Free App a Day (FAAD) Chronicles: Conclusion

Last week I entered “PicShop HD” in the Free App a Day program to see if I could use it to increase visibility of my App in the Apple AppStore.

If you’ve never heard of FAAD before, it’s a paid service, in which you pay a healthy amount of money ($3000+) to the website, and they turn around and feature your app as free for that day. The general idea is that this will result in hundreds of thousands of new users, and raise the rankings of your app, once you change your app back to paid, you should net a bunch of additional revenues… or at least that’s the theory.

When I was considering this, I really couldn’t find much concrete info on how much success people were having with FAAD. Additionally, I could find almost no examples of people submitting ‘Apps’, almost everything was games. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to share my experience.

Life before FAAD

Going into this, PicShop was already fairly successful. PicShop consists of two identical apps, PicShop Lite is a free download, with locked features and uses IAP to allow user’s to unlock the full app. PicShop HD is the paid version of the app, unlocked from the start. Both apps are the same price to purchase ($5).

I had just released a major 2.0 upgrade, and as a result had really begun to climb up the ranks. While I was seeing steady growth with Picshop Lite, PicShop HD sales were declining. I felt like PicShop HD was a quality editor that should be ranked higher than it was, and would sell if it could only gain some traction… I decided to take the FAAD plunge!

Here’s a break down of the sales numbers of both PicShop Lite and PicShop HD for the Lifetime of the apps leading up to FAAD:

You can see that the two sales curves start out fairly close, but the Lite Version quickly races away from the HD version, eventually it begins outselling it by almost 2:1.

I made the decision to use FAAD around the beginning of May, over the next two weeks in April the HD sales actually began to rise. This worried me a bit, maybe I had moved too soon? Did I really need FAAD at all? Time would tell…

As another point of comparison, here are the total downloads of both apps:

You can see that PicShop Lite was doing about 5000-7500 new user’s a day, whereas PicShop HD was about 50-100.

And those spikes? Well that’s Sunday… my new favorite day of the week :)


Before getting into the results, we need to take a look at the costs involved.

  • The total cost for FAAD for me was $3000 USD.
  • PicShop HD was making ~$200/day when it entered faad, so that is an additional loss of ~$500 for 2.5 days of lost sales
  • The cost for FAAD is tax deductible as an expense, which will save me at least 15%, or $450
  • Sales of PicShop Lite would be impacted on some level, but impossible to measure…

My take on this is that the tax deduction and lost sales from Picshop Lite are pretty much a wash. So, that leaves about $3500 to recoup to get back in the black…

Let there be sales…

The app went free @ 4PM, Thurs, May 17. It remained free until Sunday morning where I switched it back to paid, but advertised it as “40% Off”. On tuesday, I removed the sale price, and put it back up to the full $4.99.

First some highlights from the promotion:

  • Through Friday / Saturday we gained 252,000 new users
  • Over 700 user reviews were garnered
  • PicShop HD was ranked #1 in Free Photography in the USA, and most other markets
  • PicShop HD was featured in What’s Hot in nearly 70 countries world wide
  • PicShop Lite was ranked #5 at the same time!

Here’s a breakdown of the user reviews received during the promotion:

I was blown away with this, the value of this many positive reviews is really priceless. It gives your app legs, longevity and credibility. There’s no way to put a value on this, but sufficed to say it will greatly improve the length and size of your app’s ‘tail’. I would easily pay $1-2k just to garner this many legit reviews. So we’re off to a good start…

Next up is downloads, as mentioned previously, they were quite impressive. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, I was hoping for 500k-1million, didn’t get that, but it was still pretty damn good:

Again, we see the intangible value. No way to measure how this 1/4million new users will affect word of mouth sales, but there is certainly extra income there for many weeks & months to come…

FAAD recommends you keep your app free for 7 days to maximize the effect. Had I done that, I probably would’ve surpassed 1million users. In retrospect, maybe I should’ve, but at the time I viewed it as too much of a risk, and I wanted to capitalize fully on the Sunday sales.

And finally, the money! Of course that’s all that really matters… Here is the revenues following the FAAD promotion, right up until today:

Not bad! I was secretly hoping that I would somehow make all my money back on day 1, that didn’t happen, but I did pull in over $1200 from PicShop HD on just that last sunday. Since then it’s averaged >$600/day, which is $400 more than it was making so far. After 10 days of this, I’m easily in the black, and thats without assigning any value at all to reviews or word of mouth users. And it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon! As of yesterday, the apps combined for a total of >$1500 (yes, if you’re wondering, I am shitting my pants).

I think my favorite chart of all is the AppAnnie chart, here you can really see how PicShop HD exploded after the promotion:

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, is FAAD worth it? Hell-yes. But, make sure your app is ready for it, make sure this is the version of the app you want them to see, that it’s as highly polished as you can make it. You only get one shot at this, and those user reviews are pure gold.

Also, it’s pretty clear that FAAD is not just for games. If you have a great productivity App, and need to gain exposure, this is essentially a sure fire way to get it.

Good luck out there!! If you have any questions, or would like extra details, let me know in the comments.

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17 Comments to “Free App a Day (FAAD) Chronicles: Conclusion”

  1. nick says:

    awesome congratulations on your apps success! Do you solicit for reviews in your paid apps? Or have you tried and is that generally found acceptable by users?

  2. shawn says:

    Yep! I throw up little popups to solicit reviews.

    One awesome trick though, if change “Would you like to review my app?” to “Would you like to rate my app 5 stars”? you get many more 5star reviews!!

    • nick says:

      About soliciting for reviews, its funny how little things make a difference. Rather than doing it your way, I decided to put a link in one of the menu screens… surely someone will click “rate 5 stars” even though I didn’t throw it in their face right?… right? no, I actually have a decrease in reviews now… weird

  3. Stortof says:

    (First of all forget my frenchglish)
    Hey man, you really make me dream ! I started make some applications a month ago and i released 2 apps ( ) but without any advertising budget it’a really hard to start from nothing :(
    It was just a try so i hope that one day i will have your succes !
    Congratulations !!!

  4. etha says:

    Thank’s for sharing. Really interesting to see a “non-game” app’s journey with FAAD.

  5. GCAT says:


    Thanks for quality info. I wish more people are forthcoming like this. I have two questions (actually more but I’ll ask only two).

    1) On the heading “Let there be sales”, did you mean May 17 not March 17?

    2) Is all the figures before or after 30% Apple fee?

  6. Joshua says:

    Thanks for an awesome article! Great data, great analysis. Thanks.

  7. Peter Janett says:

    Does FAAD get to use affiliate links, or can you use your own?

    What I mean is if you can setup your app store links to be affiliate coded, you can get another 3 to 5% of sales of other, non free apps purchased by those who download your apps. I suspect that FAAD gets to get all of that affiliate revenue, but it could mean a big difference in revenue if not.

    • shawn says:

      They never offered me to use my own… you are probably right, I bet this comprises a big portion of their business model!

  8. Kevin says:

    Hey Shawn,

    Thanks for sharing your results. I suspect you’re still making more great apps, I don’t know if you’d be opposed to the idea of connecting on Fb or twitter, maybe we can help each other through cross-promotion.


  9. Dmitry Lozhkov says:

    And what is total agregated revenue per 1 doll in FAAD network for you?

  10. Abbiamo un app originale come possiamo fare per accedere a faad?

  11. Max says:

    Hello Shawn,

    Congrats for your success ?

    I was wondering how much did you pay to be featured on AppGratis ?


  12. adriaan says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Great blog post.
    I was wondering if you could tell a little bit more about longer-term effects of your FAAD campaign on revenue levels. It looks really good for the first 10 days after but I am wondering when/whether it dropped off to before-FAAD levels at some point (and at what point). Or whether there was a permanent increase in revenue.


    • shawn says:

      Hey Adriaan, the sales have continued pretty much on pace until now. It’s down a little from the very peak, but still doing really solid #’s.

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