I'm in day five of my wait to get approved for the app store. The waiting is nerve-racking. In these days, I've been busy "spreading the word," everywhere and anywhere that it pertains to. And might I add, this is this first time I've done it BEFORE my app was released. I've read a lot of marketing material that speaks to the point of doing your marketing before the app comes out increase exposure. I'm being careful not to spam as we all know is a bad thing. About six months to a year ago, I started conversations on various groups on linkedin.com and when I do comment, I make an effort not to sound desperate. We're merely people sharing information. I ask questions, talk about my apps and then respond where appropriate. Since my customers are parents and children, I have joined writers groups, associations, and the like. I've asked about contests and I'll scour over old threads to see if any information will pertain to me. Granted I do a lot already being the writer and designer of the app, plus the main evangelist as well, but in the beginning, you have to wear many hats. I think it's good to talk to people on the ground-level. I try to reach out to people as much as I can. I have been heavily involved in the 8-10 groups I belong to on Linkedin.com, dropping small teasers on facebook and twitter. The other thing I should note is that I have two additional web heavyweights in my corner; Corona and Kwik. Since I used both of their software products to create my app, they also will help me in the marketing. This is already true for Kwik. Because I was the second app ever developed using their software, my second app, "Opening Rome" is featured on their masthead. When I look at my stats for the website, Kwik is a huge referral site for me.
By the way, I just finished my new app trailer for my web site
. It's also up on Facebook, Twitter, my IntenseMedia Youtube channel, and on my own site as well. The goal is to build the "IntenseMedia" brand as much as I can all the whilst building a following. It's not that easy to do so, and it's a lot of hard work
but I actually enjoy it. I wasn't someone who used to follow my web site's stats until recently. And I can honestly say that in the last two months, we've made substantial gains in followers, unique visitors, and hits. Whether I'm receiving sales from this is unclear, however I have made gains from my effort in traffic and this is important. Whenever I post something pertaining to my blog, my traffic spikes. Today should be a good day because not only did I release a new blog post, but I also posted a link to my new trailer. The idea is to constantly "Spread the Word." You are your best advertising! Keep plugging away. AND HAVE FUN!
Now that my app is at Apple, I can be forthcoming with information about my current app. It's called "Where's My Last Name?" It's a book about a precocious, blue hippo that thinks he's a dog. His favorite activity in the world is playing with his squeaky, red ball. He's had it for so long now, that the squeak is just a whisper. Normally, this blue hippo is bouncing off the walls in anticipation of playing with his ball, but today, he's pretty bummed out because he has a more important thing on his mind at the moment; where's his last name? Now Hippo has looked far and wide for it, but has had no luck. So with a little help from some of his pals that live on the "Isle of You," together they think they can help him find the answer. This story is an adorable collection of animals, all with their quirky qualities; most of which have come from family and friends. That's pretty much how it all started. I had a handful of animals that I created, two little ones begging me for an impromptu story in minutes. That was fifteen years ago and today, I've increased my selection and added color to them. I can't tell you the Hippo's real name, yet! You see that's the crux of the whole story so we'll have to leave that for a surprise to all the buyers of the book. Granted I can't be held responsible for leaks once the book has been published.
Since I have uploaded the app as of yesterday, today is the first day of Marketing it in my mind. It's also the first day of writing the story for book#2 in the series. I'll probably change that though in 2012 to when my programmer begins testing, I should be writing the next story. That way, when her work is done, she can start on the next project while I'm marketing the last project. We'll work it out better, I'm sure of it.
If you read my post two days ago, you'll appreciate my goals and how they pertain to marketing. I've put a release date of October 1st on the app which gives me about 8 days of aggressive marketing for the app before it's public.
What does this entail?
• Write as much about your company as possible on the internet.
(This includes blogs, forums, twitter, articles, digg, Facebook, etc )
• Writing query letters for bloggers, app reviewers, and the like
• Promo Video for web site and Youtube
• Order stuff from VIstaPrint. Send me your email address and I can get you great discounts
(Car magnets, business cards, stationery, tee shirts, hats, etc. )
•Order Press Releases from PR Web and PR Mac
• Arrange for a Release Party at a local bookstore or coffeeshop
(as of now, I don't have plans for a Nook Release, however this may change) If you are writing apps for the Nook, contact your local Barnes & Noble to see if you can have a book reading or meet and greet the author type of thing. Heck they may also take you if you don't have a Nook app yet.
Phew! All this in 8 days? Well not really, you have to do this every day of the app's life. Marketing never ends! These are just some of the things you can do to keep your name out there. And remember to be prompt when answering emails and comments on your blog. Keep setting those goals and exceeding them. Break up all your work into small chunks. five letters a day or 200 tweets a month. But you have to go large! This is a shoestring budget mind you, if I had some marketing dollars behind me, I may also do some additional advertising. I have to get back to work! Remember to keep smiling, have fun, and make great products! In time, your body of work will speak for itself!
Do you want to feel two extremes at the same time? Become an app developer.
EUPHORIA!!!!!!!!!! VS. EXTREME FRUSTRATION!!!
I started this process of uploading my app for submission today at 3 pm. Here it is, seven and a half hours later and yes, we finally did it. Now keep in mind, I've been doing this for a year now. I'm on my third app, yet, the process of uploading an app is well, pretty crappy. They need to make it simpler! Just when you think you know what you're doing, you follow all of the directions and tutorials, something goes wrong. It's that dang provisioning profile, and key access and certificates. Phew! So glad THAT is over well at least until our next app submission.
Now, back to the matter at hand! YES WE DID IT! Our app is now in the hands of Apple. I've been talking a lot about my "project" I can now actually discuss it. I'm keeping this entry short and will finish up the Youtube video promo. Don't forget, I have to get to 5,000 followers by November 1st. Busy!
How to set goals for yourself and your app studio
As I mentioned yesterday in my blog, "Word of the Day is Timing", I spoke about putting forth a media plan and a product schedule. Within these plans are lots and lots of goals. I like to think of them as little accomplishments you'll strive for each day. Goals should not have a negative connotation about them. They're levels at what we place on ourselves to be better, sell more, and achieve more. Every day we want the best for our children, our spouses, our pets, our lives. So these little stepping stones of achievement and accomplishments will make us a better salesperson, and a better person. When I set out to publish my current project (still a secret), in my mind, I set little goals; mostly sales goals. But what I found out is that to achieve those goals, I have to set and meet a whole lot of mini goals to get where I need and want to be. Let's first talk about development. Although I am a developer, it's not a passion of mine. Luckily, I found someone who is more passionate about programming than I am. My wife! She has taken over the reigns of Chief Programmer and now I can concentrate on things that make me happy like conceptualization, brainstorming, writing, and drawing. What's great about finding another person to share your vision with is that you have another set of eyeballs to look at your work and make adjustments and improvements. When I first set out on my project, I thought I could pump this guy out in three weeks. Then Mr. Morris Lessmore came around. (See blog post) Everything stopped. I LOVE THIS BOOK! I said to my wife, I want to revamp our book and be as good as or close to what they're doing. And she said, "We can do it!" Four great words that are now embossed in my skull. So when you're setting your goals for your next project and you want to do something but not sure how it's going to happen, find someone you trust, go to Corona's web site, they have a lot of great resources there to help you achieve your long and short term goals. My new plan is to set aside at least two months for development and production. This includes, writing original story, character development, drawing, building of sprites and animation, and environment building. And also sound FX as well; most of which I do myself. Marketing Goals: This is a big one. After you have finished your development and testing, next comes submission and the week-long waiting game while your app awaits approval at Apple.
Take this time to put your marketing plan into action. This is bonus time for you. If you haven't already, send out tweets, notifications in facebook, youtube vids, etc. Every little bit helps. One of my approaches is to set small goals for twitter followers. I was stagnant at 285 for the longest time. I felt like I needed more to help get the word out. So I followed more people. As of right now, I have one follower for every 4 I follow. Follow me @intensemedia!
So I set a goal today to reach 20,000 follows and 5,000 followers by November 1st. It's a small drop in the bucket, but every voice, every person means something to me. They may have 20,000 followers or 200K or more. The idea is to spread your message far and wide. I'm also building a facebook page solely for my company. The private thing is nice, but you have to build your friends. I've created an Intense Media channel on You Tube. As soon as my app is ready, I'll start uploading some videos from the app. I'll also place ads on my most popular videos. I currently write for Examiner.com. I write for a national audience. I try to convey good quality information and mention my web site at the end. I place my articles in Digg and on my new blog page on my web site. I talk passionate to people every day about what I'm doing. I seek advice from gurus in my iOS app development groups. We have some very successful and approachable app developers in my area. Get out and meet people who can help you and will help build you up to where you want to be. These are all attainable goals you can set for yourself. Market the heck out of yourself and your brand. And after you've reached all of your little goals, set new ones. Always strive to be your best. Make great products, and have fun!–Nick
Word of the Day is "Timing"
When I first started on my new book app (August 4th), I was anticipating completion after six weeks. Well I've reached that deadline. However, I didn't account for the testing that needed to take place. We're about a week into the testing and have a few hiccups which is a bit frustrating. The book is great, I love everything about it. It works great on the Simulator but when we build it on the iPad, we have some screen freezes and we're trying to address that. So I went back to my ambitious plan (6-8 apps a year) and decided to change my plan for 2012 and do 4 apps a year. This will give me 6-8 weeks of development, two weeks of testing and feedback, and two weeks for marketing. It's hard, I admit it, when you believe in a project of this magnitude and you can't wait to tell people about it, but you can't. It's frustrating. So I've decided to push back the release date to October 4th, 2011. (Apple needs one week to review it). This will give me and my programmer a little breathing room, time for polishing the app, and also a week and a half of pre-marketing. In fact, what I'm reading in many blogs is that marketers are now saying that you should set your release date far into the future 60-90 days and start to market it before it's released. Many developers I've spoken to have said the same thing. So perhaps this extra time needed was, and is a blessing. It gives me time to get all my ducks in a row before I release the app. I have started on the promo video. It's cool, I hope you will all enjoy it. The other thing about good timing is when you're looking ahead to 2012, be smart about your timing of the release of your app. I know when I was in the greeting card business. I made the mistake of coming out with my Christmas line in October. Only to find out that buyers had already purchased their cards for Christmas back in February. In my downtime in January, I plan of putting together my Media and my App Plan. I'll share the basics with you at that time.
"They" say timing is everything. So let's hope that we get this figured out in time for October 1st Release! Keeping my fingers crossed! I'd still like to squeeze out another app for Christmas. You can bet, I'll be ready in 2012!
I'll send out a tweet when I get the promo video out.
A side note: Read Billboard, and Entertainment Weekly and some of the other top movie mags out there. Try to get a feel for what's hot or what's coming out and put out books or apps related to those items. Looking back on this app, I probably should have included a lion or a dolphin into my app.
I decided to write two entries this weekend. Today's posting is about the last few days and hours before a submission. We're in our final hours and we've actually pushed back our deadline a couple of days. There really is no "deadline" per se. We're not trying to get it out by a certain date but we need to get it done quickly so that we can start our next project for Christmas! As we were setting up the schedule, we didn't account for the hours and hours of testing that's needed. Sometimes things work so beautifully on the simulator but when you build it to your device you notice some artwork needs tweaking, or volume controls aren't consistent. That's what we're doing now. I have a little time to write as my programmer is taking a much needed nap before the big push.
For narration, I decided to make it a "read to me" book because I wanted it to be read to someone at night and I wanted it as a complete package. The ultimate in its capability. Afterall, eventually the book will be made available as an ebook, and in print so we wanted to have each character's voice to shine. Since that was me who was narrating and I have a very deep voice, some of the character's personalities just weren't making it onto the mic. So we scrapped that idea for now and after we changed all the narration, we think it actually sounds better! This goes back to my last posting about learning to "ADAPT!" So here we are and I'm now writing down all of the places we still need narration fixes, sound FX fixes or insertions, and last-minute copy changes. Now let me speak to the copy for a minute. We went through 6 revisions in the script and we thought we finally had it until we played it all out on the iPad. And low and behold there were two places that just didn't sound right then when it was read. So we're still brainstorming some text towards the end of the book to make it sound perfect. But you know, that's what I love about this gig! Each day is different and we always expect it one way, but it always ends up something else.
I really can't wait to share this story with you. It's a cute story that is great for all ages and we hope that the story will remain timeless. So I'm heading back into the trenches. Look for me tomorrow where I will finally share some artwork with you and my plans to market the app. Oh now it gets really fun!
Today's word is "ADAPT!" When I set out on this project, it first started as an ebook. I didn't know it was okay to put a book out there as an app. And though many people have published books as apps, the truly great ones are interactive and engage the reader somehow.
About two weeks ago (third week of development), I was ready to publish my children's book. Three weeks! That's pretty amazing. I created everything from the ground up and worked hard at the story, consistency of characters, etc. And then I found a tweet from someone I barely know. She posted a link to a wonderful app, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore." All she said in her tweet, was go get this book, or something like this book changed the way I thought of book apps. And she was right! And to you, my faithful and new readers, GO GET THIS BOOK! Overnight it changed my vision for what I wanted my company to be and it set the bar for all books. Granted this was a short film before it was a book or an app, or maybe it was a book first, but regardless, the app is polished, has a lot of cool features, super interactive, and just fun to read. It brings together ideas from the Wizard of Oz, Buster Keaton, and all book classics in general. I was blown away. And I immediately pulled back my sleeves and adapted my book to something that was more fun and more engaging. I worked on the story until I thought it was magical. I created an opening scene that people said WOW to. And I made sure my characters were as lovable as they should be. Mr. Lessmore set the bar for me and all interactive book publishers. And I'm grateful for his contribution to fine literature. Oh and by the way, did I mention that "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," tops all sales charts in iTunes!
I wanted to also address something about this book. Moonbot Studios the publishers of Morris Lessmore, isn't a one-or two-man show. They had 28 people work on this project and their content came from pre-existing work that was written by William Joyce. They also brought in professional narrators, music composers, and programmers. They have a huge building to work in. Most of us little app studios are one and two-man shops. And it doesn't mean we can't pull off great work too.
If you take one thing from this blog post, take this. Be willing to "ADAPT" to make your work shine even brighter and also stay true to your vision. Don't be afraid to change a few words or paragraphs to make your work stand out even more. Look at what your competition is doing and embrace it. It just may take you in a different direction. But it's okay! It's the journey that makes all the difference!
It has been almost a week since my last post. I only have one excuse for that. I've been working my tale and tail off! I'm so proud of this book. One of the things I would like to share with you is the word, "Inspiration!"It's a powerful word because you can get inspiration in a myriad of places; such as friends, family, your own products, other people's work, books, audio tapes, gurus!
One of those places is on Youtube! I watched a video on Entrepreneurship. It was made by a man whom I've never met, but I'm sure I will soon enough. His name is Carlos M. Icaza; he is co-founder of Corona. No not the beer, but the SDK (software development kit). It's a relatively short video of his top ten things you need to have if you want to be an entrepreneur. And every one on the list resonated with me. But there was one in particular that stood out and that was to "Believe in Yourself!" Artists are notorious for having low-self esteem and not speaking up on their beliefs especially their own work. So what I want to do is share this video with you and also I want to tell you to keep striving for what you believe in. Don't give the naysayers any power and march on!Carlo M. Icaza's Video
We're so close to releasing the book!
Okay, now that you've got some of the logistics out of the way, I have to throw some more at you.This blog is for anyone who doesn't have the foggiest where to start, is an author or designer and pretty much anyone who wants to or has always wanted to create their own app.
In essence become a software studio. That's what I did, and I'll show you how too!I have little to no background in coding aside from HTML 3.0. But if I see something that is popular and alows me the flexibility to publish something that I've created, I'm going to do my best to figure out how to do it. Today it's easier than ever to create your own app without the need of a programmer. But that wan't the case in 2009 and 2010 when building apps was in its infancy stage. Since I'm not a programmer, I found one on Craig's list in my area and hired him. He did a great job coding my first app, MyBasketballStats which is available on the app store. I believe it took between 3-6 months to complete. For my second app, I wanted to have more creative control, decrease the production schedule, and
save money. I thought about going the route of someone else publishing it for me and their are lots of companies out there that do that, but their terms didn't seem that attractive to me. I wanted complete ownership without paying any royalties to anyone, aside from Apple of course. (By the way, Apple takes 30% off the top. More on that later).Back in June of this year (2011), my old college roommate asked me how to start making apps. I told him about the Apple Developer program he had to buy ($99), and that he had to own a Mac ($999 -$2,000), and that he needed to learn Objective-C. Although he was a programmer, he didn't know Objective-C and asked me if I had ever heard of Corona. I checked it out and after reading what they were about, my jaw dropped. Yes I reached Nirvana that day. Thanks Mike! Corona is from a small but quickly growing company called Ansca Mobile in Palo Alto, CA. Started by two ex-Adobe engineers who worked on Flash-lite. They started their company just this year and have a huge following. More on them later. Corona is much like X-Code, but it uses .lua instead of Objective-C as a language to write code. Lua is very easy to learn and was made for newbies and professionals too. In fact, do you know that little app called Angry Birds was built using .lua. With .lua, you can drastically cut your coding down to minutes in what would normally take weeks! I'll cover Corona more later. So here is the nitty gritty. Corona will help you make apps not only for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, but also Android apps, the Nook, and other tablets in the market today. So your book/or app can be seen by twice as many people as you thought possible. I also recommend using Kwik, which is a Photoshop extension. It's great for anyone who doesn't want to write a line of code and still produce their very own interactive book or comic book. Great tech support and new features added all the time. My first book and second app in my store was created using Kwik, Opening Rome!If you want to do this, you can. And here's your shopping list. Corona works on Windows too but you will need to have a Mac to compile it in X-Code before you upload it to Apple. Here's the list of items you'll need.Apple Developer Membership ($99)
* YearlyApple Mac, ($699-$2,000)Corona Subscription ($199 -$349)* Yearly Kwik ($79)Photoshop
(check prices)Word Processor
(check prices)Nick Nebelsky, is CEO and Creative Director at Intense Media, LLC. Intense Media focuses on products that entertain, enrich, and empower their customers. They create and publish their own line of books, ebooks, CDs, and software for the iPhone and iPad devices. You can reach them at email@example.com or www.intensemedia.com.