iOS. Apple. Indies. Plus Things.

The First 100 Subscribers for Elite Hoops

// Written by Jordan Morgan // Nov 7th, 2023 // Read it in about 3 minutes // RE: The Indie Dev Diaries

This post is brought to you by Emerge Tools, the best way to build on mobile.

Elite Hoops recently crossed 100 subscribers. It’s a great, if not little, milestone for me personally - this was my goal to hit before year’s end. And in November, I’m there already (about a month after launching). Yay!

A screenshot of Revenue Cat's dashboard showing 100 active subscribers.

They say your first x of anything is always the hardest. The first 1,000 fans. The first million. The first dollar made. Whatever it is for you, for me, it was the first 100 subs. Today, I thought I’d unpack how I got there so anybody else can steal some tips and tricks who are just starting out.

let concatenatedThoughts = """

Even better, this doesn't include one-time purchase users. There are a few of those each week, which is always nice to see. It's priced at $150.


New Apps Have it Hard

There are so many takes out there about the App Store and how it treats fresh releases. Put a keyword as the first word in the title! Game ASO! Use in-app events solely for search! Ask for a rating immediately to boost them!

I don’t blame anyone for trying these things, because if you are a new app on the App Store, it’s tough to get going. You don’t show up in search, it’s not easy to find your app, you need ratings and reviews…the list goes on.

But, that’s just how it works - so we have to deal with it.

Here’s how I’m evening the odds:

  • Apple Search Ads: They’ve worked well for me. My conversion rate is over 65%, and staying steady there for the last three weeks. I followed the guide written by the guy behind Apple Search Ads Optimization AI and learned quite a bit from it. I spend around $16 a day on these.
  • Mailing List: I built this up beforehand, and I previously wrote a bit about it. It’s helped tremendously, and the customers on it convert well.
  • Instagram: Social doesn’t work well for every app, but it does for mine. Sharing a play I created with Elite Hoops works two-fold: it helps an important segment of my target customer (youth basketball coaches) by learning a new play they can use, and it shows my app in action.

Business Casual

If you want an app to grow, cliche as it sounds, it’s helped me to think of it more as a business instead of an indie project. Spend Stack was an indie thingy for me, a way to show off a good looking app that used Apple’s APIs but inside a product that didn’t make a lot of sense.

I think the sweet spot is to hit both of those segments (well-crafted, doing the platform well while being a product with an obvious use-case). You see it with Flighty, Slopes, Cardpointers and several other apps that manage to use Apple’s Cool New Thing™️ but in a way that truly makes their customer’s problems go away, or get a bit easier. Plus, getting those Apple features in the App Store can be a wonderful way to get steady downloads.

Put simply: when you think about your app as a business, it makes you do business-y things. Take my mailing list:

  • I ask to join it during onboarding. Nearly 60% of new users join.
  • When they do, I use an automation to send them a “Welcome to Elite Hoops - here’s how to get started” email.

That seems so pedestrian, right? But, this is the simple kind of stuff I never used to do. And it helps! Along the same lines, I take note of what kind of coaches are using the app to help me decide where to take things next:

A Mixpanel dashboard showing the types of coaches who use Elite Hoops.


Even though I just sorta launched Elite Hoops without the usual pomp and flare, I did plan ahead to gain my first 100 subs. Here is a condensed timeline:

  1. Get a website up with email capture.
  2. Get as many potential customers there as you can (the goal being mailing list sign ups)
  3. Get approved by the App Store and open up pre-orders.
  4. Tout features on your mailing list leading up to launch.
  5. Hit the big red button.

That was basically how I went about it. On launch day, it charted in the Sports category - peaking at 85 maybe? - and on iPad it charts consistently around 80-120. But, I didn’t launch to an empty room. Coaches already knew about it, and that helped get things moving. With people eager to try it out on launch day, I already had a nice chunk of feedback to take in and chew on.

What’s Next?

My goal is to get to 5,000 paying users. That would, barring any pricing tweaks, put Elite Hoops at $200,000 ARR (or $16,666 MRR). If I look at my numbers now, if things stayed as they are and it grew at the same rate (~2-6 new paying users daily) then I would be there in about three and a half years. There are so many ideas on how to get there:

  • Hit the biggest request: User logins and play sharing with teams in-app.
  • Pricing experiments: At $40 a year, I think it’s reasonably priced - if not too low, perhaps. Definitely too low for colleges, of which there are many already who are paying for Elite Hoops.
  • Keep sharing: Social is doing well for me, and I try to send at least two emails a month on features, updates or new videos I created on its nascent YouTube channel.
  • Connections: There are a several coaches and trainers who’ve reached out to partner up. I don’t want what it looks like yet, but that could help.
  • SEO: I’ve got several ideas of how to use its website to reach more coaches who are searching for this type of app via Google.

Regardless, I’m proud of where Elite Hoops is at. The best part is that it truly is helping coaches, which is what it absolutely must do to succeed. My favorite piece of feedback so far has been this:

Hello, was very skeptical at first, as I’m sure you’re aware…almost every “coaching app” or “whiteboard app” for the iPad is super minimal and kind of cheesy in my opinion. I was truthfully in the process of looking into making something like this until I gave Elite Hoops a shot. I think it’s phenomenal so far.

Can’t argue with that! If you want to give Elite Hoops a spin, check it out here.

Until next time ✌️.


Spot an issue, anything to add?

Reach Out.