Episode 049: Show Notes
We are super excited to bring you our friend, Christy Laurence, who is the founder of Plann, a visual planner and scheduler app for Instagram. Plann is designed to help you create a follow worthy feed in advance as a great strategy for Instagram growth. A bunch of you probably already use this app and know and love it, so we are really excited today for her to share some of the ins and outs of her business.
Inside this episode, we are talking about what it is like to build an app, what did it cost, what are the startup expectations of working with a developer, and what kind of person it takes to actually do it. Christy also shares what you need to know before hiring someone, and where you should be putting your app — iOS, android, or both? We dive into how to get traction, how to create a marketing strategy, and the whole nine yards. Plus, we even get a little behind-the-scenes story of why Christy started Plann in the first place. You’re going to learn a lot inside this episode, so get excited to dive right in.
The Importance of Solving a Problem
So many people have tons of ideas for apps floating around in their head, but they just can’t seemed to know whether to do it, or not. It’s going to cost a lot to make and then run, so you need to know from the very beginning what the problem is that you are solving, who you are going to solve it for, and will they be willing to pay to have that problem solved? This process will help you narrow down whether or not there is a need in the market and if people are actually willing to pay for it. Some people overlook this part of the ideation process, but for Christy, that is the most important step. It is your job to adjust your idea, think it through completely, and see exactly you will use the end product to help others solve a very specific problem. This way, if you are crystal clear about what it is your app can do for them, they will know exactly why they are choosing to buy it in the first place.
The Costs of Designing an App
Once you’ve narrowed down your app idea and the specific problem you are going to solve, the next decision is deciding whether to go all in or only build a simple version. This is where your design of the most viable product (MVP) comes in. Getting your MVP off the ground can take from $10,000 upwards to $60,000. Then once you’ve built it, you may need additional funds from angel investors to come on board. Next you decide to build for either Android, Apple, or both. Building for both can increase the costs, so be sure to understand what your audience prefers. Other costs include a project manager, website designer, and one of the biggest costs is time. It always takes longer than initially planned, and the longer it takes the longer you have to keep paying your team to finish the work.
Navigating the Rookie Mistakes of Tech Development
For Christy, her biggest takeaway from building an app is understanding the value and importance of having a knowledgeable mentor by your side to help you avoid making those complete rookie mistakes. Another one of the biggest mistakes she could have avoided was knowing NOT to outsource the app development to a team overseas. The next thing to understand is that your team needs to be equipped with the time and resources to go over your app once it has launched to work out all of the bugs without rebuilding. So always find out if they have actually got the capacity for after build maintenance. Keeping in mind that if you move from one team to another, it is inevitable that you will have to start over because each code “author” is so unique.
Hiring a Team to Build Your App
As a non-technical founder, for Christy the biggest piece was assembling a trustworthy, highly skilled team that she knew would be able to pull this off. Creating an app can quickly become sensitive information, so you really need to be able to find people you trust. When you are looking for a technical team, it is basically like you are getting married. You are spending a lot of time and money with this person, you have got to be completely wide open to communication, and sometimes developers don’t see things the same way that you do so you have to be able to communicate really well, or even hire on a project manager. The best way to ensure a well-functioning, trustworthy team is to hire on a referral basis. Also, be sure to do your due diligence and check out the developers’ past work to assess the quality of what they can create.
Creating a Marketing Strategy for Your App
When it comes to marketing your app, the very first thing to learn about is App Store Optimization (ASO). The principles of ASO are similar to SEO on Google, just using keywords in the app world. Your imagery is also what sells your app, so be sure to constantly be testing it out to see what is the most effective. The next piece is really knowing your audience and who you have made the app for. These are the particular personas that you are talking to and understanding where they are and directly talking to them. Once you have identified them, you can appeal to their pain points and steer them to the app to solve their problems.
Steering Through the Competitive Tech Landscape
For Christy, one of the hardest things to overcome when launching her app is dealing with copycat app developers. After all the hard work that you put into your app, it can be quite heart-breaking to see these copy cats pop up on the app store. However, the main thing is to just stay in your lane, keep your eyes on your own work, and stay focused on the bigger picture. Don’t consume your time with looking at what other competitors are doing, don’t tempt yourself with trying to sneak a peak; just stay committed to your own vision and put in the extra hustle.
- Understand why it is critical to solve a need or a problem with your app or business. [0:03:10.9]
- Find out what it takes to get an app developed and the costs involved. [0:08:03.0]
- Learn how to navigate and avoid the rookie mistakes of new tech development. [0:11:08.2]
- Discover the critical steps involved in hiring a team to develop an app. [0:19:06.9]
- Find out how to create a successful marketing strategy to get your app out to your audience. [0:24:10.3]
- Understand how to deal with competition in the tech-world landscape. [0:35:59.1]
- Solve a problem.
- Learn how apps work and why you like certain apps.
- Design a mock-up of your app and learn about the UI/UX design for your app.
- Research the heck out of your development tea, and get a mentor.