app reskinning

How Do Apps Make Money? From Ad Networks Like StartApp

 

When we’re talking with friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers, one of the first questions we hear is:

How do apps make money?

We could go on for hours about this, but for the most part, it really comes down to only two things:

  1. Ads
  2. In-App Purchases

Making Money From Apps by Using In-App Purchases

Let’s talk about in-app purchases for a moment. Unfortunately, if you’re just starting out, making money from in-app purchases is extremely difficult. If people are willing to buy your coin packs, your “unlock weapons” or “remove ads” feature, and more, then they must really love your app. Think about it… in which apps have you spent money? Did you like those apps? Most certainly.

But getting to that level–where people love your app–is incredibly difficult. It takes a lot of time and money to develop a product that people love. In fact, it’s so difficult, that we recommend starting with simple apps that you know aren’t amazing, but will make money in other ways… namely, ads. Then you can take that money and invest it into new projects.

One example of this is reskinning apps. In a nutshell, you could buy a Bingo source code, change the ad network IDs to your own, and re-release the app into the App Store as “Summer Bingo,” or some other theme. Thanks to Apple’s tendency to feature new apps, you will most certainly get downloads, and every person that downloads your app will see ads of other apps, and you’ll start making money quickly.

So if you’re starting out and want to make a profitable app instead of spending thousands of dollars researching and developing an app that people may or may not like, ads are the way to go.

Making Money From Apps by Using Ads

This is getting easier and easier by the day, because more and more apps are entering the market, and the app development companies can afford to pay premium prices to advertise their app inside of yours. On top of that, ad networks are becoming more convenient, as competition grows among them.

Ad networks do all the hard work for you–they find the advertisers and pair them with you. They build the code–all you have to do is drop it into yours. Our free tutorials on how to reskin an app will give you an idea of how this works.

Unfortunately, some of the source codes you might purchase today will have outdated ad networks. First, they’ll use old school ad networks that might not make you the most money. Second, the SDKs (the code you drop in) might be outdated. So one way in which you can have an edge on others is to seek out new ad networks and test them out. This can easily turn a loser app into a winning one; we highly recommend trying out different ad networks.

Today, we want to encourage you to try a new one: StartApp.

Why You Should Try StartApp

StartApp is a relatively new ad network for iOS. It’s actually been startapp ad networkaround for a long time on Android, and is one of the largest and most successful Android ad platforms ever. So when a network like this moves into iOS, you should pay attention.

When an ad network makes this sort of move, it usually comes with promotions and better eCPMs, and that’s why we’re telling you about this right now. If you capitalize on these promotions and great CPM, your apps can make double, triple, or even more than if you stuck with the same old ad networks. Not only that, but you get to test new ways to monetize your users, which is critical in this business.

What promotions?

  1. Sign Up Bonus – Because they’re new to iOS, StartApp is running a sign up bonus. Just use this link: StartApp Sign Up Bonus. You will get an extra $50 this month once you reach only 1,000 impressions. If you have any issues with that link, just contact their support and they’ll make sure you’re all set. They’re very responsive.
  2. Double Revenue – Again, you’ll only find these kinds of deals with newer ad networks. Take advantage of the double revenue now. Get cracking!

This can turn $15 eCPMs into $30, which makes a huge difference, especially if you release multiple reskins of one app. Don’t miss out.

We’ll keep you updated as we find other great deals like this.
If you want help implementing the StartApp SDK, you can join our free course on how to reskin an app and find support there.

Happy Money-Making!
Justin

StartApp in the Press:

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/mobile-monetization-platform-startapp-rakes-in-one-billion-downloads-2013-9
  2. http://venturebeat.com/2014/01/31/10x-growth-in-18-months-startapp-hits-1-5b-downloads-70k-app-installs-and-200m-daily-ad-impressions/
app reskinning

Game Studio Elite and Project Mayhem 2 Event Review

game studio elite reveal event

How many of you heard about or watched the Trey Smith Game Studio Elite one-time only, never replaying again, presentation? According to some, if you missed it, game over, because this is apparently what is now needed in order to “take over the entire game marketplace.” Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like my inbox was spammed to the max about this event… But whatever–it worked, and they got me to watch the “one and only” presentation. Then this happened:

chad mureta email

What was that about there not being a replay? And why does the graphic (shown at the top of this post) say “One Night Only” and “No Replays”? Sigh.

If you missed it TWICE and want to know what all the fuss is about, or you just want my opinion about Game Studio Elite and Project Mayhem 2 by Trey Smith of GameAcademy.com, then read on. This is not a sales pitch, and I don’t personally know anyone at Game Academy. This is just my honest opinion about the event and my take on the program and software.

I’m going to go ahead and start by telling you the price, which is the exact opposite of how any marketer would go about this, because that’s what all these events are: sales pitches to get you to buy something.

So here it is: $9,997

Wait, let me phrase that how a marketer wouldn’t.

So here it is: $10,000

Awesome. Just let that sink in for a little bit. That might be enough for you to be uninterested already. But if you’re curious, move on.

Alright, so what the hell is it? Game Studio Elite is a course created by Trey Smith of GameAcademy.com. Project Mayhem 2 is software that he developed to go along with the program. First, let’s look at this course…

Game Studio Elite

The course takes place over 8 weeks.

1) “Foundation” (4 weeks) – In the first 4 weeks, you’ll learn the software, Project Mayhem 2. In a nutshell, you’ll learn how to create games without developers or graphic designers, but you will need to do a lot of work yourself.

2) “Automation” (2 weeks)  – Learn how to hire people to make more games for you, so you’re not doing all the work that you were previously doing in Step 1. Also learn how to better market the apps (keywords, localization, etc.).

3) “Domination” (2 weeks) – Now that you have lots of games, how to direct that traffic to one “mega game.” Repeat this process. Also, learn how to sell your app company.

Now let’s see what the software is all about.

Project Mayhem 2

This is the Photoshop of developing. No wait, that’s Xcode. So I don’t know what this is, but it’s something! It’s pretty intense, to be honest. The app allows you to create as many apps as you want, but within a certain set of functions. I’ll try to explain…

Just like Photoshop allows you to make images, it doesn’t allow you to make animations, at least that I’m aware of. And just like Project Mayhem 2 allows you to create certain kinds of games, you can’t create whatever app you want. There are certain functions and things you can do with the software. Here’s a list of games it allows you to create:

screenshot of project mayhem 2

So that’s it. If you’re interested in creating any other type of game, you’re out of luck, or you need to buy a source code. Want to make a casino game? Not gonna happen.

But the cool thing is that these are not just for iOS, but also Android, and eventually Windows as well. So that’s nice. Also, you can make as many different variants of a Jumping Game as you want. The software comes with tons of images/artwork and sounds built-in, so you can just choose what you like and build it, drag-and-drop style. Cool.

But let’s face it. Photoshop isn’t easy. It takes a long time to learn and get used to, and only certain people that have the mind for it master it. I’m sure this isn’t any different. Watch the demonstration video of Project Mayhem 2 and you’ll see that while some things seem easy, there are a lot of unanswered questions. I’m pretty technically savvy, but I have to admit that at some points during the video, I didn’t know what was going on.

So let’s go over some Pros and Cons.

Pros

  1. You don’t need a graphic designer, developer, or sounds. All the pieces are in the software.
  2. Create lots of “higher quality” games–as many as you want–and each reskin can be changed further because it’s “easy” to change menus, the number of enemies, etc.
  3. The network: training with smart people, possible phone calls with Trey Smith, access to developers when you need them, etc.

Cons

  1. You will need to learn this software, which will take a long time, and you might hate doing this work.
  2. What happens when iOS 8 comes out (soon)? Will this software still work perfectly? We’ve all seen issues pop up with a change in iOS versions. Along those lines, will it work with new phones? Is there any kind of warranty on this software? How often is it updated?
  3. What if you don’t want to build an endless runner/flyer/jumping game, but something in an area that can be more lucrative, like Casino games?
  4. What if the types of games offered go out of style?
  5. Can’t jump on a new trend when graphics are pre-made. How do you create a “Flappy Bird” theme or a Miley Cyrus theme?
  6. Ten-freaking-thousand dollars
  7. Couldn’t I just hire someone that already uses the software to make games for me? Or can’t I just buy the source code to one of these games and make a bunch of reskins that way? Yeah, it would be harder to customize, but isn’t the point to not customize it?

Yikes… I’m starting to come up with a lot more cons than pros.

If I had about 24 more hours in a day and about $24,000 more in my bank account, I might give this a shot, but I feel like the cost doesn’t justify the benefits.

For example, with $10,000, you could jump on 25 or more HOT source codes–stuff that is trending like crazy. You have an unlimited options and can reskin each of those source codes an unlimited number of times. You could probably reskin them quickly and at a low cost… sure, you need graphics, but you can still license just as high quality graphics.

OR you can buy his software, spend weeks figuring it out, and make an unlimited number of games in a limited set of game styles for the same price.

Option 2 feels riskier to me. What are your thoughts?

Update: A reader who actually has the system sent an opinion

Yep, we bought this over a year ago when Trey upgraded from App Elite to App Elite 2.

Yes, it is expensive. NO, you never get to talk to Trey Smith. However, we did attend a one-day conference in San Diego in which Trey brought in several speakers. Trey continues to host a forum for “members” to ask questions, etc.

The bad news about Trey’s system (oh, by the way, he “sells” this twice a year, so the entire “this is going to be offered only once” is total BS), is you are very limited to game types (like you said in the blog), but Apple is now rejecting a lot of game types saying there are already too many similar game types in the AppStore.

I recently created a game and paid $300 to create artwork only to have the game rejected by Apple because there are too many similar game types. It was an endless runner type game.

We don’t use the system much anymore.

So there you have it.

P.S. I was very disappointed that the biggest hype of this was that there was no replay, and that it was a one-time only deal, but it doesn’t matter because all of the information in the video is available on the website.

app reskinning

How to Optimize Chartboost eCPM

On our last post, we got a question about ad networks. The lingo and all the functions can be pretty overwhelming–I know it was for me at first. How do you best use ad networks for app monetization? Is there a way to set up campaigns that will yield the best results? I’m going to give you some tips that will boost up your Chartboost eCPM because in my opinion, Chartboost is probably the most complicated to understand since it has the most options. If you see a term you don’t understand, look at the end of the post–it might very well be in the glossary. So let’s get to it…

Chartboost

If you have an app that is a game, chances are you’re using Chartboost. It’s one of the most popular ad networks for games out there. It’s most commonly used ads are shown as pop-up ads (also known as “full screen interstitials”) and the famous Chartboost More Apps page. While you can technically still put the Chartboost SDK into an app that isn’t a game, if Chartboost finds out, they could stop you… so only publish campaigns in Chartboost

The first screen below shows what a typical Chartboost interstitial looks like. You can usually tell right away that it’s a Chartboost ad because of its size. Unlike other ad networks, a Chartboost “full screen” ad doesn’t take up the whole screen.

The More Apps page is usually connected to a “More” button in your app and displays a list of apps–your own, other people’s ads, or a combination of both. The orange theme is how I usually know that it’s Chartboost.

Set Up

How do you set up Chartboost? Here’s the quick breakdown, assuming the Chartboost SDK is already implemented into your app:

1. Add your app – this should be pretty straight-forward. However, if you can’t figure this out, I’d recommend our video tutorials.

2. Create campaigns (sets of ads) – Don’t create only one campaign. Create a few–maybe one that has lots of filters and only accepts a minimum $4 per install. Set that as your “highest priority” campaign and then for the “high” priority campaign, set a $3 or $2.50 minimum for an install. By doing this, you will force Chartboost to give you the highest paying ads first. If there are none that match your criteria, it will go to your next highest priority campaign and try to find an ad that fits that criteria. For your lowest priority campaign, don’t include filters–that way you will only show low-paying ads if Chartboost couldn’t successfully find a better one first.

3. Set up the More Apps page (if your app uses it) – This part is easy to miss. Open up your app in Chartboost, and navigate to the tab: More Apps. There’s a search bar on the right side. Click in the bar and type in your own apps (if you want to promote your own) or the names of your campaigns to show other people’s ads there!

Placement

Where should you place your ads? First, if you’re not familiar with Xcode and Objective-C, or you’re not developing an app from scratch, chances are you have no say over this. But if you do have the control, then the answer is… it depends.

If you have an awesome code with great retention, you probably don’t want to bombard the user with ads right when they launch your app. Actually, you probably aren’t doing that if your app has great retention, because most people are turned off by ads and will steer away from apps that have loads of ads appearing within a minute of launching the app.

However, if you’re reskinning a game a bunch of times, and you expect that most users will only use your app a couple of times, might as well take advantage and show an ad or two right at launch and whenever you can. Note that Apple can reject you for showing too many ads. It’s happened to us before, but we found a way around that.

This is something to experiment with (some ad networks have A/B or Split Testing, which allows you to try different strategies at one time). Each app will be different, and if you’re able to master this, you should go into marketing for an app development company, because this kind of knowledge is powerful.

Cross-Promotion

Should you do it? Well, unfortunately, again the answer is “it depends.” You’ll find that some huge apps only use cross-promotion. Other times, like with Flappy Bird, you’ll see that the app only advertises other people’s apps. Sometimes you’ll see a mix of both. So what strategy should you use?

Here’s how to think about it. In general, if you wanted to advertise your app, you would have to pay around $0.50 f0r an install of your app. On the flipside, if you advertise someone else’s app, you would make somewhere around $0.50 every time someone installed that person’s app. So what would you rather have? $0.50 or a download of your own app? Personally, I would rather have $0.50 because my app probably won’t make $0.50 from that person that downloaded it. Make sense?

However, there are some things to take into consideration. Let’s say you have two apps: a photo-framing app, and an app that gets you more followers on Instagram. Those two are very complimentary. A user of the Instagram app would probably be interested in a photo-framing app… so in this case, it might work to cross-promote. You’ll probably get a higher CTR and IR with your own app compared to an ad of Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. Also, that user might spend money $1.99 in your photo framing app, and now you’ve made a lot more than if you were advertising someone else’s app.

So again, this depends, and you have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

Other Tips

  • Chartboost recommends customizing your frame. The frame is the border around a full-screen interstitial ad. You can change this so that it matches the theme of your app, and will then (hopefully) get you more clicks because it looks less intrusive. I don’t doubt that this works, but we’ve never tried this because it’s pretty labor intensive to create a new frame to match the theme of every app you have.
  • Filter out apps that perform badly! Sometimes a terrible ad will show up hundreds or thousands of times, and it gets either no clicks or no installs. You can analyze this and eliminate the ads that perform poorly. Check out this step-by-step tutorial created by Chartboost. We do this approximately once a month.
  • In addition, to combine Carter’s tip mentioned earlier with filtering apps, you should probably create different campaigns for different categories of apps. For example, gambling apps should probably have different campaigns than Flappy Bird-style apps, because a user of a Flappy Bird app might not be interested in a poker app, and that could be good to filter out of a campaign that is showing in your Flappy Bird-style apps.

Glossary

They pretty much apply to any ad network.

  1. Advertiser – You are an advertiser if you are paying to show ads for your apps.
  2. Publisher – You are a publisher if you show ads in your apps and make money that way.
  3. Campaign – In Chartboost, you need to create a campaign to show ads and make money. Think of a campaign as a set of ads. You can create just one campaign if you wish; however, in general, it would be best to create a campaign (or a few different campaigns) for each category of app you have. For example, you could create a campaign for your “Gambling” apps and then another for your “Flappy Bird-style” apps. This is optimal because users in a Gambling app have different tastes and preferences than someone using a Flappy Bird-style app.
  4. Cross-Promotion – This is a case when you act as both an advertiser and a publisher. In simple terms, you are advertising your own app(s) inside your own app(s). Note that by doing this, you won’t be making money when users click an ad and install the app, since you are referring to your own apps.
  5. Direct Deal – This might be exclusive to Chartboost, and it’s only available if you’re able to get 20,000 boot-ups of an app in a single day. This qualifies you for Direct Deals, in which you can talk to advertisers directly and make deals to show their apps. This will make you a higher eCPM or eCPI than the normal way of showing ads.
  6. CPC – Cost per Click. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on your ad.
  7. CPI – Cost per Install. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on an ad in your app and installs/opens the app. Some ad networks, like Chartboost, use both–sometimes you’re being paid for clicks and sometimes you’re being paid when the user installs the app.
  8. eCPM – It stands for “Effective Cost Per Mille.” That’s probably not helpful. In plain English, if you’re a publisher making money by showing ads, it means how much money you make for every 1,000 impressions, whether you make that money from clicks or installs. The calculation is:
    Money/Impressions x 1000. We’ve experienced eCPMs ranging anywhere from $0.01 to $250 on a given day.
  9. Impression – An ad view. One user can experience any amount of impressions while using your app in a sitting. For example, if you show an ad right when your app launches, that’s 1 impression. If the same user sees another ad after completing a level, that would be a 2nd impression. The more ad impressions, the more clicks you should get, and the more money you should earn; however, if you bombard a user with ad impressions, they’re likely to get pissed off and never use your app again.
  10. Bootup – Same as a “Session.” Every bootup or session is counted each time a user opens your app.
  11. Uniques (Unique Users) – How many individual users use your app in a given time period. If the same person opens your app 7 times in one day, that’s 7 bootups or sessions, but only 1 unique or unique user.
  12. CTR – Click Through Rate. How many clicks an ad received compared to how many times it was shown. For example, a CTR of 50% means that every other time the ad is shown, on average, it gets clicked once. The higher the CTR, the higher your earnings (usually) because you are paid per click or install.
  13. IR – Install Rate. How many installs an app received compared to how many times the ad was clicked. For example, an IR of 50% means that every other time the ad was clicked, it resulted in an install of that app.
  14. SDK – It stands for Software Development Kit. You implement someone else’s SDK into your app in order to use their service. For example, in order to show Chartboost ads, you need to add the Chartboost SDK into your app’s code.
  15. Placement – An ad location. For example, an ad might be located (or placed) right when the game launches.
  16. Retention – How often a user comes back to use your app.
app reskinning

Make Money From Apps – Can You Make Money Making Apps?

I left my cubicle exactly 1 year ago today. And just this month, for the first time ever, we have generated over $10,000 in revenue for the month. On top of that, for the first time ever, we’ve generated $10,000 in app revenue for the month (money to be received in approximately 45 days).

 

We say this with modesty and are incredibly thankful that we were able to reach this level, and we only share this information with you to answer the question… Can you make money making apps?

If we could do it, so can you.

I’m lucky that I was in a position to take the risk a year ago to leave my full-time job–I figured that if we didn’t succeed, I would be okay and could bounce back after a year of taking little or no income. So how do you make money from apps? We’ve learned a ton of lessons and want to share them with you.

Here’s our story over the last year…

The first few months were tough. We had only one app, Pixtant, and our vision was big: the next social network and “the Instagram of voting.” Our goal was to reach a big investment round and/or sell it for a hefty profit. But even after 250,000+ downloads, we realized we wouldn’t be able to generate enough interest… why? While the download numbers were impressive, Pixtant was never quite “viral,” and the app wasn’t making money. In fact, it was losing money, since it requires a large server to store pictures and user data. Either we’d need to implement a bunch of ways to make money from the app, or we’d probably need 20x the amount of downloads (or more) to really get attention from the big guys. Either case requires a great deal of investment in both time and money.

That’s when we learned our first main lesson: don’t build an app without monetization strategies already in place. Better yet, model after apps that are already successful.

So that’s what we did. We shifted gears and adapted. We put our pride of the Pixtant app aside and started from square one with some very basic apps that only have a goal of making its money back plus some–no dreams of ever selling for $1 billion–but a more realistic dream of making a decent return after a few months. After all, if we didn’t do this, I’d need to start looking for a job.

To our surprise, it worked. Sure, we didn’t make thousands of dollars overnight, but we were able to turn a profit on our small app projects.We dove into this model head-first and bought up 5-10 iOS source codes and started at it. But some source codes just don’t do well…

That’s when we learned our second main lesson: if an app generates a positive return, stick with it; focus and reskin it… fast.

We shifted a little again and focused on only 1-2 apps that made good money. icon-tripledare“Good money” would be making a 100% return or more within 30 days. So if we spent $750 on the code and to reskin it, we’d hope for $1500 in revenue within 30 days after it was approved by the App Store.
This strategy works, and continues to, but unfortunately others catch on, source codes themselves go viral among developers, and they fizzle out. It becomes hard to get downloads when there are thousands of reskins out for a single source code.

And that’s when we learned our third lesson: pick up the pace. See our previous post for more information about this. The key here is to jump on a source code if you really believe it’s going to work, and reskin it as fast as humanly possible.

With a bunch of source codes in our arsenal and having released over 50 apps, we’re really beginning to understand what works in a source code and why. If you’re just starting out and want to know if you can make money from apps, let us be an example for you.

You can do it. And you don’t need to quit your full-time job to do it.
I decided to learn programming, to teach others how to reskin, to blog about the process, and more–things that take a lot of time and that you don’t need to worry about, and that you can put aside for your own personal dedications, whether that be a job, family, friends, or hobbies.

This is a legitimate business that can provide you a steady and solid income. You might be curious where our $10,000 in revenue for the month came from, since we are involved in so many different projects. Well, in sticking with our goal of transparency, here it is:

MARCH 2014
Apps – $7,676
App Services & Marketing – $1,401
Course Sales/Teaching – $953
Book Sales – $45
Total: $10,075

Note: This is not our net revenue — we have lots of expenses for servers that we still maintain, development projects, etc.

Whether you go full-time or not, there are great resources for advice, help, and to find developers and graphic designers to hire. You’re welcome to contact us for a quote on re-skinning a specific source code, like:

  • Flappy Bird
  • Slot Machine
  • Random Text (Jokes, Facts, etc.) Generator
  • Video Poker

Often, we can crank out a reskin for others in less than 3 business days, and for a fraction of the price an outsourced developer and graphic designer will charge. Why would/could we offer this?

  1. We are grateful and like helping others get their foot in the door.
  2. We already have many of these reskins on our own account and Apple wouldn’t be happy if we added more.
  3. We can do it efficiently and at a low price because we’re not employing big teams and don’t have big overhead costs to pass on to you.
  4. By helping you, we learn more and absorb more.
  5. We meet new people and make new connections.We have lots of reasons.

So here’s to all of you… and to my family and friends that have supported us, and of course my business partner Lee–to our next goal of a $20,000 month.

But before I go, I’ll briefly mention that we have an exciting project that you could be a part ofI can’t guarantee that yet, but if you’re looking for a brand new source code and you want to be in fast, make sure you’re signed up for our mailing list on the right side of the page. You’ll be the first to know about it, and you can jump on it faster than anyone else to reap the biggest rewards.

‘Til next time,
Justin

app reskinning

iOS Source Codes Update

Alright, back to the stuff that you’re really here for… information on apps, and more specifically, source codes. Which iOS source codes should you buy? Which ones make the most money and why?

The source codes that we have praised the most in the past were the Random Fact Generator code by Austin Church and Party Slots by Carter Thomas. But I think it’s important that we explain why these codes work(ed) for us and if you can still make money from them.

Party Slots

Let’s start with Party Slots. If you’re a frequent reader of PixtantBlog, you’re awesome, and second, you probably already know that we’ve mentioned multiple times that one of our reskins of this game–Halloween Casino–made a lot of money. Why was it so successful? We got in early. It took some time to figure out, but it makes perfect sense. The faster you are at getting in on a new source code, the better your chances (and with that, the faster you are at reskinning a code, the better).

App Store spam is a big factor nowadays. I was skeptical at first when people started asking questions about source code popularity and what that means for downloads and monetization, but there does appear to be a breaking point… a point at which a source code is just way too saturated and customers know it. Sadly, Party Slots is reaching that phase. If you release a reskin of Party Slots nowadays, you’re most likely not going to hit it as big as you would’ve 6 months ago. Just do a search in the App Store for some sort of theme (like “Halloween”) followed by “slots,” and you’ll see a ton of Party Slot reskin apps pop up. There must be thousands of reskins out there. The competition with that code is pretty fierce, and it’s tough to get downloads.

I don’t want to discourage you completely. It’s still possible to make money with it, but in our opinion, there’s really only two ways–make it look a lot different (do a full reskin), or do the work yourself so it costs almost nothing. As for full reskins, we have a team that can do it. Just contact us.

So what’s the lesson? Be an early adopter of a source code that you believe in, and then reskin the app as fast as humanly possible. Party slots generated over $7,000 in revenue for us, but most of that was in the beginning. We still make residual income, but not nearly as much as we used to. Also, when Halloween Casino was successful, we should’ve published 10 or more at that time, instead of messing with other projects. We would’ve made a lot more money. Stick with what works, milk it, and move on.

In the coming weeks, we’ll point out source codes that we think are worth it. You’re welcome to ask us as well, and we’ll give you our honest opinion. We have our hands on about 20 source codes now, so we’re really getting a feel for which ones work and why.

Random Fact Generator

How about the Jokes app? In our experience, this source code really depends on your marketing–the theme & content, app icon, keywords, and title. If you come up with a good theme that people are genuinely interested in, you can get a steady stream of downloads over the course of months, if not a year+. However, if you pick something unoriginal, like Jokes, you’ll probably be left unnoticed.

Even with its good monetization (this code has generated about $3,500 in revenue for us), there are some things that I wish this code had that could take it to the next level. For example, ads should be shown for every certain amount of clicks… this is such a simple way to improve the number of impressions. A simpler way to add more categories and in-app purchases would be nice, too, so we’re not all limited to 4 categories. We’ve debated upgrading this code ourselves, but we’re not sure if it’s worth it. If you’re interested in that project and getting your hands on a Version 2 of this code, let us know, and we’ll definitely consider it.

So what’s the lesson? It’s similar… be an early adopter and pick an original theme. Put out as many as you can, and hopefully a few will hit.

Final Thoughts

It really comes down to one thing… assuming it’s a good source code in the first place (makes a good amount of money per download), you just need to be fast in every way possible.

– Fast in the sense of purchasing the source code before anyone else
– Fast at reskinning that source code
– Fast at jumping on a trend (theme) or idea (content)
– Fast at publishing more reskins

 

Of course the other piece is how much you spend, and we always encourage you to dive in, get your hands dirty, and see how fast you can do it yourself. It’s easier than it sounds. You can also hire people, but make sure you’re not getting ripped off and be careful with freelancing websites… better yet, contact us, and we’ll give you reasonable prices.

If you’re able to achieve speed, you’ll be on the left side of the curve and will reap the rewards early on.

Stay tuned for more source code updates! For alerts, coupons, and more, sign up for our mailing list on the right side of the page.

Happy app making,

Justin

app reskinning

How Much Does It Cost to Make an App?

 

So how much does it cost to make an app? A lot. Developers will rip you off. That’s what I’ve learned after diving into Xcode myself. Some app developers will argue that I’m wasting precious time that should be outsourced to developers, but I think learning the fundamentals of app development and Xcode serves a few purposes:

You Can Buy Source Codes and Reskin It Yourself Quickly and Efficiently For Free

The title says it all. Thanks to some basic tutorials, I’m now able to crank out a reskin in under 2 days whenever I want to build up our portfolio and bring in some additional revenue. That’s priceless, especially when other people out there will charge you $1500 for a single reskin. Because of our efficiency in cranking these out, we do sometimes offer this service to you guys, but we always stress how great it is to learn it yourself. Contact us for a quote or for a coupon to access our tutorials.

You’ll Get Better at Knowing Which Source Codes are Worth Buying

Sometimes developers and development companies are great at marketing and building your trust. They’re great sales people! Any source code they release sounds like a winner. Sadly, this is not the case. Some apps are more difficult to reskin than others, and some just won’t make the revenue you imagined. Often, it will take 20+ reskins just to get your money back. We’ve been there.

But after learning Xcode and running through this over and over, it really becomes clear as to which apps will actually bring in money and why.

You’ll Get Better at Publishing Apps

What keywords to use, how to describe your app, and even forecasting what an app will make will become second nature to you if you learn the basics of coding, or at least reskinning apps, because the more you do it, the more you see patterns and realize what works.

You’ll Be Faster Than Everyone Else

I challenge any of you who attempt to outsource this work to beat me to the market with a reskin. Say a new trend comes out–let’s say, oh I don’t know, something like Flappy Bird, which has pretty much become a game category in itself.
How fast can you capitalize on the trend? Can you buy the source code and release a Flappy Bird-like game within a day? That’s a huge factor in your success, and being able to reskin an app in a day, or even hours in some cases, will help you blow past the competition.

You Might Even Be Able to Make Simple, Money-Making Apps on Your Own

Again, take the Flappy Bird example. It’s insane. That app took less than 3 days to develop and it made the Top Charts consistently in the App Store. You never know when something simple could be a winner, and knowing the basics could allow you to develop something quickly to test the market, test keywords, and gain other valuable data for free. You might also be able to sell the source code. There are already lots of developers who cloned Flappy Bird and are profiting from sales of the source code.

And Possibly Most Importantly: You’ll Know if Developers are Ripping You Off

So how much does it cost to create an app? Well, obviously it depends on what kind of app you’re developing.

We’ve worked with different developing teams, and looking back, some of the prices we were charged for basic implementations were ridiculous. I built a basic app from scratch in a day or two, and this included setting up two ad networks–both Chartboost and Revmob. Setting up the ad networks took maybe an hour, but that’s including time it took for me to learn what I was doing through Googling, YouTubing, and reading documentation. Now it would probably take less than 30 minutes to do both again.

Developers will quote you days for this, at a $25/hour rate. It’s sick and twisted. It reminds me of the whole car service/repair industry, and how they’re constantly under attack and scrutiny (hidden cameras and the like) for ripping people off because they don’t know any better. I need a new transmission? …Ok.

Don’t let this happen to you.
I know, most of you have full-time jobs and can’t commit a lot of time into learning Objective C and all its intricacies. I get that, and I’m not advocating becoming an advanced Xcode developer. But a very basic 1-2 hour tutorial on how to reskin an app could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the future. It’s saved us.

Comment below if you got a quote and want some advice to know if you’re being ripped off or if you have any experiences with this yourself.

app reskinning

We Found your App uses the iOS Advertising Identifier but does not Include Ad Functionality IDFA

 

Alright, so we here at Pixtant have been rejected twice for this now, and I think I have it all figured out, so hopefully this will shed some light on the subject for you. This is obviously a big problem for a bunch of developers–even TechCrunch has written an article about it. Unfortunately, they don’t really tell you what you need to do to get around the rejection.

Anyway, here’s what the rejection looks like, which we are all too familiar with:

“We found your app uses the iOS Advertising Identifier but does not include ad functionality. This does not comply with the terms of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement, as required by the App Store Review Guidelines. Please check your code – including any third-party libraries – to remove any instances of:

class: ASIdentifierManager
selector: advertisingIdentifier
framework: AdSupport.framework”

And here’s Apple’s clause (why you got rejected):

“You and Your Applications (and any third party with whom you have contracted to serve advertising) may use the Advertising Identifier, and any information obtained through the use of the Advertising Identifier, only for the purpose of serving advertising. If a user resets the Advertising Identifier, then You agree not to combine, correlate, link or otherwise associate, either directly or indirectly, the prior Advertising Identifier and any derived information with the reset Advertising Identifier.”

So here’s what’s going on, without the technical mumbo jumbo:

Ad networks and Analytic Services tend to use the Advertising Identifier (aka IDFA). By the way, IDFA stands for Identifier For Advertisers.

If your app displays ads, you’re good to go! Note that our apps tend to display ads and we still got rejected. So what happened? Well, the reviewer didn’t see an ad and thus assumed we didn’t have any and were using the IDFA without just cause.

So the fix: Make a note in iTunes Connect when submitting your app, telling the reviewer that you do indeed have ads and where they are located. To do this, go into your current version/View Details, go to the Contact Information section, and type it in the Review Notes section. Then your app won’t be rejected for this reason.

In a previous post, I recommended turning off ads before submitting to Apple, because sometimes you’ll get rejected for having too many ads. Oh, Apple, how I have a love/hate relationship with you. So this is all about the “Goldilocks Zone.” If you’re using the IDFA, make sure you show at least one ad, but not too many!

If you DO NOT display ads, and you got rejected (or want to avoid being rejected)…

Chances are you’re using an SDK that uses the IDFA when it’s not supposed to, or you’re using a Framework that you’re not supposed to… or your code has ad networks (Chartboost, Revmob, AppLovin, etc.) set up in the code, but you’re choosing not to show any ads. The IDFA is only supposed to be used for ads, remember?

Flurry is an example of an SDK that used the IDFA when it wasn’t supposed to. But the good news is that as of today, they’ve fixed the problem. You just need to update your SDK. Also, here’s a list of SDKs that are affected (and working to fix the issue).

If you’re in this boat, you have a couple of options:

  1. Take out the SDK and/or Framework that is causing the issue, or remove the actual Advertising Identifier (might need an experienced developer)
  2. Wait for the SDK to fix it so they don’t use the IDFA and then update your SDK (if you don’t know how, look up some videos on YouTube. It’s pretty easy)
  3. Put in Ads!!

#3 is hilarious and a great solution for inexperienced developers and reskinners, especially if you fall into the group of people who bought a source code that has ad networks tied in, but you choose not to use ads. Here’s why:

You might be thinking, but I want my app to be ad free! That’s fine! Just show 1 ad at the launch of your app so the reviewer sees it and allows you to use the IDFA… then, once your app is approved, turn off the ads through the ad network’s website! Then the end user won’t see the ads and you just got away with murder. Muhahahaha.

A little sneaky, but who cares. Again, this just proves that the Apple Review process is ridiculous and doesn’t make sense.

app reskinning

App Reskinning 101: Why You Should Reskin & Clone

  by  pasukaru76    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…

Continue reading

app reskinning

How to Make Graphics for Apps and UI Design: Hire a Graphic Designer or DIY

 

Update: We now have a one-hour crash course on reskinning graphics for apps. You can purchase the app graphics tutorial for only $19 here! The tutorial shows how we reskin  our Bingo source code backgrounds, level banners, and icon.

We get a lot of questions about how to build an app, and most are about the re-skinning process. One that we hear over and over concerns how to make graphics for apps and app UI design. With our tutorials making the programming part 100x easier, graphics still remain a big question mark. Should you hire a designer and pay $500+ for custom graphics? Should you make the graphics yourself and try for free graphic design? Should you try to find stock images? How do you do it yourself? These are great questions, and with over 30 apps under our belt, we’ve finally come to a specific process.

First, you need to consider your goal for this app. We have some apps that were built from scratch and were intended to be revolutionary. For example, our first app, Pixtant, was a large project and a fairly new idea for the App Store. It’s similar to Instagram, except users vote between two pictures instead of liking one picture. Because this was a custom-built app with a big vision and a significant budget, it made sense for us to have custom-created graphics and buttons. We wanted to be unique and cared about the brand.

On the other hand, we have purchased source codes with a sole purpose of creating a large amount of apps that monetize quickly with low investment costs. In this case, brand is not important, as we expect some apps to fail, some to make a couple hundred dollars, and some to make a few thousand. Almost all will slow down after a couple of months and never go viral. In this case, mediocre graphics are acceptable. This was our strategy for most of our apps, including “Halloween Casino.” You can see how much money it made (and how many downloads it got). While you never want to have bad graphics, average graphics can easily be good enough–like with Halloween Casino–and if that means saving $500, it makes sense. If you reskin 30 apps and use this method, you could have saved $15,000 or more. That alone can take your app business from the red to the black.

If you’re just starting out, doing it yourself is a great method for a few reasons: you’ll be more involved in the creation of your app, you will learn a ton in the process and know if you’re being ripped off for graphics, you’ll save a good amount of money, and you don’t need to wait for a graphic designer to do the work. Cons are that it will take more of your own personal time and graphics won’t be as great as they could be, unless you’re a graphic designer. But again, this time isn’t completely lost as you’ll have a better feel for your business in the end and will learn a lot along the way.

If you decide that custom graphics could take your app to the next level and you will make that investment back, go for it. But if you’re looking to do it yourself, here are some tips we’ve learned along the way.

Do It Yourself App Graphics

You may be tempted to make graphics from scratch by yourself. Seems easy enough, right? Not really. It takes a ton of time and effort to think up the design and make it look great. The better solution is to find graphics that have already been made, or pay someone to find graphics and resize them for you.

Our favorite source for app graphic design has been GraphicRiver. You can get a set of 8 graphics for only $2-$10. Search a keyword for your theme like “Halloween” and choose to search for vector graphics. Vector graphics allow you to easily resize images without ruining the quality. Once you’ve found a set you like, take a look at what other graphics that author offers. Often, you’ll find that they have a bunch of different graphics in one set theme, and this can keep your graphics looking consistent. Instead of buying a bunch of different graphics from different authors, you can have a cohesive look by sticking to one author.

Make sure you have all the graphics you would need and make the purchase! From there, we generally resize the vector images in Adobe Illustrator and save them… simple as that.

This process should take less than a day, which is more reason this is a great method. With our app reskinning tutorials, you could do the graphics and development yourself in one day’s time. It doesn’t get much faster than that.

Have a different method that works for you or still have questions? Let us know in the comments. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list on the right side of the page for special deals and announcements.

Here’s to a profitable and educational new year!

Justin

app reskinning

Reskinning Apps and Market Saturation


Photo: Ian Sane

Note: We do not make any commission from any sales of the source codes we mention on this site, including the Multi-Line Slot Machine. The following is just our opinion. At MoneyFromApps, we believe that app developers can provide real data, real results, and real opinions in order to benefit each other and improve success for all of us.

Todd posted a great question about reskinning the Multi-Line Slot Machine Source Code:

Is the app store saturated with these reskins yet? I’m just looking for an honest answer. I look at it as the first handful of people that work hard and build a great reskin deserve to dominate with this code. I think the guys at Pixtant have done this and it’s really cool to read about their results. If there is still value here, I would love to purchase and crank out some nice reskins. I want to be fair.

Thanks!

First, thanks to Todd for the shout out and compliment. I’m starting to love this question, as LeHow to Make an iPhone App in One Houre and I have been getting it more and more these days. Family and friends ask the exact same thing after we tell them how to create an app. Because of our experience with this code specifically, I had to jump in and respond with a fairly long comment to Todd’s question. We have put a good amount of effort into re-skinning this source code, and even created a tutorial on how to reskin it in one hour, so we do believe we have some valuable input here… and I realized I have even more to say. Here’s the full version:

Reskinning Apps and Market Saturation

It is true that if you spend some time browsing Apple Apps, or the Casino Category specifically, and look into slot machines, you’ll see a bunch of re-skins of the Multi-Line Slot Machine out there. Just search for Pixtant LLC as an example. Many claim that people like us are polluting the App Store with below-quality, free iPhone apps. I won’t address this because most of us don’t have the capital to create something that competes with development companies that pour hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, into a single app.

Instead, I’m focusing on the second argument: the more reskins of a code that are out there, the less less likely you are to succeed with your reskin, and the more we are in competition with each other. I can’t argue with that, but there’s a little more to this picture that we should consider.

App Store Size and Growth

The App Store just crossed 1 million apps. This has doubled in 2 years, and it won’t slow down any time soon. Flurry.com shows that in the last 18 months, the number of mobile app start ups through Flurry has also doubled. App starts is their way of tracking the number of apps entering the market. So what does this mean? The number of apps in the store doubled over a course of 2 years, but Flurry’s metric of new apps doubled even faster, so this implies that the rate is increasing. Yes, it could also mean that more apps are starting to implement Flurry, but they don’t think that’s really what the driving force is. And we agree–with things like “reskinning and app flipping,” it’s getting easier and easier for developers to create mobile apps–which is more and more competition. Scary stuff.

But this great article by Flurry illustrates what this means for the average iOS developer. The number of app developers that have over a million monthly active users has been increasing as well. In the last 18 months, the figure has grown by 121%.

When looking at app developers with an audience of over 20 million monthly active users, the figure increased by 357%! This means that more and more independent developers are getting their slice of the pie, and their rate of success keeps up with the rate of apps being added to the App Store, if not actually out-performing it. Despite appearances, the market continues to stay with the “middle class” developers, and there are millions of people we, the average app maker, can access.

Overall Market Growth

In this article, Business Insider states:

By the end of 2013, global smartphone penetration will have exploded from 5% of the global population in 2009, to 22%. That’s an increase of nearly 1.3 billion smartphones in four years.

Where are all these new users coming from? Many are overseas, like in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. This is good for our slot machine niche because you don’t need a lot of language in the app. You can also localize your keywords and description to capture even more of the market.

But there’s also a huge increase in the older population as well. I’m sure many of you know someone or have a parent that is just now adopting smart phone technology. My mom, for example, is finally getting her first smartphone, albeit it’s going to be an Android device, so she won’t be able to download our reskins.

But the point is… that market is growing, and that exact market–middle-aged women–is a heavy user of slot machines, which makes this exact reskin an even better idea. Combine that with the holidays coming up around the corner, and you have a recipe for success.

Beginners Just Starting Out

This is all nice, but the real question is: do we have a chance to earn money, the new guys?

We think so, and not just because of what that Flurry article mentioned. We actually know so, as we’ve been able to make this source code very profitable for us:

See the results here. It was easy money.

Getting downloads isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are a few ways to stand out, but in most cases, you don’t even have to try too hard. The number of new users and downloads completely crushes the number of apps being published, so you’ll always have new customers to attract.

On top of that, the App Store heavily favors new apps. In the first 1-2 weeks, your app will experience a solid amount of downloads, no matter how bad your app is. This is good news if you put some effort into your app, because from there, you can retain those users and continue to make money from them.

Lee and I entered the App Store for the first time in February of 2013, and didn’t release another app until Summer, and that’s when we entered the world of app re-skinning and flipping. In that time, we’ve generated more money from apps than we ever have, and it continues to get better and better every month.

We believe that this is just the beginning. The market hasn’t peaked, and the more apps you get out there now, the better chance of success you’ll have long-term. As for competition amongst ourselves, sure, it can be seen as a small problem…

But we created this blog because we believe in the community. You guys tend to speak up and share your successes and failures, and that’s why we love doing this. You put the info out there, we do the same, and we all learn from each other. You ask great questions, and others give their input. As long as we don’t actively try to rip off each other’s unique app ideas and themes, we’ll be fine, and we can all ride this wave that has only just begun.

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