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Income Report for My iPhone App

Income Report for My iPhone App

Last week I was able to launch my new iPhone app: Ad Alert for checking Google Adsense earnings. This is a project that I have shared from start to finish on my blog here, so its been an interesting journey!

I began considering building an iPhone app about a year ago.  Then through multiple ideas and other obstacles, I’ve finally got the app up and selling on the app store!  Today, I want to share with you in detail the costs and income of my new iPhone app over the first week.

Before I dive into the income numbers though, I wanted to share some of the lessons learned.  Overall, I am extremely happy with how my iPhone app turned out.  The app allows users to check their Google Adsense earnings on the fly and receive a sound notification every time their earnings hits a certain level.  So, every time a user earns $10 more in their account for example, their phone will make a “cha-ching!” sound.

Like with any outsourced project, one of the most important things you can do is make a smart hiring decision. In order to hire someone that will work well on your project, you should always do as much pre-hiring “interview” questions as possible.  This could be just emailing back and forth about their understanding of the project, or asking for any questions or advice that they have about your job.

This will help weed out a lot of the providers that either do not communicate well (or at all) or those that may not have a similar vision as you of the project.

Overall, I felt like I hired a great developer, and I’m happy with the way the project turned out.

Launch Week

I have done a number of podcast interviews recently, so I had some advice from some experienced iPhone app entrepreneurs.  One thing that they all emphasized was the importance of doing all you can when you app is first launched to market your app.  The initial week can see a higher amount of downloads if you are able to get featured by Apple or rank well for your particular category.

Well, I wasn’t featured by Apple or anything like that, but I was able to get 25 reviews in the App store, with the overwhelming majority being 5 stars!

Mass Appeal?

One thing that I knew all along when I was created my app was that it was limited in its potential audience.  After all, in order for my app to be useful you not only had to be a Google Adsense user, but you also had to have an iPhone.  So, I always knew that my app would never have mass appeal like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, or even as much market potential as Benny Hsu’s Photo365.

But targeting a more niche market, was also part of my strategy.  I was not trying to hit it big with just one iPhone app.  I felt like I could treat iPhone app a bit like I do niche sites.  If I can target the right niche, then not only can I “rank” well in the App store, but I can still be profitable.

So, this app could be the first of many for me.  It was a learning experience that is paying off as well!

Week 1 Income Report

In the first 7 days, I was able to get 103 downloads!  So, that is an average number of sales of 14.7 per day.  How does this translate to dollars?

Well, I am selling the app for $2.99.  So, in the first week my gross revenue was $307.97

Apple is nice enough to take 30% of this and leave me with 70%.  So my “take home” pay was: $215.58

Obviously, this isn’t going to knock your socks off.  But honestly, I’m happy with it.  I have a couple of reasons why I’m okay with this income.

First, as explained, I know my app doesn’t have “mass appeal”.  Its a fun little app for Google Adsense users – a very niche app.

Want to see my new iPhone app on the App Store?  Check it out here!

Compared to Other Adsense Apps

Secondly, this is actually better than any other Adsense App is earning right now!  How do I know? I have been using AppAnnie.com to track my earnings and rankings within the app store over the first week.  So, I have been able to see that my Ad Alert app has been ranked higher for total grossing amount in the business category than any other Adsense iPhone app.  So, this tells me that the highest grossing Google Adsense app has a revenue potential of about $20 to $30 a day.

So, I might not be making a killing, but I’m doing about as good as I can with the niche that I’ve chosen.

Most of the other Google Adsense apps are priced lower than mine at either $0.99 or $1.99.  So down the road, I may try testing out a lower price point on my app to see if it increases downloads and earnings.

Wrapping it Up

At this point, I really don’t know how successful the app will be.  Certainly it is going to take 3 or 4 months before it turns profitable.  I invested just shy of $3k in developing the app.  So, I have no doubt that it will be profitable, and hopefully in a few months time, I will still have $300 to $500 a month in passive income from sales on the app store.  Time will tell.

I also think my experience paints a pretty realistic picture of iPhone app development.  Yes, you hear of lots of big hits, but there are lots of apps that never even make as much as I have already.  If you are considering developing an iPhone app, you should be aware of this.  If you listen to my podcast interview with Pat Flynn, you will note that while he and his partner make about $5k or 6k a month from iPhone apps, the majority of that comes from just a few of the apps.  They have 27 iPhone apps in all, and so many of them don’t make very much.

So, what do you think?  Is it better to go after an app idea that has mass appeal or target something that is more “niche”?  I personally think that this app has been an AWESOME learning experience for me.  Not only did I get a great education on building an iPhone app, but I should be able to actually turn a profit on this app in a few months.

Overall, I would definitely recommend that if you are planning on building an iPhone app, that a good way to start is with a less expensive app where you can learn the ropes.  Then once you really know what you are doing, you can dive in head first and invest in something bigger.

I would love to hear your comments or questions below!

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50 Comments for this Post

  1. Kris @ Detailed Success

    Kris @ Detailed Success

    Great results Spencer!

    Have you advertised the app in any other way than this site?
    I would love to know how you actually get your app out there. Where can you market it? How can you get it higher or in a better position in App Store?

    Thanks!
    Kris

    • Joey K.

      Joey K.

      Congrats on your first app brotha. You’re gonna love it ;-)

      I have several apps and it’s by far the most automated and most passive income I get from all my business. I mean I do nothing to promote them, lol.

      I’ll be putting your app in my banners page on some of my apps. And if there’s anything else I can do to help with this, just let me know.

      Anyway, best of luck to ya in your new biz bro.

      peace brotha…

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Thanks Joey! That would be awesome if you put my app on your banners. Let me know if need a copy of my app to try out…

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Hey Chris – I have let a couple of other bloggers try out the app and tweet/facebook about it, but other than that, I have not done much to market the app.

      You can write press releases and do other things to have people review your app. Number of downloads and positive reviews can help improve visibility in the app store. Mine is positioned very well under Adsense apps.

  2. Steve A

    Steve A

    Hey Spencer,

    Congrats on your release mate!

    Have you signed up to appannie.com for tracking your sales/rankings? It’s much more useful that iTunes regular reports.

    Hopefully the adsense api’s your app uses won’t change much so that your app can truly be passive income.

    I developed my own photo app around a year ago and since an update in october I haven’t touched the code, which is great because even the seemingly low daily/weekly downloads really do add up over time to be worthwhile. I’m sure when you look back at your numbers in a few months you’ll feel the same.

    Marketing is my biggest hurdle, there must be a trick to getting that massive burst needed to break the top 10 but i’m yet to find it.

    Cheers
    Steve

    • Steve A

      Steve A

      oops, somehow missed that you mentioned appannie!

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Yep, I love appannie.com – makes checking stats and rankings much easier. So far the app has been pretty hands free, hopefully there wont be too many changes needed (unless I decide to upgrade anything).

  3. Phanindra

    Phanindra

    Its great to see that your app is finally available. Hope all your hard work will be payed off soon and get into profits :)

    Regards
    Phanindra

  4. Adam

    Adam

    You are right to approach apps the same way you do niche sites. This is a strategy that has worked for you so far, so why would it not work with apps as well. You can also branch this out to create even more income by creating kindle ebooks for specific niches.

    I think you have the right idea, now you just need to implement it like you did with niche sites.

    Adam

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Adam, I really see the potential with owning a portfolio of apps. They are a bit more expensive to develop than niche sites, but I think with the right idea/niche the potential earning power is more as well.

  5. Robert

    Robert

    Maybe you should aim for bigger niche to get higher income. However, these numbers above show that your app will get its investment back soon :) Many people want to enjoy the feelings of having some more dollars in Adsense account (me included), so they will run after your app :D

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Robert – Perhaps. If I develop a new app, I may target something a bit “bigger” – but overall, I’m happy with the earnings this one is rolling in – $20 to $30 a day is not too shabby.

  6. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Very nice!

    I think you’ve got the right mindset here – apps that are really niche like yours probably won’t have huge launch days. Most of your customers aren’t going to come from people randomly finding you on the “top __” lists. They are going to be people with a problem (want to check their AdSense earnings on the fly) and will find you by searching.

    So while your first week numbers aren’t going to rival what a really popular game’s would be, I think you are going to see some passive income for a while with this app!

    Also, I 100% agree with you that new developers should start with a very simple idea that will cost less money. Not only will they learn the ropes better, but I think it also sets them up for success better as simple apps usually sell better!

    Thomas

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Exactly, even if I was ranked #1 in the “business” category (which I was near the top for a few days), my downloads would be about the same if I was at the bottom of that list. People looking for my app find it by searching for “google adsense” or something similar.

  7. Tashia

    Tashia

    I think your app is doing great! Congrats on the launch, the earnings, and the future earnings to come.

    When I took a look at it, I said to myself that this is definitely something I would purchase if and when I do get an iPhone. I find the app very useful.

    Great job Spencer!

  8. Joe Helms

    Joe Helms

    Nice job on the app.

    I am interested to hear how sales may change if you drop the price.

    I’ve never made my own app, but I’ve read a number of articles and reports about the psychology of the $0.99 price point.

    It’s obvious you would get a larger number of sales if you drop the price – the question always is, will it double or triple the number of sales to make it worth it?

    My bet is that it would. Then again it’s easy for me to say, it’s not my income I’m betting on :)

    Good luck!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Joe – I will be definitely testing out different price points, not sure when, but I’m interested to see how it affects downloads and profits as well.

      • Steve A @ ScratchCam

        Steve A @ ScratchCam

        Hey Spencer,

        I priced my photo app at $1.99 so that I had somewhere to go if I wanted to have a “sale” – every few months I drop it to $0.99 cents and get a decent burst in sales. After 4 or 5 days the number of sales at the reduced price drops to around the same number per day as when at full price, so I bump it back up to 2 bucks again.

        My advice would be never to make 0.99c your permanent price because the only “sale” you could then go to would be FREE :(

        Cheers

  9. Brian Kwong

    Brian Kwong

    Awesome, thanks for sharing your result so openly. I am in the process of developing my app so this is very helpful. Keep up the good work Spencer!

    Brian

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Brian – best of luck with your app as well!

  10. Jason

    Jason

    How did you find your app developer?

  11. Mauro @ TwizzyWeb

    Mauro @ TwizzyWeb

    Hey Spencer, great report and thanks for sharing this experience.
    I’m looking forward to try out the app market too and still have to decide whether I should go for the niche or mass sector…

    Good luck for all!

    Mauro

  12. Shane Sams

    Shane Sams

    Excellent content Spencer. I’ve always wondered how much it cost to get an app to market. Any chance of LONG TAIL PRO making it to android! lol…that would be AMAZING!! I need something for checking Page Rank and Backlinks while on the go :P

    You the man boss.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Shane! I’ll keep the long tail pro app idea in mind…nothing in the works just yet.

  13. John

    John

    Have you considered porting your app across to Android, as there are ever increasing numbers using the Android OS?

    Ads another marketplace for you without too much expense.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yes. If all continues to go well with the iPhone version, I potentially would create an android version.

  14. Omid - Royal Online Income

    Omid - Royal Online Income

    Hi Spencer – Thanks for the great and straight to the point report. I’ve never considered developing apps as a business idea but it seems I’ve been wrong! I think developing apps is like publishing kindle book or making niche sites. One will give you high income and many of them won’t make you the money you were looking for but in overall you’ll have a nice income on average.

    Anyway, good luck with your new business and I’m sure you’ll do great with the future apps since you have gained great experience so far to crack the code on developing apps.

    ~ Omid

  15. Colin Glover

    Colin Glover

    Congrats Spencer on following through with your idea. I’m looking at doing apps for local small business. Thankfully they don’t take as long as yours to go from beginning to end.

    Cheers

  16. Benny

    Benny

    Great to hear an update on it. You’ve got a great niche app that I think will continue to do well for awhile.

    I’m glad I could help out in some way w/ your app!

  17. Brad

    Brad

    Is it too late to get the Authority site guide as a bonus for reviewing the app?

  18. Tony Tovar

    Tony Tovar

    Spencer,

    This was an interesting post. Thank you for the insightful information and transparency, It’s great to see someone on the ground floor trying to make it happen.

    Tony

  19. Andreas

    Andreas

    Pleased to hear about your first experiment in to iPhone apps. I’m sure you learn a heck of a lot more from doing than you would have learnt from just reading about it. If people continue to search the app store for “Adsense” then you’ll continue to appear there. Hopefully the initial group of users will spread the word to others.

    Well done and hope to see plenty more apps from you in future!

  20. Shen @ Beginning iOS Dev

    Shen @ Beginning iOS Dev

    Congrats on publishing your first app!
    Was wondering, are you considering using any form of paid advertising to boost sales?

  21. avi

    avi

    Hi when you going to make an app for android phones??

    please i have a droid phone i would love to get this app.

    thank you

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  23. Dallas Kelso

    Dallas Kelso

    Great post and information mate. I downloaded the app and found it to be good. Over the last week though, there seems to be no data feeding through the app. I tried logging out and back in (and I checked my actual Adsense account too). Maybe there is an update on the way soon?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Dallas – yes we are working on an update. its coming soon.

  24. Nigel

    Nigel

    Hi Spencer,

    I got the new version of Adalert today. I honestly thought you wouldn’t worry about the issue Australian users were having but you did update it which is awesome because it really shows you stand behind your product and your reputation. I have got the new version, hate to be a pain in the arse but because there is a time difference, we are actually 1 day ahead of USA, but in the app it shows my earnings as yesterday (google shows earnings online in real time as today). So what is today for AU users shows as yesterday in the APP. Then is shows “todays” earnings as $0. Hope I haven’t confused you. The App is probably syncing with Google but it shows up different for AU users because of the time difference.

    Like I said I love your app, I hope the feedback will help you on your quest.

    Cheers

    Nigel

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Nigel. I’ll have to look into the current day issue you bring up.

  25. Dennis @ iphoneappexperiment.com

    Dennis @ iphoneappexperiment.com

    Spencer,
    Thanks for sharing this info. I am creating Apps for the sake of passive income as well and your insight is something that I don’t take lightly as I move forward in my App building process. You always have something great to share and I thank you for your insight.

    If I may share something that isn’t covered here, is the different ways people can monetize their app. We review the differences in Free vs Paid apps at: http://www.iphoneappexperiment.com/iphone-apps-free-vs-paid/

    Just something your visitors may find helpful when designing their own apps! The article is general in nature but may give people something to think about before launching their own apps.

    Thanks Spencer!

  26. The Frugal Exerciser

    The Frugal Exerciser

    I’m developing a running app that is geared towards those who are older, overweight or coming back from an injury. I will test it out first to get out all of the kinks but I was thinking about asking people with fitness and weight loss blogs to try it out and give me a review. Also, I wanted to have people who have 40+ blogs to test it out. What else would you suggest?

  27. Manuel

    Manuel

    Wow. thanks for sharing all this info, this is going to be so helpfull when starting my first app.!

    I have this app idea but im scared to tell about it to some developer and then he steal the idea from me.
    What do you think???!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Don’t worry about it. A developer is not going to steal the idea. Lots of “great” ideas everyday, but it takes marketing to actually sell…a developer is not in that business…they are in the business of selling their coding expertise.

  28. Jason Raskie

    Jason Raskie

    First off, thanks for a great product!

    I did a search to see if there was any notion of getting LTP to Android. Saw a few responses here and wanted to vote “yes” to the release of an LTP Android app. I really like the product and would like to use it while on-the-road as well.

    Cheers!

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