Again there is talk around the blogosphere about the difficulty of making it as an indie developer.

First there was this post by Sam Soffes regarding the first-day sales after the launch of his Mac app, Redacted. Day 1 saw the app at #8 top paid overall and #1 top paid in graphics and design in the US App Store with 59 sales.

Daniel Jalkut quite rightly pointed out that the top paid ranking is not the important one - rather top grossing is.

Looking up Redacted’s rankings on AppFigures for the last few days reveals this graph for Top Paid rankings:

Redacted US Top Paid Rankings

And this graph for top grossing rankings:

Redacted US Top Grossing Rankings

When Redacted was ranked #8 top paid, it was at the same time #42 top grossing. This top grossing rank was achieved with approximately US$206 in revenue ($4.99 * 59 sales * 70%).

Considering the curve gets steeper the higher the rank, this means that higher-ranked apps are earning considerably more than this.

Dan Counsell revealed his figures for Clear for Mac (amongst other apps) for the same day, noting that they’ve had better days and worse days. Selling at US$9.99, it was ranked #15 top paid and #35 top grossing. He cites Clear’s revenue for that day (he doesn’t specify whether it was US-only or world-wide) as about US$454.

##It’s not as bad as it sounds

The Mac App Store is a lot smaller than the iOS store. 61.1 million iPhones + 12.6 million iPads versus 4.5 million Macs in a quarter (source) is a big difference. I would expect the OS X app market to be tiny in comparison to that for iOS.

However, the Mac App store is not the only place to sell Mac Apps. Look again at Dan Counsell’s figures for one day of sales of his Mac apps. I’ve added them up for you:

  • $520.17 on the Mac App Store for Clear and Ember.
  • $1657.05 direct sales/upgrades for Ember, RapidWeaver and Typed.

In other words, with some effort it is possible to earn as much or even a lot more outside of the App Store than in it.

##If a trivial app with almost no marketing…

Sam Soffes said that he only sent out a couple of tweets about Redacted to announce its launch, although the app fortuitously did end up on Product Hunt and apparently got quite some attention there. The result - halfway decent first day sales. The app itself is rather simple and other apps with quite similar functionality already exist on the store.

This tells me that with a bit of effort and a good product, it shouldn’t be that difficult to generate a half-way decent revenue on the Mac App Store alone. And when you add direct sales into the mix, it looks even more attractive.

##Always look on the bright side

Rather than dampen my enthusiasm for getting my feet wet in publishing apps for the Mac sometime down the track, I am actually energised after reading Sam Soffe’s story and Dan Counsell’s follow-up.

My flagship app, SongSheet for iPad is doing a lot better than when I first wrote about it last year (I do plan on writing a follow-up post about this in the near future). It is an app that is begging for a version that runs on OS X (In fact, I’ve had quite a few customers ask me when they can buy it!), and I plan to make the leap once I’ve got a few more things done on the iOS version first.

I’ve also taken on another new app project, Reverse Chord Finder, for which an OS X version also makes sense.

I believe that with a small number of core apps running across both iOS and OS X I, as an indie developer, should be able to do quite well for myself. The market is there, it is just up to me to build the apps and market them.

Read about my own journey to becoming an indie developer

If you missed it, you can read about my journey to becoming a full-time indie iOS developer here: