $1M.

An experienced entrepreneur told me that all those developers who look like they make a lot on the mobile apps on social media are most likely following "fake it until you make it".

Today when I saw a developer's profile, it felt like that. I can't provide specifics because it will be demeaning to that developer.

Now, I want some inspiration and truth from fellow indie mobile devs, to keep going ahead. Kindly answer as many of the following questions as possible.

  1. How long you have been developing indie apps?
  2. Part time or full time?
  3. How many apps you have published?
  4. How many of them are successful financially?
  5. What's your average MRR?
  6. How do you make most of your money? One time payments or subscriptions?
  7. What is the common trait between your successful apps?
  8. What made you choose this path and why are you sticking to it?
  1. 2

    How long you have been developing indie apps?

    • 5 - 6 years (not constantly)
      Part time or full time?
    • part time
      How many apps you have published?
    • don't remember exactly, but something between 5 and 10
      How many of them are successful financially?
    • none
      What's your average MRR?
    • 0
      How do you make most of your money? One time payments or subscriptions?
    • :(
      What is the common trait between your successful apps?
    • no success
      What made you choose this path and why are you sticking to it?
    • Boom of mobile apps 8-10 years ago, as you've said, back in time it was super easy. Although not sure how it is now. For sure there are big players and it's harder to get to the top, but also the number of mobile users grew so much and is still growing. So as they say, you still can have a small piece of bigger cake.
    1. 1

      Thanks for coming out with the truth. It takes some guts to share this info.

      I would appreciate if you can answer a few more questions, which will help me learn more about you and your apps.

      What do you identify the major reason for apps not making any revenue? Are all those free apps?
      How many downloads have you got over these years?
      What has kept you going all the while?
      What were your plans for your indie apps when you started?
      How much those plans have changed now?

      Also, can you share the link to your apps.

  2. 2

    Being an indie mobile dev is indeed difficult. The time to go to market is high. We can't just create a landing page, get subscribers. Monetization is also difficult compared to SaaS as people expect apps to be free.

    Most of the categories are saturated and barrier to entry is very high. However, there are always some niche where you can have an impact with your app. I have written about my journey to grow my app to 50,000 downloads & $1000 monthly revenue – https://taskito.io/dev/growing-your-app-as-an-indie-developer

    How long you have been developing indie apps?

    Did it for a year in 2015. Made 2 apps and released 1 of them. The app saw modest growth for couple of years.

    Part time or full time?

    Part time.

    How many apps you have published?

    I have published 3 apps in last 5 years. 1 is open source & free.

    How many of them are successful financially?

    For the first 2 apps, monetization was not my main goal. For the current app, Taskito, I started it as a hobby project but it has taken off since last 6 months.

    What's your average MRR?

    $1000 - $1200

    How do you make most of your money? One time payments or subscriptions?

    Currently, it's one time payment model. I plan to move to subscriptions.

    What made you choose this path and why are you sticking to it?

    I work full-time as an app developer & spend some time working on Taskito as a side project. I always have my safety net and whatever I make from Taskito is just a bonus. I would have stopped pursuing the current project, but I managed to achieve good growth and $1000 MRR is a good start. Now, I plan to invest more resources and see where it goes.

    1. 1

      I recently read this article and this seems to be the approach you have taken with your app.

      Is my assumption correct?

      1. 2

        It's similar but I read this article last week. Taskito started as logging app (no tasks or anything). It has evolved from there.

        1. 1

          That's something then. You should consider sharing it in your blog and IH.

    2. 1

      Thanks for taking the time to reply in detail. There was no reply for a week, so I had started searching for inspiration elsewhere.

      Being an indie mobile dev is indeed difficult. The time to go to market is high. We can't just create a landing page, get subscribers. Monetization is also difficult compared to SaaS as people expect apps to be free.

      I have been thinking along the same lines except for the time to Market. From my experience, it depends on the complexity of the App. Maybe it is different in the Android space, I don't know.

      By the way, do you have any plans for an iOS app?

      1. 1

        I have plans to start making an iOS app starting next year.

        1. 1

          That's great. Are you planning to do it yourself?

          I would like to know the perspective of someone learning iOS development coming from Android.

            1. 1

              if you are interested in partnering with any other indie iOS dev to build it, DM me on twitter.

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