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Contributing $1,000,000 worth of workouts #COVID19

March 17, 2020

covid19 iosdev free workouts society onerep giveaway

We are in lockdown here in Barcelona, Spain. It officially started this Monday but we felt it coming. COVID19 cases were on the rise and it was just a matter of time until the government took radical measures to stop the spread of this virus.

We had already started reducing the time we spent outside to avoid social contact so today is effectively DAY #5 of my self-quarantine. The urge of going out is definitely growing by the days but I also think being used to work from home helps me go through this in a more calm and peaceful way.

Exercising is going to be key to spend energy and stay sane and healthy during these weeks at home. It’s definitely not in our small flat that we will help us hit our daily Apple Health activity goals so it’s time to start new workout challenges with my fitness app: One Rep.

I had finished my first 100-day burpee challenge just before Christmas and since then my workouts have been more than irregular. It’s awesome to realise that I have built something that kept me moving for 100 days in a row. I told myself that this quarantine was the perfect opportunity to get back into daily workouts.

#COVID19: Realising that small actions matter.

Like most of you I’m sure, I’ve been on Twitter a lot recently, the conversation is pretty much all about #covid19, how people manage their life while working from home, adapting to this quarantine state and dealing with this whole situation. I also noticed a lot of solidarity, people helping each other, spreading the right message and showing support from all over the world.

This made me realise that there was maybe a way for me to contribute to this situation in my own way. Many people are going to be prevented to hit the gym for a while now, and that might be my chance to help out.

I’m not a millionnaire, I can’t afford to donate much to food banks or medical centers. I can’t produce mask or sanitizer gel. However, donating “value” by giving away my fitness app for free for life was totally in the realm of possibility. I built this app to help people (and myself first) set daily workout habits and stay healthy at home, without needing a gym or workout equipment. It was matching the situation pretty nicely.

So last Sunday afternoon, I tweeted…

… and asked people to retweet and share that my app was going to be free for a full 24-hour period. I chose 24 hours to create a sense of urgency and get people to spread the news faster but also because I can’t really afford to cut down my revenue for too long as this app contributes to my monthly income, especially in this period of uncertainty. Even though big companies with apps in the top charts can make a killing on the App Store, as indie developers, making a living is definitely a daily challenge.

I also posted in r/apphookup where the community is always on the lookout for good deals on the App Store.

Finally, I shared this initiative on my Instagram @edouard_iosdev (22k followers at the time of writing) and ask everyone to relay the initiative.

WTH is happening…

I never expected what happened next. Within minutes, people started retweeting, upvoting, reposting, downloading and upgrading (for free) in One Rep. It was working.

In the span of 24 hours, my tweet was seen 91,000 times, retweeted 161 times and it recorded 11,500 clicks.

One Rep - 30 Day Fitness Workout At Home

Big shoutouts to the developer community who definitely helped spread the word about my Apps-Gone-Free initiative.

First, it started getting traction in the US (the biggest market for any app, nothing surprising), then Spain, Italy, South Korea, China… all the countries affected by the virus slowly got online and started downloading the app.

One Rep - 30 Day Fitness Workout At Home

The deal got picked up by various Apps-Gone-Free and hot deals blogs and generated thousands more hits on the App Store.

One Rep - 30 Day Fitness Workout At Home

Then, after a self-less act of kindness from @mbsamari on Instagram, Abdullah Alsabe, @7aslabe, an iOS influencer based in Saudi Arabia got to know about my initiative. He tweeted and shared post & stories to his followers on both Instagram and Twitter (more than 5 millions people across both platforms) and the whole of the Middle East and more broadly all Arabic speaking countries discovered the app. My analytics literrally blew up.

One Rep - 30 Day Fitness Workout At Home

What a crazy day… I have never seen that much traction for any of my projects … ever.

Shortly after, the app hit number 1 in Health & Fitness in Saudi Arabia, number 20 in the Spanish Store for Health and Fitness and number 68 in the US. Totally unbelievable.

One Rep - 30 Day Fitness Workout At Home

Donating more than 1,000,000 dollars…

More than 55,000 people unlocked a free lifetime plan in One Rep during the 24-hour period promotion. At $19.99 per lifetime plan, that’s almost 1.1 million dollars worth of in-app purchases that were given away. This is a truly mind-blowing number to think about for me as an indie developer. That’s the first time I get to speak in millions… even though it’s not money I made, it’s fun to think that it’s value that was donated in the span of just one day.

I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to share and give away a bit of value in my own way. Helping people exercise at home might not directly save lives, but if it helps people stay home and not go out, it might indirectly help reduce the spread of the virus and I like to think of it that way.

I wish I could know how many calories have been burnt and will be burnt following this day. For user privacy reasons, this is not something the app tracks so we will never now. 🤣🤷‍♂️

The app received about 7,000 new ratings and a few hundreds reviews. Not all positive unfortunately, but the vast majority of users were satisfied and that makes me super happy.

What does a day like that looks like behind the scene?

At first, I thought I would get a few retweets, maybe a few nice emails thanking me for the action and maybe a couple hundreds downloads, maybe a thousand or two at most.

But rapidly, as things started to be shared and reposted, I understood that I was going to spend my entire day replying to tweets, reddit comments, Instagram DMs and support emails.

The day pretty much looked like this:

  • Open Twitter, look at notifications, reply to a few replies, check DMs, reply to a few questions
  • Switch to Reddit, repeat
  • Check Analytics data on Firebase (way too often as you can imagine)
  • Post a story or two on Instagram to share the progress of the day (I do this most days regardless of any on-going special events occurring)
  • Reply to a few emails from users (it quickly became to ambitious to reply to them as they came through and I quickly got overloaded)
  • Pretty much repeat the above for the entire day

Sunday night, I went to bed exhausted, knowing this was only half-way done since the promotion would continue until Monday afternoon 17:30 (European time). I woke up to my inbox jampacked and a huge pile of feedbacks from people who had already had the chance to play with the app.

  • Please translate in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, German etc… localisation seems to be one of the biggest thing to fix.
  • Add video tutorials is the next big one
  • Apple Watch support
  • Today widget
  • Custom workout plans
  • Social features
  • Modular workouts
  • Meal plans

Feedbacks kept coming all day. And that’s amazing because it gives me a clear roadmap to work on. Some point will be easier than others to address but these high visibility days can truly help. Even though from a financial stand-point giving away the app for free forever to thousands of people didn’t make sense, this was not the goal and the value I got from the feedbacks is huge and will hopefully help deliver more value to the users and hopefully drive future revenue for the app.

Tuesday morning was entirely spent replying to user emails, feedbacks, suggestions, feature requests and a bunch of people who sent complains because they had missed the promotion. I actually received a lot of negative reviews from people who didn’t get to upgrade for free on time. It’s sad that they didn’t even give the app a proper try before complaining as I always try to give enough value for free anyway and most features can be tested without any upgrade.

I spent the rest of the day getting back to as many people as possible and organising feedback in my Notion pages.

Overall this was a really valuable experience, I’m glad I could bring one of my apps in front of so many people, knowing it has the potential to help ease the toughness of the situation we’re all going through.

It’s now time to start acting on all this feedback and hope that it pays off in the future as more people discover the app.

Wrapping up

I enjoyed writing this and reliving what was a very special day in the life of an indie iOS developer. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you did, please share it with another human.

If you have any question or if you are interested in following my progress as I continue to work on my own app to make a living on the App Store, you can find me on Twitter at @edouard_iosdev and on Instagram @edouard_iosdev.

My apps can be found here and nice reviews on the App Store are always appreciated.

Until next time… happy coding and stay safe!

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