Creating an iPhone app when the app store first launched was a goldmine because their was no competition. Today their are more than 1 million iPhone apps for sale. That means you have to do a lot more to get noticed and make money. You really have to devise a plan to not only create a good app, but also make your money back. Below are the steps you should take to create your first iPhone app, many steps are similar the ones mention in the Mac app development tutorial.
Get an iPhone
As far as I know you need and iPhone to test the apps before you put them up for sale, so if you don’t have an iPhone, get one.
Develop an idea
When developing an idea for an iPhone app you have three options. You can create something that solves a problem or fills a need. An app that is in demand will have a higher likelihood of success.
Your other option would be to look at what is out there and create something better. By reading about the features and feedback of existing iPhone apps, you can easily identify weak areas. Once you identify those weak areas you have to determine how you can create something that doesn’t have those same weaknesses.
Your third option is to create something that really doesn’t fit in either of those two categories. This is the most risky of the three because it has to rely on impulse to make money. A game or entertainment app fits into this category.
Decide on a revenue strategy
You have an app idea, now you have to find out which pricing strategy is best for you it. Your first option is to make your app free with advertisements and in-app upsells. Your second option is to charge for the app. Apps that charge money don’t usually have ads, but they can still have in-app upsells that bring in extra money. You could also create a free version with a paid upgrade. This will allow people to test drive the app before they buy the full version.
I am sure you know that free apps get more installs, but their is no guarantee you will make a ton of money from advertisements or sales of in-app items. Paid apps get less installs. If you are really torn on which option is best you can try them all temporarily and see which one brings in the most revenue. Apple allows you to change prices with ease so it would be hassle free to test and find out whether a free or paid app is the best way to go.
Develop a marketing plan
If your app is free you can get installs without doing much. If your app is paid installs may not come as fast as you hope. No matter how your app is priced you have several options for getting more installs. Method one is to send paid traffic directly to your app. This method is more likely to work with free apps than paid apps. People can be convinced to install something free on impulse. Convincing them to buy an app on impulse is much more difficult.
Option two is to get your app reviewed on app review websites. You may have to contact dozens of sites to get a response and some sites may charge a fee to review your app. If you try this method make sure that you know how much traffic and exposure you will be getting.
Option three is get exposure from social networks. Telling friends and family about your app is a great way to get some exposure. Posting videos and photos that get share can help spread the word about your app as well. This will only work well if you already have a good amount of friends and followers on the various social networks.
Join the app developer program
You need a developer program membership to submit apps to the app store. It cost $99 a year and it needs to be renewed yearly to keep your apps active. Having this membership allow you to create and sell Mac apps as well.
Create a mockup
At this point you have to take your app idea and its features and determine how you want it to look. Make a different mockup for every screen your app will have. Also make sure you determine how buttons and other elements with function as people use the app. I use Swordsoft for my mockups although their are other options available.
Freelancer websites like Freelancer.com* allow you to post your job requirements. At that point people will tell you how much they can do the job for. Getting iPhone apps created costs a lot less than Mac apps because their are a lot of people with the skills to make iPhone apps. My least expensive iPhone app cost $400 to develop.
When listing your project you can be vague as to not reveal to much in public. Once you start getting bids you can communicate with people privately and give them all of the necessary details. If you concerned about your idea being stolen you can make people sign a Non disclosure agreement (NDA) before you reveal any details to them.
During this hiring phase you have to make sure that you do not just pick the person with the lowest price. You should also try to interview at least 10 people. The more people you talk to the more likely you are to find the right candidate. During this phase you should look for people that meet these requirements:
They should be tested in iPhone development, Cocoa and Objective C– The best iPhone developers have high scores in these areas.
They should speak good English– The better you can communicate with people the smoother the project will go. Make sure the have tested pretty well in US English.
They should have a large portfolio of quality apps– Seeing apps they have done before can give you a look at their talent level.
They should have good feedback– Much like eBay you only want to deal with people with dozens of good reviews.
Setting payment terms
Once you know who you want to hire you have to work out milestones and payment terms. This will allow you and the freelancer to determine what parts of the development must be complete before you pay them. This is how I you should setup terms for your apps:
Use escrow for every payment– This means you put the money in escrow and keep it there until the developer meets a certain milestone.
Get a demo file and the source code before you release a milestone payment– You should get something tangible before releasing a payment.
Each milestone payment should be 25% of the total apps cost– This is probably more appropriate for apps over $1000. For apps that are less than $1000 the milestone payments can be a larger percentage of the total apps cost.
The developer should submit the app to your account as part of the second to last milestone– This gets the app added to you account and pending approval.
The developer is paid the last milestone after Apple approves the app– Waiting to pay this last milestone gives you leverage if Apple request changes be made to the app.
If the developer is not willing to agree to these things, you should find another developer.
In this phase be prepared to spend a lot of time communicating with your developer and testing your app. The more time you spend testing the app the better chance you have of identifying every bug that needs to be fixed. You may also want to take your app to a friend or family member so that you can gather their feedback.
During this phase also be prepared to give login details to you developer account to developer you hired. You will feel weird about giving someone your login details but it is a necessary step in the development of an iPhone app. Through my various Mac and iPhone app projects I have yet to have a problem with giving someone access to my account.
Once the development phase is finished you app will be ready for sale. You can release it immediately and implement your marketing plan if you have one. You can also make videos and setup a website or support email during this phase. In my experience the first few weeks of an app are usually its biggest so if you app storms out of the gate and makes a bunch of money if may be a winner. If it fails to make much you may have a dud on your hands.