Marco Arment very helpfully released Overcast’s 2014 sales numbers:

$164,134 total revenue after Apple’s 30% but before any taxes or expenses.

The question for me is if we can really buy Marco's "take home":

For most people, the App Store won’t be a lottery windfall, but making a decent living is within reach for many.

It's difficult to jive his numbers with a fantasy-land where he doesn't write Overcast and you write exactly the same app instead. There is a natural advantage for him when it comes to marketing, because he has your ear. I can't recall what the Accidental Tech Podcast's numbers are (where Marco is a co-host), but it's easy to see that his blog has 23,000 readers on Feedly alone.
For comparison, Daring Fireball, a blog that also cites Marco with some frequency, currently has 105k on Feedly. That cuts both ways -- to show you how big 23k is, and to show you that Arment's app has a heck of a broad broadcast reach. Even if we pretend that everyone subscribed to Marco's feed is on Daring Fireball's, and even if we pretend 20% of those are duplicate or dead subscriptions, once you add non-Feedly subscribers back in, I bet you're still over 100k high-tech, Apple-using schmoes know about his app out of the gate.

And that bears out -- he gives you the numbers if you can open the calculator or have paper handy. August through December downloads are 139,760 total, and he's had 318,996 total downloads, so he had 179,236 downloads the first month. Let's call those "launch hype" (that's a good thing to have; no derogatory connotation on "hype" here) downloads.

It had a perfect launch that far exceeded my expectations — it was the best launch an indie developer could possibly hope for, with tons of great press, a mid-level App Store feature, and thousands of tweets on launch day.

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I don't think an unknown could get that kine a launch. I just don't. I hope I'm wrong, but man, that'd take some hustling. I don't think Sinclair gave out downloads for Unread in his now famous post, and his numbers are a little wack b/c I believe he changed prices at one point (EDIT: Looks like about 2700 [obviously paid] downloads at launch at $3 each), and Unread is a paid app that doesn't play into the freemium model Overcast uses, largely because Unread is a new "experience" for RSS, not a solid-but-conventional RSS reader with a few killer features (which means Unread is not, I should say, playing into what I bet the formula to development success is).

If I was going to be blunt, I also don't think Unread has quite as much market appeal as Overcast. Overcast has some serious bugs -- I've had it display many and even download one latest podcast from feeds I've listened to and am not actively subscribed (no response yet from -- but it's arguably a better podcast app bar none than, say, Downcast. I stopped using Unread a few months after I purchased. Even in the non-IAP state, Overcast is a pretty good app. I had to have faster playback speeds, so I shelled out the cash. It hasn't given me a reason to stop using it yet.

That makes Unread to Overcast as apples to oranges, which stinks, because if Marco has years of marketing build-up behind him, Jared marks, I think, high-water for self-promotion from zero. It's like what the Unicorn Free people keep saying (and proving): If you have a huge email list, success follows. Give people something to be excited about, make them feel like part of a community, and you'll have sustainable success.

But 179k downloads your first month, with a sustained conversion rate of over 14%? You're not getting that without a heck of a lot of marketing. Even if you had the same app quality, you're going to be hustling like Jared or more to sniff those numbers.

I just wish I knew how important that huge launch and sustained chatter (look, Marco posts sales numbers! Oh yeah, we remember that app. Let's try it again! Sales bump time!) is to keeping the long tail of your sales curve taller.

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