This app story has a very happy ending.
But I’m going to be very candid about the sordid past of my jokes app, Best Stupid Jokes and Puns Free. For a while there, I thought it was going to be a total dud. The thought of putting up this iOS source for sale would have been laughable.
The Christmas season is supposed to be the best month of the year for app revenue, and in December 2012, Fast Laugh Jokes—which was the app’s title at the time—made $7.00. And that was an improvement over past months. Ouch. I guess the joke was on me.
When you’ve spent good money creating a high-quality code from scratch, it’s hard to stomach such a weak performance! $7.00 is barely enough to buy lunch these days!
But if I’ve learned nothing else about apps, I’ve learned this: regular updates can revive even “crapps.” (Did you see what I did there?)
Let me explain. Simple apps often have the most staying power. In fact, people love simple apps. They love simple games that they can play with one hand. They like utility apps that do one thing really well. They like simple because simple is easy to understand.
Now Fast Laugh Jokes was simple, but it needed some love, love in the form of better “packaging”—that is, better marketing. The design was solid, and the app itself worked great.
What changes did I need to make?
1) Better Keywords – I did keyword research with SensorTower.com, and used my findings to develop a better title: Best Stupid Jokes and Puns Free. Because I moved five strong keywords into the title, I freed up more real estate in the meta keywords section.
2) Better Description – I also made a few edits to the app’s description. The jokes aren’t raunchy. They are stupid and PG-rated and wouldn’t offend anyone, not even your grandmother. I needed to set clear expectations about the content so that the right users downloaded the app and left positive reviews.
3) Better Monetization – The original ad networks that I chose performed poorly. Chartboost discontinued support of non-game apps. Strike one. Mobclix never paid me. Strike two. (Sidenote: Mobclix’s parent company, Velti, is now filing for bankruptcy.) I put in Playhaven for interstitials and the More Games widget, and Revmob for interstitials and banners.
These changes transformed Best Stupid Jokes and Puns Free into a sneaky “billboard” app—sneaky because the design leaves a lot of room for ads and the stupid jokes keep people entertained enough until one of the ads catches their attention.
The functionality is really broad so it can work in a variety of categories: reference, entertainment, utility, business, education, food & drink, health & fitness, lifestyle, medical, music, news, productivity, sports, and travel.
Check out this reskin: Best Funny Insults and Comebacks Free.
Who makes a lot of money with reskin apps right now?
Most of the people who are playing the reskinning angle in the app business focus on games. The Games category and sub-categories are by far the most competitive. That means that savvy developers can make a ton of money with games, but that also means that other niches offer easy opportunities to rank well, drive downloads, and make more money.
The people who are really crushing it right now have a diverse portfolio of apps that spans different categories and niches.
Beef Cow vs. Milk Cow
A helpful way of thinking about different business models for reskinning apps is the noting the difference between a beef cow and a milk cow. Beef cows make you a lot of money all at once. Milk cows make a little bit of money at a time for a long time. Assemble a herd of milk cows, and set up a dairy (that is, a proven business model), and you can regulate cashflow. I’ve discovered that my jokes-facts app is a milk cow.
Money, Money, Moh-nay!
So $100 is a good example of what you can make on the low end with one of these apps. Here are the numbers from August 2013:
Downloads (August 2013) – 2833
IAP revenue: $58
Playhaven revenue – $37
Revmob revenue – $11
$106 doesn’t seem like much revenue until you adopt that milk cow mentality. How many simple apps making $100 a month do you need to make a lot of money? You can do the math!RevmobBanners_eCPM
Check out these stats:
$2.02 eCPM on Playhaven interstitials in August
$3.96 eCPM on Playhaven More Games widget
$2.79 eCPM on Revmob banner ads (Most apps average $.25-$1.00.)
Super Cheap, Super Easy Reskins
My jokes-facts app may be the easiest app in the world to reskin. The reskinning process is straightforward, and you’ve got an endless number of ideas to choose from.
Here is the plan that I followed:
Pick a niche or subject. Better yet, pick multiple related subjects in the same niche. For example, let’s say you wanted to create a “facts” app to help people ace an interview.
Hire a virtual assistant on oDesk to go scrape together all of your content. Ask your VA to find 50-100 short facts for the following subjects: 1) questions to ask during an interview; 2) advice for dressing for interviews; 3) tips for improving your resume; and 4) ideas for standing out from other candidates. Shoot for 50-100 facts or tips for each subject, and ask him/her to create a separate .txt file for each group.
Ask your programmer to put the .txt files into the “Insults” folder in the source code.
Swap out a few graphics and app IDs, and Voila! Your app is finished. Also worth noting is that the guys at Pixtant, who licensed the source code, decided to create a Udemy course with a series of video tutorials showing how to reskin the app. If you’re just getting started with reskinning or plan to reskin the code yourself, then you should consider buying it: Reskin an iOS App from Start to Finish.
The beauty of this source code is its simplicity. It’s not trying to be super sophisticated. It does one thing really well: it displays content.
And thanks to this marvelous invention called the Internet, which you might have heard of, it’s easy to find tons of free content and hire someone else to get it for you. You can get all of the content you need for an app for about $50!
Why does this source code have so much potential?
Here are some other things about the app worth mentioning:
The download volume has improved over time!
Average 5.0 star rating
Great sneaky way to display tons of ads and get high eCPMs
Target niches that other developers are missing
It’s not hard to think of niches just waiting to be tapped: famous quotes, spiritual inspiration, sports facts, tips for staying healthy, pickup lines, haikus, dating advice, money-saving tricks, and business advice.
Tons of Cool Features
I recently made several more updates to the jokes-facts app. It’s primed and ready for tons of reskins:
Universal code with iPad support
4 in-app purchases, including Remove Ads
Cool accelerometer tie-in (shake the phone to see new joke)
Add to Favorites feature
Favorites screen with social sharing
Share to Facebook, Twitter, and email
Follow on Facebook feature
Follow on Twitter feature
Review on App Store pop-up
Playhaven More Apps widget on Home screen and Info screen
What does a license cost?
I’ve decided to keep things simple this time and offer only an Unlimited license for $149.
That license gets you as many reskins as you want. You will get the source code for commercial use, which means that you can re-submit it to the App Store. The images and design are included in the source code to help you with the sizes of the images, and here’s the best part: you can reuse everything in the code except for the app icon!
Developers who have already licensed one of my codes can tell you that I try to make the reskinning process as easy as possible. It cuts down on customer support, right?
The jokes-facts code comes with thorough, step-by-step documentation and a complete assets list.
UPDATE: The guys at Pixtant decided to create a Udemy course with a series of video tutorials showing how to reskin the app. If you’re just getting started with reskinning or plan to reskin the code yourself, then you should consider buying it: Reskin an iOS App from Start to Finish.