Type: launch retrospective
On November 29, after months of development, I launched my first indie app: Type, a macOS app to take notes without interrupting your flow. The launch was quite successful, considering my expectations. I expected 10 sales (secretly 20). So when I noticed that I had already made 100 sales the day after the launch, needless to say, I was blown away by the response.
In the spirit of giving back to the community, I'm going to share everything in full transparency.
I hope this helps you prepare for your next launch.
I started working on Type in July 2022. Yes, over a year ago. I work on this app on the side, and as a new parent (my son is 2 at the time of writing this post), I don't have a lot of free time. Anyway, I launched the beta on January 19, 2023 on TestFlight. The only way for people to join the beta was to subscribe on Type's website by providing an email. To which I would manually send an invitation.
I thought asking for an email would filter out people who really wanted to test the app and would send me feedback. I also thought it would be handy for the launch to have people I could email. Over time, 46 people subscribed, but only 35 actually downloaded the app and almost no one ever sent me feedback. Ouch!
App Store Small Business Program
2 weeks before launch, I applied to the App Store Small Business Program, which features a reduced commission rate of 15% on paid apps and in-app purchases. I was approved in just 8 days! Yay!
App Store Pre-order
A big chunk of my time has been spent writing a description and creating App Store screenshots.
After submitting Type for review on the App Store and being approved, I made the app available for pre-order. I also put a button on Type's website to pre-order the app on the App Store. Apple offers marketing assets for that. You can learn more about pre-orders here.
Product Hunt Pre-launch
When adding my product to Product Hunt, I simply reused the App Store screenshots and slightly adjusted the App Store description.
I also created a teaser. They have a special “Coming Soon” section, it allows people to track a product and get notified when it launches. A simple way to get more upvotes.
I knew a press kit was a must, so I searched for best practices online and found this nice article on how to contact journalists. One of the tips is to create lifestyle photos, which I did, and I think they helped me immensely going viral on X.
If you want to download my press kit, you can find it in the footer on Type's website.
2 weeks before the launch, I contacted the journalists. While researching best practices for creating a press kit, I found a nice list of people to contact on ImpressKit, a website to help you create a press kit for your app. They have a media contacts section with journalists from the major tech news media websites. You can get a free trial if you want to check it out.
Of the 16 journalists I contacted, only 2 replied: John Voorhees from MacStories, and Ivan Mehta from TechCrunch. And they were both interested in the app.
I sent 3 tweets to talk about the launch:
- 2 weeks before (11 replies, 7 reposts, 79 likes, 20 bookmarks, 12.2K views),
- 1 week before (2 replies, 14 likes, 1 bookmark, 1,028 views),
- 1 day before (28 replies, 8 reposts, 195 likes, 72 bookmarks, 27.8K views).
I think other indie hackers are pretty supportive, so they interacted with my tweets a lot.
I had 368 followers at that time.
I wanted to write an article explaining the long process behind the launch and how liberating it was for me. I also thought this might go viral because I really think the majority of aspiring indie hackers face this problem. So I wrote "I finally launched a side project after 10 years".
I prepared all posts for social media (X, LinkedIn, Read.cv, Newsletter, HackerNews, Reddit).
I also wanted to post my article on Indie Hackers, but found out I couldn't post anything because I'm "new" on the plaftorm. Shame.
Thanks to the subscription form I had on Type's website to join the beta or be notified when the app would launch, I was able to get 70 subscribers.
Friends & family
I was definitely going to text all my friends & family to upvote the product on Product Hunt, so I put together a list of people worth notifying to speed things up on launch day.
Finally launch day! Basically, I published all the prepared posts I had everywhere and responded to all the comments on Product Hunt, on X and elsewhere.
- Replied to comments on Product Hunt
- Added the Product Hunt button on Type's website
- Posted article on my personal website
- Sent newsletter
- Posted tweet
- Posted article as long tweet
- Posted article in Reddit /r/SideProject
- Posted message on LinkedIn
- Posted message on Read.cv
- Wanted to post something on HackerNews, but someone already had created a Show HN post for Type
- Wanted to post the article on IndieHackers, but because I’m new, I couldn’t post any content yet
- Reached out to friends and family
It was quite a busy (and exhausting) day! I should mention that my son threw up 3 times the night before the launch and a fourth time in the morning. I was lucky my wife took the day off to take care of him.
What a day!
The pre-launch on Product Hunt brought me 15 people. Nothing crazy, but better than nothing.
The product ended up #8 of the day with 30 comments (I responded to each one). I knew I wouldn't finish #1, so I was very happy to finish in the top 10, which I found out the next day, gets the app to be featured in the Product Hunt newsletter. And that's a big deal to get more traffic.
Making the app available for pre-order on the App Store brought me 6 sales. Once again, nothing crazy given the virality of my tweets in the days leading up to the launch, but still better than nothing.
I was happy to have sold over 300 units in the first week, generating in +$1,000 USD in sales! Insane.
As you can see in the chart, there's a significant spike at launch. This mainly comes from Product Hunt, with some of my tweets going viral and being featured in the press.
I was lucky enough to be featured in TechCrunch on launch day, which drove a lot of traffic to my website, in addition to the traffic from Product Hunt.
The next day, I was featured in the Product Hunt newsletter because I finished in the top 10. This generated even more sales as you can see in the chart, on November 30.
Finally, I was featured in Club MacStories 2 days later, on December 1st.
These 3 posts brought a lot of traffic to either Type's website or directly to the app on the App Store, unfortunately I don't have detailed analytics on this on App Store Connect.
As you can see in the chart below, a lot of the traffic came from X, either from some of my tweets going viral, or from TechCrunch and Product Hunt tweets I guess.
When I look at this chart, I'm so glad I was featured in TechCrunch!
I believe the number of impressions increased on December 1st, due to the increase in ranking and Type being on the first page of the Mac App Store.
A few of my tweets also went viral:
- Launch tweet (13 replies, 23 reposts, 163 likes, 30 bookmarks, 21.4K views),
- First $100 (12 replies, 3 reposts, 70 likes, 4 bookmarks, 6K views),
- Rank #11 in the US Mac App Store (27 replies, 4 reposts, 191 likes, 42 bookmarks, 32.6K views),
Plus the tweet from the day before launch which continued to receive a lot of likes even after launch.
The app's ranking in the US App Store and Canada also increased the day after launch (top #7 in US and top #6 in Canada). It was pretty crazy to see.
- Newsletter open rate: 18.6%
- LinkedIn post: 6.3K impressions, 96 reactions, 18 comments
- Reddit post: 10.2K views, 38 upvotes, 13 comments
- Read.cv post: 29 likes, 3 reposts, 16 replies
- Personal X account: +216 followers (368 → 584)
- Type X account: +64 followers (16 → 69)
- Received 35 emails, and 17 DMs on X
Crashes & Uninstalls
Shortly after launch, I started receiving feedback that the app was crashing on launch for some users in some special cases.
I actually had 2 bugs, the first was a missing font file, so stupid. The second was a bit trickier, it only happened if the user had their laptop open, with an external monitor plugged in, with the lowest resolution possible, and opening Type on the external monitor. I was ecstatic when I was finally able to reproduce it (thanks to an amazing and patient user).
It took me 3 patches to fix them all, but the damage was already there. As a result, I got 3 1-star reviews but also 7 5-star reviews.
This of course caused some users to delete the app and ask for a refund, which is totally fair, but still sucks.
Factors of success
The launch of my app was a success because I was able to bring in a lot of traffic.
This is open to interpretation, but I think having a nice icon and design really helped the app stand out. I find that the icon catches the eye.
People also seem to like indie apps and note-taking apps in general (I laughed when I saw this comment: "Oh no, new note-taking apps are my kryptonite").
The traffic was mostly brought by:
- The Product Hunt launch,
- Being featured in the Product Hunt newsletter,
- The TechCrunch article,
- The Club MacStories article, even I don't have any stats because they put the App Store link in their article, but I assume that generated decent traffic as well,
- Some of my tweets that went viral.
Then, as the app ranked in the US App Store (that's where most of my users come from), the number of page views increased significantly.
As you saw in the various charts, traffic completely dropped after a week. Now I understand why people advise never lowering your price for launch.
After launch, I added a featured section on Type's website. I also want to add testimonials, I'm so surprised by the amazing feedback I get from some users sometimes.
My short-term strategy to increase sales is to release new feature updates and try to get media coverage each time. And work on ASO (App Store Optimization) to improve keywords, maybe add a video, etc.
For now, I have gathered all user comments into a Notion document, which is very useful for sorting items and getting back to users once their request has been developed.
I really hope this article helps you prepare for your next launch!
If you're interested in Type (and want to support an indie developer), you can buy Type on the App Store.
Thanks for reading!