How Do App Makers Become Rich in a Year, Month, Week or Overnight?

Written by Reinder de Vries on September 22 2014 in App Business, App Marketing

How Do App Makers Become Rich in a Year, Month, Week or Overnight?

We all know the stories. A 12-year old makes an app and it becomes a success overnight. An unknown indie game developer becomes world-famous in a matter of hours and makes millions. How do they do it? What makes an App Maker successful and more important: how do you get rich fast making apps?

This blog post will dive into the technicalities of making money with apps. We’ll discover 3 ways of making money with apps, from slow to medium to super fast speeds. We’ll look into the mechanics of these techniques and will test the validity of becoming rich using those ways.

Money Making: The Employed

The easiest way to make money as an App Maker is to sell your skill. Basically, you learn how to make apps, you find clients and start working for them, finish projects and hop to the next client. It’s the easiest, most simple, but also the slowest. Why is it slow? You have no leverage.

Put in an equation it looks like this: time x hourly rate = money.

Every hour you work, you make money. Unfortunately, there’s a limited number of hours you can work. Do the math: 40 hours of work per week, for 40 weeks per year equals 80 grand each year if you charge 50 an hour. That’s optimistic, considering you need time for finding clients and there will be gaps of unaccounted time between projects. Also, this kind of work will assume that you work 5 days to have 2 days off during the weekends. Can’t really call that a millionaire lifestyle, can we?

Money Making: The Copy Cat

In order to make money fast, we need leverage. That means: work one hour, get paid one hour, copy the hour, get paid twice, thrice, 100x and a 1000x. How do you do that?

Scour the internet for the source code of an app. No need code it yourself, but I advise that you know how to edit code (and therefor learn programming apps). There’s plenty of resources out there for all kinds of apps: games, productivity, “X for Y” apps and aggregators like news, video, photo and video sharing apps.

For example, consider games. Do you know the game “THREES”? It’s nice, and there’s a lot of copycats out there: 1024, 2048, another 2048, yet another 2048 and copies of the game involving 5’s and 8’s. Some of these games are even more successful than the original. The same goes for Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, Tinder and the ever growing list of todo-list apps.

The equation for this kind of sorcery is: app price x number of downloads x number of apps = money.

Once you know how to copy an app, launch and market it, you can do it more times, right?

Personally, I find this approach unethical. You’re not only doing a disservice to the original makers of the concept, but you’re also saturating the app market with rip-offs.

However, there’s an upside to this concept. Ever came up with a great “X for Y concept”? Some examples: good surfing spots for surfers, great co-working places for freelancers or cool coffee shops for hipsters.

What’s the common denominator for these apps? Location, location, location! Make an app that provides this: a list, of a subject or property, for a certain niche-kind of people, on a location basis. The key to success? Ease of use and value, providing valuable information in a way that takes the least effort to access the information.

And then what? Change the vertical market! Apply the same X for Y location-based app to another niche, that’s looking for another kind of information. Let me repeat: copy, copy, copy.

Money Making: The Appreciable Asset

Personally I think that the previous money making example lacks one important feature for F-you money making: it’s not an appreciable asset.

An appreciable asset is something that will retain it’s original value and will grow in value over time. That’s like music to your ears, right money maker?

Money in itself is an appreciable asset, when applied to a money system (stock, bonds, investment, or good old interest). Unfortunately, you need a lot of money to get a noteworthy return on investment (and you don’t have that). Is there any appreciable and better attainable asset you can think of?

People.

To be specific: lifetime customers. The kind of people that stay with you and your business because you keep giving them value in return for money. It’s the kind of customer that keeps coming back to your shop because you keep making good coffee.

The equation: number of people x lifetime value x growth factor = money.

There’s 3 very juicy details to this equation, namely:

  • All factors in the equation can grow unlimited and exponentially. Unlike time and the number of copies of an app you make, there’s no theoretical limit to the number of people you’re affecting with your app business. Also, there’s no theoretical limit to the value your business provides. Sell a valuable tool to users that they use every day and cannot live without? It’ll go through the roof.
  • The growth factor. Your business develops, you’ll get better at what you’re doing and might diversify or extend your service. An X for Y app is dead when you publish it: it’ll never change, except for the fact that you might add more locations. Your salary during employment might increase with 4% each year, but it never will it grow with 1000% overnight. People, your customers, tend to develop themselves and if you develop with them, in the same direction and to the same extent, they’ll stay with you. It’s like love. If people fall in love with your business and want to marry you for life, you’re set.
  • It is a sellable asset. What is? The community. That’s why you buy houses and stock market assets, right? You think they will grow, and buy them at a low price with hopes that their selling price will increase. And hey guess what? Your lifetime customers and business value proposition will grow and so will your revenue.

What does that sound like? An appreciable asset that can be sold, a money making machine.

I never said it was easy, but it’s the quickest and most effective way of becoming rich making apps.

Extra Money Making: The Overnight Success

I almost forgot to talk about the maker of Flappy Bird, Angry Birds and that 12-year old kid that got rich making apps.

They don’t exist. Or to be more clear: they don’t exist in the way you think they exist. You read about them in the news, or on a blog, or heard it from a friend. They tell you: this kid suddenly got rich making just one app. But do they tell you how? Do they tell the process behind it? Did you think this kid knew he would become famous? I bet he didn’t.

Money making is a process, not an event. If you start today, it might take you 5 years of your life. Not one night. However, if you use the appreciable asset method I mentioned above, it might end with overnight success. And the quick-but-not-easy road before that night.

Best of luck.

(Disclaimer: money is not going to make you happy. Free time to spend in whatever way you wish can fulfill you, instead of spending that same free time to work to provide for your support. Money buys the time back you spent working. Be aware of the fact that the ability and skill to make money is a luxury. Many among us can’t afford it. I would like to press and encourage you to consider the fate of people less fortunate than you.)

Reinder de Vries

Hi, I'm Reinder.
I help developers play with code.

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Reinder de Vries

Reinder de Vries

Reinder de Vries is a professional iOS developer. He teaches app developers how to build their own apps at LearnAppMaking.com. Since 2009 he has developed a few dozen apps for iOS, worked for global brands and lead development at several startups. When he’s not coding, he enjoys strong espresso and traveling.

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