(If you’re looking how to develop and outsource and app, check out my course App Academy)
(Be sure to read part 2: Life as App of the Week and Earnings Report)
This weekend has been on the craziest weekends of my life.
Since Thursday night, every morning has felt like Christmas. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t wait to get up.
Seven months ago, I knew I had a great idea and I wanted to make money from it but didn’t realize how much money I would make.
It seems my idea and hard work paid off in ways I could not imagine. I’ll explain soon.
Back in the Old Days
For years I have tried to make money online. I have tried PPC, making niche sites and starting blogs. I dreamt of making money online, however, after a few months each of those ventures ended with me quitting.
I got frustrated I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see. I had doubts if I could really do it. I lost interest.
I hated my job and constantly thought of what else I could do. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I kept coming back to the idea of doing something online.
Last October 2010, I had my breaking point after a horrible night at my miserable job. For the past five years, I’ve wanted to do something I loved instead of working in the family restaurant business. I hated it so much. I hated what I had done with my life. Instead of doing something about it, I just thought about it and watched lots of television to forget about it.
In the car ride home that night, I felt upset at myself. For too long I hoped for a better life but that’s where I made my mistake. I was hoping and not doing.
That night I came home and wrote a note to myself to stop living like this. I needed to start finding what I wanted to do with my life. I needed to do that every day until I did. No more complaining. No more excuses.
I taped that note to my bathroom mirror and above my desk where I could be reminded it of it every day.
Found My Inspiration
Then one day I came across Smartpassiveincome.com. I was immediately hooked by the content and the story of Pat Flynn. Here was a guy who was laid off from his job and built a business selling an ebook. From there he began to teach others how to make money online.
He mentioned making iPhone apps as one part of his business. He didn’t know how to code, so he outsourced the work. Now he was making thousands a month. Truly passive income! That gave me inspiration that I could at least get an app created.
It took a few months till I got an idea. By this time, I’m still motivated and taking action. In January 2011, I bought an ebook he recommended called “How to Create an iPhone App with No Experience”. (affiliate link). Without that book, I would have been lost and confused.
Grand Opening Day
Fast forward to seven months later. August 11, 2011. My app Photo 365 was ready to be sold. I priced it at 99 cents. I didn’t know what to expect.
I wrote a goal of being in the top 5 of all photography apps and in the top 25 of the whole app store. Crazy goals and I had no idea how I’d get there.
Also, I just wanted to make my money back. I spent $1892 on the app, plus $99 to sell my app through Apple, and then $10 on the theme. I wanted at least to break even.
This might have been an expensive experience, but I would have been okay to not make all my money back. It’s like gambling. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. I knew selling app is a gamble because there are 425,000 apps in the store.
I did no marketing for my app besides telling friends on Twitter and Facebook (thank you to those who did!)
The only marketing I was counting on was being seeing in the App store because that’s where it matters the most.
Thursday arrived and my app was ready to be sold. Being a new app, I was featured in the new releases in the photo category. I would have a high position only for that day till the next day when new apps were released.
You can’t tell how many people find your app through keywords. So I just assume the majority of the people found my app through browsing.
The first four days my app was for sale I made:
- Thursday – $80.88
- Friday – $182.06
- Saturday – $366.86
- Sunday – $287.25
- Total – $917.05
Great!! Exciting! More than I had imagined!! I was just hoping for $50 a day. Making my money back seemed reachable! Plus I could get more to cover the cost of future updates.
But then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday proved to be slower days. My app was falling because it was getting lost with all the other new releases in my category. Unless people found me through keywords, they wouldn’t find me as easily. My thoughts of making my money back slowly faded away.
- Monday – $151.26
- Tuesday – $78.12
- Wednesday – $64.63
- Total – $294.01
Still great numbers but after sales figures went so high last week, I was dejected by the decrease. I felt like I was losing my momentum just after less than a week.
Then Thursday changed my life
I had a busy day at work and hadn’t checked the rank of my app all day because I figured it was only going down. (Rankings of your apps are based on downloads. It updates every couple hours).
Then at 10:00 pm, I decided to check the App store just to see what the new featured apps were for the week. I was bored.
I’ve never won the lottery before but I imagine if I did, I would react the same way when I saw my app on that page.
I was amazed, in disbelief and shocked. I reloaded the page so many times.
From what I had read from other developers, being featured in the “New and Noteworthy” category meant lots of eyes seeing your app and potential downloads. It’s like getting a guest post on Zen Habits or Smart Passive Income.
Not only was I in the group of 32 apps featured, I was “above the fold”!!
I quickly called my sister to make sure this wasn’t just on my iPhone. She checked and said she saw it too!
When I checked my rankings that morning I was at a lowly #92 in the photography category. Now I was #12!! Higher ranking means more downloads.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I could not wait to see sales figures for the next day. It felt like Christmas Eve.
When I checked I saw I made….$685.10!!!!
Unbelievable. Speechless. F***ing awesome!
I knew that my app would be featured from Thursday till Wednesday. I also knew the weekends are the most profitable times.
I braced myself to see what would happen over the weekend. Again I couldn’t sleep each night.
- Friday – $1226.44
- Saturday – $1186.89
- Total – $2413.33!
Wow!!!! I couldn’t believe it!! $1000+ in a day is still mind boggling to me!
Then on Sunday, Pat Flynn pointed out my App was featured on the App store Facebook fan page that has 2.5 million fans. As of this post, it has 881 “likes” for my app.
That pushed my app up to #44 overall and to #3 in the photo category behind two of my favorite photo apps, Camera+ and Hipstamatic. Those are app companies.
I’m just a Chinese American from Florida who outsourced work to the Ukraine.
I knew sales would be bigger than Friday and Saturday based on the rankings all day Sunday. I just didn’t know how big till I checked.
3,343 downloads of my app! Nearly doubled from Saturday. It comes to $2328.91!
So my total for Friday, Saturday, Sunday was
The total since I’ve been selling the app is $6636.52!
I still can’t believe it. My little app turned into something bigger than I imagined. I know I worked hard. I know I’m lucky. I’m very thankful. I appreciate every single download!
This all happened while I worked all weekend. I could have been on a beach somewhere! However, I put in the seven months of work to get to this point.
There’s no telling if these figures can sustain. I understand that. I just have to find ways to keep the momentum.
It’s going to take work to keep up the expectations of current users and attract new users. This is what I signed up for so I’m ready for the next part of this journey.
Thinking back why this time was different that other times I’ve tried to make money online, there were some factors that you can learn from it.
Believe in yourself
A huge difference this time compared to other times I have tried, was believing creating an app was possible. Pat had already done it. The two guys who wrote the guide had done it. Other regular people like you and I have done it with no experience.
They started from the beginning and learned every step of the way.
Failure was not an option. Not this time. I invested my time and importantly my money. I had to believe I could get this done.
In fact, I didn’t have to force myself to believe it. I knew I would get this done.
Be the tortoise and not the hare
In my attempts to make money online before, I got frustrated if I didn’t see immediate results. I was the rabbit in the race. When I didn’t see money coming in, or lots of traffic, I thought to myself, “See I knew I couldn’t do it. This was a waste of my time.”
That’s one reason I failed so many times before. I never gave it time to develop. I quit when it got tough.
This time, once I started working with the developers, there was work to be done every week. I had keep looking at the work they had done and send back my notes.
I didn’t work on my app every single day but there wasn’t a week that went by where I didn’t do something related to it.
Be consistent in whatever you’re working on. Don’t try to do too much at once. Don’t think you’ll go to the gym six times a week for 2 hours at a time. You’ll burn out so quickly.
Don’t be the person running a marathon, who runs as hard as you can when you start. You will wear out in minutes. You want to go at a nice pace the whole race.
The same goes for any goals you want to achieve.
An overnight success takes time
My app took a total of seven months from the day I hired them, to the day they sent me the final copy.
Their initial proposal said it would be done in 1.5 months, but actually it was better it took longer. I never wanted to rush it. More time to make the app better. I wanted the quality to be up to my standards and they were willing to work with me to do that. They seemed fine that it took that long.
This wasn’t an overnight success. It may seem like it with the sales I had the last four days. It took hours of testing the app, writing notes, and emailing it to them. This step went on for months.
I had so much behind the scenes work to do to be ready when my app began to sell.
Seven months might seem like a long time, but anything you want to do well will take time. Are you willing to put in the time? Ask yourself.
Take it one step at a time
I had no idea how to create an app when I started! I didn’t even know how to outsource my project. I really had to take it one step at a time.
I didn’t worry about things I didn’t need to do yet. If I did, I would have gotten overwhelmed and probably quit before I even began!
For example, at the beginning stages, I didn’t worry about learning how to use Xcode so I could test my app on the iPhone. That happened months later. No need to worry about that at the beginning. I would learn that when it was time.
I didn’t think about how to submit my app to the App store until I had to. When it was time, I read the directions, used Google and Youtube. It took me four hours but I got it done.
Instead of thinking of everything else I had to do to get my app ready to be sold, I focused on the week to week goals. The developers were great because they broke up the project into different milestones that corresponded with the payment schedule. That helped to know what had to be accomplished before moving on to the next phase.
Whatever you do, do it well
I went into this with the goal of creating the best app I could. Simplicity was important but making it look good was just as important. I knew I wanted my app to look like it was done by a big time company. I didn’t want it to look basic. I wanted to give it a serious effort and see what would happen.
If you’re serious about doing anything, do it well. Don’t do it half way. Don’t give it half the effort. If you do, you’ll get half of the results.
You get lucky from working hard
I can’t explain how I got featured on the front page of the App store. My app had just been out for a week.
But like Thomas Jefferson said,
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”.
No doubt I worked hard for to get this app ready. I was prepared for this moment. I worked for seven months to be ready. Though others did the coding, I made sure my vision and standards were met. I made sure the app looked great. I wanted the users to enjoy the app. The only reasons I could think of why my app was chosen was for the function and design.
Don’t do it just for the money. You will fail.
Before when I tried different ways to make money online, it failed because I didn’t enjoy it. I started blog on topics I thought I would enjoy writing about but I really didn’t.
The same went for the niche sites I started. I started ones for eye creams and identity theft. Yikes! It’s like looking at old photos and thinking “Why did I think that haircut looked good??”
I know the reason I thought about eye creams and identity theft was because of the money. I focused so much on making money and that’s why I lost enjoyment for it when I didn’t see any money.
This time I enjoyed the process. I’ve been a huge iPhone fan since day one. It was a dream of mine to have an app but I made it into a goal when I started to take action.
Yes I wanted to make money from it, but I also wanted to just be able to say I created an app. I enjoyed the experience as much as the finish product. If I didn’t make money, I would have still enjoyed the journey.
You have to take action
No matter how much I read about creating an app, nothing was going to happen if I didn’t take action.
You might have an idea for something you want to do but may have excuses to not start. You need to realize excuses will always hold you back in life if you constantly believe them.
No amount of hoping and praying will get you what you want. No one will knock on your door and say, “Congrats on your new life!” There’s never a right time. Don’t say “I’ll start when…”. It’ll just keep going.
You have to take that first step to even have any chance to be in the game.
You have to know your target market
When you’re creating a product or starting a blog, you have to know who your target market is. If you’re looking to market every one, then you’ll fail. It has to be specific.
I knew for my app it would be a specific niche. I wasn’t targeting all photo fans. I wanted people who wanted to save a photo a day. I wanted new families with babies. I wanted someone who loves to remember their year through photos.
When you blog, who is your audience? If you’re writing an ebook, who are you talking to?
Have a target and let it grow from there.
You can choose your destiny
I’m just a regular guy with a college degree. I’m a guy who had been frustrated with his life and wondered if things would ever get better. I’m no smarter than you. In fact, probably many of you are smarter than me. The difference is that I did something about my goals.
Before I looked up to people who had great blogs and were making money online and thought that was great but it couldn’t be me.
Things changed when I thought, “Why can’t it be me? There’s no reason I can’t do what they’re doing.”
That attitude changed in many ways. I have a growing blog. I have an iPhone app. I’ve run two half marathons. I’ve met some amazing new friends. I’ve written a small ebook. I have other projects in the works.
You don’t need do know everything. You just need to know that you will start.
You can do it
I want to inspire you to think that any goal you have is achievable. I accomplished one of my mine! You can choose to live an epic life. Seven months ago I made no money online. I didn’t even have a blog.
I did have a vision, passion, goals, an unwillingness to give up, and belief in my abilities.
Because of this, I now have more confidence to achieve more of my goals. I want to inspire you to do the same.
In closing, I do want to say just cause you create an app, doesn’t mean it’ll be like me. It takes much more than that. Do I encourage you to create an app? If you’re interested, great! But like I said, it’s a gamble. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
If you have any questions about it, or anything else, please ask in the comments!
Finally thanks to everyone for their encouragement and support along the way! It helped keep me going!
To see the website for my app, go to Photo 365. To view my app in iTunes go here. Also don’t forget to read my interview at Smart Passive Income, where I talk more about my process of creating the app.
If you want to develop your own app, but don’t know how, I share everything from how to get an idea that can make money to how to hire someone and not get ripped off. Join my course App Academy and develop your first iPhone app.