SBM 003 : The Reality of Building and Selling Apps With Till Carlos

Today’s Guest

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Smart Brand Marketing with Tom Libelt.

My guest this week is Till Carlos. He is a passionate entrepreneur who built his first company while studying software engineering. In 2013 Till started a Software as a Service (SaaS) company and went location independent. Now he works with a worldwide team spending most time in South East Asia.

Should You Venture into the World of Creating and Selling Apps?

You’ve might have heard that creating and selling apps is the next best thing to do in the online world right now. After all, there are countless stories out there of people earning quite a lot of money just by creating apps for different markets and then selling them.

But the question is are you entering into an already saturated market? Don’t worry, you are. But that does not mean that you can’t make a profit venturing into the market now. Is there a point to venture into the field of app creation now? The answer is always yes. And to pull this off successfully, there are a few things that you have to be aware of first.

Some Inconvenient (Or Convenient) Truths

Here’s the thing: deciding to become an app maker is not as easy as a career shift as turning from a desk worker to a content creator. There are certain, well, technical issues that you have to address to the best of your abilities before becoming one. Here are some of them:

  • 1. It’s Going to be ExpensiveLet’s get this one out of the way. App building and selling is, by far, the most expensive online venture that any single person can take bar cryptocurrencies. How expensive, you may ask? The average cost to make a simple program is in between $8,000.00 and $10,000.00 and that’s just for apps with very simple interfaces. At best, if you want to create an app that truly sells, you might as well prepare to spend as much as $20,000.00.This is because you will either pay for the talents or pay for the assets. Unless you are that skilled with programming, you would rather hire programmers, coders, testers, and designers to make the app for you and these guys don’t come in cheap; especially programmers.

    And if you think that you can do with these people away just by creating an asset flip (apps made from different assets made by other people) to save on operational costs, you’d still have to pay for the license to use them. The best asset flips out there, mind you, have to pay for multiple licenses just to hide the fact that they’re using pre-rendered objects and interfaces for their app. The point is that you can’t escape the fact that every move you make in creating an app is going to cost you.

  • 2. You’re Going to Spend a Lot of Time in TestingIf you think that releasing an app is just this one-time thing, think again. The best kind of apps out there actually had to be released at least three times before their most current version and this period is called the testing phase.

    There are normally three phases to the testing stage which are:

    • Pre-Alpha: This is your program at its most basic and rudimentary iteration. All you have is the basic code, bugs and glitches are aplenty, and only primary features are included. There is even the chance that your main code is not yet ready for use and might break down in the middle of operations.
    • Alpha: At this stage, your program is at its “polished” state. Most of the major bugs and glitches have been fixed and the interface should have been optimized or made functional at the very least.
    • Beta: This is your app at its most “ready for release” state. Almost all, if not all, bugs and glitches should have been fixed, the interface has been optimized, and new features have been added.

    The reason why it’s best for you to pre-release your program in three testing phases is so that you can save up money on testers while also gauging how your program is going to fare once it’s going to be released. And since you are not paying the people testing it to be free, you have to give them an incentive of sorts to keep on using the program once it is ready for full release.

  • 3. Pricing MattersQuick, how much do you think a copy of an app should be priced at? $30.00 and Up? Not if you’re making actual software for desktops and consoles.

    At best, apps can be priced somewhere in between $0.50 and $2.00 in order to encourage more downloads. If, for example, a $0.50 app gets downloaded a million times, then that leaves you with $500,000.00 but, of course, you would still have to give your hosting site like Apple’s App Store a share of the profits.

    So, how should you price your apps? There are two ways. The first one is that standard pricing scheme where you put a price tag immediately before the download which means you earn money for every time that your app is being downloaded.

    The other method is through the “freemium” strategy. How this works is simple: your app is basically free for download. This means that every person in the world can get access to the app and its most basic prices for absolutely zero charge.

    However, every other feature would then be locked behind a paywall and you give your customers the option to either unlock it through grinding for enough in-game resources or paying for an instant unlock with real-world money. The premise of an immediate satisfaction should be enough to compel users to pay which makes this scheme a far more sustainable model for some programs.
    It all depends on you, really, on which payment scheme you would want to use for your app. Just keep in mind that it might take a while for you to get the bulk of your income from the app depending on which site you chose to host it.

Making the App More Sellable

Although creating an app is a rather expensive venture, you’d be surprised to find out that the marketing for the app leading to its release is a far cheaper activity. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have your work cut out for you in making the app stand out as much as possible. There are a few tactics that you can use to do so such as:

  • 1. Invest in a Video PromotionOut of all the advertising media out there, video is perhaps the one that is the easiest to access and digest. It’s basically one medium that takes full advantage of three different formats: audio, text, and moving images.

    In fact, video is quite impactful as a marketing tool that 90% of consumers today make purchasing decisions after watching a video and more than 64% of that number tend to follow through with their purchase decisions after watching further videos.

    So, what’s to be included in the video? For starters, it should briefly explain what your product is and how it works. If, say, you made a gaming app, then the video for it should feature gameplay to give people an idea how your app is going to play like. Of course, you have to keep everything live and upbeat to make audiences all the more interested in it.

    You should also create two versions of the video: the first one being a full-length production which will explain everything in 5 minutes or less and the other one being a shorter version which goes through every main point in half a minute or less.

  • 2. Get The App Page OptimizedYour app should not only be easy to use, it should also be easy to find and access. This is where your landing page will play a crucial role in the sense that it should be easy to discover in either Google Play or Apple’s app store.

    Optimization simply means that your page should find the necessary qualities and information that search engine bots are looking for when ranking pages to answer a user’s search query.

    For the search bots, this means that your page should contain the right kind of information to answer that query. As such, you should take a look at how you describe your product in that page and make sure that it is compelling, short, and focused on telling whatever value you are proposing to customers.

  • 3. Take Advantage of User ReviewsOnce you start growing your customer base, your app will soon be receiving reviews and testimonials. You must use this to your advantage as user-generated reviews is a far more reliable marketing tool than most conventional advertising strategies. In fact, 90% of users rely on user reviews to make their purchasing decisions.

    To do this, you must encourage your customers to leave a rating or review either through the app or directly at the page. Eventually, all of these ratings would app which would give your app an overall rating which users can see. If they are convinced that your app is as good as these people say, they will download and rate the app which, in turn, adds up to the overall rating. It’s a never-ending cycle, really.

    However, it is important that you never manipulate the ratings by using accounts to give favorable reviews or using bots. Not only is that in poor taste, you’re actually breaking several laws on fair trade which could get you in trouble.

  • 4. Add MoreThe problem with adds is that you are bound to get all your money’s worth in it within a span of an hour; and that’s for the larger, more intricate apps mind you. This means that people will eventually get bored of your initial offer which can slow sales down considerably as time passes.

    You can work around this by constantly improving on your base program. Some app makers don’t just stop with one app, they add more to it until the proposition gets better and better for the same price tag. For instance, Version 1 of your gaming app might just include 40 levels, 3 game modes, and 26 achievements to reach but Version 2 will include 50 levels, 5 game modes, and 40 achievements.

    So, how about those people that actually paid for the first version of your app? If you are using the freemium strategy for pricing, then there’s no problem in giving them a free update. Soon enough, you will eventually release to the market the “Ultimate” version of your app which keeps people coming to your page for downloads.
    The point here is that you must always give people a reason to visit your page or update their version of your program. And you do this by offering them more content to consume.

  • 5. If You Can’t be Original, Do it BetterEver heard of bandwagoning? This is quite prevalent in the app market. Whenever an app hits it big and nets its maker a 5-digit income, at the very least, you will find 20 other clones of the app popping up and wanting a piece of that popularity. For every Bejewelled, there’s a Candy Crush. For every Crush the Castle, there’s Angry Birds.

    And then there’s the popular asset flips like Flappy Bird which was built using nothing but sprites from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. game and the first one at that. The sad part about this is that originality is a hard feat to achieve these days which means that clones, rip-offs, and asset flips will always be present in the market.

    So what is one supposed to do if every original idea has been taken? The answer is to do things better. You can either tweak something in the mechanics, add an entirely new spin on certain features, or introduce a different-looking interface.

    The point here is to make your app stand out so much that other customers won’t mistake it for another. The less you are blatant in ripping off mechanics from a popular app and the more you add your own twist to it, the more your app is easily distinguished in the market.

    Have you tried making an app before? What other concerns do you have before deciding to make one? Let us know in the comments section below!



Follow Till Carlos on Twitter



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If you enjoyed this episode you may also love listening to:

Peter Shankman on Being Nice and Getting Publicity The Easy Way

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