Serious Business

Posted on January 12, 2016

In October 2015, Pieter Omvlee of Bohemian Coding gave a great talk at the inaugural Release Notes entitled The Great Pretender: Pretend to be More Than an Indie. In his presentation, Pieter talked in part about his experience selling a professional app to professional users. One of the things he suggested is that indies should consider pretending to be a bigger company than they really are in order to instill confidence in the mind of the customer that they are a Serious Business™. He pointed out that professional, enterprise, and corporate customers don’t care that you’re indie. They don’t care that you’re “living the dream.” What they do care about is that you’ll be around to support the product they purchased for years to come. Your inspiring “against all odds” story may buy you credibility with your indie peers, but oftentimes it does exactly the opposite with your professional customers.

Pieter’s talk really hit home with me. After all, my company and his company have a lot in common. Sure Bohemian Coding has been way more successful than Metakite Software has been (thus far), but we both sell products to professional customers. Bohemian Coding sells Sketch to professional designers; I sell Benjamin to professionals of all stripes who who want to be more productive. In many ways, Bohemian Coding is a model for my long-term goals with Metakite Software. So when Pieter pointed out the way that his (and by extension, my) customers viewed indie developers, I sat up and took notice. I didn’t immediately act on his advice though.

That changed when I recently released my new product MetaTax. While it could be argued that Benjamin is a consumer product for professionals rather than a true professional software package, you can’t say that about MetaTax. MetaTax is a a full-fledged pro app aimed at professional tax preparers, for use while preparing income tax returns and answering client questions. It’s a tool my customers use to make money. It’s the sort of app that gets purchased (I hope) by an entire office, and written off as a business expense. And when I reflected on that subtle difference between a “professional app” and a “consumer app for professionals,” I realized that I had a problem.

Up until this point in my career, I’ve made little distinction between the professional appearance that I project to my customers and the professional appearance that I project to my indie peers. I considered them two sides of a coin – both aspects of my professional identity, though aimed at different audiences. My Metakite Software website reflected this duality. Yes, it featured my apps and customer support resources, but it also featured this blog in which I wax poetic about all things indie dev related, and information about speaking gigs that I’ve had at iOS conferences. With the release of MetaTax, I realized that this probably wasn’t going to cut it any longer. If I wanted to convince corporate customers to commit their office to using MetaTax, they needed to be convinced that MetaTax would be around not just this year, but for tax years to come. Blog posts about the race to the bottom and the difficulty of making it as an indie in today’s App Store ran counter to that message, and had to go.

And so we come to, the new home of this blog and other aspects of my professional identity that are not customer-focused. It’s not really a new home, though. It’s more of a return home since was the home of Daze End Software, the name under which I published apps in the App Store until I took the leap to go indie full-time in 2012. But time moves on, and now it’s being repurposed. Instead of hosting feature lists and documentation, will serve as my soapbox when I have something to say to the wider Mac and iOS developer community. I also suspect that it will free me to write about more personal subjects than I was willing to post on my company’s website. Most importantly though, it should help me project clearer messaging to existing and prospective customers, and help Metakite Software project the image of stability that its customers expect.