A while ago I decided to try and turn a profit by creating an app and serving ads. Here is how that worked out.
The initial plan was to make a web application and serve ads on the page. The goal was to make at least $1 of profit as a way to both validate the feasibility of this kind of income generation and gain some foothold into the world of independent money making.
It is safe to say that the project was a failure. Despite this, I am very pleased with the progress that I made and what I learned. Furthermore, this was the first thing I’ve ever put online that other humans (that weren’t secretly me) used!
Here’s what happened.
After creating the application my next objective was getting people to use it. As described in the preceding post, I decided I could do so by starting a blog. After sharing the link to the application on many relevant sites, and sharing blog posts, it has become evident that the blog is a far more effective way of getting traffic to every other part of the website.
Not many users ended up on the application page through the direct link but many did end up there after reading a post and looking around the website afterwards. Direct links yielded only 14 one-time visitors over the 3 weeks that I was trying to obtain users. The blog posts, on the other hand, yielded 96 visitors with 24 of them returning at least once to the application.
What I learned through this and other data is that getting your product in front of people that actually want to use it is very much luck. Aside from communities that are built specifically around the problem that you’ve solved, you’re left only with the option to contact people that you think might need your app directly (very low rate of return) or get as much foot traffic through your site as you can and catch the attention of those that actually want or need what you’ve made.
When I first started out with the blog I really wasn’t sure what to put on it. I’m still not too sure. Out of boredom, and partly due to the desire to put some content on the blog, I decided to create an Android toolbar color guide. The decision was due to finding the correct properties for Android toolbars being a common sore point for me so I figured at least one person would find it handy. Unexpectedly, this simple guide has ended up being the most popular page on the site.
I suppose finding the correct properties for Android toolbars is a common sore point – who knew? What I learned from this incident is that solving common and very minor problems has the potential for massive gains. This has had a strong impact on my way of thinking and influenced the direction I think I will be moving in from now on.
Aside from what is detailed above, this was a relatively uneventful quest. I did not manage to get nearly enough traffic for my app to have any chance of producing any revenue. Furthermore, what traffic I did get waned very rapidly leaving the app without any daily users.
I think my mistake, outside of being a common person who fails at these things as frequently as anyone else, was making something that didn’t necessarily fit into anyone’s workflow, despite having some utility. Going forward, I will apply some “design thinking” advice and find some early adopters to give me feedback on an ongoing basis.
Calling it a Day
I am at a point where I am satisfied with the work that I did and can accept the outcome of the project happily. I learned quite a lot of beginners lessons and had a handful of very encouraging triumphs along the way. I have gotten as much as I can get from this experience and I believe it is time to call it a day.
The app will stay up since I am proud of what little I did and I will move on to the next app idea. I haven’t made my mind up about what exactly that will be but I am determined to fulfill the goal of turning a profit via an independent side project.
I will be making something new and hopefully leveling the skills that I learned in this round to do a bit better next time.
Free stock photo courtesy of: Pexels