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5 Mistakes To Avoid As An Indie iOS Developer 👨🏻‍💻

5 Mistakes To Avoid As An Indie iOS Developer 👨🏻‍💻
By Edouard Barbier • Issue #12 • View online

Hi everyone,
Today, we’re going over some of the mistakes I’ve made during my journey as an Indie iOS Developer so you don’t have to repeat them. Knowing about these early can literally save you years. Mistake 3 cost me 2 years of working on the wrong thing between 2016 and 2018.
Let’s get into it. 
Mistake 1: Idea generation aka waiting for the big idea to hit you to start building.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike – just start coding. Many aspiring indies make this crucial mistake. Ideas won’t just fall on your lap. It’s not reserved for a minority of ‘creative’ type people to come up with ideas. Every brain can generate ideas (good, bad, and terrible ones), it’s just your job to train that muscle.
The best way to do that is to explore things you haven’t explored before, test new products, be on the lookout for flaws and pain points in existing solutions, and bring a better alternative to the world.
As soon as you get a remotely ok idea, start building. You’ll learn tons from working on it, and more ideas might spruce out of that. It happened to make many times.  
Mistake 2: Don’t get stuck in the tutorial trench.
Using tutorials to learn is great, but what’s better is using them whenever you’re stuck on a problem you have not previously faced. I see far too many people blindly following tutorial after tutorial or course after course. Sure you learn, but with your training wheels on. At some point, you’ll have to take them off.
I much prefer to use tutorials on an ‘as needed’ basis when I’m building something and I need a little extra push to complete a challenging feature.
Mistake 3: Feature creep is your enemy.
Once you decided to start working on your app, keep it simple, dead simple. Your goal is to ship an MVP (minimal viable product) with the core feature and no bells & whistles as fast as possible (aim for less than a month, even if you’re only using your evenings & weekends).
Why? Because the people who will make or break the success of your app need to first test it, and the longer you wait to see what they think, the more time you invest, and the bigger the opportunity cost. Imagine you’re actually building something that will fail (80-90% chance with any startup), isn’t it better to know it faster so you can move on to the next idea? I think so right?
I see so many people wasting years of building too much too soon or for too long (see next tip). You can always add features later – first you need to validate your idea, get feedback from users, see some growth, and iterate based on that. So ship first and think later! 
Mistake 4: Don’t think adding more features will help you grow.
So you launched but you’re not getting the results you expected? It’s ok, it will happen. Often the first reaction we, coders, have in this case is to think along the lines of “makes sense it’s missing this feature or that feature, it doesn’t have these nice animations or this better-looking design” etc. This is where you enter dangerous territory and I’ve made that mistake in the past. Spending months adding new features and expecting to see some growth is a fallacy.
  1. Check your analytics. Are people finding your app on the Store (impressions, product page views)? Are they downloading it? How long are they spending in your app? How is the ‘user retention’ looking? Etc.
  2. Talk to random users (not your ‘biased’ family and friends) and ask them what they think.
  3. Don’t forget about marketing. It’s noisy out there. Attention span is sparse and if you don’t actively seek to bring visibility to your app, it will likely remain in the dark. For us indies, ASO (AppStore Search Optimization) is probably the easiest way to automate our marketing effort partly. Do it well and the AppStore will find you customers for free. More on this in another newsletter if you’re interested in that topic. 
Mistake 5: Charging too early, undercharging or not testing pricing.
Charge too early and you risk putting people off with an MVP that still needs a lot of work. At this stage, your goal shouldn’t be to make money, but rather to validate that your idea has legs and that people will pay for it at some point.
Once you do monetize, find the sweet spot by analyzing how competitors charge for their apps. Do not undercharge. By default, we always undervalue our work, because we know how to code, it’s easy for us, and imposter syndrome always kicks in when it comes to asking for money from our users. Remember that no one knows your app as well as you do, and people are often willing to pay for something that saves them time, helps them make money, or makes their lives easier in some way. If you truly believe in your app, don’t be afraid to charge what it’s worth.
Finally, prices aren’t set in stone. You can change them anytime, you are in control and you should leverage that to test people’s willingness to pay. I remember moving from a $7 lifetime access to $20/year and tripling my revenue overnight. Pricing is very psychological. And people’s perception of quality varies based on the price you’re asking for your product. So test, analyze and let the users decide what you should charge. 
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That wraps it up for today. If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with someone who will find it useful. If you have any suggestions, feel free to reply to this email or reach out to me on Twitter.
If you’re interested in more content like this, subscribe to my weekly newsletter below. See you next week!
Til next time,
Ed
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Edouard Barbier

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