Codakuma

Hockeysticking

10 Sep 2023

At the end of last year I set myself a goal of doubling Personal Best’s recurring revenue. At the time I felt like this struck a good balance between challenging while still realistically achievable.

Now in September 2023, Personal Best’s recurring revenue just hit 37x of where it was at the end of 2022. In other words, I didn’t just double my revenue, I doubled it five times and then some 🤯.

Here’s a chart of monthly recurring revenue in 2023 (so far).

Chart of active subscriptions for Personal Best

It’s difficult to put into words how great this makes me feel. I’ve put thousands of hours into Personal Best, and there have certainly been times when it felt like it wasn’t worth the effort I was putting in. I no longer think that.

There are a few things that happened to help me hit this milestone.

Going full time indie

In June the startup I worked at was going through layoffs and I volunteered to be made redundant. Rather than look for a new job right away, I decided to effectively treat Personal Best as a full-time job and work on that. I had (and still do have) loads of ideas for how to improve Personal Best, but I continually struggled to find time to do it. With this change in circumstances, I suddenly had all the time I could wish for.

I’m fortunate to have a very understanding partner who was supportive of my choice, if a little surprised at first. On the other hand, my mum was furious at me 🙈

Since going full time on Personal Best, I’ve managed to ship* a lot of stuff:

  • A completely rewritten sharing screen, which lets you turn a workout into an image to share on social media. The previous version was clunky and difficult to use. The new version is much easier to use and makes much nicer-looking images to boot.
  • An all-new watchOS app, built from scratch to follow watchOS 10’s new design language. The previous version was thrown together in a single evening, whereas the new version was made with care and thoughtfulness.
  • A redesigned workout screen, including facts about how your workout compares to tangible milestones.
  • A redesigned workouts tab, with daily, monthly and yearly summaries, as well as photos and route maps from your workouts featured front and centre.
  • Improvements to the dashboard tab to feature workout imagery.
  • iPad support, thanks to iPadOS 17 including Apple Health.
  • StandBy support for widgets.
  • A new widget that features workout imagery.
  • A redesigned paywall screen.

*Some of it will ship with iOS 17 and watchOS 10

I’m not done, and more features are coming. Watch this space. Currently I’m rewriting the stats screen entirely to be more intuitive and feature lots more useful data about your workouts.

New pricing

Personal Best is monetised with a ‘Personal Best Pro’ tier inside the app that unlocks lots more features over the free version.

I’ve always struggled with how much to charge for Personal Best Pro, and it’s lead to a lot of introspection about how much my work is worth. From what I’ve heard from other indie developers this is very common. In particular, in the lead-in to Callsheet being released my favourite podcast ATP had some great discussions in this area. I found them really helpful and I think every indie developer can benefit from their expertise.

After looking at apps from my peers I realised that I was charging too little for Personal Best, so I increased the price. It caused no decrease in uptake, so I’m comfortable saying it was the right move. I intend to continue experimenting with the price in the future.

It’s worth noting that I made use of the App Store’s ‘preserve current price for existing subscribers’ option when increasing prices. I didn’t want to annoy my existing subscribers with a price increase, so anybody who subscribed before the increase will continue to pay the original price.

This is the thing that made the biggest difference by far. One day I checked my active trials on RevenueCat to find it was about ten times higher than usual, and growing all the time. I had no idea why this was happening, until the following day where I found out that Personal Best was included in a list on the App Store in the US.

I can’t overstate how much impact this had on Personal Best’s downloads. Overnight I went from having around 1,000 daily active users to 20 times that. I’m very grateful to the App Store editors for seeing my hard work and giving it some exposure, and I hope it’s the first of many features.

What’s next

I’m setting myself another goal. I’d like to get Personal Best to $1,000 monthly recurring revenue by the end of 2023. I’m currently 73% of the way there and it would be an amazing way to cap off the year.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll write a proper end of year summary for how indie life is going, so check back in December to find out how I did.