Mobile Apps: Hot, Hot, Hot! for the Self-Employed
Over at USATODAY every year, Steve writes a two-part Top 10 Trends of the Year column. Well, guess what the Number 1 trend was for this year… Groupon? Nope. Facebook? Guess again. No, this year, the hottest trend is the apptastic revolution in business.
Creating an app for your business makes a lot of sense. It's hot. It creates buzz, it builds a brand, it engages your customers, and it can be another profit center.
Essentially, there are three sorts of apps you could create: A game app (hearts for instance), a utility app (i.e., an app that lists movie times), or a business app (a mini-version of your website – like the USA TODAY app).
While the first two are not cheap, the third can be quick, easy, and inexpensive, so let’s start there.
First Steps to Take When Creating a Simple Mobile App
Typically, creating an app is not unlike becoming self-employed – you have to come up with a great idea and then be able to execute on that idea by having enough money and hiring the right team (in this case, software designers).
Except that these days there are some great point-and-click alternatives. Here is one example: Sweb Apps allow folks to create a mobile app using a simple drag-and-drop interface, and at a fraction of the cost of hiring an expensive designer.
How inexpensive? How does $200 to $400 sound?
Here’s how it works: Go to the Sweb Apps site and you will then go to a page with a virtual iPhone. Then you pick how many buttons you want your app to have – 4, 6, or 8, and decide if you want a custom look or would rather use a preset template. Then all you will do is drag over the parts of your site that you want on the app. It could be
- Content, blogs, and podcasts, etc.
- Your store – allowing anyone to purchase products through the app
- Maps and contact info
- YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter buttons
- Plenty more
When you are done, simply check out and Sweb Apps will post your new app on iTunes. It is a very easy way to create an app, allowing you another way to stay in front of your customers. Highly recommended.
Google the terms. There are other services that do something similar.
How to Create a More Robust Mobile App for Your Business
Now what, on the other hand, if what you want is a mobile app that is more than a mini-version of your business’s site? Then the steps would be these:
1. Have a good idea: As with any business venture, you don’t want to sink a lot of time and money into a mediocre idea. Your app idea has to be something that people need or want and serves a market need. For example, if you run a non-profit such as a church, creating a church app could be a huge benefit to your congregation, allowing them to stay connected from anywhere via their mobile phone.
There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there. You better have a good idea.
2. Analyze the idea: Who is going to use it? Why would they want it? Will they pay for it? What should it look like? What would be on the first screen? What would be on subsequent screens? This analysis will help when you get to the next step, namely…
3. Hire a developer/designer/programmer: Of course you want someone with experience designing mobile apps. Expect to pay plus or minus $10,000 and expect it to take at least a month. Check out Craigslist and eLance.
4. Submit the app to iTunes or other platforms: This is something your developer should help with, as it actually is a fairly technical process.
5. Market your app: Again, it helps to think of your app like your business. Just as you must market your freelance business, so must you market your mobile app. Get people in your industry interested in it – give it to them even. Get industry writers to write about it. Have people share it through social media.
Have you found a great developer of mobile apps you'd care to share with The Self-Employed community? Let us know, or comment below.