Tag Archives: using odesk

Work a Little and Play a lot: Lifestyle Freedom through App Development

Many people are equating today’s popularity of mobile apps to the US gold rush of 1849. This hype suggests that you can create a mobile app, publish it to the various app stores and quickly become a millionaire.

Lifestyle Freedom

Is it true? Think about it, there are 1.2 million apps in the Apple App Store in mid 2014. Do you think all of the people publishing apps are millionaires? Nope.  According to Laura Tallardy (statistics provided by Owen Goss), here are the statistics:

  • The bottom 25 percent have made less than $200
  • The next 25 percent have made between $200 and $3,000
  • The 50-75 quarter are between $3,000 and $30,000
  • The top 10 percent have made $400,000
  • The top 4 percent are MILLIONAIRES!

So the real question is “Can I build an app company that does well enough that I can design my own lifestyle, work when I am inspired and play a lot?“.  To do that, you need to get yourself into the top 25%. Is that easy? I’m not sure but I do know that many app developers simply develop an app, put it in the app store, do no marketing and expect it to reach the top 10%. And as you might predict, they land in the bottom 25%.

2HourAppreneur Experiment

All of this brings us to an experiment called the “2HourAppreneur experiment. I am developing an app (and possibly multiple apps if it looks promising) to determine if a person can build an app business that allows them to live a cool and fulfilling lifestyle. A lifestyle that affords you the opportunity to work on your own timetable, play a lot and revel in your entrepreneurial spirit.

Why am I qualified to try it? I’m an entrepreneur that started a software business in 1998 and sold it in 2009. Selling the business made me financially independent and allowed me to retire at 50 years old. I have enjoyed the retired lifestyle freedom. I’ve traveled a lot, adopted new hobbies, and pushed myself with new challenges. With my free time, I can try this experiment without financial pressures because building an app business is fairly inexpensive. If you want to learn more about me, you can take a look at my personal website and travel blogs.

Will it work? I am not sure but it will be fun to try. I will document my journey and tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t. This posting will be a living document that includes a list of helpful blogs explaining exactly what I am doing and why.  And if it doesn’t work, at least we will all know!

Here are some blogs I’ve created to document the process thus far:

How Can You Track the 2HourAppreneur Experiment?

If you find this experiment interesting, you have a couple of ways of keeping updated on the progress:

If you don’t mind getting an email every few weeks subscribe to my 2HourAppreneur blog. You can do that by entering your email address below (you can unsubscribe at any time):

Subscribe to Blog via Email

If you prefer not to get an email this often but would like to check in, LIKE my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/2hourappreneur.

Or you can subscribe to my Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/2hourappreneur, my Twitter handle is @2HourAppreneur.

While you’re at it, take a look at the first app I am developing called aMemoryJog. It is an app for keeping track of all your passwords, loyalty reward numbers, and anything else that is easy to forget. Learn more at http://www.aMemoryJog.com.

Latest Updates

As mentioned above, I plan to continually update this blog posting as I publish new blogs related to app development, so you will see the list of blogs listed above grow over time. I will also let you know where I am in the process.

Update on 18-June-15
I am now working on my second app called Count Us Down. It lets you count down the days until a big life event (vacation, baby on the way, wedding, concert, sporting event, retirement, etc.).  It also allows you to share that event with your friends and family. Want to be part of the beta team? If you do, you will get early access to the app and you can provide feedback before it gets to the app store. Sign up here: http://www.CountUsDown.com

Update on 13-May-15
The aMemoryJog app has been in the app store for a few  months now and I’ve learned a great deal from this experiment. Click here to see what I’ve learned

Update on 17-Nov-14
I outsourced the development of the aMemoryJog app in early April 2014. It was expected to take about 4 months to complete but it has taken a lot longer than expected. The extra development time has been OK because it has given me more time to build my social media followers and prepare a marketing strategy. aMemoryJog should be in the Apple app store sometime in December 2014.

This Article Was Brought to You by 2HourAppreneur

This article was brought to you by 2HourAppreneur makers of the aMemoryJog Password Manager app. The app is free, why not try it now?

aMemoryJog: Best Password Manager

Pre-Release tasks when developing Apps

In my prior post, I discussed how to get the best price for the development of your app by creating a solid specification / RFP. Once you have created a great spec and chosen a vendor to do the work, you can just sit back and wait until the development is completed, right? Nope! Now is the time to start pre-release tasks– tasks related to marketing, localization, and finding tools to help you once your app goes live.

The task ahead of you is never stronger than the strength inside of you! ~ 1 Happy Thought

Gain Public Visibility

By the time your app is fully tested, it would be great to have a public presence so that people can find you — it will help you from a marketing perspective and will start to build trust and consumer confidence in your capabilities and your app.

Using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

One way to establish your public persona is to create Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for your business so that others can find you and so that you can begin communicating with people who share an interest in your product offerings. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are free and setting them up just takes a few minutes.

Once these accounts are setup for your business, you should start building a following. First, invite all of your friends to follow you but that is not going to give you a wide audience. To build a broader audience, begin following other people who share common interests and ask them to follow you back. You can do this manually but it is quite tedious. I use a neat little tool called JustUnfollow (http://www.JustUnfollow.com). It allows you to find others to follow based on keywords or even by having it see who is following someone else you might know. You can use the tool to follow others and see who is following you back. In most cases, I unfollow people who have not reciprocated the following because I want it to be a win-win relationship.

Creating a Twitter and Facebook account without posting any Tweets or Facebook posts is a waste of time. Once you begin building your following, try to Tweet, and do a Facebook and LinkedIn post a few times a week.  Tweet about things that are cool and complimentary to your app. Tweet about the progress of your app development. As you are reading this post, it was posted to my Twitter and Facebook account so that it can be distributed to my followers. With this, I am providing helpful information to other appreneurs and appreneur wannabes — so hopefully I am providing good articles that people are interested in.

You can see my Twitter account at https://twitter.com/2HourAppreneur and my Facebook account at http://www.facebook.com/2hourappreneur.

Build your Website

You will need to build a website that showcases your app. You can subcontract this work out to someone on oDesk (http://www.oDesk.com) or if you are technically inclined, I would suggest purchasing a website template and customizing it for your own needs. You can purchase a website template from lots of different sites but I really like Template Monster (http://www.TemplateMonster.com).

I did this with my website (http://www.aMemoryJog.com and http://www.amemoryjog.com/iPhone.aspx). My template set me back about $45 and I customized it with my own content, screen shots and descriptions.

If you decide to customize your own website, you should also learn a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a way of creating your web pages in a way that makes it easy for Google, Bing and other search engines to find it based on specific keywords you are targeting.  There are lots of articles on SEO, just Google it and you will get an idea of the tactics needed to give your site the best chance of ranking higher by the search engines.  You can also subcontract this task out to someone on oDesk, but I think it is a good idea to learn what this is about and take the first stab at it. You can always enlist a professional later once your product starts generating cash flow.

While we are discussing websites, make sure that you hook up Google Analytics to your website so that you can see how many visitors you get, what pages they visit most often, what country they come from, what browsers or mobile devices they using to access your website, etc. Google Analytics is also free and easy to hook up into your website, you can learn more here: https://www.google.com/analytics.  Not only will you use Google Analytics to analyze your web traffic, you can also hook it up for your app to get the same type of statistics for people using your app!

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App

Develop your App Descriptions and Keywords

Once your web persona is created, it is now time to shift focus back to your app. When you’re looking for new apps in the Apple or Google App Stores, you probably do a search for them, right? The other day I was looking a for an app that would allow me to track a list of meals I normally eat because at the end of the day, I am always trying to answer the question “What should I eat tonight?”. I thought it would be cool to put my favorite dishes in a tool and be able to see them by breakfast, lunch and dinner. It would also be cool to let me randomly pick one of my favorite foods to cook.

To find the app, I searched the App Store for “Whats for Dinner Tonight”.  It came up with lots of apps but most of them tracked calories, had tons of recipes, etc. Overkill for what I was looking for. So I started to think that I could really just use a To Do List type app to list my favorite foods. But I also wanted to have the ability to randomly pick an item so I searched for “To Do List Randomizer”. It returned several apps and I was drawn to a particular app called “Laza Lists” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytzZtiBrRSY).

So why did I choose them over all of the other apps?  Well first, I noticed their app icon and really liked it:


Then I read their description it talked about having a randomizer feature — that really pulled me in because I wanted that ability.  Then I looked at their screen shots and it looked to have a clean and simple user interface.


So based on this, I downloaded it and setup my meals in the “Decision Maker” section so that I could randomly choose something eat each day (below is a list of Lunch items and the green one is the one I selected randomly by tapping the gavel in the top right of the screen):


So as you can see, there 4 things that affected my decision about choosing their app over others:

  • The keywords that I entered (To Do List Randomizer) showed me their app
  • The app icon caught my eye
  • The app description convinced me that it was the right app
  • The screen shots showed me that the app would be clean and easy-to-use.

So this brings us back to your app. You need to spend a lot of time thinking about how you describe your app in the App Description section of the App Store. It will show the first 4 lines of your description before you click “More” so your value proposition must be clear in the first 4 lines. You should get a professional graphic artist (from oDesk) to create a cool looking app icon because that will catch your eye first. You should have the app designed with a clean look. And finally, you should think of keywords that people might search for to find your app. When setting up your app in the App Store, you can enter 100 characters of keywords, each one separated by a comma — so it is important that you choose ones that people will most likely search on.

So how do you know if your description and keywords are correct? You can start by researching your competitors to see what keywords and descriptions they use. The App Store will show you the description but it will not show you their keywords. But you can use a number of different tools to find that out (AppCodes: http://www.appcodes.com/, Sensor Tower: http://SensorTower.com, and Strapley: http://Straply.com) are the ones I use. Once you research 5 or 6 competitors, you will start to see a pattern and can make your own judgments.

Once you have figured these things out, put your App Title, App Description and Keywords into an MS Word (or similar) document so that it will be handy when you get ready to submit your app to the App Store.

Develop a list of contacts for reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

As soon as your app is completed and submitted to the App Store, you will want to generate some buzz for your app. One way to start buzz is to have reviewers try your app and write a review about it. Likewise, you can contact bloggers, technical writers, and other journalists that might agree to give you feedback on your app and if you are lucky they may include your app in their blogs, electronic articles or their magazine articles.

So now is the perfect time to start looking for bloggers, app review sites, and magazine editors whose audience might be interested in your app. Spend time each day looking for these people and sites and log them into a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) so that once your app is published, their contact information will be handy. What CRM should you use? There are a number of free CRM systems, I settled on Zoho CRM (https://www.zoho.com/crm) because it was free, easy to use and could send emails out.

Once your app is completed, you will want to contact these people so you will also need to create a Press Release and a Press Kit.  This provides them with all they need to know to try your product and to provide a review of it. If you want to see my Press Kit (which also contains a Press Release), you can see it here: http://amemoryjog.com/PressKit.html.

You will also want to post a video of your app in action on YouTube. You can create the video using Camtasia or Jing (http://www.jingproject.com) and post it directly to YouTube. That will also be part of your Press Kit.

Sign up for Banner Ad Networks

If your app is free, you will probably want to include banner advertising to drive some revenue your way. Before your app is fully developed is the time to sign up for banner ad networks. I use iAd (http://advertising.apple.com/) and adMob (http://www.google.com/ads/admob/). While you are at it, sign up for Apple’s Affiliate Network (https://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/), you will cross promote other people’s app within yours (by adding a MORE section) and each time they purchase an app, you will get an affiliate commission.


Once done, your app will be in the App Store and will seen all over the world. Imagine you live in Spain and search the App Store for an app similar to yours. Let’s say it shows 10 apps and 2 of them have descriptions and screen shots that are in Spanish instead of English. I would guess that the Spaniard will look more closely at the ones in his own language than the English ones. That’s why it is a great idea to localize your app for different countries. You don’t have to do all countries, but consider supporting the more popular languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Russian).

It does take more thought and preparation to localize an app because your app has to display things in the supported language, screen shots will have to be taken in those languages and your App Store descriptions and keywords will work best if localized. Use the pre-production time to hire subcontractors from oDesk to provide localized text. I did this and the cost was not overly stiff. It cost me on average about $30 per language to localize our text — which included screen elements (labels, buttons, etc.) and App Store Descriptions and keywords.

Here is an example of how aMemoryJog looks localized in a few languages:


Putting it all Together

Here are the tasks you should be doing as your app is being developed:

  • Setup Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, start posting to those weekly
  • Build your website using a template and build with SEO in mind
  • Develop your app icon, app descriptions, app title and keywords
  • Develop a list of 100 or more contacts for bloggers, technical writers, and/or magazine editors, keep this information in a CRM system
  • Create a press release, press kit and YouTube movies for your app
  • Sign up for banner ad networks and the Apple Affiliate program
  • Localize all your screen text, app descriptions, keywords and take localized screen shots


Now we what things we should be doing as our app is under development. My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss hot to keep track of your appreneur tasks and time spent each day on tasks.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is almost done, we plan to submit it to the Apple App Store this week. It should take about a week to get approved by Apple, so the app will be available VERY SOON!  If you haven’t already, download the web edition at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Outsourcing your App Development: Getting the Best Price

In my prior post, I discussed how to create a business plan for developing a mobile app. Once your business plan is complete and you have determined that your mobile app idea is viable, it is time to get bids from subcontractors for developing your app. But how do you get the best price possible?  Is cheapest always the best?  All of these questions will be answered in this blog.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. — Henry David Thoreau

Getting Legal Protection

Before soliciting bids for outsourcing your mobile app development, be sure to have the right legal documents in place. Your idea is valuable, so you want to protect it. First, require bidders to first sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).  The NDA ensures that the bidder will not go off and develop your idea and sell it as their own. Here is an NDA you might consider using (click on an image to access the document):

NDA (MS Word)

NDA (MS Word)



Once you choose a subcontractor, have them sign an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA). This ensures that your intellectual property is protected and that they are acting solely as an independent contractor and not an employee.  Here is an ICA you might consider using (click on an image to access the document):

ICA (MS Word)

ICA (MS Word)



How to Get the Best Price from Your SubContractor

Imagine building a house without architectural plans. You might tell your builder “I want a small house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a nice kitchen”.  That type of house might cost $100,000 or it could cost $1,000,000. It all depends on the finishes, the builder you choose, etc. A $100,000 house might have carpeting, no fireplace, laminate counters instead of granite, a single sink in your bathroom instead of dual sinks, and may be built as a rectangle, without any interesting exterior features.

A $1,000,000 home would most likely include hardwood floors, granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, high-end appliances, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, incredible landscaping, a theater room, a home audio system that runs throughout the house, a pool and deck in the backyard, and a 2 story plan with a turret and other interesting design elements. To get a more accurate cost, you must be very specific in what you want so that few assumptions are made.

Software is very similar, you need a plan (called a Specification) that details what the app  might look like, all of the screens associated with the app, and what you expect the app to do on each screen. Without a specification, a developer cannot reliably provide you with an estimated cost because they cannot nail down exactly how much time it will take to complete it.

In fact, without a solid specification, few developers will provide you with a fixed price bid — they will want you to pay them by the hour — and this is not good for you because you are never sure of how much the app will cost to build. And they are correct — without a specification, you could change your mind a thousand times as you begin development which adds a lot of rework and unnecessary costs.

So how do you build a specification? First, create a prototype of your app. You don’t need programming skills to do this, simply purchase a prototyping tool (like  Balsamiq Mockups) and create your screens.  Here is how it might look in Balsamiq:

Balsamiq Mockup

Balsamiq Mockup

Once your prototype is created, write a specifications document that shows each screen and the details of how each  screen works. The specifications document will also serve as your Request For Proposal (RFP) document that you send to subcontractors to get bids for the work.  With a good specifications document, you can insist on a FIXED PRICE bid for the project so that you are not billed by the hour — this saves you from cost overruns. Here is a example of an RFP / Specifications document.  This document shows the first couple of screens developed for aMemoryJog to give you an idea of how to create a good RFP (click on the images below to access the document):

RFP (MS Word)

RFP (MS Word)



Selecting a SubContractor

You can find a subcontractor from oDesk (http://www.oDesk.com). oDesk is free to use but once you choose a subcontractor, they will charge you a 10% fee.

Once you create a free oDesk account, you can post your job with a budget amount. The budget amount is the amount you are willing to spend. You might find that some bids come under and others go over your budget, but the subcontractors use the proposed budget as a guideline to decide if they wish to bid on the work.  Here is how I posted my job for aMemoryJog:

We currently offer a web based application called aMemoryJog (http://www.aMemoryJog.com) and would like to subcontract the development of an iPhone edition using Xamarin, C#, SQL Lite and SQLCipher.

The work is for creating 2 iPhone apps, a free edition and a paid edition. We have created a very detailed specification complete with a database design, wireframes, and details of how each screen is to work.  

Part of the work is to also implement a web services component using Visual Studio 2012 (C#) that allows syncing data between the iPhone app and our web edition.

Knowing the complexity of what I was asking to have built, I put an initial budget amount of $5,000 (fixed price). Once I submitted that, I was able to search oDesk for qualified subcontractors and ask them to consider bidding.  I always try to hire a freelance programmer rather than an agency because an agency has overhead costs that a freelancer does not have, so a freelancer is normally less expensive.

Once I submitted my job posting, I began getting emails from subcontractors saying that they were interested. I would reply to them with the NDA document and ask them to sign it before sending them the detailed RFP.  Once I received their signed NDA, I sent them the RFP and asked for a fixed price bid.

After a few days, I began getting bids. Bids ranged from $4,000 to $17,000 — but most averaged $6,000.  I did not choose the cheapest subcontractor; I based my decision on how thorough the response was and how well they answered my questions. The subcontractor I chose provided me with a fixed price estimate, a detailed response on how he would develop the app, the milestone dates associated with the development, and provided me with examples of his past work and references I could contact to get comfortable with his work.

Putting it all Together

Here are the steps to getting the best price for your app development project:

  • Create a prototype of your app
  • Develop a specifications document for app
  • Put together an NDA document that must be signed before sending the RFP to the subcontractor
  • Submit your app job posting to oDesk but require that they sign the NDA before receiving the RFP and ask for a fixed price bid
  • Once bids come in, evaluate the bids based on thoroughness of the response, ask for milestone dates, samples of their work and references
  • Make s short list of bidders, review their work samples and contact their references
  • Choose a subcontractor but require that they sign an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA) before starting work

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App


Now we know how to get the best price from a subcontractor for our app development project. My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss what marketing tasks you can be doing as your app is being developed by your subcontractor.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store around July or August 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!