10 Things I Learned From Launching My Own Self-Help App

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Are you an entrepreneur or creative who’s considered creating an app?

Studies show that over half of all millennial-owned businesses have an app and about 42% of small businesses do too. You might be considering an app for a number of reasons. You may be a fitness or yoga instructor who’s looking for a more interactive way to sell your tutorials. You may be a coach or consultant who wants to find a more lucrative way to do group coaching and consulting sessions. Or, you might just be someone who wants more control and ownership of your access to your audience.

As someone who has launched a self-help app, here are four important lessons I learned along the way.

1. Development can be expensive

If you go the traditional route of having your app custom built by a developer, it can cost multiple thousands. When looking to build your app, it’d behoove you to research whether you want a native (Apple or Android), hybrid (think of places that have a website but also an app that looks just like their website: Walmart) or a web app. Also consider whether you can get what you need from a white-label app developer versus a custom-build app developer.

Do your research: White-label apps are native apps that are built by a third-party but are offered under your own brand. They typically have app templates already created, which means you have the ability to enter your content and brand the app with your theme, pictures and brand colors. You have less control of app functionality with white-label apps than you do with those custom-made from scratch. Because of this, going the white-label route can be less expensive upfront. Research which routes best suit your needs. 

2. Research your demographic

When considering launching your app, think of the reasons you’re actually doing it. Are you trying to keep up with the Jones’s or is this app something your target demographic would actually engage with more than the other platforms you use? If you believe that some of your offers are best suited for an app, or if you believe the demographic you are trying to reach would respond more to an app, then your next feat is creating the content or features of the app that your demographic will best respond to based on your research.

3. Plan for how you are going to engage your app members

Based on the research done about your target demographic, what features would they most respond to? How can you make the experience interactive and different than just looking at a website?

4. Your graphics and meta description need to be attractive

When people go into the App or Google Play Store, the first thing they see is your logo and your app graphics. Based on how those look, they will click to learn more about your app. Your logo, app screenshots, and app description have to look polished if you want people to download your app. Most likely, when you just launch your app, you are going to be working hard to get ratings and reviews. Because you most likely won’t have any, you won’t have them to fall back on to help sell the credibility of your app. Having a new app in the App and Google Play store can feel like the Hunger Games, especially if you have no ratings or reviews. Making up for it in your graphics and app description can show people that you have a legit app that is as professional, user-friendly, and trustworthy as the more well-known apps.

5. You need to test for glitches in your app

Piggy- backing off of number 4 is number 5. One thing you don’t want to experience on launch day, especially if you’ve been promoting the release of your app for a while, is multiple crashes and app glitches. There are ways on both the App and Google Play store to test your app for any issues prior to release. Use them. For many people, this will be their first impression of your app and with no other reviews or rating to help vouch for you, everything needs to run as smoothly as possible. Many are quick to abandon ship and delete an app that seems like it’s not well-made.

6. Re-read the content in your app and make sure images are the correct size and are high resolution

Before you press ‘Publish’ or ‘Release’, please be sure that the content in your app reads the way you want it to. It’s one thing for your mom and supportive friends to inform you of a typo or overly-sized blurry image, and it’s another thing when a complete stranger does it- and not very nicely.  Unfortunately, some things you only find out by having the app go live and seeing it for yourself. But, before you tell the masses your app is live, download it and experience it for yourself. Make sure everything reads and looks the way you want it to.

7. A rock-solid marketing plan is essential

This marketing plan needs to include pre-and-post-launch tactics for your app. If you are on a low budget but still want to get knowledge of your app out to the masses, your email list and social media are great places to start to introduce your app to people. If you are in the self-help or personal-growth and -development sector, posting in those niche groups on your chosen social-media platform can be a great way to get the word out. 

Pitching your app and its benefits to writers, journalists and influencers can also be effective if done correctly. After all, who wouldn’t be more interested in downloading an app that was mentioned online, in press or by a favorite influencer? The key is approaching people whose “sector” you fit in. If you are going to pitch your app to the press or influencers as part of your marketing strategy, make sure you are pitching people that would be passionate about your app. For example, if you have a self-help app, then ideally you’d be pitching your app to influencers that have built a brand around self-help or personal development. The same thing goes with pitching media: You’d find the writers that write for the personal-growth and -development or self-help sections. 

Also, if you are looking to drive more engagement to your app offer, it helps to offer an incentive. In niche groups where you may be surrounded by other professionals in the same field, in order to get more eyes on your app, creating a “resource” section may be a good way to go. Informing these individuals that you have a “resource” section that lists the products and services of companies that complement your offer may be helpful. For example, if you are in the self-help or personal-development sector and offer life-coaching services, it wouldn’t hurt to add therapists, relationship experts or financial advisors to the “resources” section of your app. They do not take away from what you are offering; they complement your services well. Doing this can be an incentive for those individuals to raise awareness about your app.

Utilizing your free resources and offering incentives goes a long way when looking to increase the engagement around your app offer. But, if it’s in your budget, running paid ads can also be of benefit if you go about it correctly. 

8. You need a plan for keeping your app fresh and relevant 

What trends are happening in your niche and with your demographic? How often will you be adding new features or content? How will you keep buzz around your app’s existence?

9. Don’t delay the launch in pursuit of perfection

You can’t keep tweaking that app draft forever. Release it already! You don’t have to have the full app you envisioned uploaded in your first go. You can update the app as you go and add new features as your budget and creativity allow. As long as what you currently have is something that you are proud of, release it (publish it to the App or Google Play store) and let people know what they can expect with the next update. Think of it this way: Apple has been holding out on certain features that we have been asking for for years, but when they finally release it, we are still excited. They focused on making the things they were willing to offer us at the time top quality and then added features as they saw fit. Allowing yourself room for growth keeps your audience excited for what could come next.

10. Stick with it when things get tough

Don’t get discouraged if it seems like no one is interested in your app. Think of a new entertainer, food or show you just discovered. Did those things “suck” because you hadn’t heard of them until now? No. So think of your app the same way. It doesn’t always mean you “suck” if your app isn’t yet hitting hundreds of downloads and accumulating rave reviews. Do you review every single new thing you use? Do you sometimes buy something and then forget you have it? The same goes for our apps. That’s why we do our best to appeal to the audience the app is meant for and market to and infiltrate as many places our audience frequents as possible.

Related: 5 Ways to Master the Persistence That Makes a Great Entrepreneur

From one app creator to another, you’ve got this! Don’t wait — get started today. 

Need support in utilizing the strategies taught here? Book an “Accountability” session!


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Desiree’ Stapleton 

– 2x ‘30 Under 30’ Honoree and Forbes ‘Next 1000’ Nominated Master Level Coach | Author | CEO 

– SEEN IN: 40th Annual Forbes 400 Edition of Forbes Magazine

– I Help Women Mitigate the Challenges in Their Lives so That They Can Produce + Hit More of Their Goals. 


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