Thanks in a large part to what I’ve learned on FCC, I’ve been making and publishing a few apps on the App Store and Google Play Store for the past few months and I wanted to share my experiences with the community as I’m sure others may be curious about what being a new hobbyist app developer can be like.
1st -There is a huge misconception among most people that publishing apps will make you wealthy. Not that I really bought into this, but so many times I’ve heard this from well-meaning but misinformed acquaintances, friends, and family members. Initially I was concerned that I wouldn’t make back my developer fees ($100.00 per year Apple, and $25.00 one time fee Google), but minus the upfront costs and the 30% cut that both stores take I’m now optimistic that I can hopefully start turning a profit before shelling out another $100.00…
2nd -From my experience nobody will buy an app outright. The first app I made was with the pay model and I didn’t sell a single copy for over the first month. Not much really prepares you for the disappointment you may be met with after spending months on a project only to find nobody will use it. Over my Christmas break I re-wrote the app to be free with in-app purchases. Thankfully, people are much more inclined to try a free app and then pay for it if they find it useful than buying an app without using it first. I plan on using this model for all apps I make in the future. I’m personally opposed to using ad monetization for several reasons. For example, you need tens of thousands of installs and daily use to make more than a few cents a day on ads, and I have a bitter Adsense taste after getting a lifetime ban from my first website for invalid clicks which I still don’t entirely understand (that’s a completely different topic though).
3rd -I have zero regrets about learning programming and publishing apps at the same time. My first app was the first project I made using Bootstrap and I wanted to solve a real problem I had while coaching track, so it’s pretty cool to now have a custom app that I can use and other coaches can benefit from too. Each additional project I did was really to learn something new while trying to make something useful, whether it was getting exposure to C# / Unity, learning React, or learning and implementing some other technology there’s just something awesome about making something that others can use while going through the process of learning yourself.
4th -There’s a lot of non-programming stuff you have to do to publish apps, and you may or may not have fun doing it. For example, writing support documentation, answering user questions, making videos, making a gazillion icons, creating correct dimension screenshots, keyword research (I should have done that earlier…), marketing -still haven’t done that probably should, and many more. I was very surprising how little time was spent actually writing code compared to the time I spent thinking about design issues and doing tons of stuff besides just writing code.
6th -As a hobbyist developer it can be a bit lonely (I’m a middle school teacher and don’t have any friends who code). There are great communities online for developers to solve technical questions. There are also a lot of indie game dev forums and stuff, but if you’re mainly writing utility type apps and have questions about what to expect regarding download expectations, or anything pertaining to possible income type stuff, it seems like the internet is a ghost town. I understand why. With a gazillion apps out there and tons of copycat apps people are rightfully tight-lipped when it comes to sharing because being helpful could possibly really hurt one’s livelihood.
Well, I wanted to share my thoughts and journey because of point six, and I know there has to be other FreeCodeCamp users interested in app development also. I thought about posting this under “Getting a Developer Job” but I didn’t want to give anyone false hope. Regardless, you’re not alone in this journey and I wish you the best of luck.
If you’d like to see my apps go to www.squadtiming.com (I should have used a different domain, but I thought my first app was going to sell a million copies…needless to say I didn’t buy domains for my last three apps lol).