Growth October 24, 2020

My app gets to the HN front page!

Tony Dinh @tonidie

After a long testing time within a small friend group, I decided to launch my app https://devutils.app last month. It received much positive feedback from both IndieHackers and HackerNews!

Here is the HN discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24604291

I got 14k unique visitors (metric from Cloudflare) and about 100 purchases in a single day. That doesn't look much for many people, but for me, this has relieved me a lot of self-doubts and really inspired me to continue developing this app!

The launch was almost exactly one month ago. Now looking back, I want to share some interesting things that I observed, things that are not obvious to me when I first started.

1. It cost almost $0 to run a website selling software.

The entire website is static, it's all HTML/CSS/JS, which I can host on AWS S3. For the payment, I used Stripe. For order processing and "restore purchase", I used AWS Lambda to process Stripe's webhook and restore purchase requests. For emails, I used Mailgun's Flex plan, which charges per email sent.

All of those services have one thing in common: they all charge by the number of transactions, number of requests, number of emails,... In short, if there are no users, I won't have to pay a cent to run the whole thing! The most expensive part is the Apple Developer account I have to maintain for $99/yr, which is unavoidable.

2. Some people prefer to buy apps on the Mac App Store even if it's more expensive.

Some people prefer the App Store to manage all of their licenses if they change to another mac. App Store also automatically updates apps transparently and somewhat more secure since all App Store apps are sandboxed.

My app didn't have any problem with the macOS sandbox, so after many HN requests, I push the app to the App Store a week later. The price was set way much higher than the "direct payment" (to compensate for the 30% cut from Apple), but I was surprised that many people went to the App Store version. It was almost 50% of the sales.

3. HN crowd love open-source apps

If you haven't known yet, my app is totally open-source! I have considered this a lot, whether to give the source code away. In the end, I think the only way to make people trust this app is to make it open-source.

It also makes sense in a way that this app works a lot with user's sensitive data. I wouldn't paste my sensitive private data to a random closed-app or online websites, so I guess other people wouldn't too.

That's all

I didn't share much about things like landing page and pricing because I thought you guys probably had heard a lot about that already. These are things that I thought are less well known and would be more helpful for folks who are working on desktop apps like mine.

I wouldn't call this a successful app, but it is a fun, profitable side project, and I love it. This is the first time I have ever sold an app!

If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask below. My product page on IH is https://www.indiehackers.com/product/devutils-app. I post updates there from time to time.

Thank you for reading!

  1. 1

    Ooh. This is really useful. Love your app idea. More sales incoming. Congrats.

    1. 1

      Thank you! I'm glad you like it :)

  2. 1

    You forgot to mention domain costs, jk.

    It's nice to see native apps instead of js ones.
    I can't count how many times a day I'm visiting jsonviewer and jwt.io. Privacy wouldn't be my concern but my internet connection is unstable and having such a tool would be handy.

    I'm glad you get compensated for your effort, keep up the good work.

    1. 1

      Thank you, @anilkilic! The domain name is also an unavoidable cost, you are right 😂

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