NailPolishRack is Moving to a Subscription? Why?

Contrary to what a lot of people think, most apps on the app store do not usually come from companies. They are made by people who are either doing it for exposure, or to gain experience, or to make money off of the app. Some, like myself, did it out of a personal need. My ex-wife had 1,000 polishes and kept buy the same ones over and over so she asked me for an app. It worked well for her and one day I decided to put it up on the play store. Even if we don’t count my time (which measures in the hundreds of hours…I’ve spent 4 hours on the app today alone dealing with malicious users trying to upload photos of Trump and Clinton instead of polishes)…even if we don’t count my time, this app has never been a money maker. It sells a few copies, but it also requires servers in order to host everything (lots of data and lots of images). As more and more users have joined add uploaded photos, the monthly cost of the services has gone up, while my sales are relatively steady. In the beginning, the hosting was $20-$30 and I was selling ~40-50 copies of the app a month, so all in all, I was making a grand total of $80-$120 per month (again not including time and effort). 

As 2018 came along, sales kinda started to come down a bit…I was still selling 8-10 copies, but my hosting was starting to climb to $100, $200….and now sometimes over $400 a month. Looking at January 2020, for example, I owe $167 in hosting as of today. As of today, I have made $10.28…I am pacing to owe $350 and earn $20, so the remaining $330 of the hosting fees will have to come out of my pocket. I work for a living, and I am now a single father of three kids and I have to support them, so it becomes not-so-easy dealing with a scenario where I am paying hundreds out of my own pocket to keep something up and running. I’ve been sinking money int this for a long time now and I have been continuing to do so because of a select number of really nice people who have been kind enough to reach out to me and tell me how helpful this app is. But at the end of the day, it is an unsustainable model. What happens when hosting becomes $1000 or more? Do I sell my home so I can continue paying to keep this app up? At what point is it no longer reasonable to spend that money on a sunk cost?
I decided that I was going to reach out to anyone who had ever submitted a bug or any type of request and I asked them which option they prefer:

Option 1) Implementing the following subscription mode:

  • 1 month for $0.99
  • 3 months for $2.79
  • 12 months for $9.99

In order to try and cover most of the hosting. I am optimistically thinking that if 25% of the paid users (of which there are a grand total of ~1500 over the past 5 years) paid $0.99 a month, that would be $260 a month after Google fees and everything, so in my best case, I will be paying only $100-150 out of pocket every month instead of what I am paying now. It’s not the best option, but it’s still better than leaving things as is. 

Option 2) Shutting everything down. Honestly, this is the best option for me personally. Spending $0 on hosting is like making money and not having to spend any time on the application which is more time I can spend with my kids. 

After talking to them, all but one said the same thing – “I would gladly pay $1 a month for the app”.

There is an alternative application called Lacquergram, which looks really nice and seems to have a lot of features that are really nice, but a lot of things are public and with the application being built and hosted in Russia, there is always a privacy concern. Their ToS also stated, up until a few days ago, that they own the images and content on the app. This has been fixed now. They also have a premium feature for $1.99 per month but it does seem to offer a lot of good thing and NPRack does not have.

Additionally, a few years ago, before Lacquergram ever existed, I was working on NailPolishRackNG (Next Generation) which actually had in it every single feature that Lacquergram has, but I had to abandon it. I have no problem giving other my time, and I have no problem giving others my money, but I cannot do both…The subscription fee is an attempt to try and get things back to the point where it would actually be feasible to invest the time in redeveloping the app and making it so much better than it is now. 

Either way, something has to change and it cannot be left the way it is. I take a lot of pride in my work and I never settle when it comes to any project that has my name on it. This is one of the reasons that I have stubbornly kept everything running for so long and why I am going to make every effort to keep it running for as long as I can. It does not matter to me whether someone paid $3, or $1, or nothing…the fact that they logged into the app means I owe them the best I can offer and with things how they are now, offering my best is unfeasible and almost impossible.