Is app reskinning dead?
This is one of the most asked questions we’re seeing from new entrants looking to reskin apps, but also from developers who are struggling to find appropriate themes, long-tail keywords & phrases, and ideas for their new apps. When I hear the question in a group setting, I stand back and watch as it fuels debate and arguments. Those who are seeing sharp declines in downloads and revenue from apps produced with source codes have one strong opinion, and those who are still making money from apps have another (or they just don’t chime in because they’re too busy printing money). Whatever side you’re on, you’re probably stuck in your beliefs and won’t change your opinion. That’s why I refuse to participate in those group discussions. However, I feel the need to express our side, and what better place than in our own home. When asked openly and directly, we do have a response:
Here’s what we mean by “it can be.”
App Store Optimization for Reskinning in the Past
If you were involved in the world of app reskinning a year and a half to two years ago, you’ll remember this quite well. There was actually a time when you could release pretty much anything into the App Store and as long as your keywords hit some sort of niche, you’d get a significant amount of downloads. Want to make a Halloween theme for your slot machine? Yeah, we did, and we made thousands of dollars from it. Not so much anymore. There are many reasons for this:
- Barriers to entry are low – Nowadays, you can get a source code with a video tutorial showing you how to make the app over and over again for less than the cost of dinner for two.
- Apps are being published faster than ever before
- Apple doesn’t like it when you publish an app a day and if your game simply replaces an app with bad graphics of a different theme (they don’t mind rejecting your apps and they change their algorithms)
- App Store Optimization (ASO) is a whole new area in itself, whereas before, you didn’t have to do much research at all
So app reskinning is dead, then, yes?
I’ll repeat: “It can be…”
App Store Optimization for Reskinning Now and in the Future
Fast-forward to today. We say app reskinning “can be” dead because most app developers who are reskinning apps are doing it like it’s the past. For them, it probably is dead and they’ll move on. Awesome, less developers and reskinners for us to worry about! We at MoneyFromApps, on the other hand, have been busy adapting to the changes. If you’re a loyal fan of ours, you may have noticed that the last email we sent was over a month ago and…
I’m paying my salary from app reskinning while living in sunny, Orange County, California (high cost of living and all). I don’t say that to brag, but just to show that if you’re not adapting and learning, you’ll be left behind. The argument that app reskinning is dead comes from the same people who would’ve told you that investing in real estate doesn’t work in 2009, or people who don’t have the patience to stick with a model (and improve upon it). While this argument has been going on back and forth between app elites and know-it-alls, we’ve been keeping our head down and cranking out more apps. But again, we’re not using the same formula as before. Just like with any business, especially online business, we’ve had to stay on our toes.
So what are you doing that’s different?
Wouldn’t you like to know? While we’ve been keeping our operations hush-hush for months, we always go back & forth about whether or not to detail exactly what we’re doing with our readers. On one hand, we don’t want everyone copying everything we’re doing. But on the other hand, it comes to this: if you’re here, we like you, and it’s very likely that you’re already signed up for our list and have been following what we do. If we stay quiet, you’re probably going to leave us or resent us.
So you’re in luck. I’m writing this now to share what we’ve been up to and how we continue to make money from reskinning apps.
How We’re Reskinning Apps
If you go back and look and what has changed with the App Store and you think about what you can do about it, some thoughts come to mind:
- Barriers to entry – It’s very inexpensive to produce and reskin apps now, so to compete, we should cut our costs as well, keeping graphic design to a minimum (learn how to do graphics ourselves) and sticking with app source codes so that we’re not creating apps from scratch.
- ASO – It was easy to rank for tons of keywords before, but now it’s difficult to know which keywords will be best for my app. That said, there are tools out there that give you keywords of competitors, and there are other tools that give you an estimate of traffic and competition.
Both of these pieces should be fairly obvious, but what isn’t as obvious is how they go together.
Enter Long-Tail Keywords and Custom Content-Based Source Codes
If only there was a way to find keywords and phrases that are in demand, but don’t have too much competition! And if only there was a source code that lets you have an app based on pretty much any content ever!
That’s what we were thinking months ago, and we came up with a solution.
Find App Store Keywords & Phrases that are In Demand with Low Competition
To solve this, we developed our own tool. In a nutshell, it takes a niche or category that we’re interested in, pulls a bunch of apps, reverse-engineers their keywords and key phrases, then determines if those words are high-traffic and how much competition there is for those words.
Use a Custom Content-Based Source Code
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a little while before we decide if we’re releasing the source code we’ve been using to accomplish this, but I’ll give you a major hint in how this all ties together. Glancing at the headlines on a news site, right away, I see something about basketball (March Madness) and another article about firefighters. Can you imagine a source code that could use both of these? A slot machine? Not likely.
I can’t imagine someone interested in firefighters or their stories and searching for that in the App Store wanting to download your slot machine. Instead, maybe an app that had actual content related to firefighters would work? From our experience, I can tell you that it does. That’s what we’ve been up to, and while I can’t quite say what code we’re using right now, we’re leaning towards allowing a handful of you to access it… and if we do, we want the number of purchasers to be very small. If we release it, the price will be steep to prevent scammers from stealing the code and selling it for pennies, and it’ll keep saturation low. This will be well worth it, as we continue to use the code ourselves.
So that’s it for now. That’s where we are today, and I hope you haven’t given up on your dreams. There’s still room for them in the App Store–I can tell you that!
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