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Should You Code Apps Yourself or Outsource?

Should You Code Apps Yourself or Outsource?

CodingAs I mentioned in this post, one of the most common excuses to not make mobile apps is that you don’t know how to code.  People don’t understand that they still have two options to make mobile apps even if they don’t know how to code: either learn how to code or outsource this task to someone who does.  Since I have no idea how to code an app right now, it is time for me to make that decision as well.  To outsource or not to outsource – that is the question. 😉

The decision on whether or not to outsource really comes down to your own personal situation.  Of course, just like all decisions, there are pros and cons to each choice.  What I find helpful in order to make a tough decision is to use a decision matrix.  A decision matrix essentially is a tool that you use to help you make a tough decision by comparing the factors of two options and giving each factor a “weight” (which is how important that benefit is to you compared with the other benefits).  It may sound a little confusing, but this free online tool called HelpMyDecision.com makes the process simple for you!

In this post I am going to give you the different factors I am using to decide whether I will code my apps myself or outsource them to a developer.  Along with each factor is an explanation of my thought process.


One of the most important things that I think all entrepreneurs should do is to set a value to their time.  I obviously value my time at more than $7.25/hour because otherwise I would be working at McDonald’s right now.  I value my time much higher than minimum wage because I know I am capable of creating and implementing great money-making ideas.  Plus I know that I wouldn’t be happy with only $7.25 to show for an hours worth of work.

If I choose to code the apps I make myself, it is not only going to take me months to create each app, but I would estimate that it’s going to take me at least 6 months to learn the basics of how to code an app.  So the time it would take me to get my first app live in the app store would probably be at least 9 months at best.  That’s a long time to wait…

However, if I choose to outsource the creation of my apps, I would be able to get started and hire a developer within a week.  From there, depending on how complicated my app idea is, it would probably take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to finish it.  And remember, during the 2 weeks to 3 months while the app is being created, I probably will only have to work around 1-2 hours during that time span to approve certain ideas and to clarify things with the developer.  While he or she does the rest, I am free to work on other businesses of mine!


Another big factor to take into consideration is the cost of turning an idea into an actual app.  In business, you always need to be considering what the ROI (return on investment) is going to be for all your actions.  You obviously don’t want to spend $10,000 on an app that will only make $1/day!  At that rate it would take you more than 27 years to just break even!

One great thing about making the apps myself would be that I would be able to keep my costs down.  Since I wouldn’t have to pay myself, the development costs would essentially be free!

On the other hand, depending on how complicated your app ideas are, hiring a developer will cost at least $500 and possibly up to $10,000 or more.  Let’s be clear – this is a lot of money for me and probably for you as well.  However, there are two things that I need to take into consideration here.  The first one is I need to go back to what I value my time at.  If I value my time at $20/hour for example, and I can find a developer to work for $12/hour, logically it would be a good decision to outsource the app (as long as the developer is of good quality).  The second thing that I need to take into consideration is if I outsource, what am I going to do with the time I wouldn’t be using to actually code the app myself?  For me, I know that the majority of this time would be used to work on my other existing businesses and possibly start new ones.  If I use my time wisely and work hard on my businesses, I might be able to generate more money than it would cost to develop the app!  So, if I think that the profits from the time I spend working on my other businesses would equal or surpass the amount it costs to outsource the development of the app, I would definitely outsource!


I mentioned before that it would probably take me around 6 months to learn the basics of how to code an app.  Please note that this estimate is for only learning either how to code an iPhone app or an Android app – not both.  The reason for this is that they use two different programming languages and it would take time to learn each of them.

However, after the 6 months it would take me to learn how to code a basic app, the quality of my apps would still not be nearly as good as the quality of a developer with years of experience.  So, while I would have no problem creating alright quality apps, it would take much longer than 6 months to be able to learn how to create awesome quality apps.

One thing that I hate to hear people say is that you should “focus on improving your weaknesses.”  In my opinion this is total bullshit!  The main culprits of giving this horrible advice are schools.  For example, I tend to get good grades in my business classes but I suck at Spanish.  However, when I have my periodical meetings with my guidance counselor or one of my teachers, they’ll look at my grades and say “Wow, you are doing great in your business classes, but you really need to improve in Spanish and bring your grade up!”  In my opinion, learning Spanish is a waste of time and a skill that is becoming obsolete as computer translators (and translator apps) are rapidly improving.  I suck at Spanish, but if I work hard I’m sure I could be an average Spanish speaker.  However, why in the world would I spend tons of my time to become average at something when I could spend that time to improve at the things I’m great at.  I’m great at marketing and entrepreneurship so why not spend my time on becoming the best damn entrepreneur this world has ever seen instead of just being a good marketer and an average Spanish speaker?  Some people may disagree with me on this, but that’s my $0.02.

I use that same logic when deciding whether to code apps myself or outsource.  Why work hard and spend my time on coding apps to only become an average coder when I could spend my time instead doing what I’m great at – marketing and entrepreneurship.  Leave the coding to people who are great at coding!  The users of my future apps will thank me for it because the overall quality of the apps will probably be much better if I choose to outsource.

My Decision

For me, this decision was pretty much a no-brainer.  I am definitely going to outsource the development of my apps!  Besides my opinions on the three factors discussed above, there is one other huge reason for me not to code the apps myself.  I personally don’t have the ability to spend long periods of time concentrating on something I am not passionate about.  Going back to my example of learning Spanish above – I find it really hard to study and improve my grade because I don’t have the capacity to spend long periods of time learning the language because I’m not passionate about it.  The same thing applies to learning how to code.  I have tried to learn the basics of coding through YouTube videos, eBooks, etc. and I always get frustrated and can’t concentrate after around 20 minutes of doing it.  I don’t like coding and I’m not passionate about it.  So, why not leave it to someone who is and spend my time on what I am passionate about – marketing and entrepreneurship.  When it is time to start marketing my apps, you can be sure that I will be ready and eager to crush it!  However, my final decision is that I’m going to outsource the coding and leave it to the professionals!

Will you be outsourcing the development of your apps as well or coding them yourself?  Let me know your reasons why in the comments section below!


  1. Be prepared for the developer to take twice as long as you think. Also, think long term. If your app is an idea where the code can be recycled, then you might be better off learning yourself. I currently have 4 apps on Android and am almost complete with the iPhone versions.

    The code base for Android is the same for all 4 apps. I just had to switch out a few things. It took me about 100 hours to develop the first one. It probably would have taken an experienced programmer about 15 hours as it is very basic. However, the remaining apps took me about 4 hours each to create. I just had to cut and paste and switch out the images. My apps are very niche specific though and are informational.

    If you have plans on developing a game or something else complex, hiring a programmer might be the way to go. I guess it all depends on what you want to do later in life. If you learn to code, then you could be charge the $100s per hour to create others apps that might fail. If you want to be a business owner than this outsourcing experience will be very beneficial.

    Either way, keep it up. At your age, you potentially could be earning a full time income before your graduate high school. Also, I found your blog via your comment at NichePursuits.

    • Hey Jason – Thanks for checking out my site! I know what you mean about the speed of developers 😉 You bring up an interesting point about recycling the code of a previous app – this is something that I think has some potential as you could create lots of apps from one core concept! However, couldn’t you hire a developer to do this as well and just let him know that you have previous code to work off of before he/she makes their bid?

      You’re completely right – the choice of whether to outsource or to code apps yourself is definitely a personal decision. As for me – I don’t think I could concentrate on coding for hours at a time enough to stick with it. Plus, I would much rather have free time to work on other businesses than coding. For someone else though, they might be more interested in learning how to code so they can “fall back” on developing for others if their apps don’t sell well.

      Thanks so much for your comments! Always glad to see see a fellow NichePursuits fans here!

      • You can’t always copy paste code from source code – especially if you didn’t do it yourself. If the source code is not properly commented, more often than not you’ll have no idea about what’s going on in a piece and its more labour intensive to sit and try figure out what everything means.

        I do web design and honestly when somebody asks for a redesign that uses the same database or system, I’ll charge the same or even double what I’d charge for a new site, you can spend more time on that project just trying to figure it out.

        Great site, you do great copy.
        Just don’t get discouraged if your first app or few first ideas don’t work out. It’s up to you whether you learn from the experience, or venture blindly into the next idea. Being young doesn’t mean a lack of experience, it means more time for experience.

        • Hey Oliver – thanks for commenting and the kind words 🙂 You make a great point about working off of existing code. I never looked at it from that perspective before, mostly because every developer I’ve talked to so far has said that they would lower their price if I had existing code to work off of. I can definitely see why it may be harder though!

  2. As a Software Developer and an outsourcer, let me tell you that this dual combination is very powerful. Not only can I write extremely clear, detailed plans about exactly what I want, almost every single time a project is delivered to me, it needs tweaking, or something breaks. Often it’s deliberately engineered to break so that you keep coming back for ‘bug fixes’ and ‘tweaks’

    Since you’re most likely paying them sweet F all, I say good on them for inflating your requirements and making things appear more complicated than they actually are. I do the same thing to ignorant people all the time.

    Somebody in the know has the ability to turn around and say “Nope.” That’s not hard, and I’m not paying you to do that. Now do as I say, and do it for $x amount, or I’m going somewhere else, and you know what, they deliver every single time.

    The whole short term attitude of ‘coding isn’t for me’ and ‘I’ve got better things to do than learn that’ is moronic. Computers are literally taking over the world. They aren’t going anywhere. If you can code you can work in any industry. No industry is immune to the tech revolution.. yet don’t bother. Would you really fly to another country and not make an effort to learn the local lingo?

    And it’s fantastic. Because while all these ‘entrepreneurs’ stick their head in the sand developers can continue being paid in excess of +$100,000 per annum and be in extremely high demand.

    I hope this has inspired at least one person to get off their ass and take a long term approach to software development and the IT industry in general. Almost every single one of my competitors was lead by somebody who couldn’t code and guess what – 1 year on they’re out of money and out of my way. Probably cost them over $50,000 to fail too.

    Knowledge is power. Why would you keep yourself in the dark!

    • Hey Darren – You make some great points. I agree that it’s nice to have some idea of what your freelancers are working on so you know you’re getting a good deal. However, even more importantly you need to do your due diligence make sure you’re working with the right people who won’t take advantage of you. I still hold to my statements about how I (any many other entrepreneurs) have better things to do than learning how to code. If you’re looking for a nice, stable $100,000/year salary that’s great. If you’re looking to create streams of passive income or million dollar businesses, you’re usually better off letting the professionals handle the coding and you leverage your time and work on running and building the business.

  3. Hi, I really appreciate your sharing, I am currently coding a website to materialize my idea (and I just learnt web development in 2 months). But my idea is still vague, while I develop my website, it is “alright” but not “awesome”. The plus point is that I can figure it out what to remove and what to add to express the idea more clearly.

    I intend to outsource a web developer when I finished the basic functions of the website. I think the developer will do everything from scratch. Do you think I should stop coding and start to outsource because I feel like what I am doing does not mean anything when I outsource. I have 80% developed the website but as you said it is still “alright”.

    I would love to hear you advice. Thanks

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