One of the main reasons why I started this blog was to talk about what you can do to make money on the internet and share my results with those that would listen (hence the name of my blog). I’ve written before about what works for me including selling products on Amazon, buying websites and improving them, selling websites and creating information products about Halo (just to prove you can make money selling information about anything). Along this journey there have certainly been some challenges, but I never anticipated that I’d have as much trouble as I did when I set out to create my first iPhone app. I’ll get to the problems I faced shortly, but let me first explain why I wanted to make an iPhone app:
Why Bother Building An iPhone App In The First Place?
I’m sure this is a question you might be thinking – ‘Why bother building an iPhone app when you’ve already had some success doing these other things?’ Well, part of what sucks about self employment is that even though I feel more secure now with my business than in the old job I was eventually fired from is that even working for yourself can get boring at times. I like to do new things and if I’m not challenging myself with new goals then it’s no different than if I was back at my old job. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do now more than anything I’ve ever done before, but half the fun is in being able to decide what to work on. It’s also just nice to focus on diversification with any business so that’s part of why I just recently bought an unusual website that makes money selling really random medical products off Clickbank and I bought another one that is a massive 20,000+ page website with miscellaneous media information that makes money with Google Adsense. So in my continuing quest to be more diversified I thought why not try building an iPhone app?
The iPhone App Idea
My idea was that I hate going to movies and waiting all the way until after the credits roll to see if there is an extra scene at the end of the movies. Why not have an iPhone app that uses crowd sourced voting to tell people that either yes it’s worth staying after the credits or no? I bought the domain name and decided that I’d try to build an iPhone app on this concept. I found some movie API’s that would automatically update the most recent movies in theaters and knew that would be an easy way to provide an auto updating method for the iPhone app that wouldn’t require the list to be constantly edited by hand. Armed with that information I set off to hire a developer to help me build the iPhone app and that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse. In all of the successful projects I’ve outsourced I’ve always focused on providing as much detail as possible so that there is little room for guess work on the part of my hired help.
Bad Help Is Easy To Find
This time around I used Odesk to hire an iPhone developer and I made sure in my job description to emphasize that I already had researched how I needed the iPhone app to be developed (use this API to pull in movies, crowd source the voting with other users etc. etc.) – again this was done to make it clear what I wanted – The person I ended up hiring didn’t have a ton of feedback and was a little less expensive than the others. When I hired him I literally thought, “How could he screw this up?” because I basically handed everything necessary to create the iPhone app I required but in the end I committed the cardinal sin of not spending enough money. In the past there are times when I couldn’t decide which candidate to hire for a job and the deciding factor would often be who charged more and I’d go with that candidate instead. With this project, I wanted to get in and test the iPhone app waters for as cheap as possible and that was my biggest problem.
Losing The Money Isn’t The Only Thing That Sucks
I spent $1,200 (paid hourly) on the iPhone app which he halfway completed. The loading screen still had a place holder graphic that said “Loading Screen Here Perhaps?” and there were spelling errors all over inside the app. He also never finished the free version which was essential to the success of the project. I needed enough active free users to be voting on which movies to stay after in order to get accurate data. The paid version he did complete was just meant to be there for people that hated ads (more of an after thought really). Losing the $1,200 doesn’t matter that much to me, what matters the most from this project was the time I wasted. I wasted time explaining the project over and over again and constantly telling him to fix things that he wouldn’t do. In total I had 110 emails and Google chat conversations combined and I could have made so many websites during that time instead.
Will I Do An iPhone App Again?
I would like to try doing another iPhone app, but the problem is that I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching what it takes to make a successful iPhone app. While you could say my idea was crappy anyway (just don’t do it in the comments as it will hurt my feelings /sarcasm) one key point of failure was in the person that I hired. So I basically failed before I was even able to get started. The app did make it up onto the app store (it’s not there anymore), but I didn’t even get to move into the fun stuff of dealing with marketing and everything else. I told my friend Pat Flynn about this iPhone app experience several months ago and he gave me some tips on what I could do differently next time and recommended I check out this eBook that his friends made that are making a ton of money with iPhone apps (see it here). I haven’t bought it yet, but when I can finish up all of the other things I’m working on right now I will buy the eBook and this time around I’ll actually document my progress from start to finish on the blog so that you can follow along.
You Want To See More Case Studies Right?
I want to continue doing as many case studies here as possible because after looking through some of my older past posts and the comment counts it’s obvious that you all like reading those more than anything else. Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5, etc.
Would you like to follow along and see me do it? About the only thing I’d hold back is the idea during the development stages (until the app was completed).
Let me know what you think in the comments below