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How to Make Money Selling Apps (with help from your CartoonSmart Subscription)

Idea #2 - Sell Classic Apps (those ones that never go out of style)

In our previous article on how to cash in on your Yearly CartoonSmart subscription we talked about Sticker Apps. They take relatively little work, but we know many of you just don’t have your hearts set on pumping out stickers. Well believe me, there’s still PLENTY of opportunity for iOS and tvOS developers in the store.

First off, let’s look at how a free app performs over time. I think this is important because a lot of developers get frustrated when their app isn’t a SMASH success over night. In the screenshot to the right, you’re looking at the Sales & Trends data last week for an app called Horde (made with our Platform Games Starter Kit). Click the image below if you want to see the app in the Store.

This is a relatively simple game, setup identical to the original Mario Bros. So it’s fun as hell, especially with an external game controller on tvOS, but we do relatively nothing to promote it. Yes there’s a link on a couple pages on our site, but we don’t have the kind of traffic that accounts for the thousands of downloads each week in the store (if only). But that’s what is important to look at here. Check out what the same app was doing this time a year ago: 197 downloads. Over 999% growth, for doing nothing but sitting tight. 

So yes, this app is long overdue for an In-App Purchase update!  Which is something the Platform Games Kit supports.  The image to the right shows an example of how you could up-sell level access in a menu.

What can I expect to make off my app?

You’ve seen what a free app can do, let’s take a look at our Pinball Games app (made with the similarly named Starter Kit). Close to $6,000 in sales! We released that app about 2 years ago, and it was even free for a while.

 A couple things going for us with our pinball app…

  • It was released for both iOS and tvOS

  • It supports external game controllers, like the Nimbus which Apple sells in their store

Since that app was published using our Pinball Games Starter Kit, obviously any apps you create with the kit will support iOS / tvOS and external controllers.

How else could I make money off an app like this? 

As with all apps, selling in-app purchases is just one revenue option. Here’s a few more ideas…

1. Straight-up sales. If you think your game is worth buying from the get-go, don’t be afraid to try that. Also if you happen to get the attention of one of the App Store Editors and get featured (yes it can happen), you might want to bank on that influx of visibility to your app.

2. Use an ad service like AdMob to make money off your free downloads. All of our Starter Kits give you full source code access. Integrating ads into your app is typically just a matter of pasting in a few lines of code (and any good ad network will include detailed instructions on how to do that).

3. Developing content for someone else, for example, a vanity app for a local business.  This option might not net any recurring income, but it could result in the biggest one-time pay day. And you don’t need to land a client like Coke or Wal-Mart to find a deal that makes this worth doing. There are countless local businesses that would be interested in having their own vanity apps for a $1000 or more. Keep in mind, many small business are run by people in their 40’s that grew up playing classic games in the 1980’s. So the owner of your local pizza place might love the idea of an app they could promote on their menus that customers can  play while waiting for their food to arrive (especially since most parents bring an iPad to dinner these days). The app sticks around as a reminder to come back to the restaurant.

Wait, that last idea didn’t get me any recurring income… 

If you did decide to pursue game development as a freelancer, you could offer to provide maintenance updates to the app for a regular fee, thus turning it into a recurring stream.

For example, selling a client on a vanity game should be simple. It’s unique, and it’s not something they are pitched every day (like SEO, or print ads). But you’ll never get a client to sign up as a registered Apple developer to giveaway their own app.  Nor should you, because it’s an unnecessary step that lessens the service you are providing them. You want this to be a no-brainer.

By managing their app under your Developer Account (which costs you nothing) you are providing a service, almost like domain hosting. So for example, you could offer to create the app for $1000, then get the client to commit to a recurring price of $15/per month to keep the app in the store. This monthly service could also ensure that the app keeps working with new iOS versions, which happen regularly enough to add some perceived value. Plus you could even offer to make some textual changes to the app, like adding Discount Codes or Promotional text to the Home screen. Things like that can be done within minutes, but again, this is a perceived value to your service, which the client doesn’t need to know is a piece of cake.

Any other advice? 

No matter how you decide to make money off this kit or any of the others, time is on your side after you’ve uploaded your app. Your game is an evergreen product that sits on the shelf of a store with millions of customers where the lights are never shut off. It is for sale 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in nearly every country on the planet.

When iOS 3 came out I made my first game (Zombie Air Strike) just to see if I could. I noticed some “ok” sales at first, until I just stopped checking. It happens, believe me. You move onto other projects and you just forget to look. After a couple years of it sitting in the store, I looked at my Sales & Trends chart over the past 24 months, and discovered it had made over $6,000 during that time. Around $250 per month off one simple app, that I had basically forgotten about.

Where time isn’t on your side is during development. If you code everything from scratch, or try to make all your own art assets, you will spend a lot of your time doing things that your CartoonSmart subscription can do for you. We have thousands in quality, animated game art assets you can use. And all the Starter Kits are designed so you never have to write code, but still give you all the same flexibility as if you made the app from the ground up.  Each of our kits took us months to develop (and we’re pretty darn good at coding). So do you want to spend half a year making a platformer, or half a week?

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