Note: Elance merged with oDesk to create a company called Upwork.
AskPat 359 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 359 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Here's today's question from Kristin.
Kristin: Hi, Pat. My name is Kristin McGill from Vancouver, Washington. First, I want to thank you for everything that you do and all the resources you provide. You've been extremely helpful in my new business. Anyway, the reason I'm calling is actually on behalf of my 10-year-old son, Britain. He is trying to put together an iOS game and he has some great ideas, he's a very creative kid, and I want to help him. So, anyway, my question for you is, do you have any tips, tricks, resources that can help him in organizing his ideas and his thoughts, and also who can help us with the actual development of the game? Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
Pat Flynn: Hey, Kristin. Thank you so much for the question, and Britain, I hope you're listening to this too, and if you are, you're awesome! Congratulations on taking initiative and thinking ahead and actually being very creative and thinking about how you might be able to create an application for iOS or Android, again don't forget about the Android applications. I've built several iOS applications myself, and I've had a lot of people complain that they want an Android version as well. But every successful entrepreneur does say think of one thing at a time, and I would just focus on the iOS application first. But, if that goes well, find somebody else who can do the Android application. Typically developers who develop on iOS don't also develop on Android, they specialize in one or the other. But if you have something that's going on on iOS, it's very easy to show somebody on an Android or, excuse me, an Android developer and have them build it in that same way.
Now, when you are starting out, the number one thing to do is talk about your idea with other people. Talk about it with your mom, your dad, your friends, and see what they think. And that is great, because as much as you might want to keep that a secret, keeping it a secret can be very dangerous because you can work a lot on it, you can come out with it, and then all of a sudden you find out later, after you've spent all that time and maybe a little bit of money to put that together, you find out that, well, it isn't actually something people want. So, find out if it's something people want right up front. Also, find out what else they might want to go along with it. Try to gauge how excited they are; also try to gauge what might be missing from your idea, and you are getting free advice from people who might actually use your app, so really have a good conversations with them to see what else might be included in your app. They might have some great ideas too, and again, these are coming from the people who would be using your application, and so that would be great advice. Talk to it with as many people as you can, Britain.
If you want to get on a Skype call with me, we can do that, and you can talk about your app with me. I'm going to be traveling a lot during the summer, but maybe if you are in the development process I can help you out later on during the year. I don't know, Kristin, if that's OK with you but, you know, just contact me via e-mail and we'll figure it out. But I'd love to help out, Britain, in any way possible. And also another great thing to do is to flush out the idea. Now that doesn't mean to write down that idea and put in the toilet and flush it down. By “flush it out,” I mean really think about all the ins and outs of your idea. It might be in your head in terms of, “I want an app that does this,” or “I want an app that does that,” and that's a great place to start, but once you start with that idea actually draw it out. Use a pen and paper or a pencil, if you guys still use those; I don't think they've stopped using those in school, though I think we're pretty close to that point. Just kinda kidding there, but use the pen and paper or pencil and draw it out; actually draw a rectangle that represents the screen and draw out exactly what your app does. Now, you don't have to be an artist to do it. You can just draw stick figures if there's people in there, or little boxes, or buttons, and just write the words that are going to be in there.
And you'll start to see, Britain, as you draw this all out and draw lines that go from one box to another, you might draw several screens if you tap a button, for example, and then it goes to another screen, you want to draw everything out. And what happens when you do that is you actually start to fill in all those gaps that are in your brain. That's one of the best things that an entrepreneur does is when they have that idea, they draw it out, and they call that a “wireframe.” You're wireframing it out, you're actually mapping out exactly what's going to happen. The cool thing about that is it helps you fill in all the gaps, because there will be gaps, and there are things you're going to have to figure out and solve that you don't know you have to solve until you write it down.
But also when you have that complete and after you go though a number of different trials, because you are going to get things wrong, you are going to have to erase things and try things over again, so until it's exactly how you want it to be … And again, you can even talk about it with other people, maybe people you've already talked about it with, to get them excited about it, to say, hey, is this kinda what you were thinking? Or, does this drawing kind of represent what you were talking about before when we were going over this a while ago? The coolest thing about drawing it all out is not only that you'll get all those gaps out, and you'll be able to see what this thing is going to look like, but when you hand that off to a developer, there's going to be no confusion whatsoever. Britain, one of the worst things that I ever did was when I hired a developer is just I told him what I wanted. I told him what I wanted, because I had an idea of what I wanted, but I didn't have a wireframe, and because of that he filled in all the gaps, and all the ways that he filled in the gaps were pretty much the opposite of what I thought was going to happen. And so you don't want to leave the developer with any sort of creative ability, because that's all on you.
Now, with that said, professional developers know that typically there's somebody else on the team who does graphic design, and that could be you or somebody else that you hire. Other app developers might know a person who does the graphics part of it as well, who can help you through what's called the “UI” or the “UX,” which stands for “user interface” or “user experience,” through your app, and that's really important. Again, when you're drawing it out, think about how a brand new user might go through it. Think about what it's like when they press that button on that iPhone for the very first time and the first screen that pops up. Right from there, take them through that experience; draw it out again, so that when you hand that off to your developer, when you find a developer, they're going to know exactly what you mean, because it's all right there on paper, it's all drawn out, and there's no confusion.
So, hopefully that helps you. In terms of finding a developer, I've found a number of great developers on elance.com, but at the same time, I've found a number of bad developers on elance.com as well. Elance.com is a place where a lot of people are on where you can hire them to do certain things, everything from developing apps to reading off a book for an audio book that's you're making. I've used them also for web design; I've used them also for some legal advice and other things like that. There's all kinds of people on elance.com, and you can put a little description of what you want done; you don't want to put the full thing there because you want to kind of wait until you find a developer before you give them the whole thing, but you want to … What you do is you put a little description of what this app sort of does, and then what happens is all these developers will come and say, “Oh, I'd love to do that for you for $500, for $1,000, for $5,000.” The amount of money depends on kind of how complex your application is or how much is involved. But I've done apps between $500 and $5,000, and the price of it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be more successful. I've spent $500 on an app that has made a lot more money and it's done much more in terms of success compared to the one that I spent $5,000 on.
So, don't feel like you have to have an app that's totally complex in order for it to be successful. As long as it does the job, that's the most important thing. What is the thing that people are going to really enjoy about it? What's the thing that they're going to say to their friends when they talk about this app with other people? That's what you want to think about. If you think about the app and the way it is in your head, if you think that when people share it with each other they're going to be like, “Oh that's kinda cool,” then you've got to make it better. But if you feel like when people share it with their friends they're going to be like, “Wow, that's amazing, that's awesome, I can't stop using it,” well, then, that's a good sign.
Anyway, getting back to the developer hiring process, Elance is good because there's an escrow process which means you give the money to the escrow people and the escrow people hold it until that app is done, and then at that point they give it to the developer. So it's kind of like a middle person who takes your money and then doesn't give it to the developer until they deliver, so that kind of makes sure that things are fair on both sides. Now you can hire somebody privately; there's a lot of developers out there that might be advertising on sites like Craigslist or other development sites. You might even find people through your mom's network that might be an app developer. You might find people if you search on Google for “application development” that can do that job for you, but it's always best to go with people you know or people who know people you know, if that makes sense.
The other thing in terms of resources: look at the apps that are out there in the App Store and see what they're doing, and the ones that are in the top 100 for each of those categories, especially in the category that you want to get in, Britain. Discover what's good about them and what people like about them. Also, discover what people don't like about them, and make sure you don't do those things. Also, find out what's missing, and how you can come in there and provide something that's even better than what's already existing in the top 100 or top 200 in that particular category. Again, it's all about standing out, and it's going to be very difficult to stand out. And so one final tip I have for you is as this is being developed, don't waste that time, because what happens is you hand off that wireframe to the developer, and you're going to have a bunch of time, perhaps weeks, depending on the complexity, maybe even months, before it's done. You can use that time to build buzz and build hype for that product that's going to come out, for your app that's going to coming out. You can build an e-mail list, for example, or create a quick little website to collect e-mail addresses or at least get people excited about it. And one—sorry, I have a whole bunch of ideas—one other thing you could do also to raise money for a developer if you don't have that money yourself is you can put your idea on a site like Kickstarter to crowdfund the campaign. Crowdfund, that means you get a bunch of people supporting you, donating or pledging all different amounts of dollars to have you have enough money to develop it and market it and get it out there. And the cool thing about Kickstarter, and there's other ones out there like Indiegogo.com, but I like Kickstarter, it's the most popular one, when you put your future application up there and you have your face on the video and you say, “Hey, guys. This what I'm going to do, this is my idea for the app, this is what I'm going to do with the money: I'm going to hire a developer, I'm going to get graphic design work done, I'm going to use some of the money to market it. If you want to join me, pledge.”
And what happens is, depending on how much they pledge, you might be able to reward them with certain things like t-shirts or stickers or things like that. And what's cool about that is when the app comes out, there's going to be people out there who had already pledged who are going to be really excited about it. Instead of you doing what most people do, is they build and they build and they build and then they launch and then they say, “Okay, guys. Now's the time to market,” well, they don't have anybody buying it, because nobody knew about it until just then. Well, if you can get people understanding that it's coming out sooner, then you're going to have a much better chance of launching with a bang.
So, Britain, I hope that helps. Kristin, I hope that was helpful as well. Again, send me an e-mail, I'd love to hear the idea and maybe help you, again, quote, flush it out for you a little bit more. But again, I'm traveling much, but my assistant will be working with you to hopefully schedule something if we can make that happen. Again, thanks so much.
And for everybody else listening, I don't do that for everybody. I'm really excited about Britain and whatever he has going on, so don't feel like you can e-mail me and say, “I have this app idea.” I get that all the time, and I wouldn't be able to do anything else if I said yes to everybody. But again, this is just something I wanted to do for Britain. I love kids and creative ideas coming out of their brains, and I want to help out as much as possible. Again, I have a 5-year-old son myself, so I can connect with that for sure, and I want to encourage that with everybody's kids. It's the best thing ever.
So, for both of you, Kristin and Britain, we're going to send you both an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. And I think we have kids' sizes; I'm not exactly sure, but my assistant Jessica will email you, Kristin, in a couple of weeks to collect those sizes, and I can't wait to see them on you guys. And for those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show just head on over to AskPat and you can ask right there on that page.
Thanks so much. I really appreciate it, and if you have a sec, please head on over to iTunes, look up AskPat, and leave a review and rating for the show if you have time. Thank you so much for that. And finally, I love to end with a quote, and this quote is from Jim Rohn. He says, “If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” Cheers, take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Thanks.