11 Jan

How my behavior changing iPhone app made $1,673 in the first 3 weeks.

I’ve learned an incredible amount from many different bloggers and authors. I intend to give back to the community as much as I can through posts on this blog. Lately I’ve been disclosing sales numbers and what I’ve learned on the App Store. Here is my previous post with the sales data for OneVoice.

So what is Commit?

Commit is a simple application to help you change your behavior. Whether it is learning a new skill or forming a positive habit Commit uses Jerry Seinfield’s Don’t Break the Chain philosophy to keep you motivated and make consistent progress each day. Sold for $0.99 it is an inexpensive way to improve your life.

I use it to maintain consistent exercise habits. Just reaching 10 days in a row of exercise, which is a first for me!

Download Commit from the App Store

Alright, let’s get into the numbers.

The Numbers

Commit was released on December 22nd, to mediocre sales numbers. I didn’t expect it to get approved before iTunes Connect closed (on the same day), so I didn’t even have the marketing page up yet. So the first day was spent scrambling to write a design a page that throughly explained Commit.

After a couple days I started submitting Commit to the main iOS App Review Sites. The first site to include it was MacLife. They mentioned Commit in an article on the 27th of December.

The same day a popular social media author, Mari Smith, mentioned it on her Facebook page (she discovered it through Dennis Smith, a local friend) and I posted a link to Hacker News (didn’t go anywhere). Because all three happened on the same day I can’t tell exactly where the sales came from. But the three combined only resulted in 74 sales for that day and 130 the next day. Not quite as much as I hoped for.

A couple days later I posted to a couple Subreddits with good results. It was well received with a few up-votes and plenty of positive comments.

The big change happened when App Advice posted a review on the 29th. They really liked Commit and it was well timed for New Years resolutions. The review went live about 9:00 PM mountain time, so the main sales happened the next day. Reaching 598 sales in one day. This also pushed it to #18 in the top paid productivity apps. Unfortunately I can’t tell how many sales came from being in that list versus the App Advice review. But since the sales fell in the next couple days I think the App Advice link was worth far more.

For the next few days sales were up and down, but slowly declining. Then when I released a new version Apple featured Commit in the New and Noteworthy section in the App Store. Awesome, right?

Yes, but not as good as I first thought. There is a different app store for each supported country and Commit was featured in 82 countries. But unfortunately none were major English speaking markets. The U.S., Canada, and the UK were missing from the list. I hope everyone in Uzbekistan enjoys Commit, but so far the feature hasn’t resulted in that many sales. The feature in Russia has resulted in about 8 sales per day.

I (naively) thought that being featured would make a huge difference. As it turns out the app needs to be featured in a major market to see a large increase in sales.

Unfortunately Commit has received a handful of 1 star reviews related to notification times. Being a beginner objective-c developer I must have made a mistake in that code (I am still trying to figure it out). Though I do have many people who love the app and have written rave reviews.

Now commit gets around 30-40 sales per day. As of today it has sold $1,673. Not a huge number, but it is a lot more than I expected. I’m pursuing other options to increase that number. Here is the graph with event marked on it.

So, what did I learn?

Many App Stores
Before I hadn’t paid much attention to the App Stores for each country. Now I know to pay more attention to localization and other issues. Also being featured in smaller markets doesn’t make that much of a difference.

Review Sites are Very Important
Getting positive reviews on major app review sites made a huge difference. I am sure it accounted for at least half of the copies sold. App Advice was by far the biggest driver of sales. Far more than I expected. What they have done with that site is impressive. Though I wish I had more review sites to compare to traffic numbers with.

A Huge Social Following May Not Convert at Expected Levels
Mari Smith posted a very positive review to her Facebook page (with 70,000+ subscribers), but it yielded less than 100 sales. That surprised me. I knew a social following wouldn’t convert very well, but I expected better than that. Either way I really appreciate the link from Mari.

App Annie is Awesome.
Without the iTunes analytics site App Annie I would have never known about the features in all those countries. In addition to providing a better sales interface it has detailed rankings and review information from all across the App Store. Plus it is free.


That’s it. Make sure to download Commit from the App Store. Also if you would like to write a review or do an interview just let me know.

Update: Commit was just featured on TUAW, so tomorrow should reveal some great new sales numbers.


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4 Responses to “How my behavior changing iPhone app made $1,673 in the first 3 weeks.”

  1. I saw Commit in the New & Newsworthy section in the German app store some days ago. I recognized it because I had been reading your blog for some time ;-)

    From the four reviews, two said they had trouble with the reminders not being on time. Probably due to the US time being used (as you’ve written above).

    Two others said, they would like to be able to set weekly or monthly reminders, which kinda defeats the purpose of the app, I guess :)

    And one would appreciate a German localisation.

    Btw, do you know the majicrank scraper? It gives better comparison over time than App Annie and/but runs locally.

  2. Nice read Nathan. You know about 70% of all my 4600+ app sales are due to social networking, but as you know that’s done within the relevant market. Maybe if there’s an opportunity to have Mens Health/Weight Watchers, or some website similar promote Commit and I would be certain that would spike your sales. I don’t know how hard that would be, but just a thought :) Great work on your Apps!!!

  3. Great sharing Nathan. I’m one of Commit users and really like the simplicity of the apps. Review on LifeHacker.com has led me to buy your apps. Keep it up! ;)

  4. Hi Nathan, I’d be really interested to here how the sales have continued. What number of sales is commit making currently?

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