Welcome to the age of the app!
In recent years, the appearance and continued development of smart phones has allowed us access to these handy little pieces of software. Each and everyone has their own specific purpose such as education, organisation, convenience, shopping, sharing and plain old entertainment - and now they’re here; it looks like we can no longer live without them.
But due to their recent popularity, the market is now saturated with many apps all offering the same promises to consumers and because many of them are free, how does one make profit as an app designer? Here are five things to consider when trying to make your app profitable in a competitive market...
1. Re-skin and add your own spin! Whether it’s a fitness tracker, game or personal organiser, to hit the ground running, you’ll need a tried and tested format that works. Check out popular apps in your sector and utilise their strong points to your advantage (e.g. the graphic layout or skeleton features). Once you have pinpointed these key features, you can use them as a building block for your own app, but with the addition of your graphics and modifications. People want something new, but also crave familiarity - this is something which makes an app very attractive. If you need a little help, you can actually purchase slick, customisable app templates from Apptopia.
2. Have a USP up your sleeve. Much like any business or product, in order to really thrive you need a unique selling point (USP). If you’re creative and tech savvy, you already have the ingredients required to be a successful app designer, so put your head down, grab a pen and paper and brainstorm! If you’ve already taken inspiration from the key plus points of a rival app and put your own spin on it, the next step is to add a user feature that doesn’t appear on any other app of its kind. The combination of a tried an aesthetically pleasing familiar user platform with a new and novel feature will certainly get people talking, and ultimately drive sales.
3. Think About the Bigger Picture. Even after all that hard work, research, development and innovation, does your app really exist if no one can see it? The short answer is, not really. Writing a slick and well-crafted press release and submitting it to specialist app magazines such as know your Apps is a good way of getting some great exposure and targeting the right audience. Although essential, sometimes plain promotion alone still only gets you half the visibility needed to really crack the market. If you have a business website or blog of any kind (if you don’t, you probably should consider it!), by tying the app in with the topic (e.g. if you run a health and fitness blog, make an app based around nutrition), writing informative, SEO friendly articles about it and making it a prominent addition to your overall content marketing strategy, you can really get the exposure you deserve. People love to share - get it into the right hands and it’ll be flying all over Twitter and Facebook in no time!
4. Don’t be afraid to advertise. If your app has even started picking up a few downloads, don’t be afraid to explore the option of advertising. Not all revenue comes from sales and downloads - in fact, Rovio released a free version of Angry Birds for android with an advertising bar attached to it and it made them a lot of profit! By offering a low cost (or if you are playing the long game, free) app and unlocking a little advertising, you are essentially doubling your chances of profitability. It is even possible to charge for a full version of your app and create a more restricted ‘lite’ version which includes adverts - this offers people the chance to get a taste of what you have to offer while giving yourself two definitive revenue streams.
5. Don’t Give It All Away at Once! The colossal and hugely addictive game Candy Crush Saga, not only thrives because of savvy marketing and moreish gameplay, it actually has another major profit gaining trick up its sleeve - the add on. This is no massive secret but it’s overlooked by new app designers again and again! By offering the punter the chance to purchase items to enhance their gameplay and progress to another level, they have made an incredible amount of money. Even if your app isn’t a game, you can still utilise this method by offering the app itself for free and enticing people in with a couple (don’t milk it!) of very savvy extensions or special features for a small price. But be careful, if you are going offer add on features, make sure your app is worthy enough without them or people won’t download it in the first place.
Making real profit as an app designer isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, but by taking the above four things into consideration, you have a real chance of success. You might not get it right the first time, but by brushing up your skills, exploring the field and building up an audience over time, you will reap the benefits in the end.