It’s possible to develop apps all by yourself and simply check your iTunes account to try and figure out how things are selling. Unfortunately the way that iTunes Connect presents data is completely haphazard. As a result you’re going to want to sign up for a third party service to track app sales and rankings. Here we’re also going to explore resources where you can get source codes, developers, graphic artists and other tools required to run an app business. For the record I have no association with the businesses and websites listed below and receive no compensation for recommending them.
When you sign up for iTunes Connect and get your first app for sale, you’re going to be surprised by their haphazard sales reports. Sales are not grouped together. For example, you’ll see sales of a given app for each country listed seperately, but Apple doesn’t provide totals. Nor do they give you estimates of how much money is earned, or do conversions to your home currency.
To get around all this a must have tool for an app business is appfigures.com. For a modest charge, you can get your app sales tracked daily with total income and downloads emailed to you each morning. The website provides nice graphs and bar charts of your sales, with flexibility to examine individual apps, selected apps, or all your apps together over any time period. You can view sales by country and track sales ranks in every country where your apps are sold. You can also track sales ranks for all apps in the itunes store and Google Play. I strongly advise creating an appfigures account soon after you’ve launched your first app in the store. It tracks both mobile and Mac applications.
For sales charts, nothing beats App Annie. Best of all you can create a free account. App Annie tracks the top 500 apps in the paid, free, and grossing sales lists. You can look at top sales lists for overall or by category. App Annie also tracks sales for iPhone, iPad, Google Play, Amazon.com’s Android store, the Mac App Store, and Windows app store. Visit http://appannie.com.
If you’re a computer programmer, you might be developing your own apps. If not you’ll need to hire a developer. There are several websites where this can be done, but in my experience oDesk is the best website for hiring workers. When you post jobs you’re going to get applications from all over the world. Visit oDesk.com to get started.
elance.com is a close second. There is also Freelancer.com, but I don’t like Freelancer.com. It’s a kind of loud website that bombards you with stimuli but worst of all it seems to have hidden charges, like a monthly membership fee you get charged even if you’re not hiring people. They also go overboard trying to verify you when you attempt to hire somebody, they called me on the phone several times. High pressure salesmanship you can do without by sticking to oDesk.
Don’t think you need to start app development from scratch. In the past couple of years, a second hand market for app source codes has sprung up, and http://apptopia.com is a good place to browse apps for sale. Many of the apps don’t have many downloads but don’t let that discourage you. Investigate apps that strike your interest. There can be many reasons why an app didn’t sell, it may have poor marketing or bad graphics, or a poorly designed icon. You can jump start your app development by snagging a functional app that needs improvement, and slap some new graphics on it and you’re in business. App transfer is easy these days allowing you to immediately buy and app and have it for sale in your account.
While I generally recommend creating original apps, “reskinning” or “flipping” existing apps (i.e. changing the graphics, icon and theme) can be a part of your business. In fact I’ve done it myself a few times. This approach is particularly useful when you’re developing game apps. A website where you can find high quality app source codes for sale is BlueCloud solutions. They have a great slot machine app, as one example, but also sell occasional utility and camera apps. Visit them at http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/.
To reskin a game and actually make money you’re going to need good graphics. You can hire your own graphic designers on oDesk or elance.com, but one service you shoudl be aware of is Angela’s App Services (http://angelasappservices.com/). This website has graphic designers with lots of app experience and is especially useful if you’re looking for new graphics to reskin a game.
Having good screenshots is vital for app store success. Using Xcode you can get screen shots directly from a connected device, but often its easier to just grab screenshots from the simulator. An app called screentaker (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/screentaker/id460043075?mt=12) makes grabbing screenshots from the simulator easy.
Promotee (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/promotee/id578071639?mt=12) lets you put your screen shots on great looking device images, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Android devices. The images created with Promotee look completely professional.
Open the Mac App Store periodically and check the Developer Tools category. Most of the apps for sale there tend to be for web developers, but there are several aimed at mobile developers that you might find useful.
Revisiting the reskinning theme, if you’re looking more for non-game apps visit Chupa Mobile (http://www.chupamobile.com/ios) and Code Canyon (http://codecanyon.net/category/mobile/ios). You can save time and money by picking up app templates from these websites. For example, if you have an idea for a radio app, you can pick up a radio app template and hand it off to your developer. Since the app is already half developed, you can save money by only paying the developer half of what they’d normally charge. Let’s say for a radio app your developer would charge you $1800. You could pick up a radio app on Chupa Mobile for anywhere from $21(http://www.chupamobile.com/products/details/391/RadioStream/) to a few hundred. Then pay your developer to finish it to your specifications for just $900, saving a bunch of money.
Another way to save time and money is to get an app mockup app. This will allow you to design your screens and app flow. Dapp is a leader (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dapp-app-creator-make-learn/id370888555?mt=8). Another useful tool in this category is iMockup https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imockups-for-ipad/id364885913?mt=8