Can I Really Develop an iPhone App with No Programming Experience?

By Spencer Haws |

As I discussed in my last post, I have decided to move forward with developing an iPhone App (rather than a Android app).  I have absolutely no programming experience – I’m just a business guy.  So, is it really possible for someone with no programming experience to develop an iPhone app from the ground up?  I definitely believe that it is, or I wouldn’t be trying to pursue this business.

I plan to outsource the app programming and graphic design.  My responsibilities will be to come up with the vision of the product, manage the process of design and implementation, pay for it, and market the app.  So, in order to get a better feel for the whole process from someone who has actually outsourced the development of an iPhone app before, I purchased the ebook – How to Create iPhone Apps with No Programming Experience.

So, today I wanted to review some of the pros and cons of that book.  Overall, I will say that I think it provides a great overview of how to outsource the creation of an iPhone App.  Its 101 pages long without too much fluff in between.  For someone who has never outsourced any kind of project to or other sites, this will provide the step by step instructions you need to feel confident getting started.  However, since I have outsourced a number of projects to elance and other sites I felt like a lot of the material did not really help me at all.

Cons of the Book

So, here are the cons of the book from my perspective:

1. The book spent a good portion (about 20 pages) on walking you through  Since I have used elance and overall its a VERY simple site to use, I felt like this material was a little bit too basic.  However, if you have never outsourced a project, you might like to see the details provided such as what to include in your title and description, what categories to select, etc.

2. The book also dedicates about 10 pages to setting up a business entity.  For me, this is totally not necessary.  I currently own 3 separate business entities, so I really don’t want to wade through material of the pros and cons of an LLC, etc.  Sure its something that everyone should consider, but I wanted material on how to create an iPhone app, not how to set up a business through Legal Zoom (I recommend you do it yourself rather than use Legal Zoom anyway – its very simple. But then again, I’m not a lawyer so maybe don’t take my word for it).

3. I would have liked to have seen more discussion on what exactly makes an app successful.  They do discuss several apps that were successful, but don’t really discuss how or why they came up with those ideas.  There is a good discussion of using professional graphics and better titles to make you app stand out, but I felt like there could have been more details on the brainstorming and creation process.

Pros of the Book

Despite some of the minor shortcomings, I felt like this eBook was worth the read for some of these reasons:

1.  The book is inspirational!  Quoc Bui and Michael Moon share some detailed monthly revenue figures from their apps.  These guys are pulling in $800k a year mostly from free iPhone apps  – so its pretty cool to see where this money is coming from.  If nothing else, this book shows you step by step how these guys have built a killer business and they are sharing how you can do the same.

2. Instructions on how to get accepted to the Apple developer program are shared.  I had no idea how to do this (or even that it was required) before I read the book.  They give detailed instructions and screenshots – so this will be very helpful to me when I go ahead and apply.

3. How to Test your app is discussed.  This is a critical process as well.  I knew that I needed either an iPhone (mine is on its way right now!) or an iPod touch to test out my new creations – but its not very simple apparently.  You need to know how to install an “Ad Hoc File” or a source code file and its not very simple all the time it looks like.  I’m sure once I get the hang of it – it will be second nature; however, this book provides VERY detailed instructions on how to test out your new app.

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4. There is a great discussion on how to get your new iPhone app approved by Apple and what to expect.

5.  There is also a great discussion on how to market your iPhone app using social media, your website, and other means to get more downloads and exposure.  It gave me a couple of ideas that I had not considered before.

My Recommendation

Overall, the book is detailed and provides great instructions for how to take an idea that you have for an app and make it a reality.  This includes how to find good developers and graphic designers and the nitty gritty of how to implement everything.

So, while this book isn’t perfect and there are a couple of things that I would have liked to see different in the book – overall I found it very good.  So, if you are interested in learning the step by step details of how to get your iPhone app idea turned into a reality – then I recommend that you grab a copy of How to Create iPhone Apps with No Programming Experience right here!

In addition, I have also ordered the book: App Savy: Turning Ideas into iPad and iPhone Apps that Customers Really Want from Amazon. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I will share a brief review of it as well once I have a chance to digest it.

My Update

So, to briefly give you an update where I am in the process – I have purchased an iPhone and should have it today or tomorrow.  I will be exploring lots of different apps available to check out my competition and what does well over the coming weeks.  Also, I have written down about 10 different ideas that I have had so far.  I have a couple that I am excited about, but first I want to see what is available.  One would target Adsense publishers and the other utilizes the unique touch screen feature of the iPhone.  I will share more details as I come up with more ideas and weigh the pros and cons of each.

I expect to continue my brainstorming process for at least a couple of more weeks, and then I will start to make more detailed wire frames or other blueprints for the app(s).  Then at that point I will start looking for a graphic designer to get the graphics done.  Then finally I will hire a programmer from elance most likely.

Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update on where I am in the process and what to expect in the coming weeks.  Right now I am just in the educational phase of the process.  Let me know if you have any questions or pointers for me in the comments below…thanks!


Stories & Projects | 24 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

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Can’t wait to see how this goes. Are you going to reveal the application while you’re developing it or after you release it?

Would like to see how do you choose a programmer, since it can be very difficult to evaluate their knwoledge for this type of project.

Good luck!


I’m unsure when exactly I will reveal the app. I expect to discuss it at least in general terms – what niche its in and perhaps basic info about what it does – but I may not actually reveal the full idea/actual app until after its completed.

Joe Barlow

This sounds like a useful book. Once my site starts turning a steady profit, I’m thinking about moving into this field mysefl, but that’s a good ways off.

I’m particularly excited by the thought of a quality app targeted towards Adsense publishers — I assure you, there isn’t one right now. I can’t believe someone hasn’t made a good app that will let you see your Adsense stats for the day! (There is one, but it costs $9.99, and the reviews are absolutely terrible.) Maybe this can be your first project?

Best of luck!


Joe – interesting that there is not already a simple app to check adsense stats! If so, then perhaps I should just do that…hmmm. Either way, I think the idea I have will be interesting to the millions of adsense publishers out there; and I was planning on doing it for free. But after I do some more research on what is actually out there I could change my mind.

The Wizard

I like your analysis of the book. Have you put together a performa for your business idea? I wonder if their $800K business quoted is based on a single ap or a multiple of ideas and activities?


Hello Wizard!
The $800k business discussed is from several apps that they have developed. I believe it was over 20 or so, but I don’t know if they specified an exact number. Considering that most apps only cost between $1k to $5k (according to the authors) to build – that’s a pretty profitable business! I don’t have a written performa, just the numbers in my head…


Funny enough, Pat also mentioned these guys today 🙂

I’ve got some ideas myself about an App but just like you I am not a programmer so I have to outsource this.

Thanks for the review!


Hey Ralph – Hopefully some things that I share here will be found useful!


Hey Spencer!

I am following your blog since your first post here n even I am still reading old posts from your old blog that I missed out for niche sites.

I am also in the same ship where you are, having No knowledge of programming and even elance. So I would love to see how you are hiring programmer and graphic designer from elance.

If possible, please share… how you get idea about developing particular app (at least niche) and How to check if it is not already developed.

Keep it up, we all are following you 🙂


Hetal, thanks for following along the whole time! I will definitely be sharing some of my process for both finding ideas and then also checking to see what level of competition there is for these ideas. Good to know I have some people following along!


I think it can be done. If you spend some handsome money.


Yep, it will definitely take some money. All of my money is handsome though, expect for a few pennies I have that have been in my coin jar for years 🙂 …

biometric time clock

I would still suggest a programmer to help you with creating an app!

Zero Passive Income

Hey Spencer – Your app development venture is really exciting. I’m glad you’re walking us through every step of the way. It’s inspiring. Best of luck to you!

Boris C.

Spencer haven’t you thought about publishing Kindle ebooks as a business model?


One question. Do you prefer to buy .us domain if all other net/com/org/info are not available. From doing lot of research. I am not able to find 1.5-3k exact match domains.
I think .us is next good option. what you say?


Hi Spencer – hopefully you will be able to read this. I’m also using this book as a blueprint for my own app endeavors. I completely agree with you when you say that “you still don’t really know what makes an app successful and what doesn’t”. I don’t know what progress you’ve made since then, but I definitely recommend seeing their interview on Mixergy, which shares a lot of insight on how they came about their app ideas. I’m not sure if you’ll check this post, so I’ll send you an e-mail, see where you are and maybe we can help each other out a bit. My first app should be available in a couple weeks 🙂


I mean Quoc and Michael Moon’s interview on Mixergy, which explains a lot.


I will have to check out the interview…thanks for sharing! That’s awesome that you are also in the process of developing your first app as well…best of luck! I did get your email and have sent you a response…


Mobile apps are hot today. But hiring a developer is too expensive. I used to make apps. It’s really easy, the web service allows to make mobile apps in minutes, and without programming skills at all.


Interesting, I’ll have to check that out.

Android app builder

Great tips. I want to add here something: “iPhone Dev Secrets” is a great app to create iPhone apps without any knowledge of coding. hope it adds some values to this article. Good luck. 🙂

Neeraj Dhiman

Awesome stuff mate. Excellent tutes and will go a long way in helping us get a start with IPhone


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