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The Blog of Tim Ferriss - Experiments in Lifestyle Design
How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?
Written by Tim Ferriss Topics: 4-Hour Case Studies, Entrepreneurship
Chad Mureta runs his seven-figure app business from his iPhone. (Photo: Jorge Quinteros).
I first met Chad Mureta in Napa Valley in 2011. Two years prior, he had been in a horrible car accident. He’d lost control of his truck in at attempt to avoid a deer, hit a median, and flipped four times, nearly destroying his dominant arm in the wreckage. While in the hospital for a lengthy recovery, a friend gave him an article about the app market. Shortly thereafter, Chad began designing and developing apps. His results? “In just over two years, I’ve created and sold three app companies that have generated millions in revenue. Two months after launching my first company, one of my apps averaged $30,000 a month in profit. In December of 2010, the company’s monthly income had reached $120,000. In all, I’ve developed more than 40 apps and have had more than 35 million app downloads across the globe. Over 90 percent of my apps were successful and made money.” After finishing rehab, Chad was able to leave his real estate company, where he’d been working 70 hours a week, to run his app business from his iPhone… in less than 5 hours per week. “Apps” are the new, new thing, thanks to major successes like Draw Something (bought by Zynga for $210 million) and Instagram (bought by Facebook for $1 billion), among others. But for all the hype and promise, few people actually know how to create something that gets traction.
How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?
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In this post, Chad will discuss his step-by-step formula for rapid app development and sales optimization. It covers real-world case studies and the details you usually don’t see: early prototype sketches, screenshots, how to code if you don’t know how to code, and much more. Last but not least, don’t miss the competition at the end. If you’ve ever thought “I should make an app that…,” this one is for you…
Enter Chad Mureta
When you are on your deathbed, will you be able to say you lived a fulfilled life? I nearly couldn’t. I started my app business from a hospital bed, wondering if I even wanted to live. I had barely survived a terrible car accident that shattered my left arm. I had gone through two groundbreaking operations, and spent 18 months in painful rehabilitation. With limited insurance, I had racked up $100,000 in medical bills. Even though I survived, I had no clue how to get out of the deep hole I felt trapped in. I was moved to a physical rehabilitation center and worked on reconstructing my body, my mind, and ultimately my life. While I was there, I read two books that made a huge impact: Unlimited Power strengthened my thought processes, and The 4-Hour Workweek inspired me to pursue lifestyle freedom. During that time, a good friend gave me an article about “appreneurs” and told me I should consider getting into the business. I learned that most appreneurs were one- or two-person teams with low costs, and the successful ones were bringing in millions in profits. Still in my hospital bed, in a state of semi-coherence from the pain medication, I began drawing up ideas for apps. Three weeks after my final surgery, desperate, broke, and grasping at straws, I borrowed $1,800 from my stepdad and jumped into the app business. Fortunately, taking that leap was the best decision I’ve ever made… These days, my life is about doing what I love while earning easy income. I run my business from my iPhone, working in a virtual world while earning real dollars. I am part of a growing community of “appreneurs,” entrepreneurs who make money from applications that are used on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Droids, and Blackberries. As of this writing, the world’s youngest appreneur is nine years old, and the oldest is 80! Appreneurs earn money while creating lifestyles of great freedom. Two of my appreneur friends spend several months of the year doing nonprofit work in Vietnam, while their businesses are generating seven-figure incomes. Another is taking his kids to see the Seven Wonders of the World, creating priceless memories with his family. Still another friend goes backpacking throughout Europe with his wife for most of the year. As for me, I’ve hiked in the Australian Outback, trekked with Aborigines across the desert, climbed in the Rocky Mountains, got certified in solo skydiving, heli-skied in Canada, walked on fire, and most important of all, learned not to take life so seriously. No matter what your dream lifestyle is, you can have it as an appreneur.
The Opportunity for Appreneurs
There are currently more than 4.6 billion cell phones being used worldwide, enough for two-thirds of the people on Earth. The app market is literally the fastest growing industry in history, with no signs of slowing down. Now is the perfect time to jump into the mobile game.
we have to study the App Store. running an app business is far easier than almost every other type of business.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. you can make money.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 3 of 24 What happened during the early days of the Internet. and show you the map I’ve used to find “the gold. emulated their models. “I wish I had…” Common Objections “I’m not a tech person. and I still don’t know how to write code. I don’t stand a chance. it will grow and become a sustainable source of income.. If you can improve on existing app ideas. “The app market has too much competition. but so is understanding that you will have to put in work. your success will be directly related to your understanding of the marketplace. This means that the app world is running light years ahead of the Internet. That means spending at least 2-4 weeks researching the market while downloading and playing with tons of apps (give yourself an app budget of $100 to start). As soon as you launch your app (depending on your sales). This seems rather obvious. “It’s difficult… I don’t understand it… I’m not smart enough. so in order to understand the market. is exactly what’s happening today with apps and mobile technology. or try to figure out why those apps are successful. and you can’t treat it as such. with the creation of websites like Google and eBay. The only difference is that we have experienced the rise of the Internet and are conditioned to react more quickly to the app revolution. and hired programmers and designers who could execute my ideas. The App Store is the marketplace of the app business.000 to develop simple apps. “I don’t have the money. Maintaining an optimistic perspective is important. They don’t watch the market. follow the most successful apps. 4/19/2013 . If you think of this endeavor as a long-term business. but you wouldn’t believe how many developers I meet that don’t understand this concept.” Just like everything you’ve learned in life.” You don’t need a lot of money to start. But I found successful people to learn from. My goal in this post is to help you think like a business owner.” This industry is just getting started– it’s less than four years old! What makes the app business unique is that the big players are on the same playing field as everyone else. I have no experience in this market. Developing apps is your chance to jump ahead of the masses and not be left behind. If you can draw your idea on a piece of paper.fourhourworkweek. Apple and Google handle all of the distribution. It costs anywhere from $500 to $5. you have to start somewhere. saying years from now. you must first become an app addict. which will become the lifeblood of your http://www..” I was in the same spot. Still interested? Then let’s get started! Step 1: Get a Feel for the Market As with any business. And you don’t have to come up with new. innovative ideas. you could see money hit your bank account within two months. Many people are joining the app gold rush with a get-rich-quick mentality and unrealistic expectations. when it was at the same development stage. They have the same questions and challenges as you and I will have.” This is not a one-time app lottery. Fortunately. In order to become a great app supplier. so you can spend your time creating apps and marketing them. This training period is an investment in your expertise. you can successfully build an app.
How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 4 of 24 success. 8. The App Store displays the top paid. Doing this repeatedly will educate you on successful app design. 2. at any moment (unlike the market info for basically every other industry).. Review these charts frequently.. how do you keep pace with the market? The best way is to study Apple’s cheat sheet constantly. 3. The more hours you rack up playing around and studying successful apps.) Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Does this app provoke an impulse buy? Does this app meet any of my needs? Did I become a raving fan after trying it? Will the customer use it again? How are they marketing to their customers? (Check out the screen shots. http://www. and keep a notebook of potential trends you spot. costs nothing. and descriptions. 7.) 10. What is the competitive advantage of this app? 11.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? 1. The research you’re doing is simple. top free. 6. Apple provides the same lists in the individual app categories. 9. So. almost in real-time.fourhourworkweek. The best part is this information is freely accessible to anyone. 4. and it’s actually fun! Here are some questions to ask while you’re researching successful apps in the market: Why is this app successful? What is its rank and has it been consistent? Why do people want this app? (Look at the reviews. and various pricing models. These charts are golden because they tell us volumes about the market. including free apps). the better you’ll be able to understand their common traits and what users desire. icon design. 5. 4/19/2013 . marketing. and top-grossing apps (the apps that make the most money.
It’s easy for people to fall in love with their own idea. keep looking. even if the market doesn’t show an appetite for it. you will have a better chance of succeeding because these apps have proven demand and an existing user base. That rarely happens. When it doesn’t work out. instead of learning from the market. http://www. 4/19/2013 .com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. but noticed that there was a lack of variety and limited functionality. I took a close look at what the market offered and downloaded all the major emoticon apps. I can’t stress the importance of emulating existing apps enough. But this is one of the costliest errors you can make.. A personal example of how to successfully emulate competitors is my Emoji app. you’ll need to look at the Top Apps chart. Emulate! When you follow in the footsteps of successful apps. This doesn’t have to be your experience. they go to the next untested idea. Once you’ve put in the necessary 2-4 weeks of research and feel you have a decent grasp on the market. You have to figure out what people are interested in and the kinds of apps they’re downloading first. Unfortunately. then you build your app based on that insight. Don’t hate. developers make this mistake all the time. I liked what I saw.. They focus on generating original ideas and spend a lot of time and effort creating those apps.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 5 of 24 Most developers will build an app and expect tons of people to find and download it right away. Step 2: Align Your Ideas with Successful Apps How do you know if the market wants your app? Again. you’ve got a potential winner.fourhourworkweek. it will be time to look back on the trends you discovered and explore some ideas for potential apps you can develop. This takes the guesswork out of creating great app ideas. Are apps like the one you want to create listed there? If yes. First. It’s that simple. Often times. they repeat this cycle until they run out of money and dismiss the app game. If not.
4/19/2013 . The app was used constantly since users had to return to the app to send an emoticon.. which could be shared via SMS. ask yourself these six questions: 1. 2. Bingo. 4. I was also curious how profitable these apps could be if they were only being used once. Facebook.) How successful and consistent have they been? http://www. I wondered how I could improve upon these existing apps. but I could include unlimited emoticons within my app that people could send as images via text message or email. The Emoji app was developed in two weeks. and so on.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. The app (left) is opened once to provide the user with instructions on how to enable the Emoji keyboard (right). I kept brainstorming until it hit me. It followed the freemium model. raking in nearly $500 per day.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 6 of 24 Screenshots from a competing Emoji app. Screenshots of my Emoji app. 3. but also contained an additional 450 emoticons within the app itself. The app hit the number one spot in the App Store’s productivity category and the number 12 spot in the top free overall category within six days.com to find out. I couldn’t add more emoticons to the Emoji keyboard. given that the Emoji keyboard had a limited number of emoticons that couldn’t be increased. e-mail.fourhourworkweek.. I created an app that not only enabled the Emoji keyboard. meaning free with an in-app purchase option. Why are people purchasing this? Can I do something to emulate this idea and take it to another level? What other ideas would this app’s demographic like? How many other similar apps are in the market? (Visit TopAppCharts. 5. Whenever you decide to look into emulating an app.
fourhourworkweek. using Photoshop or Draft. Some people like putting this together in digital form.a. it doesn’t have to be pretty! • • Download • Share • Embed • • • • • • 1 of2 And here’s how the app’s final design turned out: http://www.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 7 of 24 6. you see an opportunity. To convey your idea properly. and whatever will give the programmers the details they need. is the way to go. How does their marketing and pricing model work? Step 3: Design Your App’s Experience You’ve studied the market. and you have an idea that could be profitable. Finger Print Security Pro. but it will still convey what you’re trying to do.. Maybe it will look like a 3-year old’s artwork. wireframes) for my first app.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. As you can see. 4/19/2013 . here are the rudimentary drawings (a.. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. For your viewing pleasure.k. you can simply draw it on a piece of paper. Great! Now it’s time to turn those thoughts into something tangible.
. I’ll say.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you.. 4/19/2013 . http://www. Take a look at the screenshots from this other app.fourhourworkweek. and give them to the programmer so that we are as clear as possible.” I take certain components of apps that I’d like to emulate. “Download the XYZ app. I look at certain apps in the App Store and reference them to show my programmers what I’m looking for. and change this.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 8 of 24 • • Share • Embed • • • 1 of5 To make the design process easier. For example. I want the ABC functionality to work like theirs.
and what happens if certain buttons are selected. But if you decide to make major changes after a substantial amount of work has been done. the fewer misunderstandings and problems you will have once it’s time to hand off your drawings to a programmer. All you have to do is set up a “developer account” so you can offer your apps for sale in one of the app stores.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 9 of 24 Notice any similarities? Highlight’s menu (left) emulated the style of Facebook’s menu (right). you will have ideas for additional features once you start testing the initial versions of your app. it can frustrate your programmer. Step 4: Register as a Developer You now have your idea drawn out. It’s simply the name used for somebody who publishes apps. The clearer you are. That’s why it’s important for you to take your time and carefully plan every aspect of the app before you submit it for coding. http://www.fourhourworkweek. This helps the programmer know what you want and will be a useful blueprint when designing your app. Inevitably. The idea is to convey what the app will look like. You have to consider your design to be final before you can begin the coding phase. Do not be vague or ambiguous. Here are the links for each platform and a brief overview of their requirements.” It doesn’t mean you have to be the programmer. you need to develop your idea more thoroughly. It’s like telling the builder who just installed your fireplace that you want it on the other side of the living room.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. Most people don’t realize this is what they are demanding of their programmer when they ask for big changes. Don’t be intimidated by the word “developer. You should know what every part of your app will do... The news will not go over well. Before you go any further. If you don’t. you need to sign up as a developer with the platform for which you’re looking to create apps. 4/19/2013 . where everything will be placed.
. Freelancer— This site has the most programmers listed. Here are a few of my favorite outsourcing sites: oDesk— Its work diary feature tracks the hours your programmer is working for you and takes screenshots of the programmer’s desktop at certain time intervals. programmers will be the foundation of your business. Therefore. have them sign your NDA. and if you don’t follow them. The likelihood of you getting stuck and giving up is very high. especially if you’re teaching yourself at the same time. They will allow you to create apps quickly and scale your efforts.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. Let’s get started. costs. explain your idea. rather than Android or Blackberry.fourhourworkweek. the competition creates a bidding frenzy that gives you a good chance of getting quality work at a low price. Hiring your first programmer will be a lengthy process. You will increase your odds of making a profit simply by developing for the iOS platform. The first part of this step is to post your job to a hiring site. will take too long. Android— Registration requirements include a fee of $25 per year and accepting the terms of service. don’t forget to go over the App Store review guidelines. you might remember seeing a plethora of fart or flashlight apps on the App Store awhile back. Step 5: Find Prospective Programmers Coding your own app. then give them a micro-test… all before coding begins! But while this process takes time. BlackBerry— Registration requirements include a $200 fee for every 10 apps you publish. reject them and move on to the next one. filter applicants. and I found this to be mostly true. Apple has decided to no longer accept those types of apps. You’ll need to: post the job. As you can imagine. the goal is to get your time back and escape the long hours of the rat race. Apple users are much more likely to spend money on apps. interview qualified candidates. After all. Top Hiring Resources These websites allow programmers to bid on jobs that you post.. Apple enforces these rules during the review process. so learning how to quickly and effectively assess programmers is an important skill to develop. it is time well spent. For instance. http://www. your app will be rejected. Making great hires will help you avoid unnecessary delays. * For your first app. I strongly suggest developing for Apple iOS. They claim that twice as many programmers will respond to your ad. As a result. It will also be unsustainable over the long run when you want to create several apps at the same time and consistently update your existing apps. You must have a BlackBerry World App Vendor Agreement in place with RIM (the creator of BlackBerry) to distribute apps. Knowing these rules can save you a lot of time and effort. You’ll always be looking to add new talent to your team. 4/19/2013 . If you see any of your ideas conflicting with the guidelines. and frustration in the future. Simply put. Also.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 10 of 24 Apple iOS *— Registration requirements include a fee of $99 per year and accepting the terms of service.
Use general descriptions. the skills I list are: iPhone. Do NOT reveal the specifics of your idea or marketing plan. and C Programming. followed by an explanation for each of its components: Click the image to enlarge. Both of these sites have huge lists of programmers.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 11 of 24 Guru and Elance.a. and request info on how many revisions (a. Objective C.k. Filter applicants—I always filter applicants using these criteria: http://www. Cocoa.fourhourworkweek. iterations) their quote includes. Tell the applicants that you will discuss details during the selection process.. Post your ad only for a few days—This way programmers have a sense of urgency to quickly bid on your job.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. Enter the skill requirements—What programming languages do they know? For iPhone apps. 4/19/2013 .. Below is a template of a job posting. Give a basic description of your project—Keep it simple and skill-specific.
The Interview: Essential Questions to Ask Programmers Don’t give away any of your ideas during this initial conversation. Disqualify anyone who is not willing to jump on a Skype call..fourhourworkweek. Therefore. 4/19/2013 .. Here are the questions you should ask each applicant before committing to anything: . see the bottom of this post).How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 12 of 24 .They have a rating of four or five stars. inviting them to a Skype call for further screening.How many apps have you worked on? Can I see them? . .Can you create milestones tied to payments? http://www.Can you provide flat-fee quotes? .They have at least 100 hours of work logged. .Do you have a website? What is it? .Their English is good.What time zone do you work in? What are your hours? . Whenever the topic comes up.Do you have references I can talk to? . Compose individual messages to all suitable applicants.What’s your schedule like? How soon can you start? .Are you working with a team? What are their skills? .What if you hit a technical hurdle during the project? Do you have other team members or a network of programmers who can help you? .Can you create graphics.How do you ensure that you don’t compete with your clients? . a Skype interview is an absolute must before you can continue. say you’ll be more than happy to discuss everything after they sign the NDA (if you want a copy of the NDA template I use.What happens if you become sick during a project? .What’s frustrating for you when working with clients? . Most of these programmers will overseas.Can I see examples of the graphics work? .com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. or do you have somebody who can? .How long have you been developing apps? . which can present issues with communication and time zone differences.What’s your payment schedule? How do you prefer payment? .
“I know exactly how to do that” or “I’ve done similar apps. In either case.fourhourworkweek. so you need to have each potential programmer sign an NDA before you hire them. After you’ve found the best programmer for the job. These are the assets that will build your business. But if you can communicate with them easily and your gut is telling you “Yes.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 13 of 24 . Most programmers are happy to get these tests done without a charge. and decide on a schedule for check-ins that you’re both comfortable with (ask them directly how they like to be managed). pay attention to how well they are able to explain themselves. “I should be able to do that. Buyer beware! Once the NDA has been signed by both parties. but it does happen (read the bottom of this post if you want a copy of the NDA that I use). and I won’t release partial payments until I’m fully satisfied with each milestone.. Share your Idea.” You don’t want to hear things like. You need to assess their graphics capabilities. especially on your first app. it’s rare to have an idea stolen. you can share your idea and designs with your programmer. mention that you like to start things off with a few simple tests (creating/delivering your app’s icon and a “Hello. and Hire Your Programmer You must protect your ideas. http://www. so it will not be a problem. Step 7: Begin Coding Rather than jumping haphazardly into a full-fledged project.). You need to tell them this upfront so they aren’t surprised after they have provided their quote. be clear with this requirement and have them include it in the quote. if it’s taking too long for them to sign the NDA. 4/19/2013 .Do you publish your own apps on the App Store? . etc. but I have to research a few things” or “I’m not sure but I can probably figure it out. It will pay off over the long run. At this stage. During the interview.. it’s critical to ensure they have the skills to complete your app.g. Step 6: Sign NDA. For instance. You will need to periodically review their work.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. and any other intellectual property. World!” app) before coding begins. from start to finish. implementation speed.How do you submit an app to the App Store? (Can they verbally walk you through the process. time zone. Establish milestones and timelines during the quoting process (break up the app into several parts). you need to get out quickly. you may want to move on to somebody else. I prefer to gradually ramp up my programmer’s workload by starting with a couple smaller tasks. If you’re underwhelmed with their skills. you can commit to hiring them. You want to hear things like. Most applications go through multiple iterations during design and development. Yes. it might indicate how slowly the development process will move. fire fast. communication. you will be getting feedback on your programmers’ responsiveness. In either case. Are they articulate? Do they use too much techno babble? Do they speak your native language fluently? Do they seem confident with their answers? How is their tone and demeanor? If you have any issues or worries. thank them for their time and mention that you will follow up with an NDA agreement if you decide to move forward. You do not have any wiggle room here. but some will want a small fee. Either they know how to make it or they don’t. source code. switch to an app idea they are confident about or run for the hills.” If you hear those words.” you’ll want to proceed to the next step. Remember: Hire slow. or do they make you feel brain challenged?) Finally. As you’re going through this process. and overall work dynamic (e.
This ad hoc version of your app needs to be installed on your phone before you can test it. what it’s supposed to do. and you’ll be able to install your test apps with a few touches on your phone.Are they stuck? http://www. Most importantly. You need to do the same thing with your app. Hello. 4/19/2013 . to test your app. so pass them on and ask for a finished 512 x 512 iTunes Artwork version of the icon. “Hey check this out.. I ask all programmers to use this service even if they have not used it before. To start.” Don’t mention that it’s your app. App Delivery—When the programmers are ready to show you a test version of your app. You will probably have several ideas for icons. Hand the app to them and say.Are they confused? . but to determine how they will deliver apps to you for testing. or how it works.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. so you can see how it will look on your phone. 2. Watch them testing your app and ask yourself these questions: . They will have questions that won’t occur to you because you designed the app and everything about it is obvious to you. The first version of your app is finished and delivered. World!—Ask the programmer for a “Hello. what they don’t understand. World!”. You would check major things like the roof and plumbing. You need to get everyone you know. World!” app.. because you won’t be there to explain things to them either. your app must perform as expected. Icon—Ask the programmer to create and deliver the icon of your app. The time you spend on testing is crucial because you will see how consumers use your product.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 14 of 24 Here’s my three-step process during the coding phase: 1. This app should include the icon they created. Never assume that something works because it worked last time you tested the app. and you’re now staring at it on your phone/tablet. This experience will be similar to the one your real user will have. because now it’s time to begin the testing phase. and it will take them 10 minutes to create. but it might not to others. but a new service called TestFlight has simplified the process. The initial installation was a bit cumbersome in the past. They will be able to figure it out. Test each feature every time. It’s a simple app that opens up and shows a page that displays “Hello. Give as little information as possible and watch as they try to understand and navigate through your app. Give yourself a pat on the back — you’ve made serious progress! But don’t get too caught up with yourself. 3. Step 8: Test Your App If you were having a house built. don’t be the only tester. The idea here is not to test their programming skills. Your app makes sense to you. they have to create something called an “ad hoc” (a version of your app that can be delivered to and run on your iPhone. you’d want to make sure everything was in working order before you signed off. Pull out your initial design document and go through every feature. without the use of the App Store). and their patterns. from your 12-year-old nephew to your 75-year-old grandmother. like crown molding and paint. all the way down to minor things.fourhourworkweek. what features are intuitive. especially before the final release.
How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 15 of 24 . you might want to delegate this task to someone on your team.Should I move things around? . and wrapped up any final changes with your programmer. Step 9: Post your App to the Market At this point. 4/19/2013 . You need to get the app on the market quickly and in a basic form to test the concept.Are they using the app the way you intended? . Congratulations – it’s time for you to send the app to the App Store for review! It’s a good idea to have your programmers show you how to submit your first few apps.Should I change colors to improve visibility? .. you might unnecessarily increase costs and production time. taken the best feedback into account. like the design and development stages.Would adding some instructions help? . The best way to have them show you how to submit your app.Are they having fun? .Are they complaining? . which ones? Get them to talk about their experience with your app.Are they making suggestions for improvements? If yes. is to do a screen-share over Skype or GoToMeeting and have them walk you through the process. Best to leave this task to your programmers: http://www. it’s a fairly confusing and tedious process. how can I fix them? .com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you.Did they find a mistake or a bug? . you’ve had all of your friends and family test your app. Do not give out your developer account login information to your programmer or anybody else. add the idea to your update list and move forward with development (I keep an update list for each app and refer back to it when the time is right). Assess each response to see if there’s a problem with your app. They will be more honest if they don’t know the app is yours. Just remember: If you keep tweaking things and adding features. without having to giveaway your login. Below is a screencast on how to upload an app to the App Store.Should I improve navigation? Testing and debugging will take several iterations.Would other users have the same issues? If yes. Don’t get offended if you hear something you don’t like.fourhourworkweek. Otherwise. their feedback is priceless. Don’t forget to use TestFlight to save lots of time with the mechanics of installing test versions of your app. As your business grows. This is all part of the process. then ask yourself these questions: .. Only redesign during this phase if you feel you have a good justification for it. As you’ll see.
com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. it will usually take 3-7 days. but most developers are not skilled when it comes to marketing. The real fun begins once your app is approved and available for download… Step 10: Marketing Your App The App Store is filled with thousands of great apps. The icon is important because it’s how the users will identify your app. Understanding how an app’s basic elements are marketing opportunities is essential to being successful in the app business. If you’re a company. It needs to look sharp. It’s also the image that users will see on their phone after they install your app. many poorly designed apps rank highly because their developers have figured out the marketing game.. and compel them to investigate your app further. How do they do it? You really need to focus on a few key areas to effectively market your apps. Your job is to create a seamless flow from the icon all the way to the download button.. Meanwhile. which you can adjust at any time from your developer account: ICON The first thing users will see when they are checking out your app is the icon — the small square image with the rounded corners to the left of the app title.fourhourworkweek. capture the app’s essence. http://www. it will likely take 7-10 days. If you’re an individual. Let’s take a closer look at these components. 4/19/2013 .How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 16 of 24 The amount of time Apple will take to review and approve/reject your app will depend on whether you’re submitting on behalf of yourself or a company. which will allow customers to discover and download them. attract the users’ attention.
fourhourworkweek. The old expression “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” applies here. Therefore.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. it is critical that you help users find your app when they perform relevant keyword searches in the app store. and memorable. Make sure you have a quality icon that represents your app and makes the users believe it has value.. rather than an app’s name. 4/19/2013 . beautiful. Many developers create icons as an afterthought and focus all of their effort on the app itself. http://www.. but the icon is the first impression you will make on the users.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 17 of 24 Great app icons are clear. APP TITLE Over 80 percent of searches in the App Store are related to an app’s functionality.
. such as. “Check out the screenshots and see for yourself.” Follow it up with a call-to-action.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 18 of 24 Source: Chomp. The first chunk of your app’s description needs to be packed with the most relevant information customers should know. For instance. If applicable. much like keywords in search engines. if you type “angry” into the App Store search field.com Each word in your app’s title serves as a keyword. 4/19/2013 . use statements like “Top App 2012” or “One of the Most Addictive Games in the App Store. You can think of the title as your URL.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. DESCRIPTIONS Having a compelling description for your app is like having a great opening line — people are more willing to learn about you once you’ve piqued their interest. Here are a couple examples of effective screenshots: http://www. Think of them as the trailer for your app.fourhourworkweek.. the Angry Birds apps will return as a search result.” SCREENSHOTS Screenshots are great marketing tools because they give users a visual of what they will experience.
http://www.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 19 of 24 • • Download • Share • Embed • • • 1 of5 Nike+ GPS screenshots..fourhourworkweek.. 4/19/2013 .com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you.
” “light. we came up with keywords. you’re allowed to provide keywords relevant to your app... For example. Therefore. The brain gets overwhelmed and buyers have more trouble seeing the product’s true value. such as “bright. and informative. Many people shopping for apps won’t read the description. you will find that Angry Birds is one of the search results. Since the name is Flashlight. When users search for one of the terms you entered. The makers of Angry Birds most likely chose those keywords to associate with their app. but will instead scroll down to the screenshots. if you type in the word “kids” or “game” on the App Store.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. the screenshots you include should be clean. A good example of effective keyword usage is an app I created called Flashlight. The terms “kids” and “game” are not in the app title. When you submit your app to the App Store.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 20 of 24 • • Share • Embed • • • 1 of5 Free Music Download Pro screenshots.” and “camping. appealing. KEYWORDS Unlike your icon and title. your app appears in the search results.fourhourworkweek. keywords are not something the users get to see.” “help. If your screenshots are cluttered. Note the use of captions to explain the app’s features. The screenshots need to convey the main functionality of the app without showing too many details that may confuse users. 4/19/2013 .” http://www. it will be as ineffective as a realtor trying to sell a house with messy rooms.
an app that doesn’t show up in the top 200 overall might still be in the top 10 of a particular category. which moved the company’s income from $1. but it didn’t move much. Simple changes can dramatically increase your revenue. many apps can be classified into more than one category. One of my apps. Alarm Security.fourhourworkweek.000 per day to $3. but you can always change the category during an update. so I assumed users would use it more as a goof than as a tool. therefore.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. The app contained various alarm sounds (like loud screams and gunshots). This is the power of refining the marketing components for your app. CATEGORIES The App Store organizes apps into specific categories to help users find them more easily. This seemingly minor change propelled the app to the number one top overall free category. 4/19/2013 .. I added the term “phone” to the keywords of my free prank fingerprint app. make sure to select the most relevant category for your app. generates a certain amount of visibility based on these charts. and it was only because of a category change. I initially tried changing the name and keywords. In addition to the top overall rankings of all apps.. the number of downloads skyrocketed. Users looking for certain apps often browse through these category charts without looking at the top overall charts. http://www. On the other hand. I was wrong. the paid downloads had tripled. After five days.000 per day. each category has its own top rankings and. wasn’t performing well. You have to choose one.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 21 of 24 One time. The one thing I hadn’t tried was switching it out of the Entertainment category. Once I moved the app into the Utilities category. When you’re submitting your app for review. and I was trying to bring it back up in the rankings. For instance.
If you like the sample you tasted. NAG SCREENS Nag screens (pop-ups that remind users to check out the paid version of the app) have been the most critical marketing tactic for my business. consider this: When Apple launched its iBooks app. If you’re still on the fence. a quick pop-up message is a small price to pay for using the free version. I have changed the icon and screenshots three to five times and the title and description between 5 and 10 times. Measure your results.. This is like getting those free food samples at the supermarket. For most of my apps. you were nagged by the one and only Apple. For those who don’t. your best marketing tool will be offering a free version of your app.. all while improving your users’ experience with the app. http://www. you can use it to advertise the paid version of the same app.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 22 of 24 Just as your app will always need certain refinements due to consumer demand and competition. it used a nag screen within the App Store app. so will your marketing. If you had an iPhone at the time. but you need to think of nag screens as adding value for your users. you may remember seeing that pop-up inviting you to download iBooks. there’s a simple rule of thumb I follow for making changes: Tweak once per week. You have to allow ample time to see the effect of any changes you make. and it’s free. you might buy the whole bag and become a long-term customer. then measure. You might worry about annoying users with these ads. and that is a valid concern. a percentage of your users will be interested in buying the paid version of your app. 4/19/2013 . It takes five seconds to download. then make adjustments based on your data in the following week. Your goal is to increase traffic and revenue. It will generate traffic and visibility that you otherwise wouldn’t get. If they downloaded your free app and they are using it. Keep an open mind and continue to be inspired by your observations during your market research. Well. Finally.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. I change keywords almost every time I update apps.fourhourworkweek. Bonus Marketing Tactics FREE APPS After you’ve taken care of the basics. Free apps create the most traffic because they have the smallest barrier to entry. I always switch the categories when it makes sense. You have to accept this and not shy away from this type of marketing. Why wouldn’t you push the button? Once the free version of your app gains some traction.
http://www. the better. explain to your developer what you are looking for. This is called your click-through rate. race. This will be a great learning experience for the winner. 4/19/2013 . Final Thoughts This is the first time in history when so many of us have the tools and access to knowledge that can quickly lift us out of the rat race. Whoever comes up with the best idea for an iPhone app (as decided by me and my team) will have 100% of their development costs covered. This will allow you to change your marketing message redirect your app’s traffic within seconds. All you need is the desire and a game plan. How do you assess the effectiveness of your nag screen? All you have to do is keep track of how many times you show a particular nag screen and how many users click “Yes” to check out the app (s) you’re promoting. education. tell the developer you want your nag screen to be dynamic. Advanced nag screen (right).fourhourworkweek. so if money is all that’s holding you back. That’s right: You won’t need to spend anything to have your app made – all it will cost is your time and effort. Your nag screens will lose a huge part of their effectiveness if you cannot change them on the fly. gender. Advanced nag screens typically have three times higher click-thru rates. You don’t have to wait till “someday” to fulfill your dreams. and reference specific examples of other apps that have nag screens.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 23 of 24 Basic nag screen (left) vs. we want to help you get started. and the higher the percentage. Your background.com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. You can start right now… Contest and Bonuses We’re throwing a contest for any readers who are ready to dive into the app world. This is an absolute must... and situation are irrelevant. Be sure you can change the nag screen without submitting a new update to the app store. To do this. When adding a nag screen.
com/blog/2012/04/22/how-to-build-an-app-empire-can-you. More bonus points if you show us the research you did to prove your app’s potential for success. We look forward to seeing what you guys come up with! Talk to you in the comments Share this: Email Facebook 6K+ Twitter 1K+ StumbleUpon Posted on April 22nd.000 USD of your development costs will be covered. . email a copy of your receipt for App Empire.How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram? Page 24 of 24 Here are the details: . 2012 Copyright © 2007–2013 Tim Ferriss http://www.You can only submit one (1) idea (one entry per person). In other words. all! Finally. to bonus (at) appempire.Once you’ve decided upon your idea. etc. my comprehensive book on app development and marketing. If someone else can succeed by taking one of my ideas and improving upon it. so make it good! . that’s only fair game. For those who are worried that someone is going to steal your idea and make a million dollars with it– you don’t have to enter the contest! Just remember: my success in the app store came from emulating successful apps.fourhourworkweek. for those who’d like a copy of my NDA template (along with the checklist I use when hiring a new coder).Up to $5.) has been contacted. . Thanks. The book goes into depth on advanced marketing and monetization techniques.Winner gets a 1-hour phone call with me (Chad) at any point during development or marketing. 4/19/2013 .You have 1-week (ending Monday. borrowing proven ideas and trying to make them better.) how your app will function. Winner (Alex K.. video. Contest deadline has passed. post a comment below with a detailed explanation of the app you want to develop. Your app should try to fill a void in the market or improve upon apps that are currently available. Don’t let the fear of losing prevent you from trying to win.com. Bonus points if you can show us (with a drawing. . April 30. including how to put your business on cruise control (automate). 100% of all revenues earned will go to the winner.. 2012 at 9am EST) to research and design your app idea.
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