The first month of Panchromatic

I’ve written down some thoughts 5 days after launching my app Panchromatic. I wrote about the development process and my first efforts at marketing the app. Now I want to go into how the first month went.

More marketing

As I’ve described in the previous post, the first couple of downloads did not look so good, it was a little underwhelming and below my expectations. Luckily, on December 28 I was invited to the great ProductHunt community. This meant, I could not only read and upvote other posts, but I could comment and post my own. I went right ahead and did so, to some good reactions and comments, but there were also skeptics. It was a great feeling to be a part of this community of makers and to be able to interact with interested and skeptic users.

Posting to ProductHunt made my download numbers jump quite a bit, compared to how they were before.

Download statistics for Panchromatic’s first month

I also tried out Apple’s new SearchAds, for which I had a promo code over $100 after signing up. I let the campaign run from December 23 until December 31 (because that’s when the promo code would expire). Apparently though, this had almost no effect (as you can see from the graph above). In fact, I only “paid” a little over $6 for 9 taps and 178 impressions over the course of the complete campaign. Either I did something seriously wrong with setting up that campaign (though I thought bidding $10 for a single tap seemed quite a lot – and in fact, the average CPT was $0.70), or Panchromatic is just too much of a niche product to actually find people to advertise it to. Anyways, no worries here, since it was neither my money and more like a free tryout.

Analytics

One thing that took quite some development time but in hindsight turned out to be a really nice tool to have, is implementing my own analytics server. Though it would have been easier to just use some other, pre-existing analytics tool, it seemed way too much for what I needed and I would have given up more user information than I was willing to. I now have a way of seeing how much my app is used. It’s not pretty (yet), but very helpful from a developer perspective, to get some kind of feedback after all. If it weren’t for the analytics data, I would have no feedback at all, since nobody hit me up on twitter, wrote a mail or even left a review or rating for the app.

Analytics data for Panchromatic

Counting things like taking a picture, inserting and finishing a film, that were recorded to the server, there were more than 1.300 actions! About 150 films were inserted and over 90 were completed, so there were quite a lot of people who at least tried out the app’s functionality to a point where they shot a full film’s worth of pictures. Yet in the past couple of days, there are only between 5 and 20 actions per day, so the sustained usage is not too high. Apparently, users try the app and see what it does, but dismiss it as a neat little gimmick instead of a full time camera replacement (which is totally fine with me). Nonetheless, I had already during the development been thinking about how useful a third-party camera app on the iPhone app is, when you can not access it from the lock screen as quickly as you can access the stock camera app. I have submitted a feature idea to make it configurable by the user, which app they want to use as a default camera from the home screen (though I find it highly unlikely for Apple to allow this).

Conclusion

Overall, I am quite happy with the first month of Panchromatic in the AppStore. The app got 187 downloads and saw quite a lot of usage with over 1.000 pictures taken. That’s not too shabby for a hobby project with no budget and no big marketing efforts.

Now I’ll have to think about how I want to proceed from here, since I have quite a lot of options. I can further develop the server UI, to make things look nicer for me. From the analytics data, I can see that it might be important to get users back who tried out the app but didn’t come back, i.e. sending them a notification about a film that’s not completed. I have some more feature ideas for a good version 1.1 of the app, improving some details and UI. I don’t think it would be lucrative to add ads to the app to get some money from people using the app, since the usage is not very high or constant (and it may, in fact, drive people away from the app). Luckily I don’t need to make money on this project.

But the way it looks at the moment, I will let Panchromatic rest for now and come back to it later. Because after a year of working on one single project, I want to and really need to do something else. Watch this space or my twitter to hear about it, once I’m ready to announce it.

2 Replies to “The first month of Panchromatic”

  1. Hi Peter,

    Just finished reading your Panchromatic posts and thought I’d reach out to say hi.
    It was great to hear your experiences developing and launching an app. I’m in the same shoes having launched my app at the end of January, and it was really insightful to see that you are facing a similar path (including challenges and rewards).

    I think we are lucky to live in an age where we can develop our own ideas into working products and then share it with the world – even if it’s just to a niche audience and/or the growth is slow. I find every little improvement and sign of progress exhilarating!

    Anyway, like I said, just saying hi, and good luck in all of your projects!

    Cheers,
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter,
      Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on launching your app!

      Having had a similar idea – a simple to-do list is not enough – and having developed an app in response, I am very interested in your approach. Your app FlowTree looks much more sophisticated than my approach and I’ll be checking it out in the coming days!

      It also feels great to know that my blog is useful for someone, so thanks for reaching out and dropping a line!

      Cheers!

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