How a $2.99 recipe app became a Top 2 Paid App in the App Store

I never thought I’d see the day when one of our apps would make the number 2 spot in the App Store.

But I certainly planned for it.

Here’s how.

“Launch into an existing community, or piggyback one”

I once read on TNW: “Launch into an existing community, or piggyback one”. I liked the idea, so I piggybacked on two audiences.

First up, Product Hunt.

I’d discovered the site a few months back and it immediately uprooted Facebook in my list of most visited websites.

I knew our app would be a great fit, but as I hadn’t been invited by a member, I couldn’t post it up.

I reached out to Paul Kemp, the host of the App Guy Podcast, and asked for his help. He connected me to someone who loved the app and was happy to post it up on Product Hunt.

Paul’s advice was instrumental to our success. Here are three of the biggest takeaways:

  1. Product Hunt runs in the PT time zone. You want to post at the start of a new day and get some traction, so when the main audience in the US wakes up, you are already in a good spot in the charts.
  2. I was going to send a message to our audience asking for upvotes. Paul told me that’s not how PH likes to operate. Instead, I pointed people towards the PH homepage and told them that Fit Men Cook was on there.
  3. It’s important to engage with the community on Product Hunt, so as soon as we were posted on there, I added a comment with what I felt Product Hunters would love the most about our app. I also used Intro Bar to greet hunters with the PH cat and a custom message. Throughout the day I responded to comments left by the community.

At the end of the day, we had more upvotes than Snoop Dogg’s album launch! Something that as fans, my team absolutely loved.

Our Google Analytics for our landing page paints an image of how valuable the Product Hunt audience is. We received 9,101 hunters, who all spent a higher than average amount of time on the page.

Next up…

Fit Men Cook

If I was to release a recipe app with my own recipes, I’d be impressed if I could get my mom to download it.

Therefore, for my healthy recipe apps, I always team up with highly influential bloggers.

In the healthy recipes space, there are none more influential than Kevin.

Kevin doing his serious influencer dance

Kevin Curry, the founder of Fit Men Cook, gets social media better than I ever could.

His Instagram account is growing at supersonic pace. Right now, he is just shy of 1 million fans.

Our launch sequence is something that requires a post of it’s own, but here are three crucial things we did:

  1. Our video inspiration was the Clear app. However, having spent our budget on development, we settled for a more basic tour of the features of the app. That video received 7,000 views prior to launch and was done using just Screenflow & iMovie.
  2. Our landing page inspiration was the Great Little Place App. We used KickoffLabs, combined with MailChimp to gather emails. To encourage viral sharing, we offered people more exclusive recipes if they could signup their friends to our launch list. In total, we gathered close to 8,000 emails prior to launch.
  3. We built up excitement around the launch by sharing snippets about the app, getting our community involved in which features they wanted to see and having a competition to select beta testers who would get early access. By the time the launch day rolled around, people couldn’t wait to download. After the app launch, we continued to share exciting stories of how well the app was performing and featured members of our community.
The Fit Men Cook landing page prior to launch

22,000 views on Reddit

Reddit is against self promotion, so we didn’t want to just post up a link to the app and say: “Download now!”.

Instead, we looked for a way to provide value to the community. In the end, we decided to share an exclusive recipe in the fitmeals subreddit.

The post got a lot of positive attention and comments from people who said they had downloaded the app. The recipe image we shared got 22,000 views on launch day.

Getting the story straight

Kevin Curry holding up the Fit Men Cook app

Since we started developing the Fit Men Cook app 4 months ago, we’ve been looking to describe in a sentence what makes the app special.

Was it the Apple Watch integration? Using HealthKit to track calories and macros?

Neither felt quite right.

Three days before the launch, whilst pitching the press, it came to us:

“Cook once, eat healthy all week.”

Preparing meals ahead of time, to minimise time in the kitchen, was the perfect angle and in those 6 words, we felt we’d captured it.

We used this line on Product Hunt and hastily added it to our landing page.

When developing an app it’s easy to get caught up in all the exciting features, but it’s important to get to the heart of what is the most valuable part to your audience.

How much money can a paid app make?

There have been stories recently about Redacted, which got to the Top 8 spot in the Mac App Store, but only made $452 in sales. Dan Counsell responded by sharing an impressive snapshot of a day of revenue.

I believe our launch is more proof of how indie developers can succeed and by being transparent and sharing our trials and tribulations, we can help others in our community. A very special mention to Dan Counsell and Jeremy Ols, who’s articles have repeatedly helped me on my journey.

I plan on sharing more from the launch including stats, how we used Meerkat live streaming and how we structured our 48 hour launch window to gather pace.

If you’d like to hear about it, please join me on Twitter and follow me on Medium.com.

P.S. If you are an iOS or Android developer inspired by our journey to transform healthy eating, we’re looking for a new person to join our team. Get in touch!

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