Step 1: Realize it is a business
What I mean by this, is that people tend to think that apps will market themselves and that just a good idea is all it takes to make money and have thousands of downloads. In reality, it is not at all like this.
Some mediocre apps have millions of downloads, and truly amazing apps never break a thousand app downloads, even over the span of several years.
If you are not interested in promoting, marketing and running your app like you would run a normal business, then apps are probably not for you.
Step 2: Solve a Problem
Most people want to develop an app because they wish to have their own business and make money from home. But unless you by luck happen to also solve a problem when thinking up your new idea, then you might not make it very far.
It is advisable to identify areas in which other apps are not performing at their optimal and then focus on creating that missing link.
3. Look Out What’s Not There
Before you go much further with your idea, it can be a very informative and eye-opening experience to look at the competition. What are they doing that you can improve on, what are their core strengths, and is there anything they do that you can’t?
This last question, in particular, can be important – since that’s an area where you need to think creatively. Of course, you might not need that feature, but chances are that feature which is unique to the competition is what makes them special.
Step 4: Figure out an MVP
This means you should try to figure out which features are absolutely required in order for your app to be good, and cut out all of the excess bloat features that don’t really add to the core experience.
By only spending time perfecting the unique and important features, you’ll spend less money and time on development, and get your app out there on the stores that much faster.
Step 5: Plan for marketing
At this step, you still should not be forking out a single penny towards programming, logo design or any other promotional materials.
Instead, you should be hard at work figuring out the names of all potentially interested journalists that might write about you and your new app, scrape together lists of Twitter influencers, websites that review apps, brainstorm ideas for a compelling press release and all other preliminary marketing related topics.
You will have to do this anyway once the app is done, so you might as well do it before you’ve designed or named your app since you will learn a lot of things when doing this type of research that will hopefully set up your app for greater success by implementing this newly learned information.
Step 6: Contact app developers
With your marketing plan in one hand and the wireframes and screens in the other, you are now ready to start contacting developers and inquire about their pricing and offers.
Shop around, don’t be shy and stay realistic. Many app agencies that have in-house programmers charge a significant hourly rate, while offshore freelancers are much cheaper. Striking a balance between quality, reliability and pricing can be a difficult task, but one that is within your reach, especially with all the preliminary work done already.
Listen to each of their issues, suggestions and problems they list, consider them with an open mind, revisit your strategy and your wireframes, and sleep on it for a day or two, before making any decisions.