Think you might have the next big money-making app idea? Think you might be sitting on the next PayPal, Uber or Airbnb but wondering if you have the right skill set to develop it?
Never fear, it’s not as difficult as you think to get into app creation and maybe bring in a tidy profit. Even Elon Musk had to start somewhere.
With the following steps we’ll show you just how you can go about creating your own money-making app:
- Coming up with an idea for a money-making app
- Types of apps
- How much can you make?
- Making an app for free
You can’t exactly start working on your app without an idea. For starters, think about what you would like an app for. Chances are, there are thousands of other people who are yearning for the same thing. Think about the community you live in. If you live in a big city that attracts a lot of attention from tourists, for example, then the options are endless.
Airbnb started out as a means for founders and Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia to manage to pay their rent. Then unemployed, and housing people in their San Francisco apartment for $80 (£65.50) a night, the company grew and is now valued at $25.5bn (£20.9bn).
Think about your hobbies and interests. Let’s say you’re a frequent traveller and like to visit famous pubs around the world. You’ve acquired a list of your favorite locations. Why not turn that database into a map app for your fellow travellers?
However plenty of famous apps don’t centre around special interests but they always top the charts. Grab your phone, you probably already have a few downloaded. Do you see PUBG Mobile, Minecraft, Clash of Clans or Fortnite? What about Pokémon Go? Gaming apps tend to earn more money since users are more willing to pay for them, especially if they’re extremely popular among their friends. Lots of apps get their start just from word of mouth.
Don’t despair if you find something similar to your idea while searching through the app store. Learn to think outside the box.
Try to come up with an idea that won’t have a lot of competition with existing and favourable apps. With Riverside London and VoiceMap, London tourists are spoiled for choice for apps that help them see the city. This market saturation inspired the creators of Hidden London to guide people off the beaten path. Still that’s not to say you can’t analyse your rivals and try to figure out what you can do to make your app bigger and better than theirs. What are they missing?
Here are some important points to consider while pondering over your app:
- Are you planning on taking on the work of developing the app yourself, or are you willing and able to hire a team?
- Who does the app benefit?
- Will your app require daily management?
- Does your app promote an existing service (such as your company), or does it stand alone?
- How much are you planning to charge?
- Do you want your app to result in a full-time business, or do you want it to simply be a side project?
- What platforms do you want your app available on?
There are numerous categories that your app can fit under. Here are most of them, with examples of some of the more popular options.
- Games (Words With Friends, Draw Something)
- Travel (TripAdvisor, KAYAK)
- Social networking (Facebook, Twitter)
- News (BBC, NYTimes)
- Music (Spotify, Pandora)
- Photography (Instagram, Pic Stitch)
- Video (TikTok, Funimate)
- Utility (Google Translate, Flashlight)
Now you have your idea. Great, that’s half the battle! But now what? We’re assuming, like most people, that you don’t have any experience in programming. And that’s fine! There are tons of options.
If you want to take the more expensive but convenient route, you can look into hiring an app developer.
Websites such as Tappable and The App Developers allow you to connect to programmers and developers with years of experience. You can select if you’re creating an app as an individual, a business or an agency. They can create apps for mobiles, tablets and your average desktop computer. To receive any sort of price quote, you must fill out a form detailing your idea before they can get back to you.
Here are some questions to ask as you’re shopping around for a developer:
- What do they charge?
- Who have they worked for in the past?
- Are their apps successful?
- Will I have full ownership?
- Do they have the skill set to bring my idea to life?
- Which platforms (iOS, Android, etc.) can they build apps for?
As the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Turns out, that’s not entirely true in the app-making industry. But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s assume you’ve decided to hire a developer.
Depending on the type of app you wish to develop, the cost can range between £700 for a simple utility app, to £170,000 for a monolith like WhatsApp. This may sound like a lot of money, but bear in mind that the right app will bring in a profit that outweighs the development cost. Forbes estimates that WhatsApp has accrued revenue of up to $5bn even without advertising or up-front payments. Also, gaming apps – which will cost the most to develop – are among the chart-toppers both in popularity and earnings. As of 2018, Candy Crush’s revenues totalled a whopping $1.5bn (£1.2bn) when it doesn’t cost a penny to download.
You may run into developers who will offer to make you an all-inclusive app for less than £1,000 but be wary of this as you tend to get what you pay for. We think it’s best to pay a little extra for a quality product you can be proud of. Why waste nearly £1,000 on an app that won’t sell?
If you have some of your own design expertise, this can also serve to reduce hefty fees. Do you have the skills to create graphics in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign? Don’t be afraid to use them.
Another way to possibly shave off some costs would be to offer the developer equity. However, they’d have to really be sold on your idea and you’d have to be financially prepared for such an agreement.
If you want any specific add-ons, those can cost you an additional £700 or more. Some of the more popular additions include GPS locators and the ability to share content over social media: a feature that is essential in the current marketplace.
You must also bear in mind the costs to sell your app via an app store. It costs approximately £66.50 ($99) each year to sell your product through Apple, who only list prices in American dollars on top of a 30% cut of your app’s profits. This cost is well worth itthough, as you’ll get tons of traffic.
The money you earn from your app will depend largely on its popularity and how much you decide to charge, so it’s difficult to say. Unless you’re completely confident with your creation, it’s probably not best to quit your full-time job! A study from GigaOM Pro showed that more than half of their 352 surveyed developers made less than £400 a month. 75% of those surveyed said they still held other jobs. That £400 is not quite enough to live off of but it’s perfect if you’re just looking for a little extra cash on the side.
Of course, you could have the next Angry Birds and bring in nearly £660,000 a month!
In order to make a significant amount of money through your app, try following these tips:
- Make sure it reaches a broad audience rather than a niche market
- Start small just to get your feet wet, and then go from there
- Research the most popular apps on the store
- Currently, it’s easier to make money through iOS apps
- Encourage family and friends to leave reviews for your app
- Consider developing your app for the iPad as well
- If your app is for an existing business, be sure to advertise it on your webpage and through social media
But remember, when you sell your app through Apple Store or Google Play, they take 30% of the profits and directly deposit your sales into your bank account each month. However, the cut is most likely worth it for the exposure selling on those marketplaces gives your app.
Making money with free apps
Of course, as Candy Crush shows, you don’t have to charge your customers to make money. If you want to keep your app completely free, there are still ways for you to bring in a profit. By including adverts in your app, you can keep your app free of charge but still make some money.
So you’ve read this guide and you’re still thinking: “ I don’t want to spend thousands developing my app.” That’s completely understandable And maybe you just want to toy around with your idea before making a commitment. There are loads of programs online that allow you to develop an app free of charge. Here are some we recommend:
Who knows? It might be your first step to becoming the next great app entrepreneur.