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The Indie Hustle

Charlie Wood
27 March 2014

Numerous Beta After six weeks of beta testing, we're almost ready to submit Numerous to the App Store. Other than last-minute bug fixes, we only have one thing left to do in the app itself: the onboarding process.

Onboarding in mobile apps is an art. You need to get new users signed in, set up, and engaged with your app while not making the process tedious. We've studied a ton of other apps to understand how they approach the process, have debated how we'll do it, and have reached agreement. Now it's all over but the design work and coding.

But there's a lot more to launching an app than just, you know, writing an app. You need to create a website, navigate the App Store submission process, and make sure that your launch doesn't go unnoticed. Plus set up all the systems that allow the app, the launch, and the company to function, and with any luck, to scale.

There are a million little things that go into all of this. It's a process I've started thinking of as "the indie hustle", since as indie developers we have to do it all ourselves.

The indie hustle brings to mind the famous Heinlein quote about specialization:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

I'd like to offer my own version:

An indie developer should be able to fix a bug, plan a marketing campaign, write a blog post, define a vision, design a logo, incorporate, analyze a crash log, configure Ngnix, talk to press, generate a cert, remove a background, reassure his spouse, spin up an EC2 instance, manage a beta, cooperate, act alone, debug a race condition, monitor a resource, use a Smart Object, analyze a query, define a category, be aware of everything, ignore almost all of it. Specialization is for the salaried.

To this list I suppose I should add "create a compelling onboarding experience". There's a lot left to do, but it's not daunting—it's thrilling. Watch this space for the announcement of our debut on the App Store soon.

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