I'm a full-time programmer/illustrator/writer/marketer/bottle washer. I make my living from creating and developing apps. There are several stages to an app:
- story boarding,
- writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting,
- artwork creation (100-150 separate pieces of art),
- animation and special effect thought process,
- art direction,
- then there's the coding, a lot of coding. Thousands and thousands of lines of code; many of which is developed specifically for our needs.
- Then there's testing, testing, and more testing.
- Then we have a week of beta testing where we send out our apps so that real people other than us can look at them.
If I were to itemize each of these steps into dollars, they would easily add up to $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the app. It's a lot of work to fit into a two to three month window. And I'm not even talking about marketing in both time and money.
Cut that amount to 4-6 weeks, and you have the makings of an ebook. Same amount of writing, maybe a third of the artwork. Cost maybe $2,500 for the cost.
Here's the big difference though. Cost vs. Price to you the customer. E-books are being sold on average for about $10 on the various sites. Same book, less interactivity on the ebook. Apps are thought to be "Expensive" if their prices are higher than $2.99. So why is it that it cost 4x more to produce an app where we as developers can only expect to receive one/tenth of what an e-book costs. The math is simple, right? So why are we creating apps and not e-books? Well I'm creating both and I'm makings apps not just for the iPad, but I'm making it for the Nook, and the Amazon Fire as well using Corona SDK. It's a lot more efficient and cost-effective, believe me!
And I'm not alone in this war. I recently emailed Jayne Clare, former app developer and currently a Special Education Teacher at Southampton Public Schools in the greater NYC area. She now runs the web site: http://teacherswithapps.com/ She said, "It's very difficult to make money in the app store when you are practically giving away your product! Our biggest pet peeve was that your average educational app cost less than a cup of coffee." Why is there such hesitation by folks to pay $1.99 for an app, but will pay $4.00+ a day on coffee? When I figure that one out, I'll let you know. Then there's the flip side to what Jayne and I are saying, and that's from Will Terry who says he hopes that by charging less, he'll get more people interested in his work, so he's going for volume in the early phases of his business. Will Terry is already an accomplished artist who is just starting out in the app business. You can see his work at www.willterry.com.
Until the prices reverse, that's just how we have to play the market. I can't see how the small developer will be able to make it selling their apps for only $.99. I tried it and I don't see a difference in demand between a $.99 app and one that sells for $1.99. For me there's a lot of trial and error. I play with pricing sometimes like I play with the stock market.
I'm hoping this month will be different though, as Barnes & Noble is putting together a promotion for apps that are produced this month for kids. And since that is my primary market, I have created a sweet little story that I hope will receive the promised marketing. I could sure use it! And until the price wars cease, I'll keep putting out the books I love to make that kids love to read. Until I see you again.
Nick Nebelsky is the Publisher of Intense Media, LLC based in Gilbert, AZ. He is a Corona Ambassador for Corona Labs out of Palo Alto and is a passionate developer of children's books and apps. "Sheldon's Adventures" is Nick's latest release co-written by Dr. Michael Perko, PHD, an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Public Health Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Nebelsky expects the app to be published on the NOOK store in another two weeks, and on the iTunes store in three weeks. You can reach Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his web site at www.intensemedia.com.
(March 1, 2012, Gilbert, AZ) Corona Labs, Inc. (formerly known as Ansca Mobile), based in Palo Alto, CA and maker of Corona SDK, a cross-platform mobile development framework, has announced that Nick Nebelsky, of Gilbert, AZ will become a company Ambassador, representing Phoenix, AZ. Last month, Ansca Mobile embarked on a world-wide search for Ambassadors to help their company grow by organizing monthly meetings, industry events, and arranging for speakers to engage organizations interested in learning more about mobile development. Currently, Nebelsky uses Corona SDK as their mobile development framework allowing it to create books and games more quickly and efficiently than using Xcode alone.
Corona Labs, Inc. is the creator of Corona SDK, the world's #1 mobile development software. It allows users to produce apps and games in a fraction of the code used with traditional methods such as Objective-C. Corona is more than a software development kit, it's a community of developers who are creating some of the top games and apps in the industry. Led by two former Flash engineers, Corona Labs, Inc. is seeing substantial growth and sees the Ambassador program as a way to not only reach out to more users, but help developers from all over the world to form development communities to support one another.
Please join us for our free monthly meetup on how to create apps for people who don't know how to code. Each month, local developers with various skill levels meet to share ideas, tools, and basic code to enhance their projects and apps. This is a great place for people who are thinking about creating their first app. You'll meet local people who are just like you with different skill sets and who want to be a part of the growing app development revolution.
Dr. Evan Fram, M.D. is our guest speaker this month and we're lucky to have him. He is on a year long sabbatical from his medical practice. He's a newbie Corona user and is very impressed with it. He's a brilliant man and he's definitely someone you'll want to meet. He's developing a 3-D game in Corona and developed the code himself since Corona doesn't have a 3-D engine as of yet. Here's someone who wants to fully engage himself into something new and exciting.
In the process of setting up the development environment he found some things that other people new to Corona might also find useful. He's hoping that his discussion will generate discussion from the more experienced Corona developers and I would certainly learn from that.
In addition to his demos, he'll also talk briefly on
- Cider – a good Corona editor. available for windows and Mac. It has code hinting, integrated lua documentation, and an integrated terminal output window. It is very efficient to run side-by-side with the simulator on Mac and presumably on windows as well. One of the other members of the group indicated that he uses its debugging features and I would be very interested in learning about his experience with the product. http://www.mydevelopersgames.com/CIDER/
- Phonegap . A bit off topic but might be useful for people to know about it.
- TestFlight – a free service that allows you to distribute beta versions of iOS apps to beta testers via the web. It expects IPA files and I ran across a way of using it with the app files generated by Corona. https://testflightapp.co
In addition to Evan's presentation, we'll have an open discussion on other Corona topics.
I encourage everyone who is thinking about mobile application development to attend. This looks like it will be very informative!Please click here to register for the event.
Nick Nebelsky is the CEO of Intense Media, LLC, an interactive app development company based in Gilbert, AZ. He has over 30 years of marketing experience in the media industry. He is also an Ambassador for Corona Labs of Palo Alto, CA and co-host of Corona SDK Phoenix Meetup. www.intensemedia.com
Wow! It has been more than a month since my last post. I did a little experiment for the first 22 days of the month; I did zero marketing. Course I didn't plan it that way, because I was busy, but wow what a difference. Yes Virginia, Self-Marketing does work! Even though my web traffic has been down, my sales for my first app are pretty consistent. I think lowering the price helped a lot. Hmmm that could be the best marketing so far! I did lower all my apps to $.99 so we shall see if that does do the trick! I do have 9 days left in November to make some marketing noise and will start to blow some horns. As I am really excited about two new announcements. 1) I just made some really cool additions to Hippos Name and Hippo Mini. We decided to improve the apps a little before starting our new book for December. So we flushed out the map page and took each character, regardless if it appeared in the book or not, and wrote a little bio of them. The new artwork was so good, that we're going to up the bar and strive for Disney-like quality from now on. Hey, we have great characters and strong writing, why not go for even better artwork.
So look for the new version coming out in one week. Heck, buy the app now to see how much it will change. It's a great story and now has even better characters.
I struggled with the original script for the new book. It took a long time to write this one. I think it's because I wanted something that was as good as my hero's, Charles Schulz. And I went down that way, even creating a skating scene with all of my characters. Well that wasted about 2 weeks of artwork and story lines that were going nowhere. I finally did what I did for Hippos Name. I just started with one idea and started writing and finished the script in about 20 minutes. I've edited it quite a bit, but it's ready to go. I'm very happy with it. And because of the additional work we did on the last app, you can be assured that the artwork will be 10x better than what I've given so far. The characters are well-defined, and well thought out. I can't to show off my new book app to all of you. Look for the announcement on December 20-21! I should have a trailer made for it by then as well. And This Time, I'll Price it Right!
If you're like me and love to create, then you'll love the present. It's a great time to be alive! I was fortunate in that I have this creative talent that has been unlocked! I love what I do and couldn't be happier knowing that God has given me the talents, and Apple has given me the tools to help me succeed! I just celebrated my first year wedding anniversary, and Apple has given me a gift that I'll never forget; the permission to sell my new app, Hippos Name in the App Store!
This is only the beginning, but it's the start of something big. I've already started the wheels turning on the second book and have a mile long list of things I need to do for the first one. But this is where the fun continues. I get to tell people about how much fun it was to create this app. How I started with an idea almost 18 years ago telling stories to my niece and nephew and taking those characters today and weilding them into something more than words in the air. It was my nephew who at age 18 told me to take those characters that I created and make them real. Draw them out. Give them names and personalities and traits. That was eight years ago. And I did do that that three years ago, but it never came off the ground. I had trademarks, logos, a web site. But it just wasn't there still. So I changed the name of the collection, kept the original names, and changed the focus. It's now turned into something wonderful and I'm very proud of it. I'd love to one day be able to hire my nephew and write books together, but I'll have to sell a lot of apps to do that. In the meantime, I hope you will join with me in celebrating this great feat. In the next few days, I'll post some of my original pencil drawings and how the characters have matured over the course of three years.
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
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!