Last updated: January 2016

Introduction

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.

Goals

In priority order:

  1. Enjoy making apps: have an app in the store that I use regularly, myself.
  2. Generate a useful side-income: phase 1: $5 per day.
  3. 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.

Strategy

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.

Tactics

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.

Smaller projects

  • 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.

Fail fast

  • 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.
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