As 2021 draws near I realized that this draft never got published. So, strap in for where it all started.
I spent years listening to podcasts, reading books and blogs, and browsing Product Hunt / Indie Hackers. I had nothing to show for it. These resources abound on the internet but as I grow, I recognize them for what they are - a trap. The hidden danger with these activities is that you feel productive. I found myself trapped on this productivity treadmill for years. I spent almost as much time consuming these resources as I did looking for the next best thing to consume. Finally, in 2019 I resolved to build something of my own.
In college I took a class in Android app development. For my final project I built a location tracking app that allowed a group of friends to share their live location with each other. Since I enjoyed building it, I began thinking about app ideas. My initial goal was to make $10.00 a month. After several months of writers' block on ideas I gave up on Android and started building an app for Windows 10. It turned out that TP-Link smart plugs had no application available to PC users. I discovered this one day while working - I had to get my phone out to turn my air conditioner off. Sometimes solving your own problems is the best source of ideas. By June I had a working prototype and began the submission process to the Windows Store.
Getting the application approved took over a month. I had not written the code in a non-blocking way which resulted in the application freezing during plug discovery. One of the core tenets of the Windows Store is user experience. Since my application seemed to freeze to the end user Microsoft rejected it. Several iterations later I passed their review and the app went live. I priced it at $0.99. The first day I sold 1 copy, then 3 the next. Since launch this app has sold on average 125 copies monthly. This nets me roughly $100.00 after Microsoft takes their cut.
Riding this success, I decided to create an identical app targeting a new brand of smart plugs. Using what I'd learned it took my only two weeks to build, test, and launch my utility for Wemo smart plugs. The market for this brand has proven to be much smaller. I sell on average 25 of these apps per month. This nets me roughly $15.00 a month.
I made $366.39 in income from these apps in 2020. This seems low based on the sales averages above, but I only counted money that made it to my checking account. Microsoft holds payment for 30 days until the earning matures. This gives them flexibility for chargebacks etc. In January be sure to check back for a 2020 update with a full year of sales data.
If you're interested in checking out these projects I list all of my projects on my side projects page.
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