How to make $400,000 from your app

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This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Jo Overline.

Jo Overline knew it was hard to stand out in the crowded iTunes store, so he set out to build a unique app that became wildly popular and generated $400,000 in revenue. It was all done with app development and marketing tactics, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Jo is the co-founder of Dapper Gentlemen, which makes the Ugly Meter and other apps.

Here are the actionable highlights from the course.

1. Test on a real device to make sure your app works

If Jo had tested his Meatball Madness app on an iPad, he would have learned that the app’s animations were crashing the device, but he tested on a simulator so he wasn’t able to identify the problem and Apple rejected the app.

Take Action:
Run your app on the device it’s intended for, and make sure it works normally and doesn’t crash.

2. Build apps on contract so you’ll have guaranteed income

Jo creates apps for clients, and the $100-$300 he bills them per hour helps keep his income steady when his app sales drop.

Take Action:
Find clients who need developers to build apps, and work for them on contract when you aren’t creating your own apps.

3. Persevere when contacting producers to get publicity for your apps

The Howard Stern Show decided not to feature the first version of the Ugly Meter, but Jo kept in touch with the producers and told them about the second version of the app, and the show invited him on and helped him get $80,000 in sales in one day.

Take Action:
If a TV or radio show doesn’t cover the first app you submit, send the producers emails now and then and show them screen shots of updated versions or new apps you’ve built.

4. Get press, not ads, so you can save money and get more people to buy your app

If Jo’s Wordicus app had received press coverage, he says it would have gotten more downloads, but he focused on a $20,000 online ad campaign and the app generated a measly $150 in the week after it launched.

Take Action:
Pitch your app to local and national media outlets, and don’t waste money on expensive ads.

5. Embrace controversy so you can get media attention

Reporters falsely claimed that the Ugly Meter was used by bullies, but Jo fought back against the accusations, and the controversy actually helped sales.

Take Action:
Defend your app when people criticize it, and don’t back down from controversies about your app’s content.

6. Fight slow sales with giveaways to create buzz and get new customers

When sales of the Ugly Meter fall to 100 a day, Jo offers the app for free for a day or two, and the resulting word-of-mouth advertising brings sales back up.

Take Action:
Make your app free when sales are low, and switch it back to its regular price once thousands of people are using and talking about your app.

7. Stay in touch with customers to sell them new apps and upgrades

Jo sends push notifications to the phones of all the Ugly Meter users when he offers new apps for sale, and he also collects users’ email addresses so he can email them about new games.

Take Action:
Use emails, push notifications, or banners in your apps to sell new apps and to get people to upgrade to premium versions.

Want to make sure you get results?

Watch the full interview now
Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Great post!  I definitely agree with the tips here!  I’m going through the process of testing my newest app on my iPod and it definitely is a lot different than testing on a simulator!  I’m definitely glad that I am testing it on an actually device and I recommend it for others as well!

    As far as press and media goes, no matter what you are trying to promote, you really do have to be persistent.  Also try working up the ladder.  First do some interviews for local stations (who will usually be happy to feature local people doing cool things) and then try for bigger TV/Radio Stations/Newspapers.  Not only will producers of other media like to see how well you interview on another station first, but competitors usually watch other media networks all the time so you may actually get called by a producer of another show after they saw you on a local station!

    This for publishing this – definitely some great tips for developers!


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