Here’s a blog post I wrote for an app blog which is about to go live and I thought I’d share. It looks at how many indie app developers are reskinning apps with he same old code and having trouble standing out in the app store. Here’s thoughts about a different approach and how reskinning could even help people around you.
We’re all in the app reskinning business and hopefully everyone is smashing it! It took me some time to get my head round how it all works and implementing the systems that helped me release quality apps quickly. But as I’m sure many people experienced, I hit some early financial losses when I started which I couldn’t afford and what’s more, I was worried whether the app business would work for me or I would get it right. It forced me to find a way of making guaranteed income from reskinning before I spent all the money I had to build apps
I’d love this article to be about how I’ve cracked it, instead it’s a couple of thoughts on the opportunities reskinning offers and how I’ve used what I’ve learnt to make alternative revenue. Initially I needed to find a way to cover my costs to reskin my own apps but eventually I realized how reskinning could apply to any new business. Hopefully there’ll be a follow up message on how I’ve nailed it!
I run a company called SWARMbuzz which helps businesses with their online, social and mobile strategies. I’d been running the business for 3 years when I discovered how to build an app, I love everything mobile so I thought I’d give the app game a go. But I took a massive early hit; I made some poor decisions on my first app, severely overspent and finally got nailed by the developer. It was a disaster. But I tried again and whilst I’d learnt a few lessons, I still made mistakes and made a loss, poor developers and my own inexperience were costing me. By my third attempt I had an app released which saw some good early downloads but it would have needed to be a smash hit to recover expenditure on 3 apps, 2 of which didn’t even get released!
I couldn’t afford to keep losing money but I wanted to continue having a go at building apps as I believed it was a great market and I enjoyed it. I needed to find a way to cover my early losses and get some quick income to fund further projects. I continued to release some small games which were making money but my P&L sheets weren’t looking very healthy and I needed to do something about it
How can I play the reskinning game differently?
Initially I thought that the reskinning game was a secret I should keep. As I’d spent the time and money learning only I should know about it. But this didn’t last, partly because I think it’s better to share knowledge and secondly I’m not very good at keeping secrets! The more people I told, friends and clients, the more they were interested and saw the sense in it. Until a friend who owns a successful company asked me to produce monthly games for his business targeting families. He knew they were reskinned apps and he was happy they were, I wasn’t cheating him, I was helping him. He’d been producing apps for his other companies paying tens of thousands of dollars but I was telling him I could produce apps at a fraction of the cost and quicker, he was naturally very happy and I now produce small games for him each month. You may ask why I wouldn’t just produce these games for myself but in the early days the money I charged allowed me to recover my loses, I liked working with his company and we’re about to start new mobile businesses together because it has worked so well
When we think reskinning we think of games immediately because that’s what we’ve seen our teachers do and what we’ve read most about. But I’ve come to realize that the opportunities are truly endless, so far I’ve found a source code that has suited all of my crazy ideas! As an example, my family run a charity to help educate children less fortunate in India and Africa so I decided I could take a wallpaper source code I owned and use it to build a charity app. I wanted to offer it to other charities so I contacted local charities to show them the app I’d built and how I could do the same for them. I covered my costs and time and whilst it made a little money, it was the chance to help charities reach a mobile audience and acquire donations via an app which was all for good causes.
Where are these opportunities?
Networking networking networking! Speak to new people on social media, forums and friends at the bar!. Reach out to new people and speak to your friends to share your app knowledge because mobile is still very new to many people. I made a point of listing the people I knew who ran a business which could best benefit from apps. I sent them an email and just asked if we could meet for a chat. All of them agreed and those who understood mobile liked apps and they loved reskinning because quite frankly, it makes sense! Keep in contact with the people you know who own or work in a small business with a simple email or text message; majority of your business will come through people you already know.
To help my online business I took out a $1500 loan from my family and joined a networking group which could be hard work as it started at 6.30am once a week, but it gave me the chance to meet local businesses and talk about the online and mobile world. Remember we’re tech ninjas, there are a lot of people, even young people, who don’t understand the mobile game and how it’s conquering everything! When I decided to offer reskinning commercially I arranged meetings with fellow members and we discussed how I thought apps could help them. Over the course of my two years with the group I did $25000 in business (a mixture of mobile, social and app work) so I was thankful the investment was worthwhile.
It’s not as though my time is now filled with building other people’s apps, I still have plenty of time to build my own. But it brought in some early money to help cover my mistakes. What I’ve enjoyed the most is being able to help companies build a low cost app that is equally effective as one that would’ve cost far more money. It also started conversations with successful business owners who now want to build other mobile businesses together.
The fighting talk
What’s cool about all of this is that I’ve never written a line of code, I can’t design an icon or implement a chart boost SDK. That’s not what I do, a property developer doesn’t build the walls, they try to spot the opportunity and that’s what I enjoy the most; now and again it pays off!
It might not be your bag getting involved in other businesses; personally it’s what I love to do. If you’re in reskinning just as a passive income then you can still consider how your app flipping knowledge could pay for your first app, your next app or a big app you’ve been dreaming of releasing. You could reskin an app for your local restaurant or even your or your kid’s school and then multiple schools in your area. Charge whatever you’re comfortable with or enough to pay for your next app. Or simply find fun opportunities to utilize your app reskinning knowledge.
How cool would it be to build fun apps, extraordinary businesses and potentially help others, with the app reskinning lessons we’ve been taught, there’s no reason why we can’t!
Good luck to you all!
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