Do you think it is possible to make mountains of money creating applications?
Well, although nothing guarantees that you will earn as much money like that, this guide shows you how to get started and at least shows you the way to go.
I couldn’t count how many letters I get from readers asking me how to get into the mobile app business. Most tell me they have no software experience, not much cash, and that they hope to make millions of dollars.
As I’ve written before, lack of experience, skills, or money is not necessarily a formula for success making software. But as many of you have clearly told me, who am I to prevent you from dreaming? What if you have a super cool idea and I, an old school software entrepreneur, just don’t see it?
In this article, I’ll take you through the steps you need to upload an app to the Android and Apple app stores. I will describe the tools, resources, and steps you will need to follow. I will even show you some tricks to create your own applications without any programming skills.
If you also earn money that is out of my hands but at least you will have a starting point. In the next few weeks, I’ll write more about how to really understand the software development business. But for those who are eager to get started, here is what to do.
REGISTER AS A DEVELOPER
Let’s start with the basics: get access to the app stores.
In this article, I will talk about the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store because they are by far the biggest players.
Once you make an application, you must send it to the application store and each company will go through a review process designed to determine if it meets basic quality standards (although unfortunately, those standards are very low), and to make sure you don’t include malware or other threats within the app.
Once accepted in the app store, the two companies will list your app and you will get a percentage of the sale price. When Apple created the original App Store, they paid 70 per cent of the sales price to developers, gradually reducing it to 30 per cent.
While Apple’s 30 per cent cut may sound like a lot, those who have been in the software business for a while know that it is actually good business.
For applications sold through retail stores, developers can receive even less than 30 per cent of the final sale price. Whereas in the app stores, developers get a lot more.
To enter the game, you must register in each application store. For iOS, you will need to join the iOS Developer Program, which costs $ 99 / year. For Google Play, you will need a Google account, and then you can go to the Developer Console and pay your $ 25.
Both programs provide excellent resources for developers, but I highly recommend that you access the Develop and Distribute tabs of developer.android.com for great guides on product design and marketing.
DECIDE WHAT TO BUILD
Congratulations! You are already a developer. Now you need to build an application. Later, I’ll take you through a series of application development tools that will help you create your first application without any programming knowledge.
You should explore them in-depth, because the capabilities of those tools will help you determine what you can and cannot build.
However, you do have a couple of important options available though. What is definite is that you are not going to build a revolutionary new tool that uses all the capabilities of smartphones and tablets.
You would have to learn to code for real to do that. If you are using a non-programmer application creation tool, you will be quite limited to making forms and data-driven applications, mobile web pages and games.
Of course, there is no guarantee that you will see money with any of these. The application market is a hugely competitive market.
Still, I’ll start by recommending that you avoid converting mobile web pages. We are all used to getting our website content for free, and a mobile app that simply formats that information is unlikely to generate a sale in the app store.
The way you can earn money making mobile web pages is by contacting companies with their own basic web pages and offering to turn them into free applications. You won’t get an income stream from app sales, but you could make a decent service income for creating such an app for someone else.
Form-based applications are applications that interact with data entry, databases and then store them for later retrieval. They are relatively easy to build and you may be able to build something useful related to some area of knowledge you have.
Games, of course, are games. Games are the most popular segment of the mobile application market, but at the same time, it is also the busiest segment and the segment where it is most difficult to stand out. That said, creating a game is fun just for the fun of it, so giving it a try is a good practice exercise.
DECIDE THE PRICE OF YOUR APP
Now comes the price. Remember that applications are cheap compared to desktop applications on PC and Mac. Almost everything costs less than ten dollars. However, and here’s a big catch, almost all of the biggest money-makers rely on apps that can be downloaded for free and then offer to buy updates from within the app.
Frankly, if you want to make money, I recommend that you start with this business model of in-app purchases. Personally, I do not like to buy within the applications, but there is no denying the great success that this model has had. After all, buyers can download, try and be wowed. If they find value, then they are much more likely to buy your upgrades or accessories within the app.
BUILD YOUR APP
Now let’s take the big step and create your application. I’ve told you over and over again that I don’t recommend working or paying someone else to code it. So instead of repeating it (well I guess I just did it!), In this article, I provide you with four tools that you can use to go ahead and do it yourself.
Appery.io – This tool creates a good integration of data services with applications. It’s a bit complex for beginners, but it’s mostly drag and drop. Their free plan allows a maximum of three pages and one user, but that’s really all you need to get started.
Good barber: Seriously, that’s his name. They have a 30-day free trial. After that, plans start at $ 16 / mo. What sets this product apart is that there are some very nice design elements, Google Font integration, and a good selection of icons to choose from, as well as some good YouTube tutorials and webinars.
Appy Pie: Appy Pie is free if you let them serve ads on your app. If you upgrade to their $ 7 / mo plan, they will not run ads and will help you monetize with iAds and AdMob. They have default app categories that you can choose from like church, restaurant, radio, etc.
They also offer a relatively wide range of features that you can add to your apps, like GPS locations, notifications, and more. This is a good option if you don’t think people will buy your app, but they might enjoy downloading it for free. Monetization with ads can help you offset your costs.
GameSalad: This product has a powerful drag and drops game creator, good enough to build an Angry Birds or Flappy Birds style game. Import the graphics and assign behaviours, and build your games from there.
The free version includes ads, but there’s a $ 299 version that removes the ads and makes in-app purchases available. If you want to make money from games, you need to have in-app purchases enabled and these folks make the process relatively easy.
CREATE APP GRAPHICS AND ICONS
No matter what kind of app you create, you will need some app graphics and icons for the home screen. I personally recommend using Photoshop or Illustrator, but both are difficult programs to start with and not cheap at all.
If you want a cheap or free tool, check out Canva.com. This is a nice little online design program that can get you on the road to achieving a good final image.
No matter which platform you build for, you will need to upload your screenshots to the corresponding app store. Both iOS and Android allow you to press a sequence of keys, to obtain these screenshots and store them in your camera’s photo gallery.
On iOS, you should have just the image you want to capture on your screen, then press and hold the Home button. While holding down the Home button, press the Sleep / Wake button.
On your Android device, the screenshot options tend to vary (I know, it’s a bit strange). For my Galaxy S4, I have to press the Home button and the Power button at exactly the same time. If I do it right, it works perfectly.
Some Android devices have the option to take a screenshot on the screen with the Restart button, while others use the volume keys. You will need to Google the guide to do it on your specific device, but it is a simple search.
MAKE AN INTRODUCTORY VIDEO
One of the best sales tools you can offer is a video of your application. Once you’ve created it, upload a video to both app stores. Although Google Play has long supported intro videos, iOS only recently introduced the capability with iOS 8.
For iOS, the easiest way to record a video is using Quicktime. For Android, you have a lot of options, and you’re sure to find plenty of pages that offer some great resources and tips.
TEST, TEST, TEST
Before submitting your application, you will need to test it in real mode. This is something that you will not be able to do yourself. Because you know how your application should behave, you are unlikely to find the sequences that push it to the limits.
Get lots of friends to try it out. Let your mother or grandmother taste it. Give it to your dad. Most apps can’t survive an encounter with parents, so it’s always a good way to test them. If you can, publish older versions for users who have expressed interest in what it offers and see if they can break it.
It is good to find bugs. Any errors you find before uploading will likely mean better sales and fewer returns. Then test, test and test.
SUBMIT YOUR APP TO THE APP STORES
All right, the big day has come. It’s time to upload your application and by tomorrow you will be a millionaire. Well not exactly. You should still go to the developer links I provided at the beginning of this article and submit your application, a good description, icons, video tutorials, and screenshots. If you do everything right, you will receive a confirmation and then you will have to sit down and wait for it to be accepted.
In those days when I loaded my 40 silly iPhone apps, the average wait time was 13 days. They told me it’s substantially less (for most applications), but your mileage will likely vary. Good luck. The email that says your app is in the app store can be one of the most exciting emails you receive.
MARKET YOUR APP
You could write a book on the complex subject of app marketing. The short version: the more money and notoriety you have, the better your application will sell. That’s the only thing that can explain how Kim Kardashian sold $ 200 million: Hollywood.
Still, if you’re just starting out, you can do some marketing. Word of mouth, demos, talking to your friends, and asking them to tell their friends can get the wheel spinning. Use your social media resources, reply on application pages online, and always be proud to show off your application.
Good luck! May the market forces be with you.