I’m building and marketing an app from scratch (and sharing everything I learn)
Update 2016: I’m building employee survey software to help employees be heard better by management. Check it out!
I’ve been reading quite a few stories recently about how difficult it is to market an app. There’s a ton of competition, everyone wants apps for free, and retention is tough.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying to learn more about app marketing, specifically how to drive acquisition. I’ve had trouble finding in-depth resources on this. After some thought, I’ve decided that I’m going to jump in and create my own mobile app. In addition, I’m going to share everything I learn.
Yesterday on my way to work, I watched a girl riding a bike, while using her phone. She almost got hit by a truck. I then got off the subway and was stuck behind another individual glued to the screen while walking up a flight of stairs.
People are addicted to their smartphones. Research has been done, and on average, people check their phone 150 times per day. That’s insane. People need a break from technology.
To combat that trend, I’m building an app called Digital Detox and it turns your smartphone into a phone that only gives you access to calls/texts for a specific period of time. The goal is to give people who want to do cool things (starting a business, building relationships, finding new hobbies) the extra boost of time they need. This app will give people their most precious resource back to them…time.
Right now, this will only be for Android. Signup and I’ll let you know when it launches.
Outsourcing development on Odesk
In the past I’ve spent a ton of time learning programming. I don’t have time to learn Android development, so I’ve decided to outsource the app development on ODesk. I’ll be sharing my tactics on how to hire, and it will be a good chance for me to get better at writing detailed specs. The app is relatively simple, so I don’t think it will be too difficult.
I’ve already hired someone, and the total cost (so far, this could change) is $1000. I spent over $1000 for classes in college, but this experience will teach me more than I ever learned in a boring college class. It’s worth it.
Outsourcing development will allow me to spend my time marketing the app, which is probably a better use of my time.
Why Android? I honestly don’t think this type of functionality is possible in iOS. I’ve seen alternatives on Android, which suggests that this is possible.
My primary goal is to learn.
I’d also like to break-even on the $1000 I paid for development.
That means I will be charging for the app. I’ll probably start at 99 cents for the first week, and then increase the price to $1.99. All options are on the table.
I also want to share my learnings with you. I really enjoy when people “open up the books”, and share how things are going.
There’s two major risks in this project:
- App development – I could get an app in a couple weeks that barely works. I just paid a guy to build it, and while I think they will do a decent job, I’m also a bit nervous about what the end result will look like.
- Demand – Do people want an app that limits apps? Do they want to pay for this?
- Android only – I’m not building an iOS version, primarily because I have no idea where I will be acquiring users. I also wonder if the target market I want to reach is on iOS. I honestly don’t know.
The most important thing I can do is find demand for the app, and get them on my pre-launch email list. If my friends aren’t even interested in this app, I’m doomed. The first thing I did was write this Facebook post to test if people feel addicted to their phones.
A decent response. I created a basic mockup, and a couple days later posted this:
30+ likes. Not too bad. But I don’t want likes, I want emails. I posted another photo last night, and got a few emails on the list, and for some random reason, decided to tweet at Tim Ferriss.
— Luke Thomas (@lukethomas14) August 6, 2014
I woke up this morning and it received 15 retweets and over 500 visitors to the website (and 31 emails so far.) I have no idea what happened, but I’ll take it. Demand seems to exist.
I’ve created a screencast below to step you through some of the things I look for when gauging demand. Make no mistake, there are alternatives to my idea. That’s okay.
I’d really enjoy feedback on this idea, and I’m excited to see what happens. At the very least, it will be a good learning experience, and the best case scenario is that I break even on my investment. If you’d like to follow my progress, please signup with the widget on the right.