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$13,500 a Month in Ebook Royalties. Kara King’s Success Story with “The Power of the Pussy”

Kara King - The Power of the Pussy Nothing is more gratifying than being able to help someone else achieve their goals and objectives.

My favorite emails and messages received on social media platforms are those from people who are able to implement the information I share on this blog and as a result experience success after taking action.

 Although this blog makes money, I did not start it to primarily make money. I have several other passive income streams that I built long before I started blogging.

I simply use this blog to document what I know, my experiments and the results. When I see and hear others succeed because of the information I share on this blog, it gets me pumped up and it inspires me to create more content that I feel can help others.

One such example of success is Kara King, who took action and published her first ebook on Amazon few months ago titled The Power of the Pussy. Today, she is earning north of $10,000 in royalties every month from her ebook sales. Kara was kind enough to share her story, as well as her process of researching, creating, marketing and profiting from her ebook.

She has transparently shared everything in her story below. I have read it and found it super helpful and more importantly motivational. I hope that you too find it valuable and actionable so that you too can replicate her success if you choose to.

Here is Kara’s story….

 

My name is Kara King and I’m a successful self published author. I wrote a controversial dating advice book for women called, “The Power of the Pussy“.

My book’s been a best seller since it launched in May of 2012. Even better than being a best seller is the fact that I’m making more money from it than I ever dreamed possible. I wanted to write this article to serve as motivation and encouragement to anyone out there on a quest to self publish an e-book.

During my own personal journey of writing my book, I got a lot of great information from Sunil’s Extra Money Blog. I thought it would be a great karmic payback to write a detailed description of my own personal journey. It’s my hope that I will be able to motivate someone the way Sunil’s blog motivated me.

Personal Background

Over a decade ago, before I ever thought about being a writer, I was a college student and a waitress. In the course of 3 years I worked at The Cheesecake Factory, The Melting Pot, The Crab House, Latin Quarters at Universal Studios and even Bennigans. I would go from restaurant to restaurant because I’d always quit.

I was good at my job. I had great customer service. However, I did not work well under management. I knew that I could not continue on like this forever, and I would eventually go insane. I would have to let go of the financial security it gave me and move onto to pursue my future career.

I wanted to be an on-air radio personality. I wanted to be rich one day. I knew in my heart there was more to life than hourly wages and crappy tips. I was determined to make something of myself.

Unfortunately, with my lack of experience, the only way I could get my foot in the door at the local radio stations was to take minimum wage jobs answering phones. Here I was, at 21 years old, used to a weekly income of at least $400, quitting my job to take a part-time, minimum wage job.

Like most people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to work to survive. However, I lived with my Mom at the time, so there was no better time to make the sacrifice. I decided to leave the world of dirty dishes and  unappreciative managers to pursue my career at a measly $5.25 an hour.

I’m firm believer that you can do and be whatever you want in life. With hard work and a strong belief in yourself, anything is possible. I started at that radio station answering the request line and within months I worked my way up to being a producer. Months later I had my own show and was on my way to having the career I always dreamed of.

Then, a few years into it, reality set in. Once I was engulfed in the industry, I realized I would probably never make more than $40k a year. Even worse, it could take 10 years to work my way up to that level. To top it all off, there was no guarantee of success and I was still under the command of managers.

After three years, the new wore off and the fun began to dissipate. I began to get depressed. I would cry on my way to work. I wondered what I could ever do to escape the monotony of the rat race. I would day dream about investing in real estate, the stock market or opening a business. Anything to get away from the hum drum life of living pay check to pay check.

In between all of this radio chaos, I had met the man that would become my future husband. We both worked very hard for very little and we were really getting sick of it. We knew there was a better way.

Getting Into Business for Yourself – Ups, Downs and Ups

Self employment was the only answer. I left my unrealistic dreams of striking it rich with a radio career behind me and began a family. We used the money from our tax return to open our first small business; a screen enclosure repair company. I also began to invest in real estate via tax deed auctions. The tax deed auctions began to take off and I had profited $20k off of my first flip! Life was going well.

We decided to move up to Central Florida to be near my Father, who was my financial partner in the real estate business. We invested in our next property and moved into it while we were waiting to sell it.

One month later, to everyone’s surprise, The Great Recession struck like lightning. The next few years would be the hardest yet, but it all brought me to where I am now. So, I honestly don’t know whether to call it bad timing or divine intervention.

Our screen business failed. Our real estate investments flopped. We were stuck in the investment house for years. I’m sure everyone has similar stories and can relate to the hardships of this terrible recession.

We could barely find work at a decent living wage. We had two kids to take care of. At times, it was really scary. We decided to open another business. We took our tax return (again) and gambled it on our next venture.

My husband and I opened a wildlife trapping company called Rodent and Wildlife Control in 2008. It was our saving grace. We made $60k in profits our fist year. We did very well…at times. Other times…not so well.

The Great Recession spared no mercy. It was literally a financial roller coaster. Up and down, up and down, month after month, year after year. I was tired of the uncertain ride and I wanted off! My life was not supposed to be like this! I was turning 30 soon and I was supposed to be on my way to riches by now.

The Next Chapter – An Ebook in the Works

Although a lot of people would have been very content with where we were at that time, I was not satisfied. It was a constant battle to churn up enough business to catch up, only to fall back into a slump. I was mad at the recession. I was mad at myself. I was pissed off. I decided I was going to channel my energy into something productive, rather than sit around in pity and wait for the recession to end.

I decided I was going to write an ebook. I wanted to write a book for women who struggled with men, relationships and dating. The reason I thought I could do this is because I had a really great husband. I knew what I did (and didn’t do) to land such a great man. I always had these opinions floating around in my head about the subject. I knew my ideas could be beneficial to women, especially young women looking for an honest, committed man in their life.

So I started writing a page or two here and there. I also purchased an ebook that discussed how to make a living writing ebooks. It gave me the foundation necessary to begin my long and grueling journey into being an ebook author. The most important message I got from this $27 ebook, I am going to share with you today for free.

100 people will decide they’re going to write a book. 20 of them will actually sit down and start. Five of them will actually finish the book. However, only one of them will actually get it edited, formatted, published and marketed. I decided I was going to be that one, no matter what.

Life Will Happen and Come in the Way

Then at the very end of 2009, New Years Eve to be exact, we accidentally got pregnant. The pregnancy was hard on me. I couldn’t do much. But I could write! I think it was another case of divine intervention. I wrote for months and months. I wrote while caring for my newborn. I wrote in between baths, home work, working on the business’s website, taking calls and paying bills. I churned out about 80 pages in that time frame.

Then, it happened. I got discouraged and I put the book on the back burner. I was becoming one of the people I said I wouldn’t be! It just seemed like such a far away goal. Sure, I had 80 pages written, but I was no where near having a completed book. I had three kids, a household and a business to run. It was hard enough to find the time to bathe, let alone write!

About 6 months went by and I’d totally forgotten about the book. Then one day I turned on my computer to find an email from my Grandmother. She told me she had found the copy of my book. It was a copy that I had emailed to my cousin and specifically instructed her not to let Grandma find it on her computer.

My book is very sexually explicit and definitely not something I would ever want one of my Grandparents reading. Yikes! I was so embarrassed, but she went on to say that she loved the book. She encouraged me to get it done and seek publication. She believed that what I was writing was very important information and could help a lot of women. That email gave me the encouragement I needed to get back to work.

Finding Inspiration and the Drive to Keep Going

Over the next few months I cranked out another 50 pages. Then, it happened again. I became discouraged. Now that I had the bulk of the book done, it was time to work out all of the kinks. I needed to finalize, organize, edit and format the book. There was just so much work involved; it seemed like it would never end. Writing a book is not easy. It takes a lot of dedicated, disciplined, consistent hard work with no guarantee of ever seeing a dime.

I dealt with my discouragement this time by going online and finding other success stories. (This is why I wanted to write this article. There is someone just like me searching for motivation right now and I want to give it to them.) I would search for success stories about self published authors. I had to know that other people had succeeded. That I wasn’t just day dreaming or wasting my time. One of the sites that I came across was Sunil’s Extra Money Blog.

The information on his blog was invaluable, but the honesty and transparency gave me a great boost of motivation. That’s because Sunil had published a picture of a check he received from his ebook royalties. It was a $3,000 dollar check. I printed it out and put it on my wall next to my computer. I also wrote to him to thank him for publishing it.

A lot of people talked about their success, but no one had ever been brave enough to publish the actual checks to serve as proof. Something about witnessing that check put the fire back inside of me. It proved to me that success was real and it was within reach. It wasn’t just a fantasy. People did make money from their ebooks. I now had the proof hanging on my wall.

From that point on, there was no stopping me. Any moment I had, I worked. My poor husband only had one day off a week from our business. He would stay with the kids the whole day while I went in the room and worked.

We both made huge sacrifices without ever knowing if it would pay off, but we were so tired of the rat race (no pun intended) that having a glimmer of hope kept us going. By the time the baby was a year old, I had officially finished the book. It was invigorating. I couldn’t believe I had actually written a book.

Editing and Formatting a Raw Ebook

Unfortunately, that was only half the battle. It was now time to edit and format the book. I went through 18 drafts before I came to a final product. I had 4 family members and friends go through and edit it. Even after all of this, there were still mistakes throughout the book. I also had to gather affiliate links, file the copyright, format the book for Kindle, and a get a cover put together. The list of chores began to get overwhelming.

I couldn’t keep track of all the random things that I had to do for the book to get it done. So, I sat down one day and made a list of every last little thing that needed to be done to get to the finish line. I printed out the list and hung it on my wall (right next to that check). Every time I would get something done, I would scratch it off and over time the list grew smaller and smaller

This process took an additional year to complete. I did not have the money to hire people to do anything for me. From becoming an affiliate, creating the cover, filing the copyright, to formatting and publishing; I did everything by myself. This added a lot of time and stress to the process, but I couldn’t do it any other way.

If I could go back in time, I would have figured out a way to hire an editor. That was my one regret. I published the book trusting only my friends, family and my own editing skills. That was a mistake. After publishing, I had to eventually pay an editor. Even after an editor got a hold of it, there were still mistakes.

Sunils comments: I agree with Kara that tasks such as formatting, editing, proofing should be outsourced if you can manage to do so. I have been using Elance for these sorts of tasks for years now, and over time have identified my go-to resources for every task related to publishing and marketing an ebook.

Embedding Affiliate Links in Ebooks

I personally decided to add affiliate links into my book because of the research I had done about creating ebooks. Everyone talked about inserting affiliate links. I almost didn’t do it because it took some work. I had to learn how to insert the links into my book. Which at the time was a difficult task, but now that I look back I can laugh, because it’s really so easy to do.

The most difficult part creating affiliate links is establishing the accounts and going through the approval process. However, now that it’s all said and done, I will continue to make money off of these links for the rest of my life. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t go the lazy route and that it’s something I chose to follow through with.

My book actually meshes well with its affiliate links. There are perfect spots throughout my book where I point women to additional resources. For example, dating sites, books, mp3 links, and even a sex store! The links are really quite helpful for my readers, so I’m happy. Not only because I earn a little bit of extra income from it, but because they’re actually helping my readers.

My favorite affiliate accounts are Clickbank.com and Amazon Affiliates. I like these two because they were easy to set up and there’s an endless array of products to choose from. There are affiliate accounts for just about anything these days. Be creative and I’m sure you can find a way to promote just about any product that exists.

I even include my own links to my book’s Twitter and Facebook accounts at the end of my book. It’s kind of like being an affiliate for myself. I can build loyalty, trust and a connection amongst my readers by interacting with them. Then, I can update them about my next book and occasionally promote affiliate links via my social network.

Designing the Ebook Cover

My next step was the cover. This was the one thing I was willing to spend some money on. I needed my cover to be able to stand up against the published author’s covers. I had a certain level of quality that I was expecting. Unfortunately, the cover artist idea of professionalism and my idea of professionalism didn’t match. Once the work was delivered to me, I was heart-broken.  It was not at all what I was expecting, so sadly I had to fire her. Like the old saying goes, “if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself.”

I downloaded the open office application. It’s a free application similar to word. I learned how to make my cover on that application. I liked the application so much that I now use it to write and format my books. You can export any document into a PDF file too. It took me about four weeks of toying around with the program, but eventually I ended up with a cover that I loved. Better yet, I did it all by myself and it was free!

Sunils notes: Sadly, many judge a book by its cover. This is simply reality, whether we like it or not. I highly recommend you outsource the creation of a professional ebook cover if design is not your forte. Although you can use services like Elance and Logo Tournament to get an ebook cover done, I have found Fiverr to be just as good of a resource and much more economical. The only thing you need to keep in mind when using Fiverr is that you have to be very detailed and specific about what you want the freelancer to do. Many freelancers will give you one opportunity to provide feedback and they will incorporate it in their design. However, dont expect more than once chance. Many dont even give you that. When hiring from Elance and Logo Tournament, you dont pay unless you are fully satisfied. If you are new at outsourcing, you may try one of these two before graduating to a more cost effective, but less flexible option such as Fiverr.

Final Touchups, Formatting & Publishing

Last but not least came the joys of formatting. I hate formatting. I could write an entirely different article on the challenges of formatting. Let’s just say it’s not the funnest part of being an author. My husband specifically remembers hearing me yelling curse words from the office for about three weeks straight.

I would many times come out of the room in tears. Formatting is no fun, especially for beginners. If you can afford to pay for anything. Hire a formatter and an editor. I have recently found a great formatter that charges really reasonable rates.

After all of that work, I was ready to go! It took me three years from start to finish before I was officially ready to publish. Then the big day came. On May 23rd, 2012, I published my first book!!! It was the biggest relief.

Publishing is actually the easiest part. Once you have all the other stuff done, it’s as simple as creating an account on Amazon’s KDP. You fill out some basic information, upload your cover and your book’s file and within 48 hours, you will be a published author. But, of course the work doesn’t stop there. It’s now time to market the book.

I decided to hold off on the website. I was exhausted from putting the book together and I needed a break. I thought it would be easier just to start on Amazon, see how it went, and worry about a website later.

I published my ebook exclusively on Amazon (a decision I’m very happy I made). I enrolled my book in the Kindle Select program. I had heard a lot about Select through the writer’s cafe. It’s an author’s forum at KindleBoards.com, which I highly suggest joining if you’re considering self publishing a book.

Sunil’s notes: Again, highly recommend services like Elance to hire freelancers to get things like formatting done. I also recommend reading this article, which talks about the ability for anyone to generate some passive income without owning their own blog or website. This is exactly what Kara has done in her example. You can too.

Kindle Select is a great program for new authors because you can take advantage of five free promotional days during the term of your three month contract. All they ask in return is exclusivity. You cannot have the electronic version of your book published anywhere else on the web. This was great for me at this time, like I said, I was exhausted and needed a break. I didn’t want to build the site, and I certainly didn’t want to upload my book onto several other platforms.

I also made the decision because everyone said they made the bulk of their money on Amazon. Plus, I had marketing to do. I didn’t have time to fuss around with a bunch of other sites that were only going to bring me a small percentage of the income that Amazon was going to bring in.

Pricing Ebooks

I decided to price my ebook at $5.99. I earn 70% of that and Amazon keeps the other 30%. I made this decision based on my competitor’s prices for similar products. At $5.99 I would beat their prices, but it wasn’t such a low price that people would second guess the quality of the product.

You get what you pay for. You don’t want people to assume things about your work based on a low price. $5.99 is actually a high price for a self published e-book. But I felt that I had a high quality product, that I worked very hard on.

I actually looked to my competitors for advice a lot, unbeknownst to them, of course. Anytime I had a question or wanted to know how or why I should do something, I would just look at my published competitors. I find that it worked quite well for me. Hey, if you can’t beat em’, join em’ right? Besides the publishing industry has time and money invested into knowing what readers want. So, why not take after them?

Here is more information on pricing an ebook.

Marketing Ebooks

Then began the never ending job of marketing the book. When it comes to marketing, some of the specific actionable takeaways from Sunil that helped me the most were about knowing how to do your keyword research and understanding your target audience. These two things make a huge difference between success and failure.

Knowing who your readers are and getting into their minds. Always keeping in mind that you’re solving someone’s problem. If you’re not offering advice that’s going to solve their problem, you’re doing your readers an injustice. You’re wasting your time, their time and you’re wasting their money.

Understanding your target audience is even more important when it comes time to market your book. You need to know your audience in order to properly do your keyword research. As a website owner, I know the importance of keyword research. I think it’s just as important when writing a book.

I made sure to find the top keywords for my topic. I included those keywords in my subtitle. They were also used on my book’s description page on Amazon’s KDP. Once a year, I re-check these keywords. Google’s search results fluctuate and what might have worked last year, doesn’t work so well this year. Update your keywords if needed.

Another thing I did while writing the book was I would write as if I was speaking directly to someone in my target audience. A lot of the time, it was Chelsea Houska from Teen Mom 2. I know that sounds strange, but she was a perfect example of my target audience. I would write as if I was speaking directly to her. Other times it would be other women. I think that’s a great technique to help you speak directly to your audience. It connects you as a writer to your readers. But, it won’t work if you haven’t done the proper research to truly and fully understand your target audience.

Here is more information on marketing your ebook.

Ebook Ranking System on Amazon and Royalties Earned

For the first few months after I published, I marketed my book all day, every day. I posted links to my book wherever I could. Any website that would allow me to post, I would post it. I was a link posting machine.

All I did was promote my book for months. I used sites like fiverr.com and tweetpeddler.com to pay others to market the book as well. I even posted links in the “books for sale” section of craigslist. I would go on to yahoo answers and when women asked questions about men and dating, I would reply with an answer and a link to the book.

All of this obsessive marketing paid off. Every day the sales increased and the rankings dropped lower and lower. Amazon sales ranks are updated regularly. As soon as a single book is sold you’ll get a ranking.

Then for each hour that goes by without a sale you’ll climb higher in the rankings. On the other hand, if you’re selling books, you’ll go lower in the rankings. So, low ranks are good and high ranks are bad.

My rankings started out somewhere around 220,000 on my first day of publication. In addition to being a link posting maniac, I asked all of my friends and family members to purchase the book on the same day. It was my theory that I would get a boost in rankings and then hopefully gain exposure via amazon’s search results.

The lower your rankings are, the more popular your book is and the higher you’ll go on the search results. Thus, allowing for more people to see your book. At least this was my theory, I could be wrong, but it worked.

My rankings dropped lower and lower every day. Then I used up two of my free days. I announced the free promotion anywhere and everywhere I could. A few days after the free run my rankings started dropping even lower. I started making it into the 12,000’s. I was in disbelief.

I was selling around 15-20 books a day. I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. It didn’t stop there. It continued to go lower and lower. Whenever the rankings would stall, I would do another free day. Eventually I made it into the top 10,000. I was sitting on the charts next to published authors.

Now that my rankings have pretty much leveled out, I no longer have to market all day, every day. The Kindle book’s rankings hover in between 1800 and 2800 and the paperback’s rankings bounce around between 1500 and 5000.

I still market the book at least 3 to 5 times a week for about an hour a day. If I see my rankings fall lower than that, I will go back to marketing more aggressively. However, I can’t do that all the time or else I would spend my whole entire life marketing and I’d like to start working on the second book.

I still make sure that my ads are posted on craigslist under the “books for sale” section. I still use fiverr.com and tweetpeddler.com a lot. I’m very active on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, but I never spam my followers with tons of ads about my book. I also have purchased T-shirts that my husband and I wear to populated events. Yes, believe it or not my husband wears a shirt that says, “The Power of the Pussy”.

I believe that the success of my book is in part due to the title. We all know sex sells. Having a title like that sure helped. However, I truly believe that I wrote a unique book that is helping women. Women are buying the book, reading it, loving it and then they tell all of their friends to read it. I’ve had many women tell me that they’ve encouraged every woman they know to read the book.

I’ve had mothers tell me they’re going to pass the book along to their daughters when they’re old enough. I honestly feel that in releasing a quality product that truly empowers women, I have been able to garner word-of-mouth and that’s what has catapulted my book on to the best seller’s list and kept it there. I didn’t throw together some words in an effort to make a quick buck. I really wanted to help people.

At my best, I had made it all the way to the top 1000! This is out of over 2 million ebooks on Amazon. The lowest rank I ever saw was 995. Eventually I made it to #1 on the top 100 of both of my categories. My second month of being published I made $5,000. The third month I made $7,000. I now average no less than $10,000 a month in royalties.

My biggest month was January, when I made $13,500. January is always a great month for authors. All of those new Kindles purchased as Christmas presents need to be filled with ebooks. I also get little bonus checks from my affiliate links. They make nothing compared to my book’s royalties, but it always makes me smile to get random checks in the mail.

Hard Copy Ebooks

One month after publishing the ebook I decided to go ahead and get the paperback version released. I used createspace.com to publish the paperback version of the book. I like createspace.com because they’re easy to use. You have the same issues with publishing a paperback that you have with the ebook.

You have to worry about a cover and formatting. But, things are always easier the second time around. I also paid $25 to be added into their expanded distribution program. This allows bookstores to purchase bulk orders of the book. I think it was worth it because I have sold quite a few books through expanded distribution. Enough books to make up for the minimal $25 investment. And it makes me smile to know that my book is sitting somewhere in a bookstore

I think having your book available in both ebook format and paperback is very important. Not everyone likes e-books and not everyone likes paperbacks. If you have your book available in both formats, you’re only broadening your horizons and allowing for more access to your book.

Besides, some people still like having a good old-fashioned book on their bookshelf. The Kindle version always sells more copies than the paperback version. However sometimes the paperback does really well. I’d say on average, it’s about six kindle books for every paperback sold.

I know all of this sounds like a lot of work. Writing and self publishing a book was a three-year investment and I had no idea if it was going to pay off. Well, I’m one of the few that has made it to the other side and trust me, it was all worth it.

Living a Rich Life Because of the Extra Income

Having my book is something that will continue to pay me and my family for the rest of my life. Perhaps even after my life is done, I will continue to make money off of my book. Being a self published author has changed my life. My husband no longer has to work full time.

We pay our bills with ease. We have moved into a larger house and we’ve been able to purchase a luxury vehicle. I will be able to have a large family, like I’ve always wanted, without worrying about financial issues getting in the way.

We’re able to take vacations and save money. In fact, one of the greatest things I love about being a self published author is making money while I’m on vacation. Just recently I left out of town for the weekend and made over $700 while I was gone. I’m so grateful that I was not one of the quitters. I made it to the finish line and the reward for my hard work has paid off and will continue to pay off for years to come.

Being an ambitious person, I never found it difficult to dream big, believe in myself or work hard to accomplish my goals. But being a self published author taught me one thing about success that I hadn’t previously discovered: perseverance.

Many people, just like myself, will have the ambition to set goals and work very hard to accomplish them. However, only a small percentage will persevere to the very end. This is why many will fall short, while the small percentage will shoot to the top. I know how easy it is to get side tracked. I was there. I truly believe that perseverance was the key to my success.

You have to decide that you’re not going to be the majority. You have to push your hardest to be that one. The one that takes the gamble, putting in hours and hours of unpaid work, not knowing if it will ever pay off. The one that pushes forth, when everyone else gives up. The one that believes in yourself, when everyone else thinks you’re crazy.

This was one of the best lessons I learned, because as time went on, I was getting less and less enthused and motivated about my book. But, I kept hearing that message again and again in my head. I refused to be the quitter. So, first things first, no matter where you are in your journey…refuse to quit.

If I could give one last bit of advice it would be to listen to what other authors, such as Sunil, have to say about researching before you decide to write. You need to have a plan. I carefully planned and executed a strategy, based on the information given to me from Sunil’s blog and other successful authors.

I hung on to their every word and did what they told me to do. I think when you follow the path that has been created by successful authors who have been down this road before, you will have success. You may not make $10,000 a month, but maybe you will…

Sunil’s Comments: I was so pumped up after reading Kara’s story. I hope you are too. She is a perfect example of how anyone can take their passion or knowledge and turn it into an income stream. You can too.

Please leave your questions for Kara in the comments section below. I am sure she would love to answer them and interact with you.

If you haven’t written an ebook yet, why not? What are your reservations? What do you need help with? If you are ready and are looking for a step by step guide, start here.

This story is very inspiring and super motivational. If you feel the same way, please help me spread the word by sharing it on your social media platform of choice. I have the Facebook, Twitter and Google + buttons below.

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Why Your Startup Needs to Hire Ghostwriters

Websites need content and not all site owners are writers. Some do not have a clue as to what a proper post should look like or sound like. This is why ghostwriters exist. Ghostwriters work on their own schedules and specialize in specific niches to provide website owners with exceptional content.

Competitive Rates

Ghostwriters are also freelancers, which means that they work hard for a paycheck. When work is slow or their clients are on a break, they need work. They will reduce their personal rates often and negotiate to get that gig because it could lead to something steady for a period of time.

As a startup it is still best to offer the best pay that you can. Even though ghostwriters do need the work, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. When you find a ghostwriter that matches the style and tone of your website, keep them and pay them well.  If you need help negotiating pricing you will find a guide here.

Versatility of Skills

With the amount of competition out there, it is hard to bid on private jobs. This is one reason that ghostwriters have to have versatility. They have to be able to match the style and tone of another writer; they have to be able to write on more than one topic and have to be willing to work outside of traditional business hours. This versatility is priceless and takes time to develop.

Once a writer has these qualities, they are more valuable to website owners. They have an understanding of what the public wants to read and completely grasp how to deliver it the proper way.

Better Availability

One of the benefits of ghostwriters is that their availability is far different from those that work for companies directly. Most ghostwriters and freelancers are available on short notice and on-demand. Those that are fast, high-quality writers are often able to fit in small pieces without putting deadlines in jeopardy.

This is beneficial for start-up websites because the idea for a post or the requirement for a press release can come up quickly. Searching through a pool of writers and sending content back for revisions is not ideal, so work with a dedicated ghostwriter that understands that some needs may be immediate.

Ideal Formatting

Independent, freelance and ghostwriters stay up-to-date on proper formatting techniques. This is so that they can remain in-demand and provide relevant content for their clients. Formatting articles and content in a way that the general public wants to read them is important.

Google is also cracking down on formatting. These writers take the time to read the changes and updates to Google content policies to prevent their clients from dealing with penalties and from having content removed.

Flexibility in Writing Voice

Every writer has a voice that is all their own, a style that is just theirs. This is often set aside to appease clients. Putting their own voice and style into articles while still delivering the requested content is a great talent. Many ghostwriters also have the ability to leave their own tone and style out of content in order to deliver the right words for the readers. It is difficult to switch from writing a conversationally toned piece to something technical in nature.

Better, More Relevant Content

When ghostwriters provide content to startup websites, and even established ones, they put their heart into each piece. The topic may not always be their strong suit, but they’ll do the research and hit the nail on the head. Pleasing the clients to keep them coming back with more content needs is what a ghostwriter strives for. Sometimes a ghostwriter is better for a piece than a specialized niche writer, simply because they have a different approach to the topic and can convey an alternative point of view to your readers.

Do not be afraid of working with a ghostwriter if you are a startup website. You can find writers through an article writing service.  These writers will provide you the content that your readers desire. When requesting a piece, be specific. The more direct you are with the instructions, the better the piece will be. It helps writers to know exactly what the website owner requires and desires for their readers. Finding the right ghostwriter takes a little time, but you’ll mesh perfectly when you find that perfect writer.

97

How to Build iPhone Apps for Non Programmers + Starting & Promoting My New iPhone Apps Company + My First App Sale, Traffic & The Whole Process Documented

Apple iTunes iPhone Apps I’ve been meaning to write about my iPhone Apps for some time now and finally got around to it. This one is long due.

One of the reasons I was dragging my feet is because I have a ton to write about on this topic, and kept flushing out bullets that I could later expand on. As you will see the bullets kept coming.

The other reason is that I wanted to give my Apps more time to simmer in the iTunes App store so I can also report on performance as well.

My goal is to detail everything I have learned about this process in this post and share with you all the tips, lessons learned, success strategies and my failures so that you can immediately take action if iPhone Apps are something you want to try out.

I know that Apple is going through some adversity right now and faces questions about its next innovation. Many “experts” are also saying that other brands have caught up and Apple has lost some of its edge. That said, the iTunes store is STILL the single largest repository of mobile phone applications online.

It will take years before anyone else catches up. Because of this, I will continue to focus on growing my iPhone App portfolio. As of the time of this post, I have 2 more Apps in testing stages will I will report on hopefully a lot sooner than the first two.

It was several months back now that I decided to explore the opportunity to establish yet another stream of passive income through iPhone Apps.

You can read about my initial announcement here.

Why iPhone Apps? To further diversify my streams of income, as well as because I find smart phone Apps intriguing and fun.

And before I go further, there are two very important things I want to get out of the way:

1) I am not a programmer or a developer, and I will go over how I was still able to create and profit from iPhone Apps later in this post. This initiative has been profitable for me, and I hope you can replicate the same in your business if you are thinking about the iPhone Apps space by leveraging the information and approach I have already learned and experimented with.

2) If I can do it, so can you. This is an understatement. If you have an idea, you can definitely make the iPhone App business work for you, even if you launch just ONE App. I personally know 2 individuals who work full time, who each have just 1 App in iTunes. Both are making north of $1,500 from that one App alone each month on a passive basis.

Anyhow, I decided to give it a shot and thought what’s the worst than could happen? It turns out that the business is doing very well.

I had set a goal of 2 iPhone Apps by the end of 2012 and I met my goal. I was able to release one paid App, and one free App that generates income from the iAds network (Apple’s iPhone advertising platform – more on this below).

Since launching the Apps, I have already helped a couple businesses do the same by developing Apps specific to their customer needs, and as a result of the continuing demand and the feedback I received from “clients”, I have added this as an ancillary service offering of my SEO firm. We are already seeing some interest in this space as well. More on this later.

I have randomly posted news snippets, snapshots of my Apps’ earnings, downloads and traffic reports on my Facebook page, but I will detail a lot more about the process here in this comprehensive post.

You can check out my Facebook fan page archives here to see what I’ve posted in the past.

Why I Started an iPhone App Company?

Aside from the fact that I am intrigued and find smart phone Apps fun, Apps appeared to me as a natural way to expand my passive income portfolio while diversifying my income streams at the same time.

And although the iTunes marketplace is saturated, it is less so relative to some other platforms – for example, starting a website on a niche topic on which there are likely tons of others already.

Like anything else that is new, this initiative presented a new thrill, new excitement, new learning and experimentation opportunity for me. Similar to what I have done with websites, the plan was to replicate success if there was to be any hint of initial success, which I can gladly say is there based on what I am experiencing so far.

I also liked the idea of experimenting with SEO on Apps to see if the two can be somehow married to realize any benefits. I presumed most Apps out there are not marketed with this perspective.

Of course, I had no idea of how to market an iPhone App the way it’s meant to be but learned a few effective strategies along the way which I will also share below.

How I Started My iPhone App Company

In a nutshell, I did the following (the App specific details pertain to my first App, which is a paid App):

  1. I observed the market place and used other iPhone Apps out there to get a feel from a user and developer’s perspective. It is interesting how your perspective changes when you evaluate something with a specific agenda in mind. You tend to look at things from a whole different set of lens. Many of the realizations never occurred to me in the past as merely a user of these apps.
  2. I read up as much as I could on how to develop iPhone Apps and all the nuances that come with it, including books on outsourcing the development of Apps as a non developer or programmer.
  3. I drafted the App design (process flow) on paper including placeholders for images (I’ll tell you how you can avoid doing it on paper later. This is especially useful if you’re not very artistic).
  4. I outsourced the creation of the images and design on the App.
  5. I outsourced the creation of the App itself (the programming).
  6. I created a developers account on iTunes (costs $99 a year).
  7. At the same time I created a small support site for my App.
  8. I submitted my App’s files (You need a MAC to do this or you can get your developer to do it for you).
  9. I toyed around with the developer’s dashboard (iTunes Connect) to get more familiar with the content and navigation.
  10. I engaged in some marketing activities to promote my App and its support website.
  11. I started an LLC just for this company, got my EIN and opened up a bank account. I should have done this sooner, funded it, and then paid the freelancers out of this account to truly keep “business” separate from personal activities.

Sounds simple? It is. It really is, but it does take some time as you can imagine because of the steps involved in the process.

Most of these tasks were outsourced and there are more than enough resources out there to help you get all the way through this process from end to end.

You can check out the resources I use here.

Some of the steps above are self explanatory, while others need further elaboration. Let’s go through some of these in detail.

Steps 1-2:

Like anything else, when you are contemplating getting involved in something new, it is prudent to do your due diligence and learn as much as you can about the industry, the products, services, competition, nuances, etc.

This is exactly what I did. I wanted to get a feel for how Apps are developed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of user interface and experience.

The more important aspect of it was to learn about the unknowns in this territory, preferably from someone who has been there and done it. So I asked around and most referrals pointed to the Free the Apps book, which is a book written by two guys Michael and Quoc who managed to establish an $800,000 a year business making iPhone Apps without having programming background like myself.

I gravitated toward this resource naturally and while I didn’t learn everything there was to learn (I will discuss everything I’ve learned below) , I picked up a whole lot of wisdom and clarity about the process. I can for sure say that I was a lot more comfortable approaching this initiative after having read Mike and Quoc’s book.

Comfort is important. I can tell you that had I not been comfortable after reading this book, I likely would not have moved forward with this project. I would have either given it up completely, or picked up another book or two to reinforce my decision, whatever the decision may have been.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in earning income from iPhone Apps (affiliate link).

Step 3:

I literally designed my App on a piece of paper with a pencil. When I was done, I had 8 pages of back to back sketches laying out the App. This was a long, but real fun process for me as I was envisioning the App in works before my eyes.

When I say “design”, I am referring to what each screen contains, how it looks, the placement of objects and how it flows to the next screen and so forth. I cannot emphasize how important details are here. As I was going through this process, I had a Microsfot Word document open in parallel where I was typing notes to the developer.

For example, I would label my first drawing “screen one”, and then label a heading on the document called “screen one” as well and type out my instructions below it. It is important to be very clear about every single little thing or your developer will end up either guessing or not doing anything. This will blatantly show when you test the initial development of the App.

For example, if you want a screen to appear after performing a certain action, be sure to indicate how many seconds you want that screen to be up, what kind of music/sound you want playing while the screen is up, what sound should the App make when the screen flows over to the next screen after however many seconds you specify. You need to be very detailed and rigorous carrying out the process if you want to minimize any issues on the back-end.

I chose to approach the App design this way the first time around. For my second App, I drafted the design and flow electronically (a process called wire framing) using a tool called Mockingbird. You can see a list of free wire frame applications here.

Steps 4-5:

Once the process flow design was complete, I outsourced the images and design elements of the App. I hired a freelancer on Elance to do this. At the same time I also hired a iPhone App developer to get started on the App development, also from Elance.

The reason I chose two separate professionals is because developers are not necessarily good graphic designers and vice-versa. High quality imagery and design can be critical to an App’s success and I wanted the best for mine.

I have been using Elance for a few years now, mainly to find developers/programmers for my websites and occasionally content writers. I love the platform, the ease of use as well as the escrow system in place to ensure both parties are protected in a given transaction.

The rules tend to favor the customer (you) so it’s very safe to use. It also has a review and rating system so you know the quality of the freelancers well beforehand. You can also view a portfolio of each freelancer’s past projects.

When using Elance, you specify the project needs and instructions and several freelancers bid on it. You then select one based on price, experience and previous reviews other customers have given them from past projects. You can read more about Elance here.

Couple tips on selecting a freelancer:

1: Lowest price isn’t always the best. Consider the language barrier potential if you are going to hire overseas to save money, previous work experience and quality, review and rating given by previous clients, etc. Evaluate the whole package. It’s not worth losing time and getting frustrated in exchange for a couple hundred extra dollars. I’ll talk more about cost of App development below.

2: If you are worried that the freelancer will run away with your idea (which is really nothing to worry about in my opinion as most freelancers on platforms like Elance do what they do for a living and have their reputation to protect in the industry), search for an NDA on Google. An NDA is a “non-disclosure agreement” that you can have the freelancer sign if this gives you more comfort.

Steps 6-9:

While my App was being developed, I created my developers account on iTunes called iTunes Connect and at the same time created a support site for my iPhone App as well as a website for my iPhone App company where I was going to display all my Apps.

I didn’t have to do this, but chose to do so for various reasons, mainly the ability to optimize and promote the website to drive traffic to it which potentially could lead to App sales.

Several months into this initiative I know I made the right decision. More on search traffic and sales results below. Once the App was developed, I submitted it to iTunes through my developers iTunes Connect account. Note that you need a Mac (Apple computer) do to this.

Tip: When submitting an App, always specify a live launch date well into the future. When you get notice of App approval from Apple, go back into your iTunes Connect account and change the date to the next date/day after receiving approval notice. More on this below and why this is very important to do.

If you are curious about the support site, I used Appify, which I feel is the best turn key solution to a customized support site specific to an iPhone application. It’s working out great for me (affiliate link).

Step 11:

Step 10 (Marketing) is a big one so I will save that for the end. In Step 11, I incorporated my company so that this part of my business is completely separate from everything else that I am involved in.

There are several reasons to do this and you can read about them here. If you are interested in learning about the other initiatives I am involved in, you can read more about those here.

Tip: The reason I did not do this upfront is because it takes a lot longer for “corporate” accounts to get approved by Apple relative to individual accounts. However, once you have an individual seller account approved in iTunes, you can subsequently convert it to a business/corporate account and the process is a lot faster.

The Apple developer support personnel were very helpful when I transitioned from a personal to a business account. They were always just a phone call away. I recommend this approach if you plan on establishing a business account in iTunes.

Step 10: How to Market Your iPhone App

One of the more common misconceptions about Apps is similar to opening a brick and mortar store in that once you build them and get them on the App store, sales will come flooding in. This may work in some rare cases, but for most Apps, you need to engage in active marketing if you want to generate a significant volume of sales.

If you don’t market your iPhone App, your App may go totally unnoticed (a very rare situation as well), generate low to moderate level of sales (a more likely event given the nature of the end user behavior) or go viral (very rare but it does happen). The best course of action therefore is to engage in some level of marketing, monitor the results and then make a decision going forward from there.

You may decide that after a couple weeks of marketing initiatives you want to lay off and move on to your next project. This is fine too. Again, engage, monitor and decide. There is nothing more effective than testing.

Here is how I marketed my first couple Apps:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Just as I promote my websites, I did basic SEO on my Apps. I started with keyword research to come up with words I wanted to target, and then used them strategically on the display pages of the Apps on iTunes as well as the support website that I established for each App.

The display page of the App in iTunes is where you can read all about the App before downloading it. It looks like this.

The support website is like any other content website, therefore also optimized like any other content site. I focused on the same key elements when optimizing both the iTunes display page and support site that I focus on when optimizing a static website.

Some of these include the keywords, title, and the body or content itself, as well as some basic back link building.

Social Media Marketing

I also created a Facebook and Twitter account for my iPhone App company. I synced my Facebook account to the support site so that all updates to the site automatically posted on Facebook using the RSS Graffiti Facebook App.

I then linked my Facebook account to Twitter using the Facebook to Twitter App so that all updates to Facebook auto post on Twitter.

I also used a really cool and automated approach to solicit Twitter follower who have interest in the subject of my Apps and what each does. This has been an excellent way for me to drive traffic to and get more exposure for my Apps mainly on auto pilot.

And as an extended note, I also use this method to reach out to new visitors and readers for my blog and websites. I can manage to do all that easily because of the automated nature of how the process works. You can read about my method here.

Video Marketing

In my opinion, having a video demo on an App is almost a no brainer because the nature of how Apps work. As a potential user, watching the App “in action” helps a lot and can brew enthusiasm and interest.

Of course this will depend on what your App does and who it is for, but for most Apps, I think video marketing can go a long way. I know from reviewing my site analytics that the referral traffic to my App support site coming from various video channels  is quite robust.

If you are going to go this route, YouTube is the first site that comes to mind. Definitely post a video of your App in action, or at least a part of it if  you don’t want to give it all away on YouTube, but also explore other video platforms such as Vimeo and the likes.

If you Google how to take a video of your App while using it on your iPhone, you will find several videos that walk you through how to do that. Some involve Jail Breaking your iPhone, but there are ways you can take a video of your App in action as it is being used on your iPhone so that viewers can get a true feel for it as if they were using it first hand.

I use One Load, an offshoot of the old Tube Mogul which is a video syndication service that allows me to automatically distribute my App promo videos to multiple channels instantly. This tool has delivered some great results for me.

I use Camtasia to record my videos via screen capture of my computer monitor. They have a free trial period you can subscribe to initially to get a feel for how it works.

Blogger Reviews and Forums

This one is a hit or miss because you never know how it will perform. Nonetheless, when my Apps went live, I was given some free download codes/coupons by Apple (you get 50 of these each time a version of your App goes live on iTunes).

I had my virtual assistant reach out to relevant App review bloggers and websites and send them a templated email message that I had drafted requesting a review in exchange for the free download code.

I also had her post about the App in relevant blogs and forums. If nothing else, these activities may generate some back links to the App support site.

Fiends and Family

This is not fluff and just on the list because it’s an easy check mark, so make sure you consider this. Here is why. The first few reviews an App gets are critical.

Crowd theory and behavior pressure all subsequent reviewers to cooperate with those before them. Psychologically speaking, the initial few reviews (given they are consistent) do a lot more to one’s psyche than we may think.

Before your App goes live, have a few family and friends lined up to download, rate and review your App. Rating and review activity also show potential buyers that the App is being downloaded by others and that it’s not just another dud (majority of Apps are duds). Always have a few folks ready to fire off ratings and write reviews when your App goes live.

Who better to ask for favors than close family and friends? I had 10 five star ratings and stellar reviews within the first couple days of releasing my first App. One simple message to my Facebook page was enough to do that. I thanked each of the 10 individually after the fact.

Outside the Box Methods

Don’t limit yourself to traditional and conventional methods of marketing online. One of my Apps is in the fitness niche, so I got some T-shirts designed and ordered them online from Cafe Press in various sizes.

Tip: Wait for a Groupon or Living Social deal to get 80%+ off!

I sent a bunch to my friends and handed off others locally to folks I know that participate in this particular type of fitness activity. I asked them to wear it when they work out.

I did the same whenever I went to the gym. In fact this is how I got one of my clients. They asked me about it after seeing the catchy design. This led to an App development project for my SEO firm.

Two weeks after distributing the T-shirts, the direct hit traffic to my App support site increased noticeably. There could have been many other factors causing the traffic spike, but I think having the URL on the T-shirts definitely helped. Who knows?

I just wanted to get a bit creative. If you have the budget to spend on similar marketing initiatives, why not give it a shot and see what happens?

Cross Sell and Cross Promote

When you adapt a shot gun approach to something, you never know what is going to hit and what’s going to miss. In the event something hits, you want to maximize the benefits from that hit. It’s really the core 80/20 Pareto principle that’s at work here.

Just as those who own several web properties interlink them to each other, you can do something similar when you have more than one iPhone App. Here are two ways I do that:

1) I credit this one to my good friend Pat who does this with his Apps. When developing each App, I instruct the developer to include a “More Apps” link on key screens of the App. In addition, I have a link to the App support site in the “About” or “Instructions” screen of each App.

Users click this for various reasons, many simply because of curiosity similar to how I click the same links on other Apps I use. Adding such feature can get your other Apps more exposure no matter which App the user downloads first.

2) I created a central website for all my Apps. This is my iPhone App company website, wherein I showcases all the Apps and have all sorts of other relevant and interesting material for readers. This site is also  optimized for search engines and brings in a fair share of traffic.

Tip: When using links in various initiatives, consider using a link management program that allows you to track the type of traffic/clicks you are getting. Tracking analytics help fine tune your approach to get better results and more effectiveness going forward. For example, you can measure changes in traffic by changing what pages or screens the links are placed on, or by changing the directional placement (location) of link on a given page or screen. I use the Thirsty Affiliates (affiliate Link) program to do this. You can read my review of Thirsty Affiliates here.

Great, this is a lot of information so far. You must be wondering about the cost of development of my Apps, the effectiveness of my marketing methods and a lot more. I will share some numbers and results from my efforts below:

Budget and Timing of My First iPhone App

Let’s start getting into some of the details.

Initial Budget and Timeline for App #1

  • Concept to design: roughly 1 month
  • Tweaks, submission and Apple review: roughly 1 month
  • Total time to market: roughly 2 months
  • Purchase of iPhone to test Apps
  • Purchase of Mac book to submit the App (Apple App loader)  – they really do bind you to their brand!
  • Costs (including Apple fees, etc): just under $3,000

Initial Marketing Plan

  • Organic: search, social media through Facebook and Twitter
  • Launched a press release (back links from this as well)
  • Reached out to bloggers and forum owners in the fitness niche
  • Reached out to bloggers and forums
  • Viral video syndication – YouTube and other media channels (see above)
  • CNN and Wall Street Journal – I wished!
  • Reached out to App review writers – provided free App download codes

My budget for marketing, outside of salary to my virtual assistant (a sunk cost that I incur every month anyway) as well as some basic tools and services here and there was pretty thin. I wanted to exhaust all the free resources I knew about and later exercise my wallet muscles but only if I felt it made sense.

This was my first App so I didn’t really know whether what I was doing would work. If you have any tips and suggestions on marketing my App going forward, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Submission of My First iPhone App to Apple iTunes

Shortly after development I submitted my App to Apple. Weeks later (no kidding), I received a message from Apple in my inbox indicating that my App’s binary (submission file) has been rejected. This is what the message looked like:

apple-iphone-app-submission-rejection

Disappointing to say the least, but not the end of the world. Upon reading further Apple wanted me to make a minor change to the UI – “user interface” by eliminating the Exit option on my App’s menu screen. So I had the developer make change, tested the prototype and resubmitted the App within half an hour. What a bummer, another few days until I hear back I thought to myself as the App is in review status again. There is a first time for everything.

Lesson learned: Apple does not want you to give your users the option to “exit” a program. It is no wonder you always have a difficult time leaving an App for good before moving on to the next. The only true way to close the App is to hit the Home button on your iPhone twice and delete/or stop the Apps from running manually. Painful if you ask me, but that’s just how Apple likes things to be. This is a BIG battery drainer.

Their rejection messages reads that Apps must be able to save information on an ongoing basis. This is the rationale they provided for why they have their policies the way they do. However, what if an App saves a user’s actions real time and still provides an easy way to exit the App upon the user’s wish?  Apparently that is a no-no with Apple.

The Approval by Apple of My First iPhone App in iTunes

It did not take another couple weeks to hear back. I heard back within hours. I guess they were working on my account in real time as I was making the revisions.

When I submitted the App initially, I specified a launch date / release date a full year in advance (ahead of time). Once it was approved, I logged back in to my dashboard and moved the release date to the day after I received the notice from Apple of the App’s approval.

I did this because the App goes live in the iTunes store 24 hours after its release date, and since Apple doesn’t clarify the time stamp on the release date, I wanted to play it safe by letting close to a full 24 hours lapse after their notice to me before releasing it for sale in the store.

The first 24 hours of any new App’s availability for sale in the iTunes store are the most critical. I will share why in a bit.

How to Maximize a Brand New App’s Exposure on iTunes

As difficult as it is to get an App approved by Apple’s picky staff, getting a brand new App approved in Apple’s iTunes stores is just the beginning. With an ever growing (saturated) pool of Apps (and only getting worse), how does your App find its way to the end user?

As I am quickly learning, it is difficult to promote an App to get it the exposure it needs to do very well. Note that when I say “very well”, I mean generate a significant amount of income.

Even if an App doesn’t accomplish this, it can do well enough relatively easily to where it recoups its development cost and starts paying you back profits. I just want you to know that the effort is worth it. This is why I will continue to build my iPhone App portfolio over time.

But there is one very easy and quick thing you can do to maximize a brand new App’s exposure on iTunes. Before discussing this, let’s first go over what not to do.

When first submitting an App for review, Apple will ask you the anticipated release date of the App. Many developers try to guess when Apple will make a decision (it usually takes a couple weeks before Apple can get back to you).

Apple often times takes much longer than anticipated to approve or reject an App, especially if they need you to make modifications which further prolongs the review time period. I received one of those emails as well when I initially submitted our first App for review (see image above).

With all that going on, let’s say you specified a release date of January 30, but Apple doesn’t get around to approving your App until February 15, then they will make your App available in iTunes with a retroactive release date of January 30.

You don’t want this to happen. Why? Because when an App is first released, it appears on the first page of “New Apps”. It also appears on the first page of all the Apps in your app’s category. With each passing day, the App gets pushed further down the list as newer Apps are approved and newer release dates take precedence.

So despite your App being new, an earlier release date specified by you will cause it to get “buried’ in the archives. There goes all of your free exposure. The first 48 hours of an App after its release are the most critical, providing you don’t succeed much at marketing it afterwards (this is the case with majority of the Apps out there).

Here is what you should do . . .

As I mentioned earlier, when submitting your App, specify a release date well into the future. When your App is approved, log on to your developer’s dashboard and change the date of the release to the date your App is approved, or the very next day.

How do you know? Apple sends auto notifications as your App moves through the review process, from submission, to review, to processing, to acceptance or rejection or more changes / modifications needed.

When you do this correctly, you will notice your App as the number one on the list of new Apps in your chosen category. This is exactly what you want happening.

This entire process takes 2 minutes at best, but will ensure your App gets maximum exposure for free when it first comes out. You never know who is looking around the App store at any given time – why risk the possibility of not being seen when you can easily ensure you are.

How Much Income Are My iPhone Apps Generating?

I went into iPhone Apps without expecting to turn profits until at least after the first full year of an App being live in iTunes.  I’d rather be conservative than aggressive when it come to estimates. Both Apps far surpassed expectations.

Bellow are the results from the day 1 sales of the first App on iTunes. Note that this is a paid App that is sold for .99 cents. Apple keeps a 30% royalty share, remitting the rest of the 70% to you as the developer.

day-1-app-sales-2

So 18 total sales on day 1! Not too shabby for something mostly passive in nature once the App is live, which is what I was going for. The key question at the time was whether the trend will continue?

This depends on how well the App is promoted I suppose, as well as what breaks I catch. You never know who sees the app and decides to get it in front of a large audience.

Here is further breakdown of the day 1 sales in iTunes.

day-1-app-sales

Pretty cool stuff.

What’s encouraging is the source of purchasers.

5 different countries.  Woohoooo – I am going Global!

So how much do I pocket? If you decipher the breakdown report above, you see that Apple keeps roughly 30% of all App sales, which means for a .99c App, I pocket .693 cents per sale.

That’s it, I am quitting everything else to focus just on iPhone Apps.

No . . .

18 sales at .99 = $17,82 at 70% = $12.474

Extrapolated over a 30 day period = $374 / monthly or $4,490 annually

As I wrote above, my total spend for this App was $3,000, but roughly $2,000 of that was for hardware, fixed sunk costs that I will no longer continue to incur.

Nothing earth shattering, but considering the fact that I have another 16 or so now Apps in the design stages, I am potentially looking at $4,490 at 16 Apps = $71,850 annually

Obviously I took liberty to conveniently assume that . . .

1) All my other Apps will all be just as profitable

2) That the trend of 18 Apps per day will actually continue

But assuming the extrapolation exercise works in my favor, the numbers are not too shabby considering a “set it and forget it” model.

Besides, I entered this space not expecting to get rich. Making millions is not the objective here (although it’d be nice), but knowing that I will not be in the red certainly helps me keep plugging away with this initiative.

Fast forward a full month later, this is how the sales trend was looking:

weekly-app-sales   daily-app-sales

 

 

Almost 150 sales during the first month of launch!

The above chart shows the weekly summary, and the chart below shows the daily summary. What is most notable here is the spike seen in the last 5 days. How and why did this happen? Traction.

It takes time for an App to gain traction. With more marketing and exposure over time, traction increases as do sales. The good news is that I had not done any aggressive marketing at all after the initial wave. That will change and should impact sales in the future.

So 145 sales at 70% (Apple keeps 30%) leaves me with just about $100.

With a net cost of $1,000 to develop the App, my break even appears to be at the 10 month period as of this time. This is ok because I expect the estimated time taken to break even to expedite as I further promote the App.

$100 bucks a month is certainly not money that will make me a millionaire, but if you think about how the money is generated, it is purely passive in that it is not predicated on me working on it after having launched it.

One can argue the ROI (your return on investment) is infinite. $1 in passive income that you didn’t have to work for is $1 you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Read this to get a true appreciation for what one dollar of passive income really is worth.

My goal is to launch several applications, which overtime parlay over each other, potentially creating a reasonably sized snowball effect similar to what I have been able to establish with my websites.

I am looking forward to how it all rolls down the hill from here. I am already seeing some good synergy benefits after launching my second App.

App #2 is a free App that generates income through advertisement. Downloads are averaging roughly 250-ish a day which is equating to roughly $3-4 per day in ad revenue.

Extrapolated over a month, App #2 is averaging $90-$120 per month. This is a much simpler App that was quicker and more economical to develop. The total cost of developing this App was just under $500.

Other Trends, Traffic, Search Optimization, Etc.

Let’s talk about traffic sources to my iPhone App company website.

Initially, most traffic to the website and the Apps on the site as well as on iTunes was purely through referral traffic coming from sources like App directories, Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.

This means people mostly found it through word of mouth, or reading about it somewhere where someone decided to write about it for some reason :) It could also have been deliberate link building on my part.

I have been working on some search engine optimization (SEO) behind the scenes and starting to see the effects of that on the business. As you will see in the sales figures below, an increase in traffic has correlated to an increase in App sales. Traffic and profitability are always directly correlated, although conversion percentage may not.

Because iTunes does not provide traffic and conversion tracking functionality, it is difficult for me to track conversions.

In other words, what percentage of my visitors are converting into customers, where those customers are coming from, how they found the site, etc.

Understanding such intelligence allows one to optimize resources on more profitable advertising avenues and cut out less effective mediums.

So here is the traffic breakdown:

traffic-breakdown

Almost 10% of traffic coming from organic search results is a good sign. For a few month old site this breakdown is pretty stellar and I am happy with it, considering very little effort up till this image was taken was made on SEO.

Let’s have a look at where the biggest chunk of traffic is coming from:

traffic-source1

These are some pretty cool stats to look at.  I had 513 visitors to the site. The average visitor viewed over 2 pages and stayed on the site over 3 minutes.

Again, great results. Anything over 1 minute of viewing time is solid. Almost 63% were brand new visits. Google is #4 on the list of sites that sent traffic to me, with a total of 42 visitors.

Have a look at #11. It is interesting to see that those who found the site on Apple iTunes are the ones that spent the most amount of time on the website. This is awesome.

I deliberately included links on our iTunes sales page to my website. This is a fine strategy. Most developers don’t do this because most don’t have their own web presence.

Thus, the links on their iTunes listing are generic links pointing to support pages. I have the support page embedded into the website. Good move in retrospect.

It is not a coincidence that those coming from iTunes are also the ones viewing the most number of pages on the site, at over 4 pages per visitor.

Legal Entity Formation, Outside the Box Marketing, Etc.

I mentioned earlier it is easier to get started selling iPhone Apps on iTunes under an individual or sole proprietor account. I started out this way, but knew I wanted my iPhone App business as a separate legal entity.

Your tax accountant and lawyer can tell you all about the benefits and reasons you should incorporate your business separately. If you are going to apply to iTunes as a company, you will need legal paperwork demonstrating that you are a corporation.

You will need a DUNS number (D&B or Dun & Bradstreet) as well as an EIN – Employer Identification Number. You can get these on your own by spending some time researching and applying online, or you can engage a legal professional to help you.

Making Money With Free iPhone Apps – The Apple iAd Network

There is one more thing I want to cover in this post before concluding it, and that is the Freemium model (free distribution). My second App is a free App and anyone can download it wherever it is available. Why would anyone spend time and money developing a free App?

There are several reasons. If you already have an existing business, you may want to develop an App that ads to the overall user experience and convenience. This is why one of my iPhone App clients hired me. If you are an entrepreneur, you can still make money with free iPhone Apps by displaying advertisements on your App.

Any platform that gets the attention of viewers’ eyes has the potential to make money from advertising. Just like magazines charge money to display and add on their pages, and websites to display ads online, Apple also charges vendors to display their ads on their applications. So while one revenue model with iPhone Apps is to flat out charge for your application, another is to provide it for free and then display ads on it.

Companies normally pay per add impression and sometimes per add click (when a user/viewer clicks on an add). Each time an impression is served, or an add is clicked, the App generates advertising revenue for its developer/owner.

The success of my free iPhone App will be strictly based on volume of downloads. The more downloads, the more users, the more ads and the more revenues.

So far so good. It is being downloaded over 250 times per day, which amounts to $3 to $4 in daily ad revenue. I am expecting this to increase over time with marketing and promotion.

The Apple iAd Network

Most of Google’s multi billion dollars in annual revenues come from their Adwords network, which is an ad network through which vendors of sorts pay Google to display ads. You can read how and where Google makes its money here.

Google turns around and publishes those ads on various private networks such as websites people own. Google then splits the revenue share with the website owner.

Here are how Google ads look like on websites you browse every day:

Google-Adsense-Ads

(Click to enlarge image: Notice the Ads by Google logo on the top left of the ad?)

Similarly, Apple entered the ad serving market by establishing their iAd network.

Here are how Apple iAd network ads look like on iPhone applications:

iAd Network

iAd is not the only iPhone ad network. There are several other alternative. I believe you can also display Google Adsense ads on applications.

I decided to stick with iAds in the beginning because its most convenient and embedded within the iTunes Connect developer’s dashboard that I am already using. I may decide to experiment with other platforms down the road.

But the concept with iPhone App ads works the same no matter what ad platform you are using. Each time a website is viewed, or an App is used, it generates an ad impression, which can also lead to a potential click through (pay out rates are often times higher when someone clicks).

Where did I get the idea to try something like this out?

From my information based websites that generate passive income through the display of Google ads. I took this successful experiences with the web based model and decided to try it out on iPhone Apps.

I am hoping this turns out to be a successful experiment as well. So far it is. If you are interested in seeing some of my earnings from Google Ads you can view them here.

My total cost of developing the free App, not including my minimal time involvement was just under $500. The App took approximately 3 months to develop, test, fix bugs and get approved in the Apple iTunes store.

The App is usable on both the iPad and the iPhone.

TIP: Remember, you can make money with free iPhone Apps as well as paid iPhone apps. Don’t discount free Apps right off the bat without trying them. Something that is offered for free will likely get many more downloads as we are seeing in the initial stages of our new free iPhone App already.

Is Developing iPhone Apps a Viable Business?

Loaded question, and the answer can significantly vary on quite a broad spectrum.

As with many industries, products and platforms, the first mover advantage has a lot going for it. The iPhone App space is quite saturated today, and will be more so tomorrow.

That said there are still new Apps that come in and become very successful. There will likely be many more in the future as well. Generally speaking however, doing well with iPhone Apps is a bigger challenge today and will continue to be.

That said, if you have an idea you believe people will like, try it out if you have the budget. Don’t go into iPhone Apps simply for the profits because it is a rough and tough field to play in.

You will be competing against some giants out there. Get into it for the fun (they really are) and the excitement that comes with the process. Can you be profitable? Of course.

If your funds are limited, contemplate other potentially more higher ROI initiatives. Just like blogging isn’t for the desperate, neither is developing and profiting from iPhone Apps.

There are a lot of variables beyond your control, and competing in a super saturated space, especially one where large corporate giants are playing in as well, is just too unpredictable.

But sure, keep your paycheck as your bread and butter and dive into iPhone App projects on the side if your situation allows it and appetite calls for it. It’s fun and you will likely end up making a few extra bucks on the side every month.

ACTION LEADS TO OPPORTUNITIES

You can tell how excited I am about this new initiative.  I certainly had not planned this post to be this long but screen space flies when you’re having fun.

There are several tips and strategies in this post that have worked well for me. There are also several lessons that I have learned along the way.

If I were to extract one main message from this post about my journey however, I’d say that it is that “there is a way where there is a will”.

We live in a time where and when we can do pretty much anything we want and have all the knowledge, training, tools and resources readily available at our disposal. I am not a programmer, nor did I know anything about developing, marketing and profiting from iPhone Apps when this process started just about a year ago. Yes I should have published this post much earlier.

Today I have my own small iPhone Apps company and a couple Apps live on iTunes, both of which are doing very well. I have also learned repeatedly that more you pout yourself out there the more opportunities will come knocking on your doorsteps. As many have said before – “I love luck and getting lucky, and find that the more I try the luckier I get”.

Because of my involvement with Apps and what I was able to demonstrate, I was contacted by a couple small local businesses through word of mouth referrals that wanted an App developed specific to their business and solely for their customers and clients. Because I knew I could facilitate the process I took the offers. I knew I could find developers at every skill level to execute for me.

I really did this for two main reasons – and money isn’t either one. First, I wanted more experience with iPhone App related project management experience and second, I wanted to try out what could become a potential complimentary offering that my SEO firm can offer to its clients. Yup, as a result, our SEO firm now offers iPhone App development as well.

I am currently exploring the opportunities on the Android side as well, but from initial research it seems that there are more nuances, especially with customization, modification and compatibility with the various phones that use Android, that can make the process more challenging. Let’s see where this research takes me in the near future.

So there you have it 8,000 or so words later. I am not a programmer but I did it. You can do it too. Anyone can do it. I am not making millions, but iPhone Apps have been profitable for me and will likely continue to be over time as they mature and I develop and cross sell more of them. I also have a new service offering because I put myself out there yet again through this brand new experience. Most important of all, I am learning, growing and enjoying the entire process.

You really never know unless you put yourself out there. It really just takes one good idea to propel you – just think Angry Birds and the likes – but even if you don’t reach that level, take comfort in knowing that you can still do fairly ok. But you’d never know that until you take action. Who knows what your actions can lead to in the future?

There is more than enough information in this article for you to take action if you choose to. I hope you do, and I’d love to hear all about it so please let me know of your progress.

I’d also be happy to answer any questions or concerns about iPhone Apps, my process, or anything else you have in mind in the comments section below.

If you want to read more about the iPhone App development business, please let me know what specifically you want me to share with you in the comments section below.

Finally, I’ve put a lot of time, thought and effort in writing this article. If you enjoyed the article and found it helpful in any way, I’d appreciate it if you could help me spread this article by liking it or sharing it on Facebook or Tweeting it through Twitter.

All the best and make sure you drop your questions and comments below.

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