Should I code or do marketing?

Hey there! It's been two and a half months since I launched my app in the App Store. I've had about 500 downloads with less than 10% of those users buying a subscription. This is happening organically, without any marketing spent.

I'm a developer and solo founder who is continually working on adding improvements and new features, but I noticed that my product's growth is stagnating. It's been a week since I got my last paid subscriber and each day I get fewer sign ups.

A close friend suggested to stop coding and focus entirely on marketing for one or two months, but I feel like I need to keep working on the app because the better the product, the more users it will attract.

Any solo devs out there who want to share some tips on how to start and balance growth and product development?

  1. 7

    There is no reason you can't do both at the same time.

    Set aside a couple of days per week where you will work entirely on marketing and acquiring new users while also continuing to develop your app the rest of the week

    1. 1

      This is probably the best way to do it, no need to sacrifice development for time spent doing marketing. But more than marketing, I think I'll focus on knowing my audience better and understand what they want out of a product like mine.

      It seems that there is some interest in this type of solution, so I better capitalize on it by trying to build the best product in its category.

  2. 3

    500 downloads and (more importantly) 50 paying customers means your app already has value.

    I would focus on engaging your user base and finding out everything about how they use the product, and using that knowledge to do two things:

    *) Make the product even better, so they tell everyone they know about it, and

    *) Figure out where you can find more people like them, so you can do some test marketing and determine your cost to acquire a customer.

    Where is the app? Would love to see it.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much, this is solid advice. The word of mouth effect is something that I hadn't considered and need to explore more.

      You can download the app at newsletterss.com. Any more specific feedback about it would be greatly appreciated.

      1. 2

        Neat product. I also believe that we need humans-only communication channels. Filtering newsletters out at the inbox is a good approach, keep the automated email you want, but put it in a separate place. The other approach is to create new channels that don't allow bots - communication aps like Signal or Telegram and others.

  3. 3

    First of all, congratulations on the launch!

    Any solo devs out there who want to share some tips on how to start and balance growth and product development?

    You have paying customers. That means your initial hypothesis doesn't seem to be completely wrong. Talk to your paying customers. Ask them why they subscribed. Try to understand why they use your app to get from point A to point B. Find out what point A is for them and what point B means for their life/work.

    The advice from your friend is very good. Don't develop your app further until you really know what the people you want to help really need to get their job done.

    1. 1

      Thank you, engaging with customers is definitely good advice. I need to focus on understanding their needs.

  4. 2

    you do both. all the time. hard liquor to swallow, but, you gotta. a 50/50 split is what i do on the regular...

    ... but in certain stages i'll go hardcore 90/10 in one area.

  5. 2

    Congratulation on your launch. 500 downloads after 2.5 months without any marketing effort is a good number.

    Marketing is as important as developing products. I think you should spend a little time each week promoting your app. If you don't have a lot of time, start with something easy like creating a FB page. Then write a short post daily which takes you less than 2 hours per day. You can run ads for one of these posts to increase app awareness exposure.

    Later on, when everything is stable, you can build a website and promote your product there. This is how I handle my Smarthome Solution company.

  6. 2

    Hey Joe!
    I was in the same position as you.
    After getting a major success with Howitzer.co (a marketing tool for Reddit), and now having a constant income (2-3 daily subscriptions without any marketing), I decided to stop coding and focus entirely on marketing, sales and growing the product.
    I was the frontend developer for Howitzer, alongside with marketing & business thing, and my two co-founders were backend and full-stack.

    After a long discussion, we decided that I should focus 100% on marketing and growing the product, and they'll cover the whole development.

    My advice for you is:
    If you validated the business, and you are determined to focus on it - you must have a person who is 100% on marketing/sales/business.
    If you are that person, find a co-founder that knows how to code, and you believe in him, and delegate the whole coding to him (it would be hard to do it, but I believe me - that's the only scalable solution).
    You can't stop improving the product, because after you validated it - you must dedicate to listening your customers' needs, learning how and why they use your product, and improve them. Also, you can't stop marketing your app.

    Without a tech co-founder, expect a burn-out or getting in a chaotic state with everything.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Good luck!

    1. 1

      Interesting =) Thanks for sharing your stroy.

  7. 2

    Does anyone have a marketing channel for new apps ? Could you reach out and work out a deal?

  8. 2

    A 10% conversion rate is very good.
    In ecommerce it is said that the normal is 1%.

    You have validated that there are people willing to pay.
    I think the best thing to do is to focus on growing and getting more people to know you.
    If you don't like to spend time on marketing, maybe the fastest way is to spend money on advertising.

    1. 1

      Thank you, it's really more like a ~6% conversion I was counting the number of total user I have, which is 548 as of now but in total, there had been 814 app downloads.

      I'm thinking of re-investing the profits in ads but I need to do some research of what would be the best acquisition channel for new apps.

Trending on Indie Hackers
Rejected from a VC due to tech stack 39 comments Tell us how did you earn your first $ online 17 comments How much does site speed matter in your experience? 12 comments One man, one idea, one weekend. UPDATE: 1st day summary 6 comments How don't you end up lonely as an indie hacker? 6 comments Idea validation: Improve meetings with meeting karma 2 comments