The Immeasurable Marketing Value of Networking

Next Sunday I'm traveling to Denver for the 360iDev conference. I'm looking forward to learning some new tricks when I attend the design and business tracks (my responsibility in our partnership). But better than the sessions is the networking. Through the eight years we've been in this business, I've attended several conferences and each one has proven to be invaluable. One could even consider attendance more of a marketing cost than an education cost. Despite having to rebook my main travel this time from train to more expensive air travel, plus add extra night stay, the networking return on investment will be well worth the trip. This post will share some of the effects networking has had on our business in the past.

App Stores, Then and Now, a Distribution Evolution

The AppStore to some, seems like a new phenomenon, but Electronic Sales Distributors (ESD's) have been around a long time. Selling software has evolved tremendously over the years and has helped make sales easier to complete. In the case of the AppStore, distribution has pretty much been taken out of the equation in how it can negatively affect sales. We've been writing mobile software since 1999, and writing it as Creative Algorithms since 2003. This post will explain how distribution and sales have evolved over the past decade, through our personal experiences.

Making Choices in UI Design: You Can't Please Everyone

Designing an iPhone UI for a productivity app can take many directions and each time you make a choice, someone will not like it, yet others may think it's brilliant. (Of course, you hope the latter are the ones leaving reviews.) Today the landscape in the app store affects how you design your UI—you need to stand out to get noticed. However, the other edge of the sword is that if you go totally radical, people won't have that comfort feeling of familiarity of a iOS app. So the key is to get a balance of familiar, with a dose of 'zazz. Of course, it helps to have some luck of being in the right place at the right time, so someone with influence also sees your app, but this post is going to tackle areas WITHIN your control—the design of the User Interface (UI).

On Sales and Use Tax, Nexus and Affiliates

Discussed this week on twitter was the recent nexus sales tax law passed in California that may affect affiliates who promote products on their websites. Through a series of tweets, I explained why using Linkshare's affiliate program for iOS products is unaffected. That said, I thought sales tax deserved further explanation and would be a good topic for this weeks #idevblogaday post. Sales and use tax can be confusing, so I'll try explain from a layman's perspective.

Getting Back to Nature

I'm going to go a bit non-tech in this week's post, since I just got back from a four day cub scouts camping trip to Camp Freeland Leslie, a boy scout camp in Wisconsin, where we attended Webelos Adventure Camp. Nowadays it's so easy to get caught up in technology and always being connected that we forget to sit back and enjoy nature and the basics. Playing games on your iPhone is great, but the feeling you get from looking at a sky chock full of stars is something you just can't explain to your kids unless they experience it.

Adding Screenshots to iPhone Device Artwork

In marketing an app, one of the areas that needs attention is your website. The AppStore description and screenshots are sometimes not enough for every customer to make a decision. Sending them to your website gives you another chance at convincing them to purchase your product. In addition, many people do discover apps via search engines, so a website is essential for traffic that can link to your apps on the AppStore.

On your website you have more options with text formats and sizes, layout, and, of course graphics, including screenshots and device shots. Apple makes available device artwork and AppStore badges that you can use on your website, but you have to insert your own screenshots and resize the artwork to meet your needs. (The link requires a developer login). This post will cover some tips on processing your screenshots for device graphics on your website.

Bootstrapping Preparedness

Many funding options are available for an entrepreneur, but which you choose depends on your lifestyle, your aspirations, your experience, and your desire for control, among other things. We chose Bootstrapping for many reasons. We like to have complete control over our business, and we had been both already been working as engineers for over a dozen years, so we had savings and had established ourselves. Our goals are modest—we merely want to create an income to support our family, be able to spend more time with them, and enjoy the flexibility of working for yourself. Bootstrapping may not for everyone, but if you're considering it as an option, this post will cover some ways to prepare and some pitfalls to avoid.

Designing the Right Icons and Graphics for your Apps

What's in an icon? App icons are one of the first things a potential customer sees. A good icon will catch an eye, stand out from the rest. It will make your customer take notice, will entice them to click for more info. Your app's icon is one of the most important graphics for your app and can make a big difference in attracting more customers.

When developing many apps, you might also want to opt for branding, either for your company, or for a series of related apps. A key element of branding is to determine a design element that you want to use throughout each icon. This element could be a style, an border, or something more specific. This post will walk through examples of how we've tackled branding for our apps, including our Trip Boss suite, and briefly discuss the difference an icon can make in sales.

Pricing Experimentation, a Game We All Must Play

Maximizing revenue on the AppStore is the goal of every developer. Setting the right price and changing it at the right time (increase or sale) is truly an art. Many variables are at play, but if you experiment carefully, you can find the sweet spot for revenue. This sweet spot may surprise you, so it's important to experiment, or you'll miss out on your revenue potential. Of course, when a competitor comes into the mix, you may have to adjust. It's very important to monitor things regularly, so you are not caught unawares. This post will reiterate a few things from a previous post of mine on pricing, and share some of our experiences with iOS price experimentation.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: the Optimistic Numbers Post

So many sensational articles about iOS development dominate the scene, from the get-rich-quick-we-sold-a-million-copies to the “median paid app earns $682 per year.” However, neither of these two situations are realistic for business planning. While doing taxes and accounting this week, plus monitoring our newly released in-app purchase in Trip Boss travel manager, I was reminded that I've been meaning to write about how it really IS possible to make a living writing iOS apps. Ask yourself: can your business support you? If so, how can you plan for this? I'm not one to “hope,” I want to “make” it happen. All serious businesses should have a plan, rather than “just writing apps and hoping for the best.” This post shares our experiences in sales, in promotions, and lastly our business plan.

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