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App Store Developing – Tips and Tricks

So you have a great idea for a new app, but you’re not sure where to get started. From personal app developing experience, and from what other developers have written, here are some quick tips and tricks to get you started.

1) Decide on Risk. Once you have a great idea, you have two options. One is risk-free, and one is high-risk.

NO RISK: The risk-free option is to give your idea to a developing company, and get a small percentage of the final profit (after expenses) if they decide to develop it. Note, however, that by submitting your idea to such a company, you forgo your intellectual property rights to that idea. To do this, there are several options right in the app store.

HIGH RISK: The high-risk option is to develop the app yourself (or pay someone to do it for you). If you take this route, you owe it to yourself to do some market research before developing your app—to see if it’s actually a good idea, and to find out if anyone would actually want to buy it. There aren’t a lot of ways to do this, but there are some apps in the app store that allow you to get feedback (market research) on your idea without giving up your rights to develop it. Naturally, this is how the best apps have made fortunes.

Since the second option is what takes all the work, it is the focus of the rest of this article.

2) Envision Your App. Imagine what it will look like, how it will perform, what the screens will display, what options will be incorporated, and how the graphics will be designed. Take a week to think about it. Write things down. Keep a notepad beside your bed. Scribble, draw, imagine, brainstorm… do whatever it takes until you can practically run the app from inside your head.

3) Find a Developer. (If you know how to program the app yourself, skip this step.) You have two options: corporate or freelance. You can easily find both with a few Google searches.

CORPORATE: Corporate developers are big companies with teams of programmers. They take care of everything, and they do a great job—graphics, testing, programming, and deployment—all taken care of, no worries. The catch is that they’ll run you up a bill between $20,000 and $100,000 depending what you ask for. (Wait, don’t freak out! There’s another option.)

FREELANCE: Individual developers also offer developing services. Many of them are based in India, and their rates are very reasonable (often about $12/hr). You can typically have an app programmed for under $1,000 (unless it’s a game or otherwise graphics-intensive, which is much harder to program). The catch here is that you have to stay on top of things. You will be responsible for quality-control, negotiating what your freelancer will do for you, etc. Plus, the quality you get from a freelancer probably won’t be as great as with a corporation—for example, it might not look as nice, or it might have some bugs that you need your developer to fix. Expect between 1 and 3 months for programming.

4) Get it in the Store. This part will cost another $99. You’ll need to first sign up for a developer account with Apple. After that, it’s pretty easy. Your developer should be able to upload the binary app file to the store. You write a description, decide on the price (which you can change at any time), select a payment method (e.g. direct deposit from Apple), and agree to a bunch of Apple’s legal stuff. Apple usually takes less than a month to approve the app once it’s submitted, and then you’re live in the fabled App Store. Note, however, that Apple sometimes rejects apps, and will ask you to change certain things (e.g. a feature in violation of the App Store’s Terms of Use). In that case, you’ll have to alter your app and resubmit. So don’t pay your developer in full until your app is live in the store!

5) Market, Promote, and Sell. This step can be the hardest (unless your app become one of Apple’s hand-picked “Featured”). There are a lot of things you can do to publicize your app. First, get the direct link to your app in the store (e.g. itunes.com/apps/appideapro), which you can find by searching for your app in iTunes. Then submit your app to blogs, reviewers, and news companies. Write about your app, publish press releases, get a website, and submit the website to search engines. You can also get a marketing agency for iPhone apps—easily found on Google. The trick is to distinguish yourself, find a niche, create a unique message, set yourself apart, and get your message to iPhone and iPod touch users around the world.

Remember, the key is to start with a fantastic idea and a reasonable budget. If you have that, with a bit of luck, the rest will all fall into place.

Getting Started:

* Start by doing serious market research (there’s an app for that)

* Find a programmer – corporate (expensive) or freelance (cheap)

* Get a developer (Dev) account with Apple

* Get your app in the store, and start marketing

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