This is a guest post from Tasnim Ahmed, one of the rockstar members of Bluecloud Select. We really appreciate him taking the time out to share his experience with everyone.
He has a great story and I know that you will learn a lot from this post. Learn how to make six figures…Tasnim’s way. So without further delay, here’s Tasnim…
I started my day job as an iOS Developer back in 2012. But I always wanted to have my own business and travel, so I kept my eye out for opportunities.
My plan was to create funny games that people would enjoy, on the side, and see where that took me.
One of my older brothers advised me that I needed to understand how to market apps first, or my efforts would basically be for nothing.
It was good advice.
So I started researching how to promote apps and found Chad Mureta’s book “App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life, and Let Technology Work for You.”
That book totally shifted my thinking about what was possible with apps.
I left my job in December 2012 to give apps a shot. Until that point, I only had a total of six months of iOS development experience at my job.
When I left, I only had 1 app published.
During Christmas 2012, I created my first game called Smash Santa. It was really simple and had a funny theme. After Christmas I reskinned Smash Santa few times.
Then in March 2013, Carter was selling a source code on Bluecloud Solutions called “Avalanche Mountain” and I decided to give it a try for reskinning. While was doing the reskinning, I thought that I could make the game better, so I started to tweak the code.
After doing that for a bit, I realized that it was a waste of my time.
I needed to concentrate on market research, App Store Optimization (ASO) and marketing because they would get me further.
I went back to work reskinning and created several different games. The results were not great, but I learned a ton about ASO and launch tactics.
Since I made so many versions of the game, reskinning taught me how to fine-tune the following:
- The app icon
- App name
- App size
- The right mix of reviews
- Launch days
- Marketing activities
My brother was right, focusing on marketing ultimately led to my success. It took me another six months after I quit my job, to build up the passive income that would allow me the freedom to not go back to work.
My Most Successful Reskins
- December 2013 – Christmas Photo Booth
- February 2014 – Flappy Bird
- All of 2014 – Numerous casino games
This was a lot of work, but it really paid off.
At the end of 2014, my total income for the year was over $100,000.
Here is a screenshot of my App Annie dashboard for my personal account. Keep in mind that I have multiple accounts and I also have a company account, which I will show you later in this post.
But now I’m moving away from the traditional reskinning model.
More on that in a minute…
First, let’s take a look at what helped me do so well in reskinning. All these things will help me in the next phase of my app career.
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People Responsible For My Growth
- Carter Thomas
- Chad Mureta
- Neil Johnston
- Elaine Heney
- Gabriel Machuret
Things That Worked For Me – How to Make Six Figures With Apps
App Store Optimization (ASO)
This is huge and something that I am really good at. To get consistent downloads over the long term, you have to get this right.
Showing up in organic search is free advertising and you should take advantage of it. It can be a real game changer!
Targeting other countries is a great way to diversify your downloads. There can be less competition in other countries and that can lead to some big wins.
Chartboost Direct Deals
Doing direct deals increases the payout of your ads.
You make more money…period.
Higher Pricing of In-App Purchases
When I raised the price of my IAPs, revenues increased. Sounds elementary, but there is a fine line between increasing revenue and losing customers.
You have to figure out where that line is for your users.
Staying on top of marketing news really helped me implement strategies that get results. If you don’t educate yourself, this industry changes so fast that you will get left behind.
Listening to Customers and Consistent Updates
Paying attention to customer feedback is super important to creating an app that people want. It is also important to implement these changes often to keep people happy.
A rising tide lifts all boats. When you keep your users happy, they are more likely to download your new apps…if you tell them about it.
The more successful apps you have, the bigger your new launches will be. You can get your apps on the Top Charts with a big enough portfolio.
It’s hard to believe, but subscribing to Shutterstock’s 25 images a day package really changed my business. Using high quality pictures in my apps was a game changer.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
This concept helped me a lot. When you can test an app idea with a product that is just good enough to publish, you will get a lot of great data, which will help you iterate faster.
On the other hand, if you try to put as many features into the app as possible, you don’t really know what people will want and you could be wasting your time. A MVP also allows you to start making a little money, while you figure out how to improve the app.
We created hashtags for our apps and when someone shares a photo with that hashtag, sometimes we feature that photo. They love that and creates a deeper connection to our apps and helps keep them engaged.
Market Research / Surfing Trends
In any business, you have to build what people want. This means doing market research.
I’ll get more into this in a minute, but if you can pick the right topic or niche, this goes a long way to helping you create a successful app.
Part of market research involves understanding current trends. For example, if zebras are popular right now, making zebra themed games are an easy win.
You could make a lot of money quickly, without spending a dime on marketing.
Websites That Were The Most Helpful
- Bluecloud Solutions – Education, inspiration and source codes
- iPhoneDevSDK – An active forum for iOS developers
- The Chocolate Lab Apps – App marketing tips
- Sensor Tower Blog – App Store Optimization and app marketing
- Buzinga – Australia’s favorite app development site (or so they say 🙂 )
- Apptamin – App marketing articles
- App Empire – Education and inspiration
- Top App Charts – An easy way to keep track common themes in Top Charts apps
The Transition From Reskinning to Focusing on One Category
Now I’ll talk about what I’m doing now.
Discovering a category to focus on was really a result of experimenting with a lot of different categories. I am thankful that reskinning exposed me to all these different categories or I would have never figured this out.
Here are some of the categories I tried while reskinning:
- Photo & Video
- Racing Games
- And more!
I noticed that non-game apps had pretty consistent downloads throughout the year. In contrast, games were very inconsistent.
The Photo & Video category in particular, caught my eye. I also heard that there were people who were doing very well in this category, so I decided to check it out.
Here is how I did my market research on this category:
- Research Top Free, Top Paid, Top Grossing Charts – I found out the demand for these apps and which ones make money.
- Research the niche – What kind of apps do well in the Photo & Video category?
- Examine the companies and developers in the niche – Check their portfolio…are they legit or is there little competition?
- Review Mining – Find out the features that your competitors are lacking and what kind of bugs your app has
- Find out their monetization and marketing strategy – Don’t reinvent the wheel, learn what works and do that.
- Guess their downloads and revenue before launching the app – If you can estimate this, then you will
- Find out keyword opportunities – Review mining is gold mine for keyword research!
- What is your greatest strength? – In my case it is ASO. So I looked for opportunities where I could to better ASO than my competition.
- How many times they have updated their app? – If your competition hasn’t updated their app in awhile, then their features and bug fixes are likely out of date. Can you say opportunity?!
In August, 2014, I partnered with one of my friends. We want to make some of the best apps and games on the App Store.
To do this, we will be working very hard on our UX/UI, monitoring our reviews constantly and primarily promoting our apps through Instagram.
One of our apps reached #10 in the iPhone Photo & Video category and #55 for the iPhone across all categories, in 8 months, by following this strategy!
Here is an example of the results that we got by doing App Store Optimization. This is just one of the keywords that we optimized.
The app is getting better day-by-day as a result of listening to users and keyword rankings have increased with each update.
Here is a screenshot of our current downloads.
We released another app, using the MVP model. After reading users feedback for a few months we updated the app with new a UX/UI and added new features via in-app purchase.
By doing this, the revenue of the app doubled!
Here the things you should focus on when updating your app:
- Listen to user feedback
- Invest time in User Experience
- If you execute even a small thing, that is much better than having a big plan that you don’t act on. My journey started with a pretty simple game, but it gave me the confidence to move forward.
- Use the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) methodology
- Read a lots of blog post about monetization, retention, market research to get up to date knowledge
- Learn general business strategy. The app business isn’t really that different from another businesses, the same basic principles apply.
Regardless of where you are on your app journey, I hope that these tips will help you. I’m still improving my skills every day and I hope you are too.
To find out what Tasnim and other successful app entrepreneurs are up to, be sure to join Bluecloud Select. If you join now, get the free trial for only $1.