How to Get Into the App Business Without Knowing Programming

Do you think it is possible to earn mountains of money creating applications?

Well, while nothing guarantees you’ll make as much money as that, this guide shows you how to get started and at least lays out the path for you.

I couldn’t count how many letters I get from readers asking me how to get into the mobile app business. Most tell me they have no software experience, not much cash, and expect to make millions of dollars.

As I’ve written before, lack of experience, skills, or money is not necessarily a formula for success making software. But as many of you have clearly told me, who am I to prevent you from dreaming? What if you have a super cool idea and I, old school software entrepreneur that I am, just don’t see it?

In this article, I’ll take you through the steps you need to upload an app to the Android and Apple app stores. I’ll describe the tools, resources, and steps you’ll need to take. I’ll even show you some tricks to create your own apps without any programming skills.

If you also earn money that is out of my hands but at least you will have a starting point. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about how to really understand the business of software development. But for those who can’t wait to get started, here’s what to do.

REGISTER AS DEVELOPER

Let’s start with the basics: getting access to the app stores.

In this article, I will talk about the Google Play store and the iOS app store because they are by far the biggest players.

Once you make an app, you’ll need to submit it to the app store, and at each company it will go through a review process designed to determine if the app meets basic quality standards (although unfortunately those standards are very low), and to make sure that you do not include malware or other threats within the application.

Once accepted into the app store, the two companies will list your app and you’ll get a percentage of the sale price. When Apple created the original App Store, they paid 70 percent of the sales price to developers, gradually reducing it to 30 percent.

While Apple’s 30 percent cut may sound like a lot, those who’ve been in the software business for a while know it’s actually a pretty good deal.

For apps sold through retail stores, developers can receive even less than 30 percent of the final sale price. Whereas in app stores developers get much more.

To enter the game, you will need to register in each app store. For iOS, you’ll need to join the iOS Developer Program , which costs US$99/year. For Google Play, you’ll need a Google account, and then you can go to the Developer Console and pay your $25.

Both programs provide great resources for developers, but I highly recommend going to the Develop and Distribute tabs of developer.android .com for great guides on product design and marketing.

DECIDE WHAT TO BUILD

Congratulations! You are already a developer. Now you need to build an application. Later, I’ll take you through a series of app development tools that will help you create your first app without any programming knowledge.

You’ll need to explore them thoroughly, because the capabilities of those tools will help you determine what you can and can’t build.

Nonetheless, though you do have a couple of important options available to you. What is certain is that you are not going to build a revolutionary new tool that uses all the capabilities of smartphones and tablets.

You’d have to really learn to code to do that. If you’re using a non-programmer app creation tool, you’ll be pretty much limited to making form- and data-driven apps, mobile web pages, and games.

Of course, there is no guarantee that you will see money with any of these. The app market is a hugely competitive market.

Still, I’ll start by recommending that you avoid converting mobile web pages. We’re all used to getting our web page content for free, and a mobile app that simply formats that information is unlikely to generate an app store sale.

The way you can make money making mobile websites is by contacting companies with their own basic websites and offering to turn them into free apps. You won’t get an income stream from app sales, but you could get a decent service income from creating such an app for someone else.

Form-based applications are applications that interact with data entry, databases, and then store the data for later retrieval. They are relatively easy to build and you may be able to build something useful related to some area of ​​knowledge that you have.

Games, of course, are games. Games are the most popular segment of the mobile app market, but at the same time, it is also the most crowded segment and the segment where it is most difficult to stand out. That said, creating a game is fun just for the sheer joy of it, so trying it out is a good practice exercise.

DECIDE THE PRICE OF YOUR APP

Now comes the price. Remember that the apps are cheap compared to PC and Mac desktop apps. Almost everything costs less than ten dollars. However, and here’s a great trick, almost all of the biggest money makers rely on apps that you can download for free and then offer to buy upgrades from within the app.

Frankly, if you want to make money, I recommend you start with this in-app purchase business model. Personally, I don’t like shopping within applications, but there is no denying the great success that this model has had. After all, buyers can download, try and be enthralled. If they find value, then they are much more likely to buy your upgrades or accessories within the app.

BUILD YOUR APP

Now let’s take the big step and create your application. I’ve told you over and over again that I don’t recommend working with or paying someone else to code it. So instead of repeating it (well, I guess I just did!), in this article, I’m providing you with four tools you can use to go ahead and make it yourself.

Appery.io – This tool creates a nice integration of data services with apps. It’s a bit complex for beginners, but it’s mostly drag and drop. Their free plan allows for a maximum of three pages and one user, but that’s really all you need to get started.

good barber: Seriously, that’s his name. They have a 30-day free trial. After that, plans start at $16/month. What sets this product apart is that there are some very nice design elements, Google Font integration, and a good selection of icons to choose from, as well as some good YouTube tutorials and webinars.

Appy Pie – Appy Pie is free if you let them run ads in your app. If you upgrade to their $7/month plan, they won’t run ads and help you monetize with iAds and AddMob. They have default app categories that you can choose from, like church, restaurant, radio, etc.

They also offer a relatively wide range of features that you can add to your apps, such as GPS locations, notifications, and more. This is a good option if you don’t think people will buy your app, but might enjoy downloading it for free. Ad monetization can help you offset your costs.

GameSalad – This product has a powerful drag and drop game builder, good enough to build an Angry Birds or Flappy Birds style game. Import the graphics and assign behaviors, and build your games from there.

The free version includes ads, but there is a $299 version that removes ads and makes in-app purchases available. If you want to make money from games, you need to have in-app purchases enabled and these people make the process relatively easy.

CREATE GRAPHICS AND APP ICONS

No matter what kind of app you create, you’ll need some app graphics and icons for your home screen. I personally recommend using Photoshop or Illustrator, but both are difficult programs to get started with and not cheap at all.

If you want a cheap or free tool, check out Canva.com . This is a nice little online design program that can get you on the road to a good final image.

TAKE SCREENSHOTS

No matter what platform you build for, you’ll need to upload your screenshots to the appropriate app store. Both iOS and Android allow you to press a sequence of keys, to obtain said screenshots and store them in the photo gallery of your camera.

On iOS, you should have just the image you want to capture on your screen, then press and hold the Home button. While holding down the home button, press the sleep/wake button.

On your Android device, the screenshot options tend to vary (I know, it’s a bit weird). For my Galaxy S4, I have to press the Home button and the Power button at exactly the same time. If I do it right, it works perfectly.

Some Android devices have the option to take a screenshot on the screen with the Reset button, while others use the volume keys. You’ll need to google for the guide to do this on your specific device, but it’s an easy search.

MAKE AN INTRODUCTORY VIDEO

One of the best sales tools you can offer is a video of your app. Once you’ve created it, upload a video to both app stores. Although Google Play has long supported intro videos, iOS only recently introduced the capability with iOS 8.

For iOS, the easiest way to record a video is by using Quicktime. For Android, you have a lot of options, and you’re sure to find plenty of pages that offer some great resources and tips.

TEST, TEST, TEST

Before submitting your application, you will need to test it in real mode. This is something you will not be able to do by yourself. Because you know how your application should behave, it is unlikely that you will find the sequences that push it to the limits.

Get lots of friends to try it out. Let your mother or grandmother taste it. Give it to your dad. Most apps can’t survive a run-in with the parents, so it’s always a good way to test them out. If you can, post older versions to users who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer and see if they can break it.

It’s good to find bugs. Any mistakes you find before uploading are likely to mean better sales and fewer returns. So test, test and test.

SUBMIT YOUR APP TO APP STORES

All right, you’ve made it to the big day. It’s time to upload your application and by tomorrow you will be a millionaire. Well not exactly. You should still go to the developer links I provided at the beginning of this article and submit your app, a good description, icons, video tutorials, and screenshots. If you do everything right, you will receive a confirmation and then you have to sit and wait for it to be accepted.

Back in the days when I loaded my 40 dumb iPhone apps , the average wait time was 13 days. I’m told it’s substantially less (for most applications), but your mileage will likely vary. Good luck. The email that says your app is on the app store can be one of the most exciting emails you receive.

MARKET YOUR APP

I could write a book on the complex subject of app marketing. The short version : the more money and notoriety you have, the better your app will sell. That’s the only thing that can explain how Kim Kardashian sold $200 million: Hollywood.

Still, if you’re just starting out, you can do some marketing. Word of mouth, demonstrations, talking to your friends and asking them to tell their friends can start the wheel turning. Use your social media resources, reply on online app pages, and always be proud to show off your app.

Good luck! May the market forces be with you.

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