mzl.wouultvj.320x480-75Here’s a happy tale of how Pierre, an independent French developer made nearly $700k in two years from his portfolio of education iPad apps. What was the secret to his success? From reading his story, we’ve identified the 10 key things that made the difference.

Most of the money has come from two apps – Montessori Crosswords and Word Wizard. It helped that he started early – almost as soon as the iPad was launched, and therefore before the App Store was swamped. So, initially, visibility was less of a problem than it would be for someone starting out now. His very first app, launched in 2010, is still the most profitable.

10 lessons

1. iPad is where it’s at in the Education category. You can make money on iPhone, but all roads lead to iPad.

2. Don’t bother with Android – at least to start with. It’s still much harder to make money on Android than on iOS.

3.  Keep your app portfolio focussed – publish a small number of high quality apps, and spend time keeping them up to date and adding enhancements and new features in response to customer feedback and review.

4. Volume purchases by schools (in the US) are now become a significant source of sales, and growing fast. Therefore, try to make your apps appeal to schools and teachers, as well as to students and parents.

5. The best form of marketing is to be featured by Apple – this can make or break your app.

6. Apple has changed its search algorithms to favour free apps – this is yet another reason why freemium is now the only way to go for an app business.

7. Spend a lot of time (and some money, if necessary) on key marketing elements – icon, screenshots, keywords, app description. Don’t just throw something together quickly and spend all of your energy on the app itself.

8. Get your apps reviewed on the right blogs, and pay for expedited reviews if necessary. For educational apps for kids, look at smartappsforkids.combestappsforkids.comappymall.comfuneducationalapps, comtheimum.comtheiphonemom.com

9. Regular promos – every now and then, cut the price of your apps and let the blogs know. Don’t do this too often, or you’ll look desperate. Try to tie it in with some kind of (at least marginally) newsworthy event – winning an award, reaching 10,000 sales etc.

10. Cross-promotion – if you have a portfolio of apps, make sure each one has a page advertising (and linking to) the others. If one of them takes off, it will act as the best form of marketing possible for the others you have available.

Of course, the unsaid one here is to make sure your app is actually good enough to stand out in a ridiculously crowded market. Having an amazing app is not enough in itself. But if your app isn’t really good (at the very least), then none of the above is going to help it achieve long term success.

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