Building a mobile app can be quite a lucrative way to earn a second income or to establish a steady revenue stream that you can grow and develop.
And while it sounds quite complex, you don’t actually need to know how to code. You can hire all the developers you need, as long as you have an idea to start with.
Let’s take a look at the 11 steps required to build a mobile app and explore how you can possibly sell it too.
1. Find a Problem to Solve
First, you will need to identify a problem your app will solve. Bear in mind, the word problem is used rather loosely. The problem you’re solving can be boredom if you are, for instance, designing a mobile game.
The purpose of defining the problem you’re aiming to solve is to help you map out an app that doesn’t just work and look nice but that users will want to download and use on a regular basis.
So, for instance, you may be developing an app for editing Instagram-style videos or a note-keeping app. Or, you may be working on a language-learning app or a turn-based strategy.
As long as you have a goal (i.e., problem) in mind, the road ahead will be much easier.
2. Come up with a Solution
Once you’ve identified your problem, you need to define what you’re offering as a solution. What makes your app different, and why should anyone choose it?
As you are still in the brainstorming stage of app development, you can be as wild as you want with your ideas at this point. Perhaps some of your ideas won’t be realistic, and you may need to give them up. But if there ever was a time to dream big, this is it.
Write everything you come up with down, and give yourself time to think: don’t expect to come up with an amazing idea in a day or two.
3. Do Some Market Research
Once you have a semi-clear idea in mind, the time has come to evaluate it.
Take a look at your app store and see what’s already available. You most likely won’t come up with a completely original idea: but don’t let the sheer number of similar apps dissuade you. You will still be able to bring something new to the table.
Make notes of what the competition is doing well, how many downloads each app has, what their main features are, how they are monetizing the app, and so on: as much information as you can gather.
Don’t worry if you haven’t identified a whole bunch of features you can offer that no one else has. If you can improve on the design or the marketing, chances are your app will be able to compete with those that are currently found in the app store.
4. Map out the App’s Features
Now is the time to get more concrete with your ideas and to start writing down specific features. Which operating system are you making the app for? Who is your target audience? What does the app need to have to work?
If you are not a developer, you may still not know what’s possible. But at least you can be super specific once you sit down with one.
Make sure to take into account everything you’ve learned in the previous step regarding audience preferences and competition apps.
5. Develop a Marketing Plan
In order to make your app a commercial success, you will need to market it, and market it well. Before you actually write a single line of code, determine exactly how you are going to do this. If you don’t walk into the process with a sound marketing plan, chances are the app may not succeed.
This is especially important if you are considering selling the app in the future. The more users you are able to generate, the better price you will be able to negotiate.
As there are dozens of ways to market a mobile app, you should make sure to consider your budget and the time you will have to invest in the effort. Don’t forget to take into account where your target audience spends the most time, either.
6. Focus on the Design
What your app looks like and how functional it is will be the two most important factors to determine its success.
If the app looks nice, but it’s unusable, or if it’s super functional and useful but isn’t nice to look at, it won’t earn you users or revenue.
When considering app design, always keep your audience and the problem you are solving in mind. Ensure the colors you use and the layout itself matches the purpose of the app and the tone and personality of the brand you want to create.
7. Build Your App
Now is finally the time to build your app. If you’re hiring a developer, make sure to choose someone who already has at least some experience building the kind of app you are looking to develop.
Also make sure you consider the platform you are using during this stage. The right choice will help you market your product better and with less stress.
Don’t skip the testing stage. Gather as many of your friends and family and perhaps even some members of your target audience to test the app out and point out any missing features or clunky elements of design.
8. Push Your App to an App Store
Once you are ready to launch your app, consider the store you will be pushing it to. The choice will naturally depend on the OS you have produced it for.
The more niche your product is the more niche the store you launch it should be. If the app has a very wide user appeal, you can choose to push it to one of the biggest marketplaces available.
9. Start Marketing Your App
Ideally, you want to start marketing your app even before it launches. You can build a website for it and generate some buzz there. A simple one-pager will do, as you can send traffic to it from other channels. Don’t expect the website to generate any organic traffic, though.
Promotion on social media should certainly be at the top of your list. The more teasers you can push and the more interest you can generate, the better your launch will go.
You can also provide pre-launch access to those who sign up to an email list. If you are running a subscription-based app, offer discounts to these initial users.
10. Listen to User Feedback
Once the app has launched, your work is far from over. If you see some initial success, you will naturally want to bask in it, but this is the worst possible time to rest on your laurels.
Take all user feedback into account very carefully. No matter what these initial users say, take the time to analyze their responses. Ideally, you will ask users to send you feedback from the app itself or by sending out a welcome email.
There will certainly be feedback you can ignore, and there may be some malicious comments as well. But anything that is voiced often, or ideas that seem viable and like a proper upgrade, do your best to incorporate into the second version of the app.
You should never stop listening to your users, no matter how old the app is. Make it a point to track feedback if you choose to remain involved with the app.
11. Consider a Sale
If your initial goal was to design an app you can sell, you would need to determine a bottom line for that sale. Whether you want to generate a certain user base, earn a certain amount of money, or hit another benchmark, understand when the best time to sell will be.
Remember: no matter how good the idea behind the app is, unless you are selling it as an idea and not a product, you will need to demonstrate that the app can earn money. Without a clear sign of monetization (or at least the possibility of monetization), you won’t get offered much.
Always aim to at least cover your initial investment, especially if you also had to hire a developer to code the app. If you can set a specific price or at least have one in mind when negotiating, you will have a much easier time agreeing to a deal.
As you can see, building a mobile app can take a fair amount of time. But if you invest enough effort and identify the right problem to solve, you can turn your efforts into success.
Remember, mobile apps have never been as popular as they are today, which makes right now the best possible time to start working on one.