I Wrote an iPhone App and Only My Mom Bought It

Thanks Mom

a geek trapped in a cool guy's body presents an article by Jason Kemp 2017-07-05

Project Kapowski was an idea pinging around my head for a couple of months last year. In the summer, I decided to put fingers to keyboard and write the thing.

I wrote about it while I wrote the first version of the app, right here on this blog. I wanted to write about writing an app; what better way than to write an app? Otherwise, articles are just hand-wavy. What people talk about when it comes to apps versus what I observe and experience when I’m writing one are so disjoint. Writing about how an app comes together was therapeutic.

I intended to put the app in the App Store but had no expectations when I started the project.

As I wrote the app, I used it as a user. It was then that I thought it might be successful. It was a thing that could work.

Doing this all on my own, I lost patience and just wanted to ship. I had the core of the app on my phone that was pinging around my head months earlier.

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

So I rushed out a website, took a week preparing the app store screenshots (they are finicky!), bashed out a quick pre-launch email sequence (with eight sign-ups).

And I shipped!

It went live in early December.

I also wanted the app out before New Year’s Day to catch all those who, resolute for, at most, a month to lose some weight, download any and all apps to give them an edge, including mine.

I started using it myself in earnest, found a bug with the iPhone 7 wide colour screen support causing a button click to be slow. Fixed it. Phew!

I’ll just let the downloads roll in and cash those cheques from Apple!

You already know how this story ends, though.

Even though my rational self had read so much about how hard it was to make money on the app store, I still had this exuberance. I was blind to the flaws of my app and ignored that nobody knows about it.

It was a personal success to get an app on the store. But that’s not enough to make it. On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. And no one cares if your app doesn’t make it, either.

Except, maybe, your mom, er, my mom. One’s mom?

Only my mom bought it. (Thanks, Mom.)

I’ve had a few more purchases from strangers. I thank them too. (Thanks, strangers). I have a few other close family buy also. (Thanks, close family who aren’t my mom.)

I feel like this app is something worthwhile for others, based on twenty years experience working out, grinding out work out plans, dieting, weighing and measuring. There’s a market for this. The fitness biz is HUGE. I’ve used the app faithfully every week since shipping it. My body has changed, and the app is keeping me honest. I’d like to make this into a successful app that helps people change their bodies.

So what now?

I know the answer, and it doesn’t help that much. I need the following: marketing (so that people know about it); more product development (so there’s more value to whoever downloads it); and a solid business model (so I can continue to improve the app, and, maybe, live off making it).

See? Not helpful. Every $2 Medium writer could (and will) tell me that.

I have to specifically, methodically market and develop the app. I have to change the business model; paid upfront doesn’t work for the fitness category. Or maybe any category?

I’ve read a lot about marketing. I’d say I know too much theory. If you came to me with your marketing problems, I know I’d have something to say. But I’ve never actually put it into practice. The to-do list for marketing is a mile long, and it overwhelms me. But, I’m guessing (or rationalizing) that it’s one of those things that tends to get its momentum as long as you just start.

My marketing plans have been pinging around my brain for about six months now. It’s time to dump it out, make it tangible.

With product development, I’m intimately comfortable. I developed and have been using an app for eight months now. I know where it needs to go.

I have the least experience and comfort with the business model. The method of making money on an app is not where I can innovate. So, I’ll just copy what others do, I reckon.

So, with this post, I start the journey to Kapowski 2.0.

One of the most successful ways to make yourself lose weight is to make yourself accountable to someone else: a coach, trainer, loved one or a fellow fat loss participant. Similarly, I need some accountability to turn Kapowski into a viable business. Rather than pick someone specific, I’ll just choose you, Dear Reader.

And, of course, Mom.

Mom is always watching.