Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Turning an App Idea into Reality

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Nov 29, 2017 3:51 PM

Mobile apps are flooding the market, from apps that turn your snapshots into wacky and memorable photos to ones that let you invest in stocks and currencies with a few screen taps. There's a reason why the number is growing at a rapid pace - you can make a lot of money if you launch the right app. But how does one turn an app idea into an actual usable and functional software product that can attract consistent downloads and bring in a steady monthly revenue? Here's five ways to do just that, and more:

Validate Your Idea

Your app idea sounds like the next billion-dollar startup in your head, but does it actually hold weight in the real world? Few budding entrepreneurs actually take the time to answer this crucial question and then they ultimately get dumbfounded by how poorly their app performs once they launch it in the market. Validate your idea by doing in-depth market research. Who is your ideal audience? What similar apps will you be competing with? How are their ratings, reviews, and feedback? Most importantly, are they generating any money or are expenses eating up all the profits?

List What Features Your App Needs to Have

List down all the features that you want your app to have for its initial launch. Expect for the features to change as you improve your app over time, but the core functionality should remain the same. Write whatever comes to mind. You don't have to be specific right away. For now, just have an idea of what your app should be able to do when a user clicks on it. This particular data is what's going to drive your efforts and shape your application as you work towards building it. For instance, if you have an idea for an app that hosts a real-time trivia game with prizes, your core feature would be a list type menu where users can choose options from, which will dictate how you design your mobile app.

Figure Out How You'll Monetize

The main reason why you're launching an app is to make money. If you can't figure out what business model or monetization strategy to use, it won't matter how good your product is and how successful the unveiling was. Fortunately, you don't have to reinvent the wheel when figuring this one out. There's quite a few tried and tested strategies for monetizing apps, namely charging a subscription fee, selling in-app items, selling ad space to other businesses, selling user data, and through sponsorship programs, Nowadays, however, launching an app that costs money rarely gets a positive reception, much less succeed over time. Launching one that starts out free and then requires users to buy items to continue using the app, however, can give you the revenue stream you're looking for.

Start Coding It

You can either hire someone to develop the app for you or do it yourself. If you have the technical proficiency to code, doing it yourself can give you a clearer understanding of your product and what's under the hood, according to Bill Busbice, who is a lifelong entrepreneur who turned his expertise in the trucking industry into a successful mobile app called HWYPro. Common technologies and frameworks used today for mobile application design include HTML, CSS, ReactJS, and Ruby on Rails. If you don't have the time or skill, you can outsource the legwork to freelancers at a cheaper rate.

Start Pitching to Investors

Without financial backing, your app won't have much runway to move. Some apps can be designed with a mere $1,000, others will consume tens of thousands of dollars over the span of a few years. Figure out how much money you need to build, launch, and maintain your app. Determine a number you'll want to have before you eventually need more cash infusion from investors.

What's the Next Step?

It's a good thing to have ideas about potential revenue-generating applications, but until you actually do something to get it off the ground, it'll just be another idea that you end up forgetting about. Start working on your application with this as your starter guide.

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