Maybe you code for a living, or maybe it’s a hobby you’ve discovered a love for. If you write software, it’s natural to start wondering whether or not you could make some money from it. The Internet is awash with apps for mobile phones and tablets, and you’ve heard the big success stories: millions of downloads, thousands of dollars in profit. The next hit could come from anywhere. It could come from you.
If you want to sell apps, you need to know some things before you get started. Here are a few tips to think about.
Meet Real Needs
Check on the major app stores, and you can easily find dozens of copies of apps that do simple, small tasks, or provide some minor piece of entertainment. None of those apps are likely to be big successes. What people want most is software that works well and meets their needs in some way. These don’t have to be extreme needs, like life-and-death sorts of things, just perceived needs. If someone wants a video organizing app, for example, that’s a need you could meet. If someone wants to be entertained with something simple, visually appealing, and fun, you could meet that need with a good game. Identify what people really download, and focus your efforts there when you sell software online. Alternatively, if you have a problem you can’t find an app to solve, and if people you know also express having the same problem, there’s another avenue you could explore.
Let Someone Else Do the Hosting
Sure, you could probably design and code your own website to advertise and sell your product. But consider whether it’s worth it. If you want to write for the iOS platform, you will need to submit your app to the iOS store. For Android apps you have a little more latitude, but you may as well be part of the biggest store and best stores, because that’s where people are going to look for your app. You should probably have at least a simple website to provide information about your app and your contact information for customer service questions, but don’t go overboard. There are other ways to get the word out about your app.
Don’t Skimp on Testing
Before you release your app into the world, spend plenty of time beta testing. Let friends and savvy mobile users beat on your app and find out what breaks. Listen to their feedback and suggestions, and incorporate the smart changes. If you are a professional coder you probably know this already, but it bears saying anyway. The way to make great software products is through testing and iteration.
Use Free Trials and Freemium Models
The best way to give your app exposure is to make it easy for people to try out. Reviews and awards help, but not as much as letting someone play with your software themselves to discover how awesome it is. Depending on the type of app you build, there are different ways to let people try before they buy, but consider offering a free trial, making a scaled-down free version, or offering a freemium app which will let people buy in to more features once they love your app.