For the last couple of months (as pointed out in my latest income reports), I’ve been working vigorously on creating new iPhone apps. We currently have four available in iTunes, which has grossed us a total of $6,798.64 during the first quarter of the year. We’re super stoked to have eight more apps scheduled to be released in less than a month.
Over the past weekend, three of our new apps were completed by our developers and are ready to be submitted to Apple for approval. More apps = more potential passive income streams.
Since many of you (and I really do mean many!) have been emailing me and asking me for more info about creating iPhone apps, I’ll be writing more about my experience in individual blog posts, such as this one.
If you want to get into the iPhone (or iPad) app industry, here are five things you should know first:
1. You Don’t Have to Develop Your Own iPhone Applications
“I would love to make an iPhone app, but I don’t know how. . . “
This is a phrase I hear too many times, and I’m here to tell you straight up: you don’t need to know how to program.
All of the iPhone apps that I’m associated with were developed by other people. These are people who understand programming who can build apps better and faster than I ever could. I just supply the ideas.
There are thousands of companies and individuals out there who make a living by programming apps for other people. It’s still a little weird to me because if I were them, I’d make apps for myself instead. But, they exist—and I know a lot of people who are taking advantage of the opportunity.
For example, Jackie, an SPI reader over at MoneyCrush.com, hired a developer to create her own iPhone app, Pay Off Debt.
Recently, MJ Wolfe, another SPI reader over at ResidualsandRoyalties.com, is awaiting his first outsourced app to be approved (which was done for only $125).
Even if I knew how to program apps myself, I still think I would hire other people to do it for me anyways.
Because I can multiply my efforts and even get work done while I sleep. That’s exactly how I can have 8 apps on deck for the near future.
2. Any Type of App Can Be a Success Story
Every day, iTunes showcases the most downloaded and most profitable applications, and every day it surprises me.
Some of the top apps are actually useful, some are clever, funny, and some are just plain weird or stupid. But, it’s safe to assume that these apps that become the top downloaded apps are raking in some serious dough.
There is some luck involved, but there’s a lot of other factors involved too, which I’ll save for a later blog post.
3. Getting Your App Made and Approved is Only Half the Battle
The truth is that getting your app approved by Apple doesn’t mean you will make money or even get noticed at all. Developing an app is NOT a “magic button” for success or riches.
I hope you know by now that nothing really is.
After your app is approved, there is a bit of promotional work that needs to be done in order to give yourself a fighting chance to get noticed and gain some momentum. Also, because the iTunes store is actually a search engine, keywords are important to optimize as well.
How much additional work is needed?
It’s hard to say because sometimes a good app can market itself. Sometimes, all it takes is one person with a little bit of influence to start a huge wave of downloads for you.
4. It Takes Time To Create an iPhone App
The tough part about creating an app is that from the moment you have your idea to the moment your app is approved can take quite a long time, especially when you’re not developing the app yourself and all you’re doing is waiting for the people you’ve hired to get back to you.
One of my apps took over two months to get developed. Other apps (more recently), have taken just a couple of weeks.
Of course, it depends on exactly how complicated your app is too.
My advice: get started soon, but be patient.
5. Free Apps Are Profitable
The most surprising thing to me is how profitable FREE applications can be.
For example, we have two versions of one application:
Shake Shake Pop & Shake Shake Pop Lite
One is a “lite” version with only one level, and the other is the full version of the application.
Free applications get downloaded far more often than paid ones because, well, they are free. Because of this, it was our intention to “feed” people from our free version to the paid one, which is a marketing strategy that is used quite often in the app store.
As a trial, we put ads on our free version just to see what would happen. Surprisingly enough, our FREE version running ads is far more profitable than our paid version. In fact, our paid one earns upwards of $10 a day, while the lite version consistently earns between $30-60 a day.
And the “cool” part is that the money coming in from free apps are more residual than the money coming from the paid apps.
Apple takes 30 percent for each sale of a paid application. So, with a $0.99 application, you actually keep about $0.69 per sale. After you make the sale, that’s it (unless you have what’s called “in-app” purchases, which can earn you an additional income after the initial purchase, although Apple’s cut still applies).
With free apps that run advertisements, the download is free, but anytime anyone clicks on an ad, you get paid (just like Google Adsense). This means that you have more opportunities to earn money from each download. People can click the ads on day one, day two, day sixty, etc.
Of course, the advertising companies take their share as well, and ads running on your application do annoy some people, but they can be very profitable.
As you can see in a screenshot on this “How to Create iPhone Apps (With No Programming Experience)” ebook sales page by Free the Apps! (a well-known iPhone app developer team who also outsources their apps), they made a whopping $56,366.69 in Advertising Revenue from Free Apps in ONE MONTH.
Yes, one month.
I had the pleasure of reading through their ebook myself and I’ll definitely be adding it to my resource page, because it’s probably the most extensive guide to outsourcing your iPhone app that you can find anywhere. I even felt the need to leave a nice comment for their sales page as they begin to launch their new eBook too.
(Disclaimer: I was not paid to write about “Free the Apps!” or their ebook, however the link above and on my resource page is an affiliate link for their product.)
Am I making enough money from my apps to live off of?
Not yet, but I’m slowly getting there. And who knows, maybe one of the new apps that we’re making hits the top of the charts and we make it big. I’m sure you’ll hear from me if that ever happens!
Overall, it’s been a great learning experience and seriously a lot of fun. If you have any specific questions about iPhone apps that I can possibly answer for you in the comment section, or in a later blog post, please feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to respond.