Indie Diary #5 — A year in review.
2023 comes to an end, and it was a very long year, full of stories, new habits, and new development as well! It’s time to wrap the year up, and summarize what succeeded, and what didn’t!
✅ New habits
Becoming Indie is a long journey, and achieving this goal meant to me that I had to build new habits from the ground up. I was already taking a lot of my time building apps and features. But I also had to improve my visibility and credibility as an indie.
First, I started being more active on Mastodon, publishing achievements, thinkings and ideas, while leveraging popular hashtags like #IndieDev, #iOSDev and #BuildInPublic.
Then, I also took back this blog back to life. I finally registered it to the inescapable iOS Dev Directory for visibility, and I tried to write a new article about once a week since mid-June. Of course, I missed a few weeks, but that’s life!
Finally, I also started answering call for papers. I sent exactly one call for paper for ‘23 conferences, for NSSpain!
🏎️ Building faster and faster
As I was building SharePal, I also took a lot of time building things for the future. Extracting part of Padlok to a shared library, and making a shared API to run both without having to increase my infrastructure. If you’d like to read more about this, it was part of my Indie Diary #2.
Other investments on the future were the starts of two open source library, and one closed source tool:
- Largely inspired from TipKit, I needed a “if this then that” kind of declarative rules to trigger all sort of actions in the app. Upsell, rating, opportunistic paywall showing… Building this need to be as decoupled as possible from the Business code of the app, and this library is helping me just doing that.
- This one is one of my favorite. It was very time consuming to build it, but it saves me so much time. This allow to transform any SwiftUI view into a png image for building the screenshots for the App Store. Maybe it would be time for me to document this library, already open sourced. But a PR opened on Mikaela Caron’s open source project show how it works. As of today, I use this on my Minesweeper, and SharePal.
- This one is closed source for now, mostly because it’s messy, and absolutely unsafe to use for now, but it’s a CLI that takes a xcstrings catalog as an input, and update it to add new languages using DeepL. I used it efficiently on Padlok and SharePal, and challenged the quality of the output with a few friends. Let’s say that for my size, it proved as enough.
🎙️ First talk
This year was my first time as a speaker. I had to get myself out of my confort zone to make it happen, and it really was a blasting experience. You can read more about this in my Indie Diary #3
If you missed it, I talked about geofencing limits I had to overcome when building Padlok. The slides and videos are available for anyone to see.
I’d love to make a new talk next year. Have I sent new call for papers already? Maybe! 🤞🏻
🚀 Shipping a new app
If you follow me, you’ll know already about my latest app SharePal.
SharePal was not the hardest to build, but I felt not productive enough while building it. And building side tools like ScreenshotKit also delayed the launching by a few month.
Another thing that delayed the app was that I started building it for iOS 15, before upgrading it to iOS 16 minimum. As my first 100% SwiftUI app, I also had a few bad times working against the framework instead of embracing it entirely.
But I keep a lot of lessons from that app. I need to build faster, and ship earlier. And the tools I built? I don’t regret them. I’ll continue build things that help me ship faster in the future.
Lighting speed sharing!
🏆 First featurings
I’ll recall this year as my first featurings year! Padlok was featured in February on iGen.fr, and in November in one of the biggest grand public French Podcast: Floodcast. And we also got coverage for SharePal in iGen.fr, Indie App Spotlight and others…
This very blog was also brought to light in multiple big iOS newsletters, including iOS Dev Weekly, Swiftlee, iOS Code Review…
From someone who started building things in the shadow, that a lot of light to deal with! I intend to continue writing and building stuff that worth talking about, and I look toward bringing them to your eyes!
- Minesweeper, still in the store after 8 years is a low maintenance game with a somewhat constant but low revenue. It’s the perfect lab for making ASO experience, and it starts showing results in App Store search results, despite the incredible number of Minesweeper out there!
- Padlok revenue this year was 4,1x last year revenue. Featurings, Indie App Sales in July and November brought a lot of traction to the app, and I also took a lot of time experimenting on ASO.
- SharePal only launched 3 months ago. But in 3 months, I made twice the money Padlok did in the whole year! SharePal represents 60% on my yearly revenue, over a quarter only! It’s also an experiment on the “Pay upfront” business model, as SharePal is not based on subscription or in-app purchase at all.
In a nutshell, this year was my more successful yet, as I made about 7 times the revenue I did last year, and I have to pick a very high baseline for next year.
🎯 ’24 targets
Next year will be a year of ambitious targets:
- Keep micro-blogging and sharing things almost everyday
- Continue blogging on this blog about once a week.
- Give a new talk on stage. (You’re organizing? Help me on that one! 😉)
- Ship 5 new apps, while keeping my quality baseline
- Make 10x the revenue of 2023. Because … why not?
I’m wishing you the very best new year for 2024!
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