No one talks about how much money they make on the App Store. There is the occasional article about Angry Birds selling 6.5 million copies but what about the more modest sellers? Can anyone besides the top few make a living on the App Store?
I don't know why this should be such a secret. I'm going to tell you how much money I make. Here are my sales since River of News RSS Reader for the iPad was released on Aug 19.
So there you go. That is how much a modestly successful app earns. It peaked in the top 30 for iPad sales but more typically hangs around in the 300's.
That's pretty good for two months. But look how front loaded it is. Below is a summary of the sales from the past month compared to the total. This seems to be the more realistic sales rate.
This view doesn't look so great. It's not a bad income for a month and factoring in the lack of benefits and extra taxes it's around the median for a US household. But I can earn twice as much in the corporate world. (Software engineers are paid well.)
OK, what about satisfaction with my work? I don't have a chart for that but I don't think I need one. Developing River of News has been the most rewarding "work" of my life. It's not even close. My sleeping is all screwed up because I keep thinking about how I can make my software better. That's right, "my software." What a great thing to be able to say. I've gotten such tremendous satisfaction from creating something that people use and like.
Less money, more satisfaction. What do I do?
I resigned from my job this week. My employer treated me well and I thank them but I've got a shot to do something amazing and I'm not going to pass it up. If I can be successful at this then all I need to earn a living is a laptop and an internet connection. I can do that anywhere in the world and on my own schedule. Wow. That's a life changer.
Now my challenge is to make it work. I need to not only maintain my current revenue but increase it. The only way I know to do that is to build great software. If you are one of the 9473 people who bought River of News this is good news for you. I think River of News is a great product and some other people do, too. Now it will get better and you can expect new products with the time I will be able to devote to iOS development.
I thank Apple for making this a possibility for me. Everyone likes to complain about the App Store rules and, yes, the long, uncertain review process is frustrating. But no one else has ever enabled an independent developer like myself to connect with so many potential customers. Of course it serves Apple's interests. They aren't altruists. The genius is they created an ecosystem that benefits them, the developer, and the customer. That's the kind of efficiency you are supposed to get from capitalism.
Mostly I'll use this blog to write about product related topics but I'll keep you up to date on my success (or lack of) in making a living out of this. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. I've always had a reliable salary and a good standard of living. But I'm taking my shot.