I wanted to get a little more practical in today’s letter and talk through my plan (for wherever it’ll end up) with building apps and a path to incredible returns.
It could all fail of course, but this is what I’m doing at the moment.
I’ve been a Macbook user for around a decade or so. So I’m pretty familiar with how they work.
If you’ve read some of my letters about buying businesses you’ll know that the first business I bought was 7upsports.
Immediately after that, I bought a Mac app – Arthur.
I found this app on 1k projects and ended up buying it for a low-4 figure fee then took the code, updated it from Objective-C to Swift, and added multiple new features.
And rebranded it for launch in the next few months.
Along that journey, I also found this app – tried to buy it – got knocked back and I’m now building something similar:
Then there was a third app that I actually use every day (so this wasn’t through a brokerage/listings site)
I tried to buy this app (albeit for a paltry sum thus insulting the owner – my fault) – got told where to go – and now I’m building my own calendar app:
So the things they have in common:
- They’re all Mac-based tools
- They’re all one-time fee or free applications
- They’re all built on Objective C/Swift
- They’re all focused on productivity/business
I love Macbook productivity and productivity in general:
So I felt it made sense to choose this as a niche to specialise in.
My plan is to buy/build applications in this space (Macbook owners who care about productivity) all focused on one language (Swift/Objective C)
These apps need to have a proven track record of sales and be in niches where the competition isn’t massively sophisticated from a marketing perspective.
I make some exceptions where I think something is a useful app that I use myself like Itsycal
What I’ll then do in terms of building a spec, for example with a tool like Itsycal is the following:
- Google all the reviews I can find relating to itsycal – identify all the current issues with the tool
- Do the same with several itsycal competitors
- Amalgamate this into one-sheet then ask the developer to clone the tool with all of those improvements baked in for launch
With this in mind then – I’ve contracted (after an initial series of due diligence of 3-4 teams/developers) a Mac development agency in Pakistan to go ahead and build 1-2 apps per month on a 6-month contract.
So that means in theory, over the course of six months I’ll launch 7-10 apps
To keep to the timeline – the apps need to be simple to build and I’ve parachuted in my own designer. Also, I have a dedicated full-time resource within their agency and then the attention (part-time) of the two company founders, which I feel is better than a developer alone.
The Portuguese Madalena (I’ve made mentioned her before) will go ahead and design the apps and websites towards the end of the feature build
And along the way Ellen and Melanie (part of the Pearl Lemon Group team) are both Macbook owners – so I’ll have them test the app and give feedback.
Once this is all done I’ll then work with Lydia and Sam to run a product launch (this is still yet to be properly formalised) which involves launching on Product Hunt/Beta List/Hacker News type sites etc.
Post-listing site launches I’ll then invite influencers to try the tool as well as review sites to write about it.
And that’s the launch plan I have in mind (as learnt from Indie Hackers)
Something like Word Pigeon and apps that have a bigger market (I’m also looking at building an SEO tool) I’ll look to launch on platforms such as Appsumo, Pitchground or similar daily deal software sites AS WELL AS all of the above.
But these would need to have bigger audiences and Macbook productivity tools wouldn’t do it.
I’m also at the very early stages of building a Mac authority site, Dr Hidden – and the idea would be that I’ll rank this site and it’ll become the central site from which I’ll launch all of these tools.
I.e there’ll be Dr Hidden, Dr X etc all launching from one main site. I’ll try to keep some brand consistency so that the work I do for Dr Hidden benefits the launches of all the other products I’ll have.
And this is outside any affiliate income I could generate from the site over time.
I’m using my business partner and writer at 7upsports (Salahuddin) in this venture to start producing content on the Dr Hidden blog – around 30-50 blogs per month (there are 50 at the time of writing).
And then I have the Pearl Lemon Reviews YouTube channel which I’ll use to drive traffic towards these apps by recording review videos of my tool alongside our competitors.
Fundamentally that means I can launch all 7-10 apps to the buyer of any ONE of these 7-10 apps – thus making the marketing that I’m doing 7-10x more effective.
From my own experience of business building and from what I see from those who buy businesses – it’s MUCH more effective to focus upon a singular niche for many reasons – but one that is often missed is selling to the same user of one of your apps.
Given all of this – I feel it’s unlikely that all of it will become an abject failure because there are a plethora of opportunities that can come from this.
And this is without mentioning what I can potentially cross-sell outside of apps to this same audience.
What about training courses, a membership community or otherwise?
Conceivably there is no reason why I can’t make those happen as well even from the first sale landing.
I think what I’ve written above is perhaps a little convoluted but hopefully, it makes sense.
Arthur itself made several hundred sales from a single Product Hunt launch alone. If I build a proper funnel I can sell Dr Hidden and then Dr X (whatever next product I build) to that very same customer.
If these customers turn out to be business owners I can also try to cross-sell them agency services of course.
In a nutshell, this is the grand master plan!
My costs (which sound extensive) are less than you think.
- The agency didn’t charge me to turn Arthur into Dr Hidden because it was their first Mac app project and also charge me below market rate because they are inexperienced
- Madalena is fast, and resourceful and is doing an internship that’s now moved to part-time work
- Lydia and Sam are interns
Now, NONE of the above means any of those people aren’t excellent.
Much like a product-market fit – you can find excellent people everywhere – it simply has to make sense for both parties.
For the Mac development agency, they value the long-term work, the expanded services I seek from them (we’re looking at a web-based SaaS SEO tool) and potentially getting their agency involved in Pearl Lemon’s work.
Also, they work well with Lydia and Sam and importantly as per my hiring criteria – regularly send voice notes on Whatsapp and enjoy the work, are enthusiastic and are affordable and have an awesome work ethic.
Let’s see how things have developed by the time you read this, my friend.
Meanwhile – catch you in the next letter