2023 - My Indie App Business Year In Review
Indie App Business
This past year has been a huge one for me, marking the first full year of my indie app business since its start in April of 2022. It's been an awesome and sometimes challenging journey, with a few losses along the way, but mostly filled with wins. I'm incredibly grateful for the immense support, love, and kindness I've received throughout this journey. Building my apps and sharing my experiences has been more rewarding by this wonderful community around me.
If you came for some statistics, here are the raw numbers (for all my apps on both iOS and Android):
My apps were downloaded almost 120,000 times. Still can't believe it when I read that number!
I generated $50,861 revenue with my apps. This includes subscriptions as well as one-time (lifetime) purchases.
I accumulated $3012 in monthly recurring revenue (produced by monthly and annual subscribers of my apps).
3630 people have an active subscription for my apps and pay for them on a regular basis.
I gathered 1851 reviews/ratings on the App Store and Google Play with an average rating of 4.74 stars.
I've written over 17 blog articles and shared my journey on X/Twitter with over 7820 followers.
I created one complete new app and pushed out over 28 hotfixes and content updates.
Crazy Business Growth
In April 2022, I took a leap, leaving my software engineering job to pursue a dream: building a profitable app business within a year. The journey began with a challenging 2022, a year that tested my endurance and patience with modest revenues and sales. However, 2023 marked a crazy turnaround, transforming my indie hacking adventure into an absolute success.
The beginning of the year started off at a slow pace, with gradual improvements, but everything changed dramatically in May. I recall being at a friend's wedding on a Saturday when my phone started buzzing with an unbelievable number of sales notifications. It was a big moment - this day my app began ranking in the top 10 for key terms in the habit tracking domain and people on the App Store and Google Play were finally able to find my app HabitKit.
Following the spike in May, both downloads and sales continued to climb, and this upward trend hasn't stopped to this day. Interestingly, I haven't had to invest much in marketing, as building the app completely in public and ranking well for relevant keywords seemed to do the trick. However, looking ahead to the next year, I've gathered a big to-do list focused on marketing strategies, with the hope of growing the business even further.
I guess it's safe to say that I've successfully achieved my goal of creating a highly profitable app business. Again, let me express my gratitude and appreciation for all the incredible support I've received over the past 12 months. It's been an awesome journey, and I couldn't have done it without the encouragement and support from my community.
By the way, here are some cool things I shipped this year:
Translated the app to 10 different languages (thanks to the awesome community) and added the option to start the week on a Sunday.
I created a completely new app (WinDiary) from scratch and coded it top to bottom in only one month.
Working Part Time
At the start of the year, when the revenue from my app business wasn't as promising as I had hoped, I faced a crucial decision: Should I continue to focus on building my app business, or should I return to my previous software engineering job, at least part-time, while working on my apps on the side? In the end, I chose the latter. This decision was largely influenced by my initial approach to see this as an experimental journey with a strict one-year timeline. I just wanted to stay true to that mindset.
In April, I returned to my old job as a software engineer, which significantly reduced the amount of time I could dedicate to my app development. Despite this constraint, I managed to create a completely new app, WinDiary, and roll out several updates for HabitKit. However, the impact on my productivity was, and still is, clearly noticeable. Balancing an (almost) full-time job with indie app development has been challenging, but I've continued to make progress, although at a slower pace.
If I found myself in the same situation again, would I choose to return to my old job? I'm not entirely certain, but considering the circumstances at the time — lack of growth and financial instability — it probably was the right decision. My experience in the new (old) job has been enriching; I've learned a great deal and genuinely enjoyed my time there. And let's be honest, having a stable income alongside working on an successful side project is a comforting position to be in.
The year 2023 was also really successful in terms of personal development. As the creator of a popular habit tracking app, I felt a strong responsibility to set an example in maintaining healthy habits. I diligently tracked my key habits every day, using my own app, HabitKit, as a tool to monitor and improve various aspects of my life. This consistent effort to better myself was reflected in my HabitKit "Year-In-Review" export. The occasional gaps in the tracking were typically caused by vacations or periods of illness, but overall, the year was a huge success and shows my commitment to personal growth and healthy living.
The good thing about already having a solid habit foundation is that you can slowly start to add new habits to your daily life. A "new" habit I want to add to my life for 2024: I want to play more music again. When I was a teenager I started playing bass guitar, but I completely neglected this hobby of mine with raising age. I will try to establish guitar/bass playing as a new daily habit! Another habit I want to continue: Keep learning Norwegian. I started it a couple of weeks ago and it's been pretty fun, definitely a keeper.
2023 was an awesome year in terms of fitness and health. I never felt more healthy and fit and I actually managed to reach a milestone that I always dreamt about: Running my first Marathon in October. The training for it was pretty hard but I'm super proud that I managed to run over the finish line.
Another cool thing that happened: I was guest in two (German-speaking) podcasts to talk about my experiences with indie hacking this year. Happy Bootstrapping (focusing on my journey as a bootstrapper) and the Flutter DACH podcast (focusing on Flutter as my main development framework). It was an awesome experience and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to talk with the amazing hosts of these shows. If you're well-versed in German, make sure to check both shows out!
Social Media / Blog
Amidst all these activities, I consistently documented my journey on Twitter and this blog. For those curious about my progress and the start of this adventure, I invite you to check out the history of my X/Twitter profile. Simply scroll to the bottom and enjoy the journey as it unfolds. It's a story of growth, challenges, and triumphs, all shared in real-time through my posts.
To reduce the dependence on a single platform (X), I expanded my channels to include Threads and LinkedIn. By sharing my journey across these platforms, I aim to connect with more people and share insights from my experiences in a more diverse and inclusive way.
I really enjoyed writing articles for this blog (although it was a little bit stressing sometimes). In case you missed it, here are the highlights:
I wrote an article about my origin story, how I started indie hacking and why I quit my job to do it.
I wrote a resume about my first year as an indie hacker and tried to highlight some lessons that I learned.
I've written 13 weekly indie logs about my life and tasks as an independent app developer.
I also did two Product Hunt launches this year: One for HabitKit which managed to take 5th place of the day, and one for WinDiary which managed to take 2nd place of the day. Thanks again for all the great support!
I am really happy with how this year turned out and I hope 2024 will be as awesome as 2023. As I said before, I have a huge list of improvements, bugfixes and marketing strategies for HabitKit, which will be my main focus for the first half of the year. I also got a huge list of new app ideas and I hope to develop at least one of them next year.
If you ask yourself, if I will be making some changes to my employment status: Watch out for a big announcement on my X profile tomorrow 🙂
Thank you very much for reading this article, I wish you all the best for 2024!
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