Last updated: January 2016
I’m a hobbyist developer. This manifesto is an outline of why I’m working on iOS side projects and how I’m approaching product development. As a business plan it’s not perfect – far from it – but that’s not what I’m doing here. This isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.
Why write a manifesto?
- I want to be honest with myself regarding expectations; my goals and strategy should be clear.
- Given that I have limited time, I want to identify an approach that is sustainable and manageable as a hobby.
- To an extent I am aiming for success; a bit of upfront planning and structure doesn’t hurt.
In priority order:
- Enjoy making apps: have an app in the store that I use regularly, myself.
- Generate a useful side-income: phase 1: $5 per day.
- Continue to be practiced in software development: enough so to put on my résumé.
Update: previously, #2 and #3 were reversed. However, after switching back to full-time software development, that goal is mostly covered, so I think the above order is more accurate.
Be my own customer: make apps that I use myself so they’ve got meaning and I want the functionality. In the least, I’ll be solving a problem for one person. This is also good for enjoyment and motivation.
Work on small projects: work on projects where I can make meaningful progress with the schedule that I have. In the event that any projects are successful… it’s easier to keep small apps up to date.
Play to my low-bandwidth ‘marketing’ capabilities: for the side-income goal I need people to be aware of my apps, so I can’t ignore marketing. Choose methods that fit with the constraints of not much time and no money to throw at this.
Embrace trying new ideas
- If I get the urge to work on a new idea, do it, it’s fun.
- Releasing early is fine; a slightly-less polished app that provides value can still stick.
- Don’t pick something where the end is too far away that I can’t see it.
- 3 to 6 months as a rough guide, for some kind of deliverable.
- If I’m not using one of my own apps and it’s not going anywhere, remove it from the store and move one; remove the distraction.
- Update: I’ve already removed two apps that weren’t going anywhere.
Focus on App Store search
- Use the App Store itself as the primary method of creating awareness. Specifically, keywords and search.
- Spend time researching keywords; the cost is small.
- Spend time analysing, reviewing and iterating on keywords.
Cross promote within the store
- It’s low bandwidth and builds on the App Store-for-exposure approach.
- Give my apps a common look/style to reinforce familiarity and (potentially) related use.
- Focus on similar category/type of app, e.g. Productivity.
Cross promote within apps
- Promote within apps, if the number of apps allows.
- Add links to other, related apps, e.g. in a Settings page.
Use related application areas and technologies
- Consider re-using experience from other projects; it’s a time-saver.
- Consider re-use of designs or adaptations on workflows.
- Consider re-use of APIs and toolset.
- Consider re-use of code.
Write a blog
- Writing can help with the formulation of ideas; it can also be cathartic.
- It’s an offline / one-way approach to contributing to the development community.
- It offers some exposure to the apps that I develop.