After reading some interviews with super successful developers such as Alex Keim and Maciej Czekala, it’s easy to become intimated by the sheer number of apps and downloads they have. Today I want to change the pace up a little and introduce you to Jason Bellomy. While Jason isn’t making millions from apps yet, he is generating a nice side income from Android apps and I think that a lot of the readers here can definitely relate to him and learn a lot from him.
Jason got started with mobile apps around a year ago and blogs about his experiences and the income he’s making from them over at Lazy Bastard Life. He was nice enough to answer some questions and give us some insight into the realities of Android app development.
What sort of schooling and career path did you have before you created your apps?
I currently work as a Database Specialist which is a fancy term for saying I play in Access and Excel all day. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology. I also have a MBA from one of those for profit schools. In all my college course work, I’ve only taken 2 computer programming classes (Turbo PASCAL and C++).
What other business ventures did you have before you created your apps?
I still have my full time job. I’m not a mobile app tycoon yet. Aside from apps, I have a site related to the apps where I sell an eBook. I also have a few sites where I dabble in making money with Adsense.
What made you decide to get into mobile app development?
Mobile apps fit perfectly into my business model. I had an informational website that sold an eBook. The format of the website and eBook translated well into the app space.
Do you code the apps yourself or outsource this?
I did 100% of the app – coding and graphics. I have always been pretty good about figuring things out and at taking one process and applying it to something else. For my apps, I mapped out all the processes at a high level and built wireframes. From there, I just broke them down into tiny parts and figured out how to accomplish it via online tutorials or message boards.
How many apps have you made? If you don’t mind sharing, how many times have they been downloaded?
I currently have 4 apps on Android (3 paid and 1 free). The 3 paid apps have been downloaded (without cancellation) 825 times. Counting the times that people have downloaded and cancelled within 15 minutes, the paid apps have been downloaded just over 1000 times.
The free app (just released three weeks ago) has been downloaded 84 times.
What categories of apps do you mostly create apps for? Is there a reason you prefer these categories?
My apps fall into a hobby/recreation type category. The only reason I prefer this area is that I’m in this niche and saw a need for an app. If I were break away and create some apps not related to my niche, they would fall in the entertainment category.
What platforms to you develop apps for? If you don’t mind sharing, which platforms make you the most money?
I’ve developed for iOS and Android. Right now, Android has made the most money only because I don’t have an iOS app yet. I just submitted my first iOS app on 5/27. Based on what I see though, I anticipate making at least 50% more with iPhone than Android.
What happens if you have an idea for an app but someone already “beat you to it”? Would you still consider pursuing this idea?
I don’t have experience with this yet, but I would still pursue my idea. Having competition means there is demand. However, you have to be realistic as well. If my idea is about a giant slingshot that flings something at something else, I’d probably not pursue that idea.
Is marketing necessary for mobile apps? If so, what do you do to market your apps?
Some form of marketing is absolutely necessary. For my apps, I already had an existing website in place where I was selling an eBook and more importantly, giving away a tiny portion of the eBook for free with email address.
Each time I’ve released an app, an email has been sent out to about 2000 people and I’ve gotten a nice little initial sales push. For the iOS apps, I’m really excited as through my mailing list stats, I know that about 45% of my list uses iOS to check emails.
Also, advice for others: don’t be shy and afraid of what people may think. Tell all your friends and family about your app. Post on your Facebook page. You tell 20 people who each tell 20 people snowballs quickly.
Where do you see the mobile app industry going?
I see the mobile app industry as a whole growing in the coming years. However, I also see the market being flooded with apps making it harder for the individual developers to get noticed. This is why I’m focusing on niche specific apps. The high payout is never going to be there, but less competition means greater chance of success.
If you were able to go back in time, what would you do differently in regards to app development?
It’s always the clichéd answer of starting sooner. The best to start something is yesterday. The second best time to start is today.
What is your advice for people interested in making mobile apps?
With anything, taking action is the hardest part. Right now, there are thousands of people with great app ideas just rolling around in their heads.
Another suggestion is to ship it. Many people don’t release anything because they want perfection. Releasing version 1.0 with only 80% of the functionality is fine as long as the app works. Think of all the times your favorite apps have had updates. Apps will continue to evolve as more customers handle them. You can’t get this feedback with releasing.
What are your plans for the future?
My current plan is contingent on having my 1st iOS app approved. Once that is done, I will be submitting 2 more rather quickly. These apps are iPhone/iPod only.
Next step is to create the iPad versions.
After that, with regards to apps, I’ve got a few ideas for some entertainment apps that I may try to create.
How much money have you made from your apps?
App#1 – Released 6/6/11 – $790.35
App#2 – Released 9/5/11 – $185.91
App#3 – Released 12/18/11 – $202.08
Not the millions that people hope for. But for me, the only cost was $25 for the developer’s license. And I continue to average about $100 per month without any additional work.
How many hours would you estimate you work on an app from start to finish?
My first Android app took about 100 hours. A lot of that time was going through tutorials and learning by doing.
The 2nd – 4th apps took about 10 hours each. I recycled most of the code and just had to swap graphics and videos.
The iPhone app probably took about 50-60 hours. I designed it using Storyboards which saved a lot on writing/knowing code. Trade off is my app will only be available to devices with iOS 5.
1) Even if you don’t become the next mobile app millionaire it’s definitely possible to make a nice side income from mobile apps!
2) After hearing in past interviews that Android apps are a “waste of time” and “don’t make any real money,” Jason is definitely opening my eyes again to the possibility of making some nice money from the Android platform!
3) Jason mentioned how important it is to get traction for your apps once they are released and to not be shy when asking friends and family members to download your app and leave a positive review. I’m definitely going to make sure I do this for my upcoming app release!
4) Your app doesn’t have to be 100% perfect when you release it. Don’t let the fear of your app not being “perfect” stop you from making progress and releasing it!
5) It really is possible to teach yourself how to make apps! While Jason is a self-proclaimed “lazy bastard” I know that can’t really be the case as he was able to learn how to code apps by himself from online tutorials! I’ve tried this myself and failed miserably, which is one of the reasons I choose to outsource my app development 😉 However, for those of you who don’t have the money to start outsourcing your apps right away, you can always follow in Jason’s footsteps and teach yourself.
Once again I would like to thank Jason for taking the time to do this interview! If you’d like learn more about Jason’s experiences with app development as well as check out his monthly income reports, head on over to his blog, Lazy Bastard Life. Jason has even bigger things ahead of him and I’m definitely looking forward to following his progress!