This is a follow up story for DisplayBuddy. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello! I’m Siddharth, an iOS engineer, and I run an indie Mac app called DisplayBuddy, which I’ve been working on alongside my full-time job. I shared my journey about starting DisplayBuddy in my previous post.
DisplayBuddy is a Mac app that lets you control external displays connected to your Mac directly from your menu bar - no need to touch those clunky monitor buttons! The app first shipped in Feb 2021 - has now gone through 44 updates adding new features and capabilities.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
DisplayBuddy has fortunately been growing steadily in the past year, and I’ve been hard at work adding new features requested by my users, as long as adding support for shiny new Mac laptops and desktops. Along with new features, DisplayBuddy now supports more power user features on the Mac with support for Siri and Shortcuts, as well as new Apple-made displays like Pro Display XDR and the Apple Studio Display.
I’ve been working hard to deliver great features that users actually would use and stick to the original principles with which I created the app: simple and useful.
The major change has been the organic growth of DisplayBuddy on SetApp. When DisplayBuddy was added to SetApp in Nov 2021, it formed about 20% of our user base. Now it forms almost 50%+ of the app’s userbase, and I get very useful feedback from folks from either sales channel.
Another major shift has been how quickly Mac users are switching to the new Apple Silicon Macs. More than 70% of the app’s users are now on Apple Silicon, compared to Intel.
The best source of traffic last year has been the review of DisplayBuddy by 9to5Mac, which is one of the most coveted websites for Mac users and Apple fans. This has been a significant driver of traffic and has also led to an improvement in SEO for the website. It’s also been picked up by some podcasts like MacBreakWeekly, as well as regional review sites like MacGeneration.
Compared to before, Twitter has taken a bit of a backseat in terms of traffic sources for me, but I still use it to announce updates to DisplayBuddy as well as interact with users.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
If there’s one thing I’ve been constantly struggling with, it is marketing. Getting press has been insanely hard, and most of my emails and calls to press folks have gone unanswered. I’ve been lucky that reviewers at 9to5Mac liked DisplayBuddy and published a review, but I’ve still been trying with the other outlets. I’ve even created a pretty good press kit on the website to help with this.
I’ve constantly been working hard on weekends, handling support requests, building new features, and investing in marketing and SEO for the app.
The other hard thing has been hiring. We’ve got a lot of demand to make DisplayBuddy available for Windows (through personal emails) as well, and I’ve slowly been learning Windows development to make this happen. I’ve even tried to hire for this, but it’s been very tricky with barely any modern devs being interested in Windows developer (how many indie Windows devs do you know?)
I’ve been looking for someone entry-level or part-time, because of course DisplayBuddy is not at the level to be having a full-time paid employee, and the risk with Windows is quite high anyway due to Windows users not usually willing to pay for Apps as frequently as Mac users.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My biggest lesson has been that I need to be laser-focused on delivering more value to my users, while also investing in SEO. Google is still one of the biggest sources of traffic for DisplayBuddy, and I’ve started the DisplayBuddy blog to help with more content and feature announcements for DisplayBuddy. You can see how the site has performed over time in Google search results, and the big peak is the 9to5Mac review.
I need to have a relentless focus on delivering more value and features since competitors have been catching up and the feature standard has been improving for all the apps in the space. Some of the free competitors of DisplayBuddy have now even switched to paid or freemium models seeing the success of DisplayBuddy in the niche.
I’ve been working hard to deliver great features that users actually would use and stick to the original principles with which I created the app: simple and useful. I’ve also needed to be cognizant of not adding feature bloat just to compete or compare with my competitors.
Another thing that I’ve truly realized is that there’s no such thing as passive income when you start a business. There’s nothing passive about the revenue from DisplayBuddy - I’ve constantly been working hard on weekends, handling support requests, building new features, and investing in marketing and SEO for the app.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
While I do not have a 5-year plan, the current focus remains to keep DisplayBuddy users happy, while delivering more value for Mac.
The two things on top of my mind right now are a major redesign of the Mac app, as well as delivering DisplayBuddy on Windows. I’m also incorporating feedback from our users into my roadmap and adding more power user features to the app.
On the marketing end (a definite weak spot for indie devs, me included) I’ll be pushing for further press while working on improving SEO.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
Twitter continues to be my source of inspiration and learning for running an Indie app. It’s been amazing to see folks in my circle with their apps, as well as so many folks now building super cool stuff with AI.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?
I think I’ll stick to my original advice here - ship that MVP. You need to ship that first version, and it doesn’t need to be perfect. What you need to find out is if what you’ve built is useful for someone else apart from you, and the feedback you’ll receive from your first users is far more valuable than any feature you can add to your product.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’ve been hiring a part-time entry-level Windows developer, and luckily I’m now (hopefully) in the process of finalizing one.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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