We still get a ton of questions about the theory of reskinning or cloning an app, like, “Are you still making money reskinning apps?” and “Why would someone sell their source code if re-skinning it makes money?” These questions come up frequently as more and more people enter this world of app flipping and as they try to create their own app empire.
I’d like to dedicate a post to these questions… why we continue to reskin iPhone apps (or at least keep the process in mind), who should do it, why source codes are sold, and if it’s still a profitable plan. This is written especially for beginners who are wondering if it’s worth it to buy an app’s source code, or for someone who might only have 1 source code to work with and is contemplating expanding his or her portfolio. If you already have 10+ approved apps under your belt, you probably already know most of this information. But for those that are newer, read on.
Lee and I didn’t know about app reskinning when we launched our first app, Pixtant.
Had we known what we know now, things would’ve turned out differently, and we would’ve made more money… possibly a lot more money. Part of the reason is obvious: Pixtant wasn’t built to monetize. Newbie mistake #1. It was built using the Instagram model of apps. “If we build it, they will come” and “once we have a quarter million downloads, investors will be crawling all over us.” About 250,000 downloads later, very little revenue from the app, and no one knocking on our door, I can say without a doubt that we should’ve taken a different approach. Yeah, we were able to get a ton of downloads, almost all from the methods utilized in our book, “How to Get 100,000 Instagram Followers in a Month,” but that’s not what matters.
Had we known about app flipping and app reskinning, we could’ve made 100 different “Pixtant” apps and 250,000 downloads might’ve turned into 250 million.
So why am I mentioning this? The theory of reskinning should always be applied.
Even if you have no interest in buying someone else’s source code, always consider the principles of reskinning apps and take them into consideration when developing an app. When you make a new iPhone app, leave the door open so that you can quickly swap out images and relaunch the app under a completely new name/brand while using the same frame. It can turn 1 expensive project into 10 less expensive projects, and each of those projects could potentially make the same amount of money as the first. Profits multiply using this method and risks are reduced. And who knows–maybe one day you’ll be selling your own source codes for even more profit!
The benefits are: you will learn much more about the world of apps much faster since you’ll be dealing with more apps (more keywords, more icons, more designs, more everything), you’ll have more revenue possibilities, and you’ll have more app downloads. You’ll also look better to a buyer if you decide to sell your app(s) down the line. A portfolio of apps is easier to sell than a single one.
What About Profitability?
I’ll be the first to say that this is not a “get rich quick” scheme. They don’t exist. Other blogs and forums exaggerate and give high expectations about revenues. But like any other business, you’ll have to work hard to turn a good profit, and you have to stick with it. Volume is everything.
To answer the questions about our own profitability, yes, we have lots of apps that are profitable, and yes, when we release a new re-skin, it’s generally profitable. For us, it works out that way for a few reasons:
- We’re not buying new source codes every day, lowering expenses
- We create 1+ reskins every week, increasing volume and revenues
- We’re not hiring graphic designers, lowering expenses
- We’re not hiring developers, lowering expenses
I learned how to do all the work myself (and you can, too!), got great at turning around a new app in less than 24 hours, and worked my ass off. The combination of high volume with low costs is what keeps this profitable for us.
This might go against what you’ve read about outsourcing work, etc., a la The 40-Hour Work Week, but it’s what works for us. Yes, you can pay less by outsourcing the graphics or the development work. Hell, you can even outsource it to us (contact us if you’re interested). But in our experience, we learn less when we’re less involved, and our profits diminish since that’s more money out the door. We’d rather have the money now to invest in new projects that we believe will succeed–and what we believe will succeed becomes more and more accurate as we work more and more at re-skinning apps ourselves.
At this point, you might be looking for solid, hard numbers. I don’t blame you. And I can tell you, it’s nearly impossible to find re-skinners that will tell you exactly how much their app made. We give up information because we like the people that follow our blog and we want them to succeed (see how much a couple of our re-skins made here).
While the answer is obviously “it depends” (how much effort did you put into the theme/graphics, the description, the keywords, etc.), I can tell you this:
For apps that we’ve cloned, and only those that were cloned/reskinned, we’ve made over $13,000. We definitely did not spend $13,000 on source codes. Nowhere near it. So yes, it works. Again, you have to be careful about where you spend your money and how much you pay if you decide to outsource the work.
The Flipside: Why Would Someone Sell Their Profitable App?
Well, let’s take the Multi-Lined Slot Machine app as an example and look at it from the seller’s perspective. Let’s assume you own that app and every reskin you create makes you an average of $500. After creating 10 reskins of your own source code, you’ve made your money back on what you spent developing the app, or close to it. You could continue to make $500 a pop, or you could sell the source for $750 each and not have to do any work… or both! It makes sense to do it, because the App Store is so large, that it’s rare to be rejected for not using original code.
But What About Overused Source Codes?
This is still a relatively new idea in the App Store, so it’s more rare to find that a source code gets ridiculously overused. Don’t get me wrong… there are some that do seem to be reaching their end-of-life, and that is definitely something to consider. To combat that, purchase source codes that are new on the market, and use the advice we already shared about re-skinning fast and effectively, with high volume and low costs. That should take care of that risk and make that code profitable within a month.
I don’t blame you… many are afraid to dive in. And that’s fine. Like any venture, it’s risky and you will make mistakes. But the more mistakes you make on smaller re-skin projects, the better equipped you will be when you come up with the next great app idea.
If you’re not convinced because of a specific reason and/or have more questions about this, leave them below and we’ll do our best to answer them. If you’re contemplating buying a specific source code, we can try to answer questions about that as well. We also continue to get a bunch of questions about specific revenue numbers, and we’ll do our best to make more posts about profitability, how many downloads we got on specific source codes, and all that juicy stuff you crave. Stay tuned for that.
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‘Til Next Time,