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A Reality Check On The Life Of An Independent Developer

A Reality Check On The Life Of An Independent Developer

With the massive successes of Rovio (Angry Birds), Lima Sky (Doodle Jump), ZeptoLab (Cut the Rope) and other independent developers, a certain assumption has been established in which any developer who creates a reasonably successful app is thought to be profiting handsomely from the venture, maybe even becoming a millionaire. But as Shifty Jelly (developers of Pocket Weather and Pocket Casts amongst others) have pointed out in a blog post today, the reality of being an independent developer isn’t as idealistic as the success stories make it seem.

You put an enormous amount of effort (and yourself) into every product you make. Sometimes you find people deriding it, or dismissing it after spending 13.2 seconds using it. People tell you not to take that personally. Good luck with that. When you invest 6 months of your life, day and night, creating a product there’s no way in hell you can’t take other people’s comments personally. Reading App Store reviews can be as much fun as slapping yourself in the face with an ice cold trout on days where you manage to ship a bug with your product.

It is a little depressing in some respects, but it is also an important reality check on the difficulties of being an independent developer. The frustration of piracy and complaints about pricing really come through in the post - and whilst they aren’t the first to write about these problems, the post is a succinct and clear representation of their reality. Fortunately there is also a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, noting that it is the positives of the job that make it all worth it.

If you have the right personality, then sure, being an independent developer is a huge blast. Don’t come expecting millions of dollars to fall into your lap though, it’s damn hard work. Chances are you’ll make less than you would working for a giant, faceless corporation…but you’ll enjoy life so much more.