iPhone App Project – Video Update #2

By Spencer Haws |

I made a quick video today in order to report my progress with my iPhone app project.  I discuss getting bids on Elance and other details as I decide whether or not to move forward with my current iPhone app idea.  I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

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Update 5/28/2012: I decided to build the Ad Alert iPhone app, which is available now in the iTunes store!

Stories & Projects | 13 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.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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As I just mentioned before I just had my first iPhone app done. It was much simpler that what it sounds like your idea is. For me it was something I’ve wanted and did not like any of the other offerings. Mine is also somewhat seasonal and thanksgiving was good. Made it up to #10 on the lifestyle category but now I’ll have to grind it out again till Christmas.

Regardless I had bids all over the board but in general about half of yours. One,they all appear to be HIGHLY negotiable and in my case there was never any talk of additional costs during the process, despite me sending it back many times and saying, “no, fix it!”

Regarding market. Games is huge but highly competitive. I would suggest starting with your adsense idea first.

One other thing I did was I took my wireframe mockup and went to 99designs to have the UI done through graphic designers there. I believe I got a better UI than if I just went through one developer. (1st rule was I wanted my app to look appealing)

I also “forgot” to mention I had fully layered photoshop files to the elance developers until we were in negotiations. They just thought I had a simple wireframe mockup.

Although I only spent about $400 to get my UI done the developers seemed to price that at a premium in their estimates. When I did say later that I don’t need them to design the UI, in several cases they took 50% off their estimate. (Again your idea sounds like the UI might be more dynamic to this may not apply)

Hope it helps. That’s my quick two sense. I’m actually still trying to sort out what I’ve learned. So far I’ve been up for 3 days and had over 700 downloads, which I’m thrilled about, although like I said it will slow down dramatically until christmas which I’m already starting to see. Check it out here if you’re curious.


Hey Ryan – thanks for sharing some of your details!! I briefly took a look at your app and I love how it fills a very specific small niche. I also really like your suggestion of essentially having the entire UI complete before hiring a coder. I’ve read in several places that this is really the thing to do anyway – so sounds like you did it right. So, at this point I’m really trying to decide what to do. I guess a large part of that trepidation comes from not fully grasping how to market iPhone apps. After you get your app listed in the Apple store, things get pretty fuzzy for me. So, if I can get an app done for 2k or less that would be ideal for my first learning experience here…I guess we’ll find out over the next 83 days or so that are left!!


Thanks for taking a look. I ended up outsourcing some marketing to a person through elance as well and I will say she has done an incredible job. I look at the sheer amount of emails alone that she is doing and I’m very glad I did that. (I’ve actually had 4 or 5 interview requests for various podcasts over this tiny app)

Considering her costs were a fraction of total development costs it just made sense to do, if nothing else to learn something from someone who has done it many times.


Hi Spencer, I love your site, I just found it and look forward to the great information here.

A note on App development, from some of my experience on elance and guru a lot of people post ads seeking app development and they typically have no idea what they are doing, or any experience in software development. This means the programmer is going to have to all of the engineering, all the requirements elicitation, develop all of the ‘use cases’, develop all of the classes themselves, all before writing one line of code. This will lead them to quote higher since there are 5x as many hours of work to do.

Try finding an affordable ‘software engineer’ to help you develop the software before any code is written. This will let you take a well organized package to a programmer who just needs to write the code, implement and test it.

Or you can ditch the app idea and try the selling used book one! Check out my blog at! I can use some advise to on this new site so any suggestions are welcome.


Great tips Kyle…thanks! Also, I may eventually do the book idea…we’ll see! Sounds like you have really dug into the used book business…best of luck!


Hey Spencer

I’d say go for it. It’s an adventure! But do read up more about them, read up Pat Flynn’s experience with them as he was making nice amount of money from paid AND unpaid apps. He does have posts about how to start them and outsource etc.



By developing this app, you will able to develop better iphone app in future. Usually MNC’s do this for customers.

Lindsay |

I think it’s pretty awesome that if you come up with an idea you can just go to elance and other sites and get it built. I would love an adsense app and never looked before now. It looks like there are a few out there so not sure how profitable it would be..I know nothing about that market. Either way this should be interesting to follow.


Thanks Lindsay!

A newbie marketer

Hey Spencer,

I got the impression it was pretty easy to make a app and throwing it up on App store from listening to Trey and Amish but to really make a good game it cost big bucks if you want the massvie downloads. Maybe you could do a video on brownies for us. hehe



Perhaps you addressed this in a previous post but I’m wondering if a web-based apps might be a better path.

– it could be available across all smartphone platforms as well as the web population
– broader monitization opportunities
– with more web programmers, costs might be driven lower with more competition (vs a smaller universe of iPhone programmers)

– you lose the “hotness” that is the Apple App store (but I suspect porting a web-based app to an iOS app — perhaps as simple as building a “wrapper” — would not cost too much if you wanted to still launch an iOS app)

Am I missing something?


I think Paul is on to something here. A quick web search turned up which looks very promising to develop once using web tools like html, javascript and css and then port several platforms including apple app store. Some big name companies are using this methodology.

I attempted to make my own app and it was more difficult then I thought it would be. The tools are very different then visual studio that I am familiar with. I know you are not planning on doing the coding yourself though.

Since I am familiar with web developing this would the path I would pursue and very well might in the future.


I had heard of Phone Gap before, but never looked into it much.

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