Facing Obstacles

Journey to a stable Android Income

Fanfiction Rankings

Looking back at the sources of my site, most of them are via direct access, which means that most people are probably coming to this site after using my app. With a little more consideration, I think the content of this blog doesn’t quite match up to the demographics for the users.

 

The one big thing that fanfiction.net is lacking I think, is some sort of ranking/# of views stat. Kinda like youtube. I’m going to add a section that will allow users to rate a story and also add a section of that to the app. I think it might be helpful. What do you think?

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Year in Review

Just spending some time here reviewing how the year went in 2011. I didn’t start Android development until June last year, so I can say that the amount of revenue I got was quite unexpected.
 
Anyways, reviewing several of the things that I did to generate side income in 2011 many things actually failed, but some were OK. This is a learning process, and hopefully it will help me focus my efforts better for 2012. So with the apps and stuff that I have done for 2011:

  • Fanfiction Reader, the idea that got me started writing Android apps. The reason I wrote this was simple, I’ve been a Android user since the very beginning, but never really had a data plan, so was stuck downloading the Fanfiction, remembering the names, and then copying it over to the phone via cable. Not very good. Anyways, this app made lots of unexpected revenue. To the point where I may port this app to IOS if I get enough interest. I do know that there are some apps already on the IOS that may do similar things. I will continue to update and improve on this app as we go along. One thing to comment on though, I’ve read reports of crashing, but I really don’t have enough data to work on here. I use the app myself every night, and rarely do I get a crash if at all. That’s why any feedback that you can provide me is critical to me fixing the issues quickly
  • Ball Drop, my first attempt at writing a game. This was a epic failure, I mean its still making a bit of money (very very little), but I was bored myself after playing it a couple of times. The concept sounded much better than the actual game. This game made me realize though the amount of effort required in making the graphics
  • Water Photo, I was interested in trying to replicate the effects of water in a simple manner. I probably spent the more time initially on this project than any of the others, since I played with everything, open GL, builtin drawing libraries and the NDK. Great learning process, and it still makes a bit of money, does about as well as Ball Drop if not slightly better. I think the stuff I learned from this app can probably be used to make better apps in the future, so the revenue produced is small, but a good learning experience
  • Square Dot, simple puzzle game that I wanted to do. This was a quick game done with little fore thought, and the results definitely showed this. Worst of the bunch in terms of revenue. I event paid to do some advertising for it. Really a epic failure. Lesson to really think about what the end results should be before starting the project.
  • FictionPress Reader, well this was just kinda a gimme. The sister site of fanfiction.net uses the exact same website layout, making much of the code needed to parse their website the same. Apparently though, the desire for original fiction is much less than the desire for fanfiction.
  • This Blog started out as just a way for me to write about the Android programming experience. After that I tried to add more content to attract more readers, but somehow my writing lacked the ability to stimulate any comments. I’m going to rethink the blog, and possible make some changes to what I write about. Almost no revenue has been generated from the blog

 

So there we have it. Lots of failures, a couple of mediocre apps and one good one. Regardless of anything, I want to thank all my users for putting up with the errors in my applications. I’ll try to clean things up as we go along this year. I’m working on a new idea right now, as well as working on the Fanfiction Reader. I would love to partner up with someone who is good in graphic design for these new projects as I know they will do well as long as I can get them off the ground. Let me know of any ideas or suggestions. I already have a nice long feature list waiting to be implemented for the Fanfiction Reader. Hopefully I’ll be able to do them sooner rather than later.

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December Income Post

Finally got past the hectic holiday season and managed to get a build out yesterday. Here’s the income report for December, which turned out to be quite a good month. It being holiday season, I expect the numbers were a bit inflated and will fall back in January. I ended December with about 8000 users, which is a nice increase from the month prior.

 
June         629
July          1710 (+ 172%)
August    4320 (+ 153%)
September 6605 (+ 53%)
October 5260 ( – 20%)
November 6530 (+ 24%)
December 8000 (+ 22.5%)

 

Here are the download counts for my other reader app:

 
Fictionpress Reader:
October 261
November 430 (+ 65%)
December 610 (+ 41.9%)

 
So there’s the download side, onto the income and Ads report. Here’s the table clicks/requests/revenue for the last several months for the fanfiction reader:

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
June $6.93 36246 94.01% 179 0.03869
July $21.95 (+217%) 318926 (+780%) 94.09% 642 0.03420
August $50.60 (+131%) 978208 (+207%) 90.05% 1262 0.04009
September $97.98 (+94%) 1342293 (+37%) 92.802% 2331 0.04203
October $105.65 (+8%) 1941738 (+45%) 99.52% 2359 0.0448
November $178.65 (+69%) 2910042(+50%) 99.93% 4149 0.0431
December $325.73 (+82%) 3422231(+17.6%) 99.95% 6338 0.0514

 

The main numbers to go up here were the click through rate and the revenue per click. Like I said, its probably due to the holiday season as I saw 50% increase in clicks with only a 17.6% increase in requests. I expect the numbers to drop in January in this case, but the high month is quite welcome.

 
Next up is the stats for the fiction press reader, not very high, but still meaningful to track as I hope it will grow more later. Growth has been steady, but not as good as the fanfiction reader when it first came out.

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
October 2.04 33566 99.03% 58 0.03517
November 4.56(+124%) 67499(+101%) 99.96% 117 0.0390
December $8.24(+80.7%) 100234(+48.5%) 99.98% 187 0.04410

Like with the fanfiction reader, increase in revenue and clicks outpaced increase in requests, so again it is a high that’s probably not sustainable.

With this being Christmas, I also had a pretty decent month on the paid apps side, so here are the sales of my apps(profits is total sale minus Google’s cut):

Total Profits # of Sales
Water Photo Donate 3.47 5
Ball Drop 1.39 1
Fanfiction Reader Premium 48.14 23

Overall a great month with decent growth. Hopefully things won’t drop too much in January.

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Version 1.36 of Fanfiction Reader and 1.2 of Fanfiction Reader Premium now available

I’m happy to say that I’ve finally released a new build for the fanfiction reader. November and December were very hectic months for me and I’m glad to have gotten them out of the way now.

Now, I know I said that I would update the premium app earlier than the free app, but for this update I need to do both at the same time. The reason is that I’ve finally added the export/import ability for the app, but of course the import for the premium would be useless without a export being available on the free app. Anyways, to use this, just hit export DB on the free app, and then hit import DB on the premium app and voila it copies over the database. Note that if you are switching SD cards, you will need to manually copy the files over.

Other changes include a resume reading option on the main menu and also fixes for several crashes. I’m also halfway to implementing custom grouping into the app, but decided to do this release first.

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November Income Report

I haven’t posting lately as I’ve been really swamped with work. I’ve been trying to get a build out for a month and a half now, but I still haven’t had a chance to fully implement all the features I want in it, so I’m afraid that the wait will be a bit longer. Anyways, back to the income report, November ended with about 6530 active users, so up by a little bit:

June         629
July          1710 (+ 172%)
August    4320 (+ 153%)
September 6605 (+ 53%)
October 5260 ( – 20%)
November 6530 (+ 24%)

 

Here are the download counts for my other reader app:

Fictionpress Reader:
October 261
November 430 (+ 65%)

So there’s the download side, onto the income and Ads report. Here’s the table clicks/requests/revenue for the last several months for the fanfiction reader:

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
June $6.93 36246 94.01% 179 0.03869
July $21.95 (+217%) 318926 (+780%) 94.09% 642 0.03420
August $50.60 (+131%) 978208 (+207%) 90.05% 1262 0.04009
September $97.98 (+94%) 1342293 (+37%) 92.802% 2331 0.04203
October $105.65 (+8%) 1941738 (+45%) 99.52% 2359 0.0448
November $178.65 (+69%) 2910042(+50%) 99.93% 4149 0.0431

 

Overall, the numbers were going to be around the same as last month, just a little higher. Near the end of the month though, all the numbers just double up, and it really brought up the total numbers. Hopefully that will keep on going for some time.

Next up is the stats for the fiction press reader, not very high, but still meaningful to track as I hope it will grow more later

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
October 2.04 33566 99.03% 58 0.03517
November 4.56(+124%) 67499(+101%) 99.96% 117 0.0390

This month was the first month for the premium version of the Fanfictoin reader, so here are the sales of my apps(profits is total sale minus Google’s cut):

Total Profits # of Sales
Water Photo Donate 6.06 8
Fanfiction Reader Premium 29.49 14

Overall a good month of growth, and it looks like December will be a even better month.

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Introduction to Android Persistent Storage Part IV

I’m going to skip over external file storage for now, since its pretty much the same as internal file storage, but just writing to the SDCard folder instead. Anyways, the last part of this series will cover using the DB. I’m going to assume now that you now something about SQL, as that’s going to be necessary. Also, there is a lot of material to cover, so I’m just going to do the quickest of overviews for now.
 
Now, if you have any sort of complexity or large numbers of records, you will want to use the SQLite database, as its going to be the most efficient in terms of sorting and such. Its fairly easy to get started. A few items about the database that I’m going to create here first:
 

  • The database file name for now will be: tables.db
  • We’ll just create two tables: Alpha and Beta
  • Beta will have a foreign key to Alpha

I think that will be enough to get most of us started. First off, we should implement the interface:

android.database.sqlite.SQLiteOpenHelper

This will help us create and update or database. Here’s a sample implementation:

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private static class OpenHelper extends SQLiteOpenHelper {
	private static final String DATABASE_NAME = "tables.db";
	private static final int DATABASE_VERSION = 1;
	private static final String ALPHA_TABLE_NAME = "alpha";
	private static final String BETA_TABLE_NAME = "beta";
 
	OpenHelper(Context context) {
		super(context, DATABASE_NAME, null, DATABASE_VERSION);
	}
 
	@Override
	public void onCreate(SQLiteDatabase db) {
		db.execSQL("CREATE TABLE " + ALPHA_TABLE_NAME
			+ "(id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, intValue INTEGER, name TEXT, content TEXT)");
		db.execSQL("CREATE TABLE " + BETA_TABLE_NAME
			+ "(id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, intValue INTEGER, title TEXT, alpha_id INTEGER references "
			+ ALPHA_TABLE_NAME + "(id), content TEXT, content2 TEXT) ");
	}
 
	@Override
	public void onUpgrade(SQLiteDatabase db, int oldVersion, int newVersion) { 
		Log.w("Example",
				"Upgrading database, this will drop tables and recreate.");
		db.execSQL("DROP TABLE IF EXISTS " + ALPHA_TABLE_NAME);
		db.execSQL("DROP TABLE IF EXISTS " + BETA_TABLE_NAME);
		onCreate(db);
	}
}

 
So a couple of things to note here. The constructor will try to open the named database, if it does not exist, then it will be created and will call the onCreate function. If it already exists, it will compare the version numbers and if the existing database is a older version, then the onUpgrade function will be called. So here is where I create the Alpha and Beta tables. As you can see in the create table statement, a foreign key to the alpha table was created as alpha_id.
 
So now we have this interface implemented, how do we use it? Well, its used to help with opening a database, but we still need functions to read/write to the database. In my code, I created a DBHelper class to do this stuff. So then the constructor of the DBHelper will call the OpenHelper to help with opening the database. It looks like this:
 

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private static final String INSERT_ALPHA = "insert into " + ALPHA_TABLE_NAME
	+ "(intValue, name, content) values (?,?,?)";
private static final String INSERT_BETA = "insert into " + BETA_TABLE_NAME
	+ "(title, alpha_id, content, content2) values (?,?,?,?)";
 
public DBHelper(Context context) {
	 _context = context;
	 OpenHelper openHelper = new OpenHelper(_context);
	 _db = openHelper.getWritableDatabase();
	 _insertAlphaStmt = _db.compileStatement(INSERT_ALPHA);
	 _insertBetaStmt = _db.compileStatement(INSERT_BETA);
}

 
So you see here how we use the OpenHelper. By calling the function getWritableDatabase, it will trigger to loading/creation of the database. Another thing to note here is that I pre-comple the insert statements for inserting into the table, this will make the actual inserting of data much quicker when you actually do it.
 
So now we can create and load the database, we need to know how to read/write from it. I’m just going to show a set of functions for doing this with the Alpha table for now:

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public long insertAlpha(int intValue, String name, String content) {		
	_insertAlphaStmt.bindLong(1, intValue);
	_insertAlphaStmt.bindString(2, name);
	_insertAlphaStmt.bindString(3, content);
 
	long res = _insertAlphaStmt.executeInsert();
	return res;
}
 
public void updateStory(int id, int intValue, String name, String content) {	
	ContentValues values=new ContentValues();
	values.put("intValue", intValue);
	values.put("name", namet);
	values.put("content",content);
	_db.update(ALPHA_TABLE_NAME, values, "id=?", new String[]{id + ""});		
}
 
public Alpha getAlpha(String id) {
	Cursor cursor = _db.query(ALPHA_TABLE_NAME, 
			new String[] {"id", "intValue", "name", "content"}, 
			"id=?", new String[]{id}, null, null, "id asc");
	Alpha alpha = null;
	if(cursor.moveToFirst()) {
		alpha = new Alpha();
		alpha.id = cursor.getLong(0);
		alpha.intValue = (int) cursor.getLong(1);
		alpha.name = cursor.getString(2);
		alpha.content= cursor.getString(3);
	}
	if(cursor != null && !cursor.isClosed()) {
		cursor.close();
	}
	return alpha;
}
 
public Vector<Alpha> selectAllStories() {
	Vector<Alpha> alphas = new Vector<Alpha>();
	Cursor cursor = _db.query(ALPHA_TABLE_NAME, 
			new String[] {"id", "intValue", "name", "content"},
			null, null, null, null, "id asc");
 
	if(cursor.moveToFirst()) {
		do {
			alpha = new Alpha();
			alpha.id = cursor.getLong(0);
			alpha.intValue = (int) cursor.getLong(1);
			alpha.name = cursor.getString(2);
			alpha.content= cursor.getString(3);
			alphas.add(alpha);
		} while(cursor.moveToNext());
	}
	if(cursor != null && !cursor.isClosed()) {
		cursor.close();
	}
 
	return alphas;
}
public void deleteAlpha(int id) {
	_db.delete(ALPHA_TABLE_NAME, "id=?", new String[] {id + ""});
}

 
So that shows how to insert, update, delete and read from the database. A couple of things to note, the database uses Long’s for ints, so you’ll notice that instead of getInt or putInt, we use getLong and putLong for the values.
 
So that’s it, that should give you a quick overview of how to implement your database. There’s lots more you can do, but I won’t go into that for now.

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October Income Report

I’m tired of waiting for the Admob reports to get its act together so I’ll just post the income report now. Google did a massive change in how they counted active users in October, which caused my active user count to drop from 8150 users to 4810 users. So that’s going to affect the reporting here. Apparently they were counting users who updated the app as another active install. Anyways, near the end of the month, it rose back up a bit. So here are the active users count:

June         629
July          1710 (+ 172%)
August    4320 (+ 153%)
September 6605 (+ 53%)
October 5260 ( – 20%)

 

There’s not much of a point for me showing the chart here as the bump really ruined the trend. Here are the download count for my other reader app:

Fictionpress Reader: 261

So there’s the download side, onto the income and Ads report. Here’s the table clicks/requests/revenue for the last several months for the fanfiction reader:

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
June $6.93 36246 94.01% 179 0.03869
July $21.95 (+217%) 318926 (+780%) 94.09% 642 0.03420
August $50.60 (+131%) 978208 (+207%) 90.05% 1262 0.04009
September $97.98 (+94%) 1342293 (+37%) 92.802% 2331 0.04203
October $105.65 (+8%) 1941738 (+45%) 99.52% 2359 0.0448

 

The beginning of the month was really weak, continuing where it left off from the last month. Incredibly, numbers started to pick up again in the latter half of the month. With new users and more usage, my impressions count really went up, but sadly the number of clicks did not. That is to be expected a bit though as September had a higher than average CTR, and this was more a reversion to mean.

Next up is the stats for the fiction press reader, not very high, but still meaningful to track as I hope it will grow more later

revenue requests fill_rate clicks revenue/click
October 2.04 33566 99.03% 58 0.03517

Finally, I’m starting to get a few more sales from my paid apps, so here are the sales there (profits is total sale minus Google’s cut):

Total Profits # of Sales
Water Photo Donate 3.6 5
Ball Drop 1.45 1
Square Dot 1.38 1

Overall a pretty decent month and a sign of better things to come. Now with the high number of impressions I’m getting, I’m contemplating moving ad providers slightly as it seems some people are getting much better results from other ad providers.

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Version 1.35 of Fanfiction Reader now Available

Just a couple of things here. I added in a feature to browse author from a story so you can find other stories by the same author. I’ve also added the premium ad-free version to the market. Its currently a one time payment of 2.99 CAD to purchase the app. The amount might go up or down depending on what I decide to do when I start adding other sites to the app.

Admob is annoying me as it still says that the stats are delayed. I’ll give it another day before I just post the numbers anyways.

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October Income Report Postponed

Admob has been having some maintenance being done. This has cause some of the stat’s and revenues to be off, so I’m going to wait until all the stats for October are up to date before reporting.

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Version 1.34 of Fanfiction Reader now Available

So finally have a new update for the Fanfiction Reader. It includes a couple of things that have been asked of me these last few weeks. This includes story title and chapter number at the top of the screen. It also includes a custom color setting in the settings menu.
 
Now I’ve also been asked for some features that I just can’t really provide in a ad version of the app. Features such as allowing reading of the stories outside of the app. If I allow that, then I can’t make any revenue from the app. On the flip side though, many people have also asked me for a ad-free donation version of the app. I think I’ll release one soon. This is how I’ll do it. For features that would lead the user away from my app, it will be available in the donation version only. Also, any new features will be put in place 2 weeks before being in the free version.
 
How does that sound?

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