Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My First Year On My Own In Review (2012)

I quit my previous job in the middle of 2011 so 2012 was my first full year on my own. Overall it was a great year both personally and professionally, but that doesn't mean that nothing went wrong. Changes are coming for 2013.

Income Report

iOS - $54,042.95
Mac - $4,917.91
iAd - $577.66
Android (Google Play) - $505.81
Android (Amazon) -  $39.20
Revmob - $690.28
Admob - $91.89
Windows 8 - $8.40 

Note: Android and Windows 8 apps were just released in December, Windows only 1 app for 2 days.

Total App Sales - $60874.10

Consulting / Freelance - $6,000

Total Revenue - $66874.10

App Sales Overview

My goal for the year was to exceed my previous salary which I was able to do. Early in the year I had hopes of getting a bit higher than I ended up, but Apple's App Store search changes in the middle of the year set that back a bit. The changes forced me to rethink my monetization strategy for a few apps. They also reminded me that diversification is a very good idea.

I still think iOS is a huge opportunity, but it is a much more difficult environment than it was just a few years ago. I'll be writing a lot more on it in the next few months as well as some things for my newsletter if you are interested. 

The changing environment was part of what finally pushed me over the edge to start developing for Android and Windows 8. It's not that I think they are a better place to make money right now, it simply reminded me how important diversification is. I'd never put all of my money in a single investment. It's silly to put all of your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for developers. When you are relying on a third party platform you never know what can happen. It just makes sense to spread the risk.

So the last part of this year I started working towards diversifying my income streams. I released ports of a few of my apps on Android at the beginning of December. I released 1 app for Windows 8 just a few days ago. I also diversified a bit on iOS by releasing a free app focused on ads and IAP due to some of the recent changes.

Consulting / Freelance Overview

This number was a bit lower than I initially expected this year, but that was entirely of my choosing. I simply got sick of bad clients, and stopped taking any work at all. 1 small job at the beginning of the year just annoyed me so badly I decided to take a break. I was making enough off of app sales that I decided to focus completely on that side of the business and lower the number of headaches I had to deal with.

This year, I've decided to dip my toe back in the consulting waters, but I'm going to be much more picky than I have been in the past about picking clients. I suspect I will make more money consulting this year than I did last, and I'll have fewer headaches. 

What Went Right

As noted above, my goal was to hit my previous salary. I did that, so I can't complain too much. I had an app (Debt Snowball+) get to #2 in it's category (Finance) and all the way to #125 in the whole App Store. That was much higher than I expected was possible for this particular app, so that was a great experience. 

I'm also pretty happy with my start on Android. It's my first real test of the waters and to have 1 app make > $500 in 3 weeks I'm pretty happy with it. I've released a few others that haven't done as well yet, but they are out of season so I'm holding judgement for a bit.

What Went Wrong

I realized how important diversification is firsthand. I really should have moved my apps to Android much sooner. Apple's search changes along with the new iOS 6 App Store caught me a bit off guard. I'm still feeling pretty good about where things are now, but if was making as much on Android as I am on iOS these sudden changes wouldn't be so stressful. 

Figuring out what changed and dealing with those changes is not an easy task. I know a lot of devs who have just given up. Thankfully I have been able to adjust better than some, but it can still be frustrating. If my income hadn't been so dependent on iOS the last few months would have been less stressful. That is something I hope to change in 2013

Going Forward in 2013

I've got a lot of things planned for 2013 to help with the problems I faced this year. I'm going to diversify quite a bit more. I have plans for different types of iOS apps, different platforms such as Android, Windows Phone 8, and probably at least one desktop Windows 8 app. If I have the time, I do plan on doing a bit more consulting this year, and I've been toying with the idea of a SaaS app. Finally, I've started working on my first book and I hope to release that in the next month or two. It's going to be a really busy year, but I'm looking forward to it. 

If you've read this far and are interested in the mobile app market you may want to check out my book on how I make money on the mobile app stores called Building an App Business.

Discuss on HN


  1. God says...

    beast, and bird, and insect small,
    Came sevens, and pairs; and entered in as taught
    Their order: last the sire and his three sons,
    With their four wives; and God made fast the door.
    Mean while the south-wind rose, and, with black wings
    Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove
    From under Heaven; the hills to their supply
    Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
    Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky
    Like a dark ceiling stood; down rushed the rain
    Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
    No mo

  2. you, sir, just changed my life. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Glad to help. Working on my own has been great. Hopefully some of what I share can help others get to this point as well.

  3. Go indie devs....Thanks for sharing your experience ....

    I have started a direct ad buying site specially for indie check it out. 0% rev

  4. You inspired me. I hope some days I can quit my job too.

  5. I'm just curious, what did you find annoying about your consulting job(s), or what do you mean by "bad clients"?

    1. A few things, just for starters.
      1. Gotta have this ASAP
      2. Following delivery, no response for a month
      3. Response - This isn't actually what we wanted (they designed it), build this instead (new design). Oh yeah, we need this asap
      4. Deliver complete redesign
      5. no response for 2 months
      6. 40 tweaks and bug fixes
      7. no response for a month
      8. get paid.

      Not really a pleasant way to work.

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