iPhone App Update #3

By Spencer Haws |

No video today.  I’m worried about how my hair looks and its just not working right today.  Okay, I could care less about my hair – its just quicker for me to type out an update!

I think in the last update I gave, I was still debating exactly what iPhone app idea I was going to pursue.  Since then, I have made up my mind to actually tackle an Adsense related App.  The idea is an app that allows users to check their adsense earnings, but with a fun twist.  I can’t give away the interesting twist at this point as that is what makes the app unique.

So, I went ahead and posted a job on Elance and have received lots of bids.  The previous app I was considering doing was receiving bids in the $4k to $7k range.  The app was a drawing type game and apparently was more work than I had anticipated (more expensive that is).  The bids I am receiving back on this Adsense App are more in line with what I was expecting.  Its a fairly simple application and the bids are more in the $2k to $4k range.

I think I have found a good designer that can get the job done for just under $3k.

I narrowed down my selection of bidders by emailing all of the promising programmers and asking more detailed questions to make sure they had a good grasp of the project.  This is a great way to weed out those who are either non-responsive, difficult to communicate with, or those that really don’t know what they are doing.  I actually found 2 teams that probably could both do an excellent job.  But the one I think I am going with actually has a project manager based in the US (with a phone number…woohoo!) and their bid is a little bit less than the other teams in the running.

So, at this point I have essentially finished out all the wireframes for the app.  I want to have all of these in place before I actually select a bidder for the project.  I am just using the free to draw out some basic wireframes.  There is lots of wire frame software out there but I saw no reason to use them over just or Photoshop.  The idea of a wireframe is to just get the overall flow and different screen laid out.

The next step for me actually will be to work with a graphic designer to turn my wireframes into professional looking graphics and overall user interface.  Then my programmer will be able to take these graphics and just code up the app very quickly.

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To be honest, I am still having second thoughts as to whether or not I should be spending $3k on an iPhone app or not.  Yes, I am well aware of all the huge success stories of mobile app, but there are WAY more stories of people losing money on developing apps.  Its not an easy business, and perhaps I would be wiser to invest money into projects (like new websites, etc) that I am more of an expert in.  So, these are some of my reservations.  After all $3k is still a lot of money for anyone to drop on any project.

However, despite these reservations, I do plan on moving forward because I believe the idea is a good one and the potential user base of the app is quite large as well. (Any webmaster with Google Adsense on their sites and an iPhone is the target market).  This market includes millions of people.

Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update for my project, some of my thoughts, and my plans down the road.  Overall, I would be interesting in hearing any feedback that you might have for me at this point.  Feel free to leave a comment below…thanks!

Update 5/28/2012 – My Ad Alert iPhone app is now available in the App Store!


Stories & Projects | 31 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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An AdSense app, that sounds like a great idea to me!
I do agree that 3k $ is a lot of money to spend on an app. Have you thought about contacting google? If they could sponsor you to build this app, that’d be great. Might sound too good to be true, but it’s always worth a try.


There are other adsense apps out there already, but none of them do what I am proposing.


Wow, I have to agree too, that $3K seems a lot for a simple app that will allow you to check your adsense earnings. Even if there is an undisclosed twist.

I have to ask you, have you done your market research? Is there a market for this? After all, one can always log into their adsense account with their mobile browser.

How long (or how many copies) will it take to get back your money?

Not trying to be a downer, but when it comes to software, there has to be a market, or you are wasting your time.


Apparently that’s how much apps cost these days :). Yes, I have done some market research here. There is a HUGE potential user base, but its hard to predict adoption rates (as with any business).

I know you are not trying to be a downer – you’re just thinking like I am at the moment…somewhat hesitant as I mentioned in my post. I will be mulling it over for another week before I make any final decisions. I haven’t hired anyone yet, so I may not move forward – we’ll see.


PS. I should have mentioned, I am a developer (not mobile apps yet) and know what it’s like to create something you think there is a market for.
PPS. We’ve chatted before via email


I was looking forward to a video Spencer! 🙂
Just Kidding. I hope this project goes through and is a success. If I had an i-phone I would buy it.


I know Ben, I figured you and others wanted to see me via video…but I didn’t pull through this time 🙁 I have my first customer for the iphone app though…sweet!


I develop Android apps as a hobby myself and I can tell you that success is very hit and miss. An app which you think will do great does hardly anything and vice versa.

Adsense is also a hard way to make money. The ads are still really way too general and untargeted (unlike with niche websites), so you’ll be lucky to get a CTR higher than 3%, and the payment per click is pretty low as well approx 4 cents on average. This is based on my experience with the 3 adsense apps I have on the Android market. However maybe the iPhone does better.

That all being said you will never know unless you give it a try and there is risk with any investment. Unless losing that $3k is going to hurt you more than is worth risking I say go for it.
And hopefully you’ll end up with the next success story like Benny Huu that Pat Flynn did that article about a while back.


Rory – I agree that its hard to predict the success of any business. You plan as best you can, but its always a risk. Also, I don’t plan on monetizing the app via adsense – I would be charging for it. $3k isn’t going to sink my ship, but I just don’t want to throw the money away without thinking it through thoroughly…these comments help me do that!


Cannot wait for this app! The only one found that I really liked is no longer working with the new ios5 update that went out.

So, I guess the one thing I would say is make sure you have someone on call or ready to roll when Apple makes their updates.

Good luck! Keep the updates coming! Love this site and I am psyched to be digging back into building more niche sites!



Alright Bob – I now have 2 customers! Just several thousand more and I’ll make my money back, lol. Actually that’s good to know that there are some people that are unhappy with the existing Adsense apps out there. Thanks for sharing!


why adsense application. Any business idea or concept?


It would be an app that allows you to check your adsense earnings. Its an app I would use, that’s why. The twist which I am not revealing will make it “cool” and very buzzworthy in my opinion. It will make lots of adsense publishers with an iphone want this app (in my opinion). My brother wants it and he doesn’t even have an iphone! 🙂


My first app cost about 3k and has a potential market of “millions” but I would still consider it a niche app. It is not an app that people just browse around iTunes stumble across and download to try. It is more of a destination app, in that people need to be looking for a solution via an iPhone app. This is where your challenge will be I believe. (at least it is mine) For my app it is somewhat seasonal.

Now, you have the benefit of having your readers here. Determine how many of your readers have iPhones and I think you’d have an easy answer. I have even before you brought up this idea sought out adsense apps as a result of trying to monetize my own niche websites, which came as a result of reading this website.

Look at it from a great learning experience and a potential source of passive income. Did your first attempt at niche websites make big money?


Ryan – thanks for the sound advice. I agree that my app would be more of a destination app, like yours. People would have to seek it out. But I clearly would have a user base of at least some people from my blog here. As I consider that, I suppose this could actually really help launch the idea to many other bloggers using adsense…if all of you are willing to spread the word that is! Its a cool enough idea that I think people would enjoy talking about it. Its not JUST a utility app – it has a pretty interesting feature that could be talked about.


I hope you do it and I look forward to seeing it. Hopefully by the time you have it done, I have adsense earnings worth monitoring. lol


Go for it Spencer. $3k is a lot of money, but I believe you’re probably in a financial position to take the risk. I’m pretty sure you’d make your money back if you sell it. I assume that your reader base is a decent size. One email blast plus blog post should bring in some decent return. After that, get on some of the podcasts you’ve already been on and mention it there. As long as the functionality is there and it works, seems like a no brainer.


Jason – thanks for the encouraging words. $3k is still a decent chunk of change – just want to make sure it makes sense before I pull the trigger. I totally agree with your points. These comments are definitely helping out…thanks!


Spencer, 3k is nothing compared to how much you make and how much you are gonna make in the future. Go for it. If nothing else, you will CERTAINLY learn something out of this experience. And we really hope you will share those experiences with us 🙂

You truly are an inspiration for thousands of us.


Thanks for the encouragement Raj! Yes, it will be a huge learning experience for me and everyone else.


I hope you go ahead with the app and expand to android at some point! My biggest frustration is that I can’t view my reports (mainly which sites got the clicks) easily – it’s not available on the mobile adsense site and the reports always crash when I try to view them normally!

Josh Kohlbach

I’d have to disagree with the first few commenters. $3k is not a lot of money for an app.

Consider the amount of people you’re getting involved and the complexity level of Objective C (which is much higher than PHP or HTML and requires domain knowledge of the SDK) and I think you’re getting an absolute bargain.

It baffles me how people can just paint all programmers with the same brush. PHP is more common, so there is more people able and willing to do it for cheaper. Objective C is not. Get into something like C++ and you’re even more niche (therefore costing more). These facts can make a massive difference on the cost of your project.

Go for it Spencer! You won’t regret going through the process of building an app if not for profit than for the learning experience.

Really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.


Hey Spencer –

I like where you are going with this App. I’ve said to myself hundreds of times now why can’ t there be a proper app for my phone / iPad that will let me check my Adsense earnings without any crazy issues. I figured it would have had to be out there by now but there really isn’t.

Do you plan on charging for this app your are developing for people to download? Any way you can give away free copies for owners of LTP? 😉

Would love to try the app once its created.

As for getting it programmed for around $3000 that sounds about right. I’ve talked to people online that got apps of your size developed and they paid around the same. Set the price for the app around 0.99 and got featured on Apple’s top page and got their money back in 2 days! It’s amazing.

Good luck with the app!


I have an iPhone and would buy this app so you’ve got one mor customer!


Spencer, I think it’s a great opportunity. I have the new Iphone 4s, and I will buy the app, even it’s only to check my meager earnings…after reading your blog, I am truly motivated!

Good luck to you…and keep us posted.


I think you should go with it Spencer!

I know I’ve been looking for a working Adsense app since SenseApp stopped working and I can tell you there is a HUGE market for this app!

I’m sure you’ve already done this but to I like to read comments of similar app and see what the customer likes and dislikes. This will give you an advantage to making a better app compared to your competitor.

Best of luck bro!

Can’t wait to see the app when it’s done!


Thanks for the encouragement Dencha!

Justin | AdSense Flippers

Damn iPhones! Come on, Spencer…AdSense is a “Google” tool…give us an Android app and you’ll have both Joe and I as customers for sure! 🙂


Okay, I’ll have to consider doing it for Android phones too! But first I’m going with the iPhone – if it does well; you’ll get your android app…thanks!

Kent @ Make Extra Money Online

Spencer, how much have you reserved to do the marketing and promotion when the app is launched?

From what I have read, if you can make it as top free or paid apps, you will get the traffic and sales to pay off that 3K.

We have new apps everyday. In order to stand-out, it’s all about marketing in my opinion.

Good luck and will buy whatever you put up on the AppStore. Looking forward!

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Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design.

Superb choice of colors!

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