Sunday, September 28, 2014

Making Money with Apps - e-book review

I've read the Making Money with Apps e-book recently (twice actually) and I would like to share my impressions with you. You might already know the author - Jörg Winterstein - from my previous interview that I did a year ago. Jörg, also known as Eiswuxe, is a very successful German indie game developer with almost a decade of professional experience, great blog called My-Indie-Story and an impressive portfolio of apps. I was extremely excited when he agreed to give me the book to review for free (usual price is $29.99). I hope I can help you decide if it can be a valuable read for you as well.

More about the author

Jörg used to work for a video game company and then decided to start his own business with a bunch of friends. Unfortunately, they went bankrupt when their financial backer stopped the cash-flow. After that, he carried on to create games by himself, to finally succeed and make a living from it (and even doubling his previous income). According to his reports he makes around $10k a month now.

What I liked about his story is that even if he failed first and kept working hard in order to reach his goals. Also, he didn't just get lucky with one app - he has a couple of them that are different from one another, but still make a lot of money.

What is the e-book (not) about

If you're looking for a programming tutorial - it's not a book for you. It doesn't tell you almost anything about the technical side of creating apps or games. Instead, it gives you useful tools and frameworks that Jörg uses/used to use, explains why he took certain decisions, giving you precise numbers and statistics, and basically leads you through the lifecycle of an app from choosing an idea to publishing and marketing it.

Here's a list of subjects that you may find in the book:

  • tools for coding, graphics, sounds, music, and other content
  • comparison and comments on several game engines and game programming languages
  • thorough explanation of mobile ads - their formats, ad networks, statistics, house ads and expected revenue - all with real-life examples
  • paid apps and in-app-purchases - how to set your price and perhaps even double your previous income, comparison to free apps with ads
  • app marketing - choosing an idea, naming, icon design, review sites, keywords, facebook advertising, forums, etc.
  • getting good ratings
  • Google Play vs. Apple App Store vs. other stores
  • testing - how to make sure your app does not contain bugs or design errors
  • alternative places to publish your apps
  • tracking the apps' usage and performance
  • taxes
  • tons of other tips - most of them from hands-on experience

Strong and weak points

The book contains a lot of invaluable information for indie developers on any level, no matter if they are just starting out or trying to improve their income. Some of the tips can save you a lot of time and money by helping you make a decision like whether to use facebook advertising or how to determine the price of an app. Making Money with Apps basically describes step-by-step how an app/game is made, distributed and marketed with real-life examples and numbers which give them credibility.

The thing I didn't like was that most of the statistics are becoming outdated - dating back to 2012. I know it's only two years, but a lot has changed since then. Jörg told me he is planning on doing a general update, so it should be fixed in the near future.

In some sections I also had a feeling that Eiswuxe tried to explain even the most basic notions (like what CPM is), not knowing exactly what his target audience was. It can be a good thing if you're a total beginner, but it might be boring for more advanced people (even though there are parts definitely more suitable for them as well).


I believe that Making Money with Apps e-book deserves a 4.5/5 score and perhaps even 5 when the statistics and general structure get updated (hopefully really soon). It gives you the insight of a game-programming veteran and definitely helps you be more successful with your apps. I was somewhat unsure about the price - $29.99, but after reading it I think it's definitely worth it. There's also a three-day-long money back guarantee, so if you don't like it, you can just get refunded. I strongly advise you to give it a try. I'll be glad to hear your opinion on it as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Buying and Selling apps on CodeCanyon

A couple of months ago I found out about Fiverr and I decided to try it out. I published a gig offering to help people add ads to their Android apps. It wasn't very successful - I basically just got one person buy it. However, our cooperation didn't end with just ads. He asked me later to reskin a soundboard app he had bought on CodeCanyon for $15. I took a closer look at the portal because I was amazed at how cheaply you could get good quality code to learn from and reuse. Recently, I decided to run a full-fledged research and find out if CodeCanyon could be profitable for sellers as well. Here's how I did it and what I discovered.

Research details

In order to gather the data about mobile apps, I wrote a simple web crawler in Python. It went through all four categories - Android, iOS, Native Web, and Titanium, extracting interesting pieces of information about each app. After the script's work was done, it saved the collected data in a csv file, which I subsequently imported into a Google Docs spreadsheet. From there I extracted the statistics that seemed the most useful to me - how expensive the apps are on average, how much developers earn, which categories and platforms are the most popular, etc.

Results summary

There is almost a thousand mobile apps - most of them for iOS, but a lot for Android as well. They range from $5 to around $50 and the average price is only $15. It's insane that you can buy a fully-functional game or application for such a low price.

There are almost 50k apps sold worth more than 800k dollars. Again iOS is leading in the ranking, but Android is not that far behind it. Web and Titanium apps are far less popular, but still not insignificant.

The most popular apps have sold a good couple hundred copies worth around $10k earned. The best of them sell more than a hundred times a month, bringing their authors up to $2k monthly revenue.

On average, however, apps sell in around ten copies and earn between $100 to $200 a month and $1k in total (most app are quite new though). This is still not bad, taking into account the potential revenue you could have with those apps.

Among the most popular Android apps there are:
The Restaurant App - 463 copies sold
Android Flat UI Template - 418 copies sold
Kids Memory Game With Admob - 366 copies sold
Recipies App - 335 copies sold

Judging by the ratings, the majority of apps seem to be of high quality. Each gets rated by around 10 people and the scores are mostly favorable.

There's also extensive feedback from buyers - some discussions exceeding 400 posts. On average, however, there are 30 comments on each app, which gives you a good idea about other people's doubts and the author's responsiveness.

Categories Summary

I wanted to see which app categories were the most popular and profitable. Here's the result of my research.

Android Categories
iOS Categories

Web Categories

Titanium Categories

Full Applications

Full Applications
Frameworks and Libraries

Full Applications

Full Applications

As expected, people want to buy full applications and games which are ready to reskin and reuse. Some templates and utilities are popular as well, but usually bring less profit. For more details, take a look at the tables above.


CodeCanyon seems to be a great place to both buy and sell apps. It's affordable for buyers, but still lets you make a significant amount of money if you want to publish your own code there. Note that the extended license (the one letting people sell the app) costs five times more than the regular one. I didn't take it into account in my research, because there was no information about the percentage of people purchasing it. It might influence your earnings significantly though.

In the future I might experiment with CodeCanyon some more. I have a nice idea for a simple but interesting app related to Facebook. Perhaps I will try to see if other people would want to use it as well...

P.S. Sorry for not posting anything for so long. I was moving between countries - from Italy to Poland. There has been some exciting stuff happening in the meantime and I'd like to tell you about it. In short - I got my first Elance project, I read a good book about indie Android adventures, I'm working on an arcade game for a local company, and I'm on the brink of being admitted to a premium freelancing portal. Stay tuned for more details!