Developing Perspective

#69: Talking about money


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note in iOS development, Apple, and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm

00:00:09   an independent iOS developer based in Herner, Virginia. This is show number 69. Today is

00:00:13   Tuesday, July 31st. Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes. So let's

00:00:18   get started. First, I have kind of a fun announcement that I'm, you know, it's been something I've

00:00:24   been working on for a little while and I'm finally able to kind of share now that it's

00:00:27   finally actually coming together, which is probably a good minor dime, side note, is

00:00:32   one of those things that something I've learned as I've started to do more of things publicly

00:00:37   is never promise something until you're very confident you're going to actually be able

00:00:40   to deliver it in a public format. I think this is something I remember, I think

00:00:45   Merlin Mann coined the phrase "expectational debt," and it's a very, very true statement

00:00:50   and a very dangerous thing where you create expectations amongst your audience, your customers,

00:00:55   whatever the context is relevant to you,

00:00:59   and they have this expectation.

00:01:00   And all of a sudden, you have to carry this debt around.

00:01:02   And if you don't meet those expectations

00:01:05   that you've created on yourself, it

00:01:08   has a very negative connotation with your user base.

00:01:11   And what you end up really doing is diminishing the excitement

00:01:15   that your users or customers will

00:01:17   feel when you announce something.

00:01:19   They're like, oh, he's going to do that?

00:01:21   Well, maybe he will.

00:01:22   Maybe he won't.

00:01:23   I'm not really sure.

00:01:25   And so it kind of loses some of that bite.

00:01:27   But I'm excited that I can actually

00:01:29   announce it today because everything

00:01:30   seems to be all up in line.

00:01:32   The first episode should probably be posted tomorrow.

00:01:36   It'll definitely be out this week, just a question

00:01:38   of how long editing takes.

00:01:39   And what I'm excited to announce is a new kind of-- almost

00:01:43   like a sister show to Developing Perspective,

00:01:46   though at least for now I'm just going to be interjecting it

00:01:49   directly into the Developing Perspective feed.

00:01:51   And it's something that I've actually heard a lot of you

00:01:53   ask for.

00:01:54   It's something that I think many people are going to like.

00:01:57   And it extends a little bit what I do here,

00:02:01   and hopefully makes it a bit more interesting,

00:02:03   is I'm going to be starting a series of interviews

00:02:07   with developers who make iOS apps for a living.

00:02:11   And those interviews just talking

00:02:13   both about who they are and what they do,

00:02:17   how they go about their work in terms of what's their workflow,

00:02:21   what's their setup, those kinds of questions.

00:02:23   And then kind of just what are the lessons they've learned to kind of hopefully broaden

00:02:27   it a little bit from just me telling you all the things that I've done wrong, all the mistakes

00:02:32   that I've made, and how those have impacted me.

00:02:36   I can hopefully expand that a little bit and be like, you know, here's an interview with

00:02:40   a couple of other people who have also made mistakes, and here's the things you can learn

00:02:45   from, or here's some ways in which they've succeeded, in which they've really had some

00:02:49   some great success, and you can hopefully learn from that

00:02:51   and replicate it yourself.

00:02:53   So the first one of those, like I said,

00:02:55   will probably be going out this week, just depending

00:02:56   on how the editing goes.

00:02:58   One, of course, side note to that

00:02:59   is it will not be the usual 15-minute format.

00:03:02   Just doing an interview with somebody just doesn't quite

00:03:04   work in the same way to be able to keep it two 15 minutes.

00:03:07   Exactly the length, I'm not entirely sure yet.

00:03:10   But it'll be a little bit longer.

00:03:12   I'll always be very clear at the beginning of the episode

00:03:14   whether it's one of these slightly longer form episodes

00:03:17   or whether it's a traditional 15-minute episode.

00:03:19   So it should be fairly straightforward for you

00:03:21   to keep track of that.

00:03:23   There are going to be-- introduced into the stream

00:03:26   in a semi-random way.

00:03:27   It's not necessarily, at least to start with, something

00:03:29   that I'll be doing on an absolutely regular schedule.

00:03:32   So in that sense, it won't be quite as predictable.

00:03:35   But I'll always let you know, hey, the working title right

00:03:39   now is Developed Perspectives, which may be a little corny,

00:03:43   but we'll see if that sticks.

00:03:45   And so I'll always let you know if it's

00:03:47   going to be one of those.

00:03:48   And if you're in a situation where you just

00:03:50   want to listen to one of the 15 minute episodes,

00:03:52   or that's all you like, and you're not

00:03:53   going to like these by all means, just skip them.

00:03:55   Wait for the next episode to come out,

00:03:57   or something like that.

00:03:59   If it becomes a big thing and people really

00:04:01   don't like them being in the same feed,

00:04:02   I can certainly make a separate feed for it.

00:04:04   But as it's getting off the ground,

00:04:05   that seems the best way to get some response,

00:04:08   get some feedback on how it is.

00:04:10   So anyway, just something to look forward to.

00:04:11   I said the first one should be coming out this week.

00:04:14   And anyway, so I'm going to move on to the actual topic

00:04:17   for today's show.

00:04:19   And it's kind of a funny one, but it's

00:04:20   something that I've been thinking about for a while.

00:04:22   And this seems just as good a time as any to discuss it.

00:04:26   And that is the concept of talking about money.

00:04:32   And talking about money always seems kind of a funny thing,

00:04:35   because you get these very--

00:04:38   most people tend to fall into two categories

00:04:40   with talking about money.

00:04:42   By that I mean like sharing your revenue numbers,

00:04:44   sharing how popular your service is, those types of things.

00:04:47   And some people do it all the time.

00:04:51   And some people are very, very protective about it.

00:04:55   And I'm going to walk through a little bit of where

00:04:57   I fall on this and my policy and the rationale for that.

00:05:02   So generally speaking, I share things about my business

00:05:06   that I feel like are useful and helpful to other developers,

00:05:10   but are not necessarily directly obvious what the revenue

00:05:14   associated with those items is.

00:05:16   And so a classic example of this is I may share, for example,

00:05:19   the download number for my apps.

00:05:20   So since I've been a developer, my apps

00:05:24   have been downloaded about 6 million times,

00:05:27   which is a true statement.

00:05:28   But saying that isn't particularly

00:05:31   correlated to my revenue, because the majority

00:05:33   of those downloads are free from my free audiobooks app

00:05:36   and other things that I've done that are free.

00:05:38   as it is not a direct respect correlation between revenue

00:05:43   i feel comfortable sharing that

00:05:44   in a sense of it it's a good way to perhaps established reputation it's a

00:05:48   good way to perhaps establish

00:05:51   uh... that you know that i am

00:05:53   talking with some experience with some success

00:05:56   uh... you guys be dangerous about that because you know when it comes come off

00:05:59   too much sort of sounding i don't know sort of like the classics like being

00:06:03   condescending or braggart or

00:06:06   those times of those types of things but you know it's fine that we're balance

00:06:09   and maybe i should you say things like that maybe it's

00:06:13   to too far on that

00:06:14   the tricky question uh...

00:06:16   but definitely never share things that are directly related to money

00:06:20   and correct

00:06:20   the reason i say that i'd for me that it i do that

00:06:24   is there's just out there's there's just something magical about money

00:06:29   at least say

00:06:31   you know person acts

00:06:32   makes why not have money

00:06:34   people are far more likely to almost create these immediate snap judgments in

00:06:38   their mind

00:06:39   either

00:06:40   oh my goodness they don't deserve that

00:06:42   or

00:06:43   oh my goodness that's awesome for them i wish i was

00:06:46   i wish i was like them or huh that's more than i made or

00:06:49   not as much as i thought that the making

00:06:52   and it's this very sort of snap

00:06:54   judgment i think that a lot of it's because it's something that everybody

00:06:57   can relate to very tangible way

00:07:01   almost everybody in amila

00:07:03   uh... you sort of had other you know they have a salary

00:07:07   or an understand and have a concept of what a salary is

00:07:10   and so it's very easy to make a direct comparison

00:07:13   from their application from their experience in their career and that you

00:07:16   know their experience to someone else's so you can very easily be like com i

00:07:20   make more than he does or home

00:07:22   i was i made a scene as much as they do

00:07:24   and it's really weird situation and it feels

00:07:28   just kinda weird whenever you start to getting into that

00:07:30   i've heard some people say that they don't share that kind of information

00:07:33   for because they don't want to if they want to have a better position if they

00:07:36   were ever going to be acquired they ever were going to be

00:07:42   it's just sort of have that kind of a buyout situation arise it's good to kind

00:07:45   of have a few

00:07:46   uh... cards close to the best that in the same way as i was saying i think

00:07:49   you can share your user numbers or you can share

00:07:52   download numbers and

00:07:54   you know it allows you to have these sort of proxies

00:07:57   that aren't directly revenue because ultimately revenue

00:08:00   is where the rubber meets the road.

00:08:03   Another reason why sharing things like revenue numbers

00:08:06   isn't particularly helpful is that it is not

00:08:11   directly related to income.

00:08:13   And by that I mean, obviously, your revenue is interesting,

00:08:16   how much money you've made.

00:08:17   But really the reality is how much money

00:08:19   you profit is the only number that is actually significant.

00:08:23   And the classic example for where this can get funny

00:08:26   is a lot of people tend to look at a revenue number

00:08:29   ignore the fact that they are costs associated generating nieces all the

00:08:33   time i think for sites that

00:08:36   published a for example advertising rates

00:08:38   if you take their advertising rate you multiply it by

00:08:41   you know it's like site makes whatever

00:08:43   you two thousand dollars a month in revenue

00:08:46   well in the twenty four thousand dollars a year and you can be like how they make

00:08:49   twenty four thousand dollars a year

00:08:51   that's almost always the and the markets are the mental progression some will

00:08:54   take

00:08:55   They just multiply it out and they make $24,000 a year.

00:08:59   But the reality is they really don't.

00:09:00   They have expenses associated with that,

00:09:03   both hard costs in terms of things like bandwidth,

00:09:05   hosting, all those types of things.

00:09:07   They may have some soft costs in terms

00:09:09   that you can even look at it as their time or opportunity

00:09:12   costs or all kinds of things that are associated with it

00:09:15   that devalue that in terms of what it actually means to them.

00:09:20   And so putting an actual price on something like that

00:09:23   is just always kind of

00:09:25   funny because people tend to latch onto the big number

00:09:28   and ignore what that actually may mean in reality

00:09:31   another part of this is also in terms of just

00:09:35   i was just a little bit of a background thing

00:09:37   there's something funny about it's like i was certainly growing up just like you

00:09:40   just never talk about money

00:09:42   and from whether that's a good thing or not as a as a kid growing up or

00:09:47   or in a marriage or those types of situations is something i want to get

00:09:50   into

00:09:50   but it's something that

00:09:52   there's always kind of a rudeness, at least that I perceive, in talking about money.

00:09:57   And especially when someone asks about how much money someone else is making.

00:10:02   So this is a classic thing where every now and then you'll see it when an app is successful.

00:10:08   And you'll watch an interview with the developers, where this is more typically in a more mainstream

00:10:13   news outlet. And you'll get these very strange, you'll get these kind of awkward questions

00:10:19   where the interview was like, so how much have you made since your app hit number one?

00:10:24   And you kind of get this awkward like, you know, we've done quite well. We're really

00:10:31   pleased with sales and it's great to be rewarded for our efforts.

00:10:34   You're like, oh, but what does that mean in terms of income for you?

00:10:37   It's like, you know, it's good. We're really happy with the way the revenue's gone. You

00:10:41   have these weird like dancing around things. So they'll be like, so can you give us a ballpark?

00:10:45   You know, you're making six figures, seven figures.

00:10:48   What are we looking at here?

00:10:49   And it just feels like nebbie and nosy in a way

00:10:53   that talking about the more abstract concepts

00:10:58   for the success of an app don't feel that way, at least to me,

00:11:01   that it feels less sort of prying and personal

00:11:05   to talk about metrics rather than things like revenue.

00:11:09   And so that's kind of the way I work.

00:11:11   The interesting thing, of course,

00:11:12   is that if you're a careful listener to this podcast

00:11:16   and a careful reader of my blog, you can likely piece together

00:11:19   a fairly good understanding of how much money I make.

00:11:24   In terms of if you piece together

00:11:25   all the hundreds of bits of sort of on their own,

00:11:29   not particularly clear pieces of information

00:11:31   and put them all in one place, you could probably work that out.

00:11:35   But I guess that's just something that's just

00:11:37   the nature of sharing information about yourself

00:11:39   and that you're kind of putting that out there.

00:11:41   the goals not put that out there in a way that is kind of like in a headline

00:11:44   way that

00:11:45   you know if someone wants to do that reverse analysis kind of like uh...

00:11:48   like a horse did you kind of a type person who can sit there

00:11:51   crunch all the numbers and come back you know backfill things like that great

00:11:55   more power to you

00:11:56   but in general it's just something that

00:11:59   i don't think i'll ever share

00:12:00   uh... and that's probably for the best i think it's just it's a fairly

00:12:04   it's a more polite with thing to do i think it's a more appropriate thing to

00:12:07   do

00:12:08   And I don't know necessarily why I thought it warranted an episode.

00:12:12   But it's something that comes up all the time, I feel like,

00:12:15   in our community, where you have these situations where

00:12:20   people ask that question and have to kind of dance around it.

00:12:24   And so I guess if you're a news writer and you're

00:12:26   sort of in the news or the media or the press,

00:12:29   I would certainly encourage you just to not ask those questions.

00:12:32   You can ask-- the best example would be like, instead of doing that,

00:12:35   why don't you ask the question like so?

00:12:37   It's like, how has your app been received?

00:12:41   Leave a nice open question that the developer

00:12:43   can answer in a way that is still interesting, probably,

00:12:45   to your audience, but is not kind of painting them

00:12:48   into this awkward corner where they have to then dance

00:12:50   around you asking them how much money is in your wallet, which

00:12:54   is just kind of rude.

00:12:55   And then as a developer, I would encourage most people to just

00:12:57   not really share it.

00:12:59   I mean, you're in one of these funny things

00:13:01   where a lot of people share dollars for failures

00:13:03   but not for success.

00:13:05   And other than speaking in vague generalities of like, oh, man,

00:13:11   I launched an app to the App Store,

00:13:12   and I barely can make enough money for a beer a week in it.

00:13:17   Maybe.

00:13:18   But generally speaking, I just stay away from it.

00:13:20   It just seems like this really strange third rail

00:13:22   that people create these very quick snap judgments based on.

00:13:26   That's just best to avoid.

00:13:28   So that's just a recommendation.

00:13:29   That's just the way I handle that and talk about it.

00:13:32   But everyone to each their own.

00:13:35   And I know for me, certainly it is sometimes nice.

00:13:38   There's that voyeuristic tendency

00:13:40   that when I see some developer who hit it big and posted,

00:13:44   like, oh, this is how much money I made in a week,

00:13:46   there's definitely this voyeuristic part of me

00:13:48   that's like, ooh, I get to peek under the covers

00:13:51   and see what's in their wallet.

00:13:52   But I always also, at the same time,

00:13:55   feel kind of dirty doing that.

00:13:56   And so in some ways, I wish that those opportunities didn't

00:14:00   present themselves.

00:14:01   Alright, that's it for today's show. As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns,

00:14:06   hit me on Twitter. I'm @_DavidSmith. The Twitter feed for the show is @deafperspective, where

00:14:11   I just post whenever new episodes are launched. And otherwise, I hope you have a good week,

00:14:15   happy coding, and I will talk to you on Thursday. Bye.

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