Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Software The Almighty Buck

How To Make Money As an Independent Developer 56

itwbennett writes: A new survey of 13,000 developers in 149 countries by U.K.-based research company VisionMobile compared, among other things, the most popular versus the most lucrative revenue models for four groups of developers: those focusing on mobile apps, cloud services, the Internet of Things, and desktop apps. Among their findings for mobile developers: While advertising is by far the most popular revenue model, only 17% of developers who rely primarily on advertising make more than $10,000 per month from their apps. By comparison, 37% of those who make their money by e-commerce (selling real-world goods and services) make $10k per month or more.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How To Make Money As an Independent Developer

Comments Filter:
  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @02:40PM (#50270809)

    If there is nothing you find to sell, then create a new product!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You are so naive, it is not how things work. The big money makers don't listen to what people want, they tell people what to want and then provide that cr@p.

      I don't think there is even 1% of the people who actually know what to want. I mean such that can provide solid arguments on what they want and why they want it.

      • I have this weird 'problem' that the products that I want and/or need tend to not exist or are extremely hard to get, even though they are technically feasible and shouldn't even be expensive. Kind of odd but I've gotten used to it. Saves me from spending too much money.

        • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

          This is what got me into game design in the first place. Then I realized it was a lot harder than middle-school-me expected. A couple decades later, and people who didn't give up are finally making the things I wanted in the first place...I'm okay with this.

  • Microsoft is dropping support on January 26 2016. There's gonna be a ton of apps that have to be rewritten when the patches stop coming.
  • How is it fair to compare advertising to selling physical goods, considering that it is so much easier to plug in an ad api for any developer who thinks he could make a few bucks off his hobbyist app?

    I'm not at all surprised that a far lower percentage of the ad-supported devs make good money, a vast majority are probably those who saw some niche need and created a small app, maybe for themselves - then added in some advertising to get an easily acquired income stream. By contrast, those who actually have w

    • The article also talks of how IoT isn't very lucrative, not too surprising since its not even standardized across vendors (afaik) and needs more public awareness.

      IoT is a solution in search of a problem, IMO. I don't necessarily want my toaster posting on Facebook every time I make me a sandwich. I know what's in my fridge without looking. I have no need to adjust the temperature in my home when I'm not there.

      You can probably tell that I'm a late adopter of technology. This is one I can't fathom ever getting. I just don't get it.

  • by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @03:16PM (#50271001)
    Revenue generated by advertising is almost pure profit, since you've already built the product and only have ongoing maintenance.
    Revenue generated by ecommerce has way more overhead in potentially shipping fees, material costs, and/or labor costs for those goods and services.

    This summary and the article seem to use revenue & profit interchangeably, which is not accurate and really tells us nothing.
    • Exactly. If you build an app, and nobody buys it, you have pretty much just wasted time, but probably aren't out much in terms of cash. If you make a physical product and nobody buys it, you're probably out a lot of money at that point. This is why everybody wants to get into software development. There's a huge potential to make a product once, and sell it a million times, without any ongoing costs. No physical product allows you to do that.

      • If you build an app, and nobody buys it, you have pretty much just wasted time, but probably aren't out much in terms of cash.

        Some of that depends on how much a particular app store's entry fee compares to the wages in your country. Google Play Store is a lot cheaper to get into than the App Store, which requires a second computer (a Mac) and a $99 per year developer license in addition to the 30% cut that both take. And both are far cheaper than developing for a game console. True, a lot of residents of the most advanced economies [wikipedia.org] can afford to drop a thousand dollars on a hobby that turns out to flop. But in less developed count

      • Exactly. If you build an app, and nobody buys it, you have pretty much just wasted time, but probably aren't out much in terms of cash.

        They're essentially the same thing unless you consider your time valueless. Every hour you spend working on your own software is an hour you're NOT getting paid to work on someone else's software, and the bills don't stop piling up just because you're not earning anything.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Revenue generated by advertising is almost pure profit, since you've already built the product and only have ongoing maintenance.

      Ongoing maintenance is expensive - remember, advertising works if you can keep the eyeballs looking, and if you have a game, that constantly means adding new content. It's not a sit-back and watch the money roll in deal. Once you release, you have to have new content in mind and develop for it, so when people get bored of the current content, you release an update and keep them ad

  • I don't even see a single mention of microtransactions. I know it is dominated by candy crush and clash of clans, but it is possible for the random flappy birds to start making serious lottery money for an indie developer.

    The highest grossing apps are all doing it through microtransactions. As much as you and I and everybody hates them, they are here to stay and SOMEBODY is paying 99 cents each for all those "boosts" nobody admits it, yet microtransactions are king(candy crush pun intended).
    • Do you think there is any ethical obligation to avoid addictive microtransactions, or even advertising? How annoyed is the average slashdot user by these things? I kind of feel microtransactions might take advantage of people not realizing how easy it is to charge to their card. Advertising does not seem like a huge deal, especially with free apps.

  • So basically, if you want to make money, you have to have something to sell that people want to buy.

    wow. that. is, such. a. surprise.

  • by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @04:36PM (#50271405)

    I've found the secret, you have other people pay you to make their apps for them. I've been making a pretty good living from that going 5 years now.

    • by Zargg ( 1596625 )

      Can you give some examples? Like, what was the simplest, stupidest app you were asked to develop and how much did you make? How many fart apps featuring the persons own farts?

    • I've found the secret, you have other people pay you to make their apps for them. I've been making a pretty good living from that going 5 years now.

      Exactly. I've started last year, and like any on-site contractor, you get paid pretty well and there's an amount of freedom in picking a client.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @04:45PM (#50271453)

    The same advice was given to me back when MS-DOS and Windows was king. Make utilities, not games. A game only has a small chance of making it big, and even then, you have to make sure to keep your market share or else someone will make a clone and grab it all, like how Candy Crush took over Bejeweled's market niche.

    Utilities, on the other hand, tend to have a long tail. They may not be blockbusters, but they can be a constant, reliable source of income. For example, Raymond Lau's StuffIt for the Mac is still kicking, similar with WinRAR. Make sure that your utility is in its own territory, and doesn't fall completely within another group, as there are plenty of unarchivers.

    There are plenty of niches for a utility these days written for smartphones or tablets... a few examples:

    1: PGP/gpg encrypting/decrypting and key management. Yes, there are other utilities out there, but using iOS's KeyChain or Android's KeyStore coupled with the fingerprinter scanner as a way to confirm signing/decryption once the key is unlocked is something not done yet. Using the OS to securely store keys isn't as secure as a HSM, but it is far better than just leaving them sitting on a drive or filesystem, even if they are encrypted.

    2: An implementation of PhonebookFS. That way, the same directory on a cloud provider can have many different layers of files, and even if all the layers are known, there is still chaff for plausible deniability.

    3: A utility that archives loads of files to Amazon Glacier (preferably with some sort of encryption.) It also would retain a robust index, so if a file needs retrieved, it can be gotten with as little data having to be downloaded as possible.

    4: A utility similar to #3, but can work with any offline media, so if one is using the program on a computer, it can burn DVDs, and keep an index to find files (with their creation times) no matter where they are. The only thing similar would be Retrospect, but they have very limited support for optical drives, and zero support for USB BD-R drives.

    5: A superset of utility #3 and 4, but is able to cycle and copy files automatically to new media every so often (and cloud providers can be considered media). This way, something sitting on a corner of hard drive forgotten eventually winds up being copied onto newer media, to minimize the chances of bit rot and time killing the data. Error correction records and redundancy are important as well. Pretty much a "meta" zpool scrub that would occasionally prompt for offline media, check and copy it somewhere.

    6: A utility that does a share split of a public key among peers/clients of the app. This would either expire access to a file (where requests for a key would be declined after a time/date), or deny access before a certain point in time. Because it is distributed, an attacker would have to create a bunch of nodes that hopefully are the ones chosen for stashing the pieces of the decryption key.

    This would allow one to guarantee that data is expired and inaccessible after a time (financial/hospital archives) as well as ensure data that should not be seen until a future time is kept secure.

    7: A duress mode utility that can do proper notifications and shutdowns if triggered.

    tl;dr... there is a lot more for app writing than just trying to get a game out.

  • Job or hobby? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @04:48PM (#50271481)

    The report tells us that most developers make less than $500 / month. This is clearly not a sustainable income (except in a few countries) so we must suppose that these developers are not in it as a way of making a living. They must have some other means of earning a crust if they aren't still living with one or more parents.

    This puts the majority of developers into the "hobbyist" category. They like to write "code" and if someone pays them a small amount in addition to the fun they get then that's a nice bonus. But that's all it is.

    But from the users' perspective, it also means there is no security in the product they use (or buy - even if it's 0.99 ), since these hobby-programmers could easily lose interest, get girlfriends, choose not to fix bugs or provide any level of support that doesn't line up with their hacking / coding motivation. So while these apps cost less than it does to get a kid to mow your lawn, it would appear that they should be considered "disposable".

    • Re:Job or hobby? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by srichard25 ( 221590 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @07:28PM (#50272377)

      I'm trying to understand why people have any expectations whatsoever for something they paid 0.99 for. Most people tip a waitress more than that just for bringing food to their table.

    • by kipsate ( 314423 )

      get girlfriends

      You must be new here.

    • The report tells us that most developers make less than $500 / month. This is clearly not a sustainable income (except in a few countries) so we must suppose that these developers are not in it as a way of making a living. They must have some other means of earning a crust if they aren't still living with one or more parents.

      That's an unsafe supposition. I've known several people who dedicated themselves for months fulltime to developing apps that in the end made so little money that they didn't cover the Apple developers' programme membership fees. It's a feature of every "goldrush" that for every one person who hits the motherlode, there are dozens of others who bankrupted themselves dynamiting ton after ton of worthless rock.

  • According to the infographic, the most lucrative way to make money with desktop apps is to sell services, and the most lucrative way to make money with cloud services is to license client software. Does this seem backwards to anyone?

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.

Working...