July 3, 2023
Indie Dev Diaries #9: Summers are for...

What are summers for?

Growing up, it was all about finishing the school year, family vacations, and eating a copious amount of ice cream. Today? Not much has changed, other than no longer being in school.

Nowadays my summers are focused on preparing for Apple’s next round of software updates that are typically made available in the fall. Summer begins with WWDC, where some of us (like me) are prone to becoming overwhelmed with all the new APIs, features, and as was the case this year, new hardware and SDKs.

Preventing the WWDC burnout

As of writing, I have not begun work on updating my apps for iOS 17, nor have I even touched the new visionOS SDK. I’ve thought about how I can incorporate the new features in to my apps, but that’s about it. During the week of WWDC, I sprinkled a few sessions in to my lunch breaks and evenings, and took part in a few lab sessions, but that’s as much as I was willing to take on. This is a decision I intentionally took to prevent myself from burning out too quickly. I’m pacing myself.

To emphasise this, I actually went on vacation for a week to Maui the week after WWDC. It was nice to disconnect from work, learn how to surf, try Hawaiian shave ice for the first time, and reset. The weather was pretty much perfect, and we tried a lot of activities that my new app Söka suggested.

Now I’ll admit, I did spend some time on the plane journey working on Söka. But I had a great feeling of not feeling any pressure - I finally got to play around with App Intents, and had some fun with it along the way. This is one of the many features that will be shipping in version 1.2 shortly.

Post-vacation plan

It’s been 2 weeks since I got back from vacation, and other than the initial jet lag, I felt recharged and ready to continue work on my apps. I’m now wrapping up Söka v1.2, which includes several features that I’m really looking forward to releasing:

  • A virtual scratch map, for visualising how much of the globe you’ve visited
  • Shortcuts, such as “Create a bucket list” and “Add a goal”
  • Ability to archive bucket lists without deleting them
  • A lifetime subscription option
  • “Activities near me” option for generating bucket lists and goals

Once this latest version of Söka is up on the App Store, the plan is to issue some bug fixes for Classifier, and then I can begin working on iOS 17 updates for all three of my apps! If I get time, I’ll also play around with the visionOS SDK, and explore whether my apps would be a good fit. I won’t push something that doesn’t seem like a natural fit, though.

2023 Goals

We’re now half-way through the year, so there’s no better time to switch gears and evaluate how I’m performing against the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

Now I won’t beat around the bush on this one - I’m not on track to meet any of the lofty goals I set. To be fair, I admitted that this was going to be a challenge.

Here’s each goal that I set for myself, and how I’m progressing so far:

CA$1,000 in MRR

I’m just shy of CA$150 right now, after Apple’s cut. This number is up ~65% since the turn of the year, which I’m still really happy with, but there’s a long way to go to make it to my target.

500 active Classifier subscribers, and 750 for Ceramispace

Classifier is at 117, which is a good number. I’ve seen a fair increase in subscribers in the last couple of months, without really pushing the app. I wouldn’t be surprised if I broke 200 by the end of the year, but 500 seems out of reach.

Ceramispace sits at 43. The app has really underperformed, but maybe I was being unrealistic with the number of potters who would find the app useful. The target was heavily reliant on partnering with influencers in the community, but so far this has been unsuccessful.

What I didn’t predict was that I’d launch a new app. It’s been a month since launching, and Söka is already at 28 active subscribers. This is without any press coverage, no paid advertising or marketing, just word-of-mouth and my own social media posting. At an average of just under 1 subscriber a day, I’d hit 200 by the end of the year at the current rate.

CA$15,000 in total proceeds

Very much intertwined with the MRR target, I’m currently at about CA$1,700 in total proceeds, post-Apple cut. This is the highest number I’ve ever had at this point in the year, which is worth celebrating. I doubt I’ll achieve this target either, unless I get a helping-hand along the way from the App Store (see below) or the press.

Get my first App Store feature

Now, this is one I can’t really check to see if I’m “on track”. However during WWDC, I did have request a lab with the App Store editorial team, where I was able to show off Söka. They gave some excellent information about what they look for in a submission, and how to make the app stand out. Here’s a few tips I can share out the back of my lab:

  • There are different editorial teams for each region, and if you submit the App Store promotion form, the submission will go to the team for the region you are in
  • Every submission gets looked at, and the team will download your app. Make sure your onboarding is clear about what the app can do
  • Make sure you support all of the official languages for the country you are requesting to be featured in - so for me, I need to support both French and English!

Final thoughts

After a great vacation and much-needed reset, I’m now in the right headspace to consume more of the goodness that Apple shared at WWDC, and begin implementing new APIs and technologies in to my apps. My plan for this next quarter is clear, and I’m confident I can at least put an even bigger dent in my goals for the year.

How’s your summer going? Have you gone all-in on developing for iOS 17 or visionOS, or have you taken a much more laid-back approach like me? Send me a message on Mastodon.

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