Some great indy apps go unnoticed. Devs, here's how to tell me about your work!
The App Store is an unforgiving place. Some of the biggest developers on Apple's platforms sometimes struggle to make themselves heard over all the noise created by the cash grabs and clone apps that fill it. As an independent developer, you're probably feeling like there's no way anyone will find your niche app. Your labor of love. And you're right – especially if you don't tell anyone about it.
That's where we, as media, come in. Speaking for myself, there's nothing I like more than finding that gem of an app that hasn't received the attention it deserves. That app that someone worked on in their bedroom or garage and created something special. But I don't have a magic wand – apps don't just jump out of the App Store and grab my attention. Or anyone's, for that matter. I need you, developers of all shapes and sizes, to tell me about them.
Some developers are better at getting the word out than others but the best are normally those who can pay PR companies or have someone on-staff with a history in that sort of thing. That's no good for most one-person shops or even small teams.
So I reached out on Twitter to get developers to contact me about their work. I already knew there were thousands of developers out there who weren't getting the attention they needed. The attention they deserved.
But I didn't expect this response.
If you’re an indy developer of iOS and macOS apps in 2020 and still aren’t emailing me when you have a new release, what are you even doing with your life?
Same goes for big dev houses too, actually!
Devs, pls RT. Every day there’s a dev born who hasn’t heard the good news!If you’re an indy developer of iOS and macOS apps in 2020 and still aren’t emailing me when you have a new release, what are you even doing with your life?
Same goes for big dev houses too, actually!
Devs, pls RT. Every day there’s a dev born who hasn’t heard the good news!— Oliver Haslam (@OliverJHaslam) November 25, 2020November 25, 2020
Around 500 new followers, 50+ emails, and dozens of DMs and mentions later, it's clear. Developers need our help. Let's give it to them.
One question I got a few times was around the requirements people like me have when a developer reaches out about their new or updated app. It makes sense because if you don't know what the media needs, you can't give it to them. I think that puts a lot of indy devs off even bothering to get in touch, and that's bad.
Do you have any advice for how folks should send app release details your way? I know from talking to a lot of indies that they find cold-emailing writers really intimidating. I’m curious what you kinds of things you’re looking for (and what you don’t want to see 😅)Do you have any advice for how folks should send app release details your way? I know from talking to a lot of indies that they find cold-emailing writers really intimidating. I’m curious what you kinds of things you’re looking for (and what you don’t want to see 😅)— Charlie Chapman (@_chuckyc) November 25, 2020November 25, 2020
So, here goes. This is what I want from a developer emailing me about their app. Please and thank you.
- A short blurb about your app and what it does. Nothing too crazy, but I need an idea of what I'm looking at. Especially if it's something niche that I don't have a background in. What makes your app stand out from the crowd?
- A press kit if you have one. Not all developers will, which makes the next few points even more important.
- Don't send me a DOCX file with this stuff in. PDF is fine, a webpage is cool. But DOCX needs to be consigned to the 1990s and Windows users like that poor Stephen Warwick.
- Screenshots, the more the merrier. If your app runs on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV – show me. You might not think your app is any different from the thousands of similar iPhone apps, but it could be huge on Apple TV. I'll need a screenshot for it.
- Lifestyle photos. These are a huge deal if you can get them. A nice photo of your app running on a device with a plant in the background, maybe. You get the idea.
- A link to your app in the App Stores it's available in – iOS, Mac, etc. You'd be amazed how many people forget that.
- The same goes for any websites that are associated with your app. Give me links to social presences, too.
- A promo code if the app is already in the App Store. A TestFlight link if not. I'll need to at least have the thing run on a device to have a play with it.
- Some people might like pitches via Twitter and DMs. I don't. My email address is in my Twitter profile for a reason and it's easier for me to keep track of things in email – use it, please.
It's worth noting that your app doesn't need to be brand new for me to be interested in it. Updates, big and small, assuming they add something new are always worth emailing about.
Finally, don't be too disheartened if you email and don't get a response immediately or, possibly, at all. We're all busy people and not everything can get the attention it might deserve. It is not an indictment of you or your app if you don't get the response you're hoping for. Please, please know that. It's important. You're all doing great work.
With all that said, you know where to find me. If you're making a new app or have just updated an old one, tell me about it. App Store discovery is better now than it's ever been and the people in App Store editorial are doing a great job – you know who you are! – but they can only do so much.
Let me pick up the slack.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.