Make Your Own Emoji App – Here’s Why (and it’s probably not what you think)

After 30 years emojis are still clutch.  Type in emoji/emojis/emoticon/emoticons or smileys in and you'll see tons of apps flooding the top rankings.

Apple originally introduced emoticons with iOS 4 after a huge number of requests from Japan, and emojis instantly became a classic.  Now Apple has unveiled a whole new set of emoticons that have already captured the user's attention and are making serious money.

If you want to learn about making your own emoji app (or making money with apps), sign up for our free Emoji App Workshop.

Fun Fact:  57% of messengers would rather tell a “crush” their true feelings with emoticons rather than – gasp – words. – Yahoo

 Guilty 🙁

I hate to say it, but I'm definitely guilty of using emoticons.  Probably more than I should.  Whether it's after a couple beers, or talking to a developer halfway across the globe, emojis somehow make their way into my conversations.

Sometimes I feel like my IM chats NEED an emoticon.  Other times I'm offended when someone DOESN'T include an emoji.

Why is this person being such an asshole?  Add a smiley to the text and we're best buds.

We've all seen emoji apps on the Top Charts, but is it possible to make money in this competitive category?  The answer is:


Emojis aren't going anywhere.  In fact, Apple added more emoticons with iOS 8.3, and you can damn well guarantee we're going to see some new funky emoji apps murder the Top Charts in the years to come.

If you're not using emojis, you can follow these simple steps to join the party.

The History of Emoticons and Mobile

old emojis and how to make your own emoji app emojisEmojis were initially requested by Japanese app users.

In Japanese, 'emoticon' literally translates to:  picture characters.

By activating the Japanese Romaji Keyboard (picture to the right), users could create generic emoji faces in text.


Now decades later, emojis are a common method of communication which means millions of dollars in app revenue.

Apple released 300 new emoticons with iOS 8.3.  The big news is the emoji diversity.  Now there are 5 new alternate skin colors that can be used.

Apple took it a step further with gender diversity, more national flags, and updated electronic emojis.  No more VHS cassette and fax machines from the 80s. Now we can text with modern tech devices.

emoji faces

Users can use these new emojis by simply hovering over an emoji and tapping + holding on top of the emoticon to show 5 additional characters.

How to hit the top charts with emoji apps

There is nothing really new with emoji apps.  The functionality is exactly what the user wants.  Plain and simple.  Emoji apps dominate the Apple algorithm by following 3 rules:

1.  Ease of Use

2.  Speedy Mobility

3.  User Retention

All you need to do is conquer these Big 3, and you're off to the races!

Emoji apps are meant to be opened and closed quickly.  Users probably only spend less than 10 seconds in the app itself.  So you ask:  How do developers keep high user retention?

The answer is:  You have to be creative and know your audience.  And it's easier than you think.

Animated Emoji Pro has integrated games in their app.  While searching for the right emoji, users get sidetracked and end up playing a game for several minutes.  This boosts the app's rating within Apple's algorithm.

Stick Texting is a perfect example of an emoji app that dodged the competition.  And its not going anywhere.

Well they probably have huge marketing campaigns, big funding, and cross promotional networks right?  I could never compete with these apps.



Stick Texting weaseled its way through Apple's review process with killer metadata.  The full title Stick Texting – The Emoji Emoticons Killer (Emoticon Emojis), made it through Apple's review process and hit on dozens of long-tail keyword searches (Emoji texting.  Killer emoticons.  Stick emojis…).

The developers used organic ASO methods to bring in strong search results.  Take a look at all of the variations of the word 'emoticon' used.

Also look at the reoccurring words in the app's description.  This is a classic Android tactic that came up big for Stick Texting.

This is the type of niche app that leads to buckets of money.

How do I know?

I've developed over a dozen emoji apps using the exact same themes and ASOs as high ranking apps.  The outcome was Top Charts gold.

Learn how to turn any idea into a winning app with this free 21 step app checklist (download here).

Emoji animations and gifs

Although nothing tops classic emoticons, animated and 3D emojis are sharing the spotlight.  By simply changing all the images from PNGs -> GIFs, we've created a whole new experience.

Now we can use animated images in our app. 3d animated emoji

A still image isn't enough anymore.  Users want to see the full emotional sequence from start to finish.  Instead of using a German flag, lets have a Bavarian emoji eating a schnitzel and drinking a Doppelbock.

Why stop with emojis?  Why not add real-life animated expressions?

Users want to pinpoint an EXACT emotion to the receiver.

text chatLOL or WTF  just don't cut it sometimes.  In many cases a facial animation is necessary for illustrating a reaction.

Instead of paying for resources to be created, I found tons of free-license sites with animated gifs up for grabs.  Apple did throw a couple rejections my way due to trademark infringement.  But guess what – the rejections took 2 minutes to fix and could be easily submitted again.

Chances are you're not going to beat the heavy hitters in the emoji category.  Mostly because a lot of these apps have been around for years and are grandfathered in.

Target niche categories.  I came across an article written by an emoji-fanatic demanding an emoticon app for redheads.  What a classic idea that hasn't been done yet!

Find a non-competitive area.  Maybe its something like lazer-cat texting animations or animated gifs from the 80s.  The more specific, the less competition.

Emoticon Apps are Still Blasting Off – Make Your Own Emoji App

Many developers are missing out on picking niche themes and being creative to keep users in the app.

Emoji apps are incredibly easy to develop, maintain, and skin.  Speaking from experience, there's no better way to get revenue and downloads than having a network of different niche themed emoji applications.  Users can't get enough of these apps.

App geniuses like Chad Mureta aren't quitting on emojis.  Why would he? 

Chad's hit emoticon app took only 2 weeks to create, and was averaging $500 a day only six days after its release.  Mureta has sold his best emoticon app and has gone on to develop tons of new hit emoji apps.

These types of source codes are incredibly affordable.  You can develop your own or purchase one of many source codes already packaged up.

It can be really easy to make your own emoji app. Bluecloud offers a premier emoji source code as part of it's Bluecloud App Formula course. You can learn more in the free workshop here to get access.

Don't miss out on the next wave of emoticon apps.  If emojis are something you're interested in and have wanted to develop in the past, its not too late.

Get off the couch and start hustling!

If you want to read more sign up for our app business workshop and get the 150 page free ebook.  This publication is easily the best place to start if you want to learn more about apps.

If you want to make your emoji app, you can get your hands on a ready-to-go template here.

Have questions about creating your own emoji app?  Leave a comment, lets chat about it.


  • Stephen March 27, 2015

    Hey Mark, Great article and I totally agree. I took it a step further and developed an emoji app game called Emojis vs Emoticons – An Epic Goal Defense Challenge. I see some of the keyboard emoji apps killing it and thought I might want to develop something similar with my domain I would be interested in a putting together a partnership with a programmer if anyone wants to hit me back!

  • Steve I. March 27, 2015

    Nice insights and tips. I’ve found the emoji space pretty challenging, with my app Emoji My Face. (It lets you Photoshop/morph your pic with beautifully designed emoji icons.)

    In my latest update, Apple dictated that I could not have any keywords in the app title, after “Emoji My Face”, so there’s that working against me.

  • Mark March 28, 2015

    The emoji space can be challenging, especially when venturing off the traditional emoji framework of texting classic emoticons. Apple can be strict with metadata too. The best way to get past this is to get your app approved. You don’t have to release it, but pick a safe title that you don’t feel Apple will have a problem with, then update with a more desired title.

    Its also helps to detail why this app is unique in the description and review notes areas. By explaining what makes your application different than others, Apple may have some more leniancy with metadata and updates in general.

  • tony holden March 29, 2015

    pls send me as much info as you can about new ideas within apps emoticons emojis etc…

  • Mark March 31, 2015

    Hey Tony, I tried to keep the blog as fresh as I could. If you have any specific questions related to emoticons, I’ll do my best to answer.

  • Ian August 12, 2015

    Just wanted to say thanks for the tips. Really good insight for starting out. I do have an exact niche market I want to creat emoticons for but some may require some sort of royalty or trademark issues. I would love to get my foot in the door with this because I believe this idea will skyrocket. Haha. So any tips for literally starting from the bottom with no experience on anything, but an idea? Thanks in advance!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas August 12, 2015

    @Ian – you can check out the for lots of information about that topic. We also have a Trademark expert in our Bluecloud Select Mastermind Group if you ever want to ask them personally. Once you join, you can find them in the FB group.

  • Mark Nagelmann August 13, 2015

    Great stuff Ian!!! I’m excited for you! We also have a “Turning An Idea To A Reality” ebook that’s PERFECT for beginners:

    And I emailed you with my personal email if you have any followup questions 🙂

  • nosa August 27, 2015

    Great article!!

    As a noob to app building I have a question on developing emoji apps that may be obvious to some here sorry. When you create the actual emoji do you need a graphic designer. Then for the actual app, is it the programmers job to organize the Jpegs of the emoji into a functionable format for the end user? I have heard people say you should just design your emoji and send it off to the programmer but I always thought it made more sense getting a graphic designer to make the actual emoji and then send that off to the programmer.

    thanks in advance

  • Mark Nagelmann August 31, 2015

    Great question! Yes you CAN spend $100s of dollars having a designer create emojis. OR you can purchase stock images like this one for cheap:

    What I recommend, is purchasing stock images, then creating A FEW of your own to nail your theme and make your app unique.

    Regarding organization between the coder and designer, this is a great question. There are some jobs that can be assigned to both coder and designer. It is YOUR job to find out what to assign the task to. I recommend getting a time quote and deciding that way. Because your question is a format question – I recommend talking to your coder about what format you should use for your desired result, most likely you will want to save your emojis as a PNG so the background is transparent.

  • Andre September 20, 2015

    Great article, thanks v much. We are building what could be a cool niche themed emoji app but we realize that its critical to find a way to break through the sea of apps or our cool app will be mostly invisible. Could we talk off line about strategies or can you provide a resource that might help us sort through the known unknowns? Thanks!

  • Mark Nagelmann September 21, 2015

    This is awesome Andre! Glad the article was informative for you. I’d love to learn more about your app and help where I can. You can send an email to and I will respond. Let me know a little more about your app idea and the direction you are going. You can also schedule a call with Carter here:

  • Andre September 21, 2015

    Hi Mark, thanks for the note! I sent an email to the “support” address in your reply and it got bounced. Regards

  • Ramona October 25, 2015

    I have an idea for emoji’s for android.. I want to create and sale my emojis.. Can we chat about how I would go about this. Thank you

  • Mark Nagelmann October 26, 2015

    Great question Ramona.
    Emojis are at an all time high right now, especially with the 9.1 OS release by Apple. If you are looking to create and sell emojis, you will need to nail it. The hardest part will be testing and creating a theme that consumers want and need. It will have to be a niche popular theme. There are thousands of emojis already available for sale, I’ve made several emoji apps by downloading images straight from That being said, if you’re looking at selling emojis I would contact the most popular emoji sites like and and see what they need and are interested in. If you can provide emojis in return for them promoting your app, you could have a winning traffic funnel in the making.

  • Kimberlye November 23, 2015

    Hey whats up?

    This was a very helpful great read. However, believe it or not I still have questions.
    I am a huge fan of using emojis. but I have often found myself not being able to find the picture or facial expressions that i want, so thats why i am here looking for how to make my own. I already have the images and themes, I just don’t know how to bring them to life. My emojis are not only originals, but the way they interact would also be new.

    I don’t mind learning or doing the work on my own, but I just need a good place to start.

    Cheers and thank you,


  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas November 24, 2015

    If you’re looking to develop a new way emojis “interact’ with users, I would start by talking to a coder (I recommend to see what he/she needs on their end. The coder will ask you things like how many images, what size, how do you want it to look, will they be still or animated images, etc. The best thing to do is find an app in the store that is similar to your idea, show it to a developer and discuss what you want done the same/different.

    Then you can talk to a designer. You can do the same and include an app link similar to your idea and ask something along the lines of “how much would it cost to create X of these images?” From there you can get a ballpark idea of costs and what is needed. Depending on the # of images and emojis you are looking at creating, it could bring costs up. There are services like where you can pay for pre-created images.

    If you would like more tips, instructions, and hiring templates, I recommend checking out our Starter Kit (


  • Catso December 30, 2015

    I’m assuming that by purchasing a subscription to Bluecloud Solutions I will receive the source code to the app? I am trying to make a very niche emoji keyboard that would apply to a select group of 30 people, not trying to market it or anything. I just want to be able to make an emoji keyboard for fun and put it up for free on the App Store but there are no instructions/tutorials widely available on the web as of this date and to my knowledge. Thanks in advance.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 1, 2016

    @Catso – You’ll get access to four source codes, but not an emoji source code. If that’s what you’re looking for specifically, I’m sure you can find one on any of the source code marketplaces out there.

  • Jay January 5, 2016

    Does Apple and Android use discretion on emojis they’ll support? If so can you sell them in a compatible form from your personal website?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 6, 2016

    @Jay – yes they do. If you try to include anything that’s racy, trademarked or otherwise inappropriate, you’re going to be rejected. What do you mean by compatible form?

  • Michelle January 25, 2016

    I would like to make an emoji keyboard with 108 images. I am able to create art for the emojis and the app itself, I am just in need of a programmer. Is that something you do?

  • Austin Gregory January 25, 2016

    I have an idea but I need a developer to bring my idea into fruition. I know exactly what I want I just don’t know how to do it. It will be something like an emoji’s and it be used as a additional keyboard etc. Any developers or computer programmers please email me If I can get advise on how to do it I would do it myself.. I need help!!!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 26, 2016

    Thanks for thinking of us Michelle, but we do not do outsourcing development work. I recommend looking for pre-existing source codes on sites like Code Canyon to save you money, and visiting and for a developer. If you would like more information on development, please email our who would be happy to answer any questions for you 🙂

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 26, 2016

    @Austin –
    One of our project managers has reached out to the email you provided.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 28, 2016

    @Michelle – we dont do the development, but if you join Bluecloud Select, you can connect with almost 1,000 other app business owners who can point you in the right direction (in our FB group).

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 28, 2016

    @Austin – Similar to what I told Michelle, if you join Bluecloud Select, that’s your best bet on finding a good developer to help you out.

  • gibert February 2, 2016

    Hello nice article am a junior coder and I want to know what tools you use to develop emojis , I want to develop an app wich is emoji based.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 2, 2016

    @Gilbert – have you tried using a source code as a place to start? I’m sure there are some inexpensive codes out there that you can use to get started for little money and still use your coding skills.

  • Danny Cohem February 3, 2016


    I am thinking about creating a niche emoji app but have a few questions. First, I’ve been told that apple recently announced you can’t use emojis outside of your own app and that it must be inside the app. Is that true?

    I also want the emojis to be able to be shown inline with text , like apples emojis and not as a “stickie” is this still possible?


  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 3, 2016

    @Danny – THere’s a lot of different options really, but for the most part:

    1. You can’t do emoji’s the way Apple’s keyboard emojis look. You can get close with stickers, but not exact.
    2. You can use your app emojis in other apps but you need to use APIs to make that happen, which can be complicated.

    I know that’s not the best answer, but that’s because it is always changing.

  • Tyesha Williams February 6, 2016


    I’d like to make emojis for the conscious and spiritually enlightened community. I’m in tons of FB groups with hundreds of thousands of people who I know would love this. Would it be possible to also feature Ancient Egyptian symbols as emojis or would these get turned down? I’m clueless when it comes to this as this idea just came to me last night.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 7, 2016

    @Tyesha – responded to your email. Here’s what I wrote: “I don’t see why not, but I can’t guarantee anything when it comes to the approval process. As long as you’re not infringing on any copyrights or trademarks, you should be ok.”

  • Omar Anthony February 11, 2016

    i’m at the beginning stages of developing my app. The majority of my audience will use whatsapp, the issue i’m running into is whatsapp doesn’t recognize transparent emojis/images. Their algorithm compresses all transparent images to the lowest version jpg and adds a black background to all emojis. Do you know how to bypass this, or have any information on having transparent images recognized by whatsapp? or there’s nothing I can do until whatsapp update their system to recognize transparent images? Thanks!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 12, 2016

    @Omar – I do not know. I’d either check the WhatsApp dev SDK documentation OR I’d email every developer who has an app that DOES have transparent images and ask them how they did it.

  • kim February 15, 2016


    Great article, thank you!

    I currently have a developer creating an emoji keyboard app for ios. I asked for a proce to create the same app on android and he quoted me double. He said it is particularly hard to execute an emoji app on android, something to do with scrollview?

    I was wondering if you know anything about this or if anyone has had experiences creating the same emoji app on both ios and android? Thanks!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 15, 2016

    @Kim – a lot of that depends on the platform you’re building the app on. Native code ported to Android can often cause just as much money but will give you the full functions of both platforms. If you build on something like Unity3d or Cocos-2dx you can port more easily, but lose many of the unique iOS functions. Good luck!

  • Max February 18, 2016

    Once I develop an emoji keyboard app, will the keyboard and emojis be usable within most apps (messages, notes, other messaging apps)? Also, will the recipient be able to view the emojis even if they don’t have the app installed? I really want to create something similar to bitmoji where it works in all apps and the keyboard just acts like a separate language keyboard.

  • Data March 7, 2016

    Hi, just a quick one, when creating a canvas in photoshop, and saving as a jpeg, what are the best dimensions to use so that it does not get cropped when sending via whasapp? I would like the recipient to view the entire image without having to click on it, thankyou. D

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas March 7, 2016

    @Data – I think that depends on the app itself and how you define image dimensions. Your coder should be able to help with that.

  • Ceyhan Turkell March 13, 2016

    Always wanted to create one

  • Howard Williams April 20, 2016

    I have and new design that I feel and i’m sure you will to, very promising about this Emoji…..

  • Dois May 7, 2016

    Hi!! What is my first step to developing an emoji app. I know the types of emoji I want to create. I just don’t know where to start. Please help. Thank you!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas May 7, 2016

    @Dois – the first step is to to learn how the app business works and then to get a template you can use. My webinar will show you how to do this:

  • Leen De Smedt GSM May 17, 2016

    Hi Carter,

    I can not quite find which is the correct software to create my own emoticons..?

    Best regards,

  • Jerry May 25, 2016

    Hey Mark & Carter,

    Thanks for the article! Wish I had seen this when it was first posted.

    My buddy and I are putting together city-based emoji keyboards, but we’re not sure what the best monetization route is for us. What are some strategies that you guys have seen work in the past?

    For reference:

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas May 25, 2016

    @Jerry – What’s your current strategy? What’s working about it? what’s not?

  • Jerry May 25, 2016

    @carter thanks for the reply! Right now, we’re charging $.99 for each keyboard. What’s working- it’s very simple and easy for us to manage. Each download = $.70 revenue. What’s not working- trouble driving traffic to the App Store and converting that traffic into downloads/revenue.

  • June 9, 2016

    so many a reate my own emoticons..?

  • Lucky June 9, 2016

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for this article! I think I have a good idea and niche for an emoji app. I’m going to go through your checklist. I’ve never done anything like this before so I am a little nervous but I’m happy to know there’s some type of support and help out there!

  • Birdy June 11, 2016

    In terms of monetization, is it better to create a free emoji app with in-app purchases or to just create a paid emoji app?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 13, 2016

    @Birdy – Probably better to start with Paid. Emoji apps are unique in that people don’t use the freemium parts as much. Then you can try doing one that is freemium with unlocking stickers, etc

  • Jorge June 14, 2016

    Hello mark i read your blogg about the emoji app i think its greqt but i still want more info i have a great idea and a targeted market but thats all i have an idea, no experience what so ever on programmers coders ect but got lots of drive and believe in my idea is there anyway you can steer me in the right direction oh yeah price efficient too im on a budget and unemployed but willing to invest my savings on my dream and idea please email with any tips or names i can reach out to, thanks in advance

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 14, 2016

    @Jorge – you should tune into my next workshop for a bunch of free information about this:

  • olga July 28, 2016

    Hi Mark and Carter

    What does the emoji app that you offer, include? I would appreciate a little more information re the features and functionality.
    Thank you

  • Ariane August 7, 2016


    I would like to develop some animated emojis. My audience target is my country(Haiti). I am looking for a designer who can help me put my thinking on paper. Thank you for all references you can give me.

  • Sixta Bowersox August 16, 2016

    Helpful comments , I was enlightened by the points , Does someone know where my assistant could possibly get a fillable VAR Form 300 form to work with ?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas August 16, 2016
  • Juliana September 24, 2016

    What’s the best monetization route for an emoji app? Is it better to create a free emoji app with in-app purchases or a paid emoji app? What have you noticed is the most profitable way to go based on the emoji apps you have created?

  • Lance October 19, 2016

    Hi Carter, would Apple reject custom still image emoji’s of products and essential oil bottles from the company that I represent (e.g. doterra, young living, or ameo)? The products wouldn’t have any words, just the shapes and colors. Thank you in advance for your help!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas October 19, 2016

    @Lance – probably not as long as there is nothing infringing about them. Shouldn’t be an issue

  • Chee November 2, 2016

    I have a good idea for an emoji collection and I don’t know who to contact or my net steps- I have a marketing plan to launch and attract customer but I don’t know where to start as far as getting it started- any ideas?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas November 3, 2016

    @Chee – you should get the Emoji template here:

  • Aamrin November 10, 2016

    i want to make moving emoji please provide me a moving emoji maker software i make moving emoji on it…..And how add moving action in a simple emoji

  • RK November 20, 2016

    Hi Carter,
    If I am creating an emoji app for a celebrity …do we need any legal approval from them?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas November 21, 2016

    @RK – if you’re working with them, you should have a contract that covers those issues. You need their permission.

  • joshua d stargel December 8, 2016

    Hey Carter,
    I have a great idea that pertains to our Veterans, and I would like to create emojis and gifs that would target that audience. I have a varied background, but I learn fast and believe that this can be very strategic, profitable and charitable if rolled out correctly.

  • j January 3, 2017

    would like info on creating emojis.

  • Thomas January 15, 2017

    I have an emoji idea & am really motivated by this fantastic article, thank you!! I do feel like I can’t pull it off though, I’m just a nobody really with a good idea, can anyone do it? I’m also in Australia, is it possible to be part of the webinar from the other side of the world without waking up my whole family in the middle of the night?! 🙂 Let me know what you think & I’ll sign up today 🙂 Thomas

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 15, 2017

    @Thomas – Yes, anyone can do it but there is a clear formula that works. You need to find a target set of users that will want your app, research them then create the app + get it in front of those people. Everything can be done turnkey (we even have a team that does Emoji apps at a good price). Plenty of students have already done this. Hope that helps!

  • Tapan January 19, 2017

    Hi Carter/Mark,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and helping people to get into app business.
    I am in a first phase of creating Emoji app. The problem that I am facing right now is getting Emojis as per my requirements. I have found few websites like , , or that sell graphics/stickers. I find their license agreement very confusing.Could you please help me get some idea on how to handle this situation. Can i use bought graphics in my application with little or or no modification. Just asking you as you must have handled such situation. Thanks again.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 19, 2017

    @Tapan – without looking specifically at those sites, license agreements usually make sure you don’t resell these graphics on your own stock site (or whatever). You want to get a license that allows for commercial use (you make money) and that does not require attribution. Hope that helps!

  • Karen March 23, 2017

    You state that you have a team that does the apps at a good price. I’m interested as I am not the best on computers and programming illiterate. How do I find out more about your service and your pricing? Thanks!

  • Carc June 15, 2017

    I’m interested in developing a niche emoji keyboard, but how many emojis should I start off with?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 16, 2017

    @Carc – start with 20-30. That will keep your costs down and still get you a good product. You can learn all the steps in the free workshop:

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