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• nikita •

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That's interesting. It's true that there aren't many pure mobile apps design agencies. Most agencies have in-house design, but there might be a niche there for you. What would be your ideal customer? I can think of small teams of developers trying to build an app with 0 design skills, but maybe there are other types of customer?
Yes, perhaps an indie dev looking for an app design. On Upwork I've had people ask me for dev agencies once the design is complete, so many people view it as a separate process. Though I need to think about my ideal customer some more.

That's very interesting indeed. One thing that puts me off of mobile apps is that their perceived value seems to be much lower compared to SaaS apps, and there is also the problem with user retention. I read that here Mobile App Pricing: What App Pricing Strategy Works Best? [+tips]

But you've probed that it's perfectly posible, and providing a subscription model helps mitigating these problems.
The thing is, with mobile apps there's a formula that all the big apps have discovered. You ask for a trial signup immediately on first app open, and get them to subscribe yearly. There's $30-$80 outright (after the trial). Many forget to cancel (it's something no one wants to talk about, but is a huge bulk of app earnings). If you have a steady stream of users, a certain % will start the trial, and % of those will not cancel. It's why you'll see mobile apps have mostly yearly subscriptions. You don't have to worry about monthly subscription retention, or any complicated calculations.

Mobile apps are also much easier to get users for, because they're on the App Store -- a trusted platform. Paying is as quick as a fingerprint or face scan, and everyone trusts Apple. Facebook and other platforms directly link up to the App Store. Who trusts a new SaaS app, where payment involves entering credit card info or opening a new PayPal window? It's much harder.

Though a downside is you rely on the App Store.
 

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srodrigo

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Yes, perhaps an indie dev looking for an app design. On Upwork I've had people ask me for dev agencies once the design is complete, so many people view it as a separate process. Though I need to think about my ideal customer some more.
That was my first thought, and made me wonder whether indie devs will have good money to spend on design. But you know better about this, as you've already had some clients.

The thing is, with mobile apps there's a formula that all the big apps have discovered. You ask for a trial signup immediately on first app open, and get them to subscribe yearly. There's $30-$80 outright (after the trial). Many forget to cancel (it's something no one wants to talk about, but is a huge bulk of app earnings). If you have a steady stream of users, a certain % will start the trial, and % of those will not cancel. It's why you'll see mobile apps have mostly yearly subscriptions. You don't have to worry about monthly subscription retention, or any complicated calculations.

Mobile apps are also much easier to get users for, because they're on the App Store -- a trusted platform. Paying is as quick as a fingerprint or face scan, and everyone trusts Apple. Facebook and other platforms directly link up to the App Store. Who trusts a new SaaS app, where payment involves entering credit card info or opening a new PayPal window? It's much harder.

Though a downside is you rely on the App Store.
Those are definitely valid points. Paying through the store is great and convenient. Never considered users that sign up and forget to cancel though (even given I do forget to cancel things like Amazon Prime, lol), but it seems like it works as long as the number of users is good. I guess as long as the value offered is good and the user is notified about the purchase and can cancel it within a few days, doesn't sound too bad.

I might need to reconsider mobile apps.
 

• nikita •

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That was my first thought, and made me wonder whether indie devs will have good money to spend on design. But you know better about this, as you've already had some clients.

Those are definitely valid points. Paying through the store is great and convenient. Never considered users that sign up and forget to cancel though (even given I do forget to cancel things like Amazon Prime, lol), but it seems like it works as long as the number of users is good. I guess as long as the value offered is good and the user is notified about the purchase and can cancel it within a few days, doesn't sound too bad.

I might need to reconsider mobile apps.
The user is notified on purchase, and that's it. Apple doesn't make you notify them, they don't need to take any action to carry on being subscribed... it's kind of unethical but Apple allow it because it also means more revenue for them.

This is also why you'll see some apps charging $8+ a WEEK. It adds up to a huge amount per year and people just forget about it.
 

• nikita •

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Seriously debating quitting my job sometime next week. I'm getting quite a lot of freelance gigs and I want to spend more time on my apps.

However, I'm afraid that I'm just getting a lot of work now and next month I won't be able to find anything. It's a huge a$$ risk. But my job is doing my F*cking head in holy shit. The work is mind numbing, they're lumping all the boring tasks onto me, and the pay is pathetic.

I have a buffer of money, I can try. The one thing stopping me is that this is probably the best 9-5 I'll ever have because the company culture is great, they take us to different countries, and we work from home. It's just too much for me. Even if it's a great 9-5, it's still a 9-5. Dunno what I'll end up doing.
 

• nikita •

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Woke up today much calmer and with a sense of relief I never felt in my life. That if I lose my job I'll be fine. In fact, I think I will quit. I can't half a$$ this.

Updates:
  • My app which I mentioned was featured, was featured again, but globally, and resulted in thousands of downloads and trial signups (will know the revenue for sure in a few days). It's still gathering hundreds of downloads days after the feature. The best part is the feedback I'm receiving, the solid conversion rate figures I have, and an idea of what direction to take it in.
  • Freelance jobs really picking up.
  • I am on my way to my July goal.
God I'm so happy I read MJ's books. If I hadn't I'd still be trying random things like the stock market and being generally directionless.
 
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Marked Notable. Well done on your progress. Loved your last post about how calm you now are. This happens when you gain control of your own steering wheel and confidence in yourself.
 

• nikita •

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Marked Notable. Well done on your progress. Loved your last post about how calm you now are. This happens when you gain control of your own steering wheel and confidence in yourself.
Thanks Andy! Yep, today certainly feels like a step up. Last week was insane and it's when I finally saw the fruits of my labour, I don't think I've ever been so stressed. But today is when it all "settled" into my mind and became my reality.
 

• nikita •

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Set a deadline to quit my job by Friday. I wanted to do it a bit later, but I have quite a nice buffer of money saved and of course, income from freelancing. I'm done with web development anyway, so there's no use staying (if I ever have to get another job it will be design-based).

Please hype me up to quit, I've made my decision, but I'm just terrified (not of what comes after, just the process of quitting).
 

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Don't worry, everything would be fine! I'm leaving on Friday too, but in two weeks :) and I don't have income from freelancing ;).

Was a little frightened too, mainly because we have only one mid-term project and pretty much no proven plan on what to do next. But the services/freelancing are easy so both of us won't starve at least, lol.

Think of the positive sides, of the limits of your job, of how many people you can help with your app, of how you (probably) hate your job/boss/client/manager/[insert something you hate here], etc.

The sky is the limit, just keep grinding!
 

• nikita •

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Don't worry, everything would be fine! I'm leaving on Friday too, but in two weeks :) and I don't have income from freelancing ;).

Was a little frightened too, mainly because we have only one mid-term project and pretty much no proven plan on what to do next. But the services/freelancing are easy so both of us won't starve at least, lol.

Think of the positive sides, of the limits of your job, of how many people you can help with your app, of how you (probably) hate your job/boss/client/manager/[insert something you hate here], etc.

The sky is the limit, just keep grinding!
Heh, thanks. I keep thinking of the freedom of being able to wake up early because I want to, not because I have to, going to the gym when it's empty, working on my apps all day...

Funny thing happened yesterday. I know how much I make per month from my 9-5, but I always mistakenly had a higher figure in my head. I looked at it yesterday and lol'd at how low it is, given how much stress it causes me to work at that place.

Anyway, good luck with your quitting, and your business too! Do you have a progress thread?
 

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Vito

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There's a beautiful contrast between your posts when you started out and your posts now — a real testament to the hard work and time you've put into this — I just thought I'd point it out:

Jan 2018
• nikita • said:
This is starting to take a toll on my health, since I work in tech and stay on the computer all day, I don't really have a rest and everything is starting to hurt. Increase in workload at my day job has made me realize once again how miserable I am. They've added more meetings to my schedule for god knows what reason. I'm terrified I'll get laid off even when things are going well. My anxiety is through the roof and it's really ironic I'm making this app, I think I severely need it myself!
May 2019
Woke up today much calmer and with a sense of relief I never felt in my life. That if I lose my job I'll be fine. In fact, I think I will quit. I can't half a$$ this.
 

• nikita •

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There's a beautiful contrast between your posts when you started out and your posts now — a real testament to the hard work and time you've put into this — I just thought I'd point it out:
Yes! I had a read through the entire thread yesterday and felt such happiness to see that despite how much doubt I had, and how little experience in app development and running a company, I got results. Being able to quit my job, not because I'm sick of it but because I actually can and because I've started making money myself... it's a weird, surreal feeling.

I still haven't made it yet -- and I'm not totally secure -- but I believe I'm well on my way to success. Thanks to everyone here! This place has changed my life.
 

srodrigo

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Set a deadline to quit my job by Friday. I wanted to do it a bit later, but I have quite a nice buffer of money saved and of course, income from freelancing. I'm done with web development anyway, so there's no use staying (if I ever have to get another job it will be design-based).

Please hype me up to quit, I've made my decision, but I'm just terrified (not of what comes after, just the process of quitting).
If you can sustain yourself with the revenue from your apps and also have money saved, do it, you'll have more time and energy to focus on your stuff. You are in London, it would take you just a few weeks to get another job should you need it.
 

srodrigo

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Yep, I made it a while ago and I’m updating it now to match the app changes. I’ll send it to you once it’s done.

It can be difficult to think of what to say... do you have a finished product or and you somewhere in between? You can always refine it as you build your product. I looked at some studies on what people wanted in such a product and worded it that way. I also have experience with bad mental health so I can put myself in my users’ shoes.

The way I structured it was:
1. Header with “get early access”, when clicked takes you to newsletter signup.
2. “The problem”
3. How my product solves that problem and how it specifically is the best of all solutions
4. Email opt in
5. Contact form

You might like to look at similar pages and take sections from their code, and modify it to your own page. It would save you a lot of time and give you more room to customize the page (rather than paying a lot for landing page services). If you have your own site you can transition the page from opt-in to actual website as you release your product, and add to it over time.

Oh and keep GDPR in mind when creating the opt-in form.

Good luck! Send the page over if you’d like some more tips.
Was going to ask you about landing pages, but you described here most of what I wanted to figure out.

There is one other thing though. At the beginning, you just started testing landing pages and didn't have mockups, is that correct? My question is: how do you approach the landing pages content to validate an idea? I always thought that you need great looking mockups and graphics, apart from describing with words what your product will do, but from what I got from your comments, you made the mockups after the landing page for your mental health app. I will research more on this (lean landing pages to validate ideas) on my own, but wanted to know your opinion, as it clearly worked.
 

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I just quit :)
Woohoo!

More details please! How did you do it? How did they take it? When is your last day? How did you feel the moment you handed in your resignation?
 

• nikita •

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Was going to ask you about landing pages, but you described here most of what I wanted to figure out.

There is one other thing though. At the beginning, you just started testing landing pages and didn't have mockups, is that correct? My question is: how do you approach the landing pages content to validate an idea? I always thought that you need great looking mockups and graphics, apart from describing with words what your product will do, but from what I got from your comments, you made the mockups after the landing page for your mental health app. I will research more on this (lean landing pages to validate ideas) on my own, but wanted to know your opinion, as it clearly worked.
Yep -- though now I would do it differently. I would create some mocks in Sketch and make it look like the app has already been developed. Back then, I had no design skill so I only used random images I found. The landing page could have been much better!

Definitely create a few "fake" app screenshots and place them in the header. People want to see what they're getting. My landing pages weren't that good but I went off the one page that worked better than the rest.
 

• nikita •

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Woohoo!

More details please! How did you do it? How did they take it? When is your last day? How did you feel the moment you handing in your resignation?
Haha, I wanted to do it Friday (today) but I thought... damn if I wait longer I have to stay longer. So I set a deadline, sent the boss a message and had the call. It was like ripping off a bandaid. I feel sad because they treated me really well the whole time I've been there, if I were of the non-entrepreneur mindset I would have worked there all my life. They took it well, no hard feelings, no bridges burned, and I'm welcome to come back if I ever need to.

I feel...free!! My last day is in two weeks. Kinda scared, but free. I was starting to feel nostalgic for the days I had more pressure because of being unemployed. I need that job insecurity to light a fire under my a$$ to do something and make more money.
 

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Haha, I wanted to do it Friday (today) but I thought... damn if I wait longer I have to stay longer. So I set a deadline, sent the boss a message and had the call. It was like ripping off a bandaid. I feel sad because they treated me really well the whole time I've been there, if I were of the non-entrepreneur mindset I would have worked there all my life. They took it well, no hard feelings, no bridges burned, and I'm welcome to come back if I ever need to.

I feel...free!! My last day is in two weeks. Kinda scared, but free. I was starting to feel nostalgic for the days I had more pressure because of being unemployed. I need that job insecurity to light a fire under my a$$ to do something and make more money.
Thanks. I can picture it. Good that no bridges are burnt. Life’s too short for that cr@p.

Apologies if you’ve already mentioned it, but have you quit to go full time on your business? Is it able to sustain you from the monthly revenue, or have you runway saved?
 

• nikita •

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Thanks. I can picture it. Good that no bridges are burnt. Life’s too short for that cr@p.

Apologies if you’ve already mentioned it, but have you quit to go full time on your business? Is it able to sustain you from the monthly revenue, or have you runway saved?
Yep. It's a mix of both. I have a lot of runway saved as I live almost rent-free with my parents. I can't sustain myself from my apps as they're just starting to make more money and I spend a lot on marketing, but my freelancing is taking off. In the past 2 weeks I was able to make 4x what I make in a month at my job. So I'll be freelancing while working on my apps and using that money to experiment and grow them. I'm also going to try to transition to running a design agency rather than working as a "freelancer".
 

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srodrigo

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. I would create some mocks in Sketch and make it look like the app has already been developed.
Definitely create a few "fake" app screenshots and place them in the header. People want to see what they're getting.
That was my impression. Great screenshots, even if they are fake, make a big difference.

I've committed to not start any prototypes until I've made a landing page and measured interest. Hard, being a programming freak, but that's the way to go.
 

• nikita •

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That was my impression. Great screenshots, even if they are fake, make a big difference.

I've committed to not start any prototypes until I've made a landing page and measured interest. Hard, being a programming freak, but that's the way to go.
Hah, completely understand. I used to open empty files on VS Code with 0 direction and just hope to create something good out of the blue.

Now my guilty pleasure is designing random apps without any future plans for them. Actually my most successful app came out of one of those designs -- I thought it looked too good to just sit there as a design! :D
 

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Hah, completely understand. I used to open empty files on VS Code with 0 direction and just hope to create something good out of the blue.

Now my guilty pleasure is designing random apps without any future plans for them. Actually my most successful app came out of one of those designs -- I thought it looked too good to just sit there as a design! :D
So actually designing apps is part of your brainstorming process... That's amazing, and already gave you results with a successful app :)

Now that you mention, how long did it take you to become a designer? I know it's been around 6 months (EDIT: my bad, it's been 18 months) since you got started this thread, but did you have previous experience?
 
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• nikita •

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So actually designing apps is part of your brainstorming process... That's amazing, and already gave you results with a successful app :)

Now that you mention, how long did it take you to become a designer? I know it's been around 6 months since you got started this thread, but did you have previous experience?
Yep, it is now. When I started my first app, I only started designing after I had decided 100% to build it.

I started designing seriously around...3 months ago? I've always been good at design, even when applying for programming jobs I was employed because my design was good on top of programming (I'm kind of a mediocre programmer honestly).

When people started commenting on my design rather than anything else, whatever project I was working on, I decided to take it more seriously, and ever since I started freelancing I've been really into it.

If you want to get into design I suggest 3 things:

1) Get Sketch
2) Start the 100 day UI challenge (google it, and google each day's challenge so you can do multiple designs a day)
3) Look at Dribbble for inspiration, copy what you like

Eventually you'll develop a style. God, design is so much easier than software dev... I can create anything and let the developers worry about how to implement it!
 

srodrigo

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Yep, it is now. When I started my first app, I only started designing after I had decided 100% to build it.

I started designing seriously around...3 months ago? I've always been good at design, even when applying for programming jobs I was employed because my design was good on top of programming (I'm kind of a mediocre programmer honestly).

When people started commenting on my design rather than anything else, whatever project I was working on, I decided to take it more seriously, and ever since I started freelancing I've been really into it.
So you were already good at design long time ago. That explains why it took you short to get seriously into it.

If you want to get into design I suggest 3 things:

1) Get Sketch
2) Start the 100 day UI challenge (google it, and google each day's challenge so you can do multiple designs a day)
3) Look at Dribbble for inspiration, copy what you like
I'll have a look at that, thanks!

I've never been into serious design. Just did some flat icons a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it (once I sort-of understood how Inkscape works). But hey, it can be something to learn on the side, and it's useful.

Eventually you'll develop a style. God, design is so much easier than software dev... I can create anything and let the developers worry about how to implement it!
Haha it depends on how your brain is wired up and what you like (which makes you spend more time, gain more experience, and "magic" happens, you get good at it). I find programming much easier than design, but probably because I've spent insane amount of time on it.
 

• nikita •

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So you were already good at design long time ago. That explains why it took you short to get seriously into it.

I've never been into serious design. Just did some flat icons a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it (once I sort-of understood how Inkscape works). But hey, it can be something to learn on the side, and it's useful.
Ah, I mainly design interfaces rather than icons. If I need icons I'll use Flaticon, and edit the SVG they provide if I need more customization. Though it would be nice to get into icons & illustration.

Haha it depends on how your brain is wired up and what you like (which makes you spend more time, gain more experience, and "magic" happens, you get good at it). I find programming much easier than design, but probably because I've spent insane amount of time on it.
True! For me programming feels like bashing my head against a brick wall. I've been doing it for 3 years and I swear I am still a junior dev. I really dislike it though that may just be Javascript... I quite enjoy programming in Swift. What language do you mainly work with?

But I think no matter your skill at least a bit of programming knowledge is insanely useful. I can't imagine having to spend tens of thousands hiring someone to develop my app, and then keep paying for every update.
 

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Ah, I mainly design interfaces rather than icons. If I need icons I'll use Flaticon, and edit the SVG they provide if I need more customization. Though it would be nice to get into icons & illustration.
Yeah, icons are just a small thing compared to designing a whole application, which is way more difficult.

Funnily, I tried Flaticon and just ended up making my own icons, there was no way I could find icons that were consistent between them at all.

True! For me programming feels like bashing my head against a brick wall. I've been doing it for 3 years and I swear I am still a junior dev. I really dislike it though that may just be Javascript... I quite enjoy programming in Swift. What language do you mainly work with?

But I think no matter your skill at least a bit of programming knowledge is insanely useful. I can't imagine having to spend tens of thousands hiring someone to develop my app, and then keep paying for every update.
I agree that being able to code is a huge advantage. I often see people recommending to outsource an MVP, when in reality a good/well built MVP can be expensive, and it would put many people off.

What language do you mainly work with?
I used JavaScript in my last job, although I learnt a bit of a bunch of others. I use Python occasionally, and C# and Lua for video games. Even learnt some Swift when it was announced and not even v1.0. I use/learn any new programming language as I need it, really.
 

• nikita •

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Yeah, icons are just a small thing compared to designing a whole application, which is way more difficult.

Funnily, I tried Flaticon and just ended up making my own icons, there was no way I could find icons that were consistent between them at all.
Under each pack you'll get other icon packs of the same theme. I usually use that method to make sure they all look consistent, or I try to find similar icons. They've added a lot of icons recently. There's also Freepik (parent company) which has more vectors and photos, I use those for more detailed backgrounds.

I agree that being able to code is a huge advantage. I often see people recommending to outsource an MVP, when in reality a good/well built MVP can be expensive, and it would put many people off.
Oh yeah... you either pay a ton or pay little for poor quality. I made that mistake for one of my shelved ventures. A good middle ground is using Eastern European dev agencies, I did for my app refactor and the quality of work is awesome. Doing it yourself is the best imo, but some people don't want to spend months learning.

I used JavaScript in my last job, although I learnt a bit of a bunch of others. I use Python occasionally, and C# and Lua for video games. Even learnt some Swift when it was announced and not even v1.0. I use/learn any new programming language as I need it, really.
I used mostly JS/React in my job. I hate it lol, can't believe it was my career for 3 years. The devs at my job are crazy for Ruby/Rails.
 

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Under each pack you'll get other icon packs of the same theme. I usually use that method to make sure they all look consistent, or I try to find similar icons. They've added a lot of icons recently. There's also Freepik (parent company) which has more vectors and photos, I use those for more detailed backgrounds.
Thanks for Freepik, they've got nice photos indeed!

I used mostly JS/React in my job. I hate it lol, can't believe it was my career for 3 years. The devs at my job are crazy for Ruby/Rails.
It's a matter of taste. I've seen the other way around, people hating Rails. But you'll find zealots for every tech stack :)
 

• nikita •

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I've been free from work for a few weeks now, officially since Monday. I'm really happy, even though I have no idea if I'll make enough money from my business consistently. Strange how I'm at my happiest when I have the least job security.

I've joined a new gym, finally don't feel tired any more (slept like a baby for the first few days before I got all my energy back), and am focusing on my business.
 

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