Live life outside the rat race.
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I was honored to interview New York Times Bestselling author, Tim Ferriss. As many of you know, Tim’s first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, changed my life when I read it recovering in the hospital. And more recently the strategies and tips I’ve applied from The 4-Hour Body have helped in my body’s recovery to this day. His advice and expertise is unparallelled for us entrepreneurs.
But even so, my fav Tim Ferriss book has to be: The 4-Hour Chef!
Don’t be fooled by the title, this book isn’t just about cooking, it’s about how to master any skill. What I love most about this book is how closely these techniques apply to our app businesses.
The app world is one of the most rapidly changing industries of our time, and “rapid skill acquisition” (as Tim calls it) is one of the most important tools you can learn so you can adapt quickly and acquire expert knowledge you’ve only imagined.
Watch this interview to see how Tim is able to master anything:
Whoa. What a title, right?
You think, “It’s not possible to get anything I want in life. For example, I want to retire when I’m 35, but I’m already 34 so I know that’s not going to happen.”
True (unless you win the lottery tomorrow…woo-hoo!), but the problem is that you’re mistaken in what you want.
“Chad, don’t tell me what I want. You don’t know me!”
Oh, but I do, young grasshopper. (Ok, I’ll stop talking to the invisible you in my head now…)
You see, that’s not what you really want.
Retiring by 35 is not what you’re actually after. What you want is the feeling that you’ve attached to the idea of retiring when you’re 35. You’ve made a story in your head about it.
You’ve seen yourself sitting on a beach in Bora Bora with a coconut in hand, or at your Rocky Mountain cabin after an amazing ski session, or your kid’s college savings completely funded. You can see it, you can feel it, and these feelings are what you actually want. And you can get anything you want.
Most think a lifestyle business is raking in a ton of money while working only “4 hours” a week.
The truth is it is a way of being and a way of feeling more than anything. A life full of choices and opportunities where you’re truly living on your own terms. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and a true lifestyle business usually is not.
For many, a lifestyle business simply means being able to work for themselves and make enough to enjoy life. Whether that looks like $40K a year or $400K, it’s about taking your life back. It’s the emphasis on putting the “lifestyle” into your business.
You do things you want to do because you want to do them. Working hard and doing what you want are not mutually exclusive.
You travel where you want to go, because you want to go there. Or stay in place because all you want is more time around friends and family.
You decide what your day looks like because you’re the boss and you make the decisions. You are no longer tied to the stress of your employer or the office politics of your coworkers. Your business depends on you. When something isn’t going right, there’s no one to answer to but yourself.
You are not a “9 to 5.” Maybe you’re a 12am – 5am, maybe you’re a 8am – 12pm. Maybe you will still work 9 to 5 because YOU want to. Your life and your business is not restricted to social constructs. You’re able to build your business around what’s best for you, and when you play to your strengths rather than fighting your nature, you’ll be happier and more productive. You are constantly growing, experiencing, learning, and living.
Think about it like this (and if you’re an over-achiever draw this out)…
The greatest gift technology has given modern day entrepreneurs is the ability to see the once guarded information of what other successful people are doing. We have all heard that success leaves clues, so when you are reading our guest blogs, make sure you see what specific nuggets of wisdom you can take and implement into your own business. It’s not just about emulating the Cubans or the Bransons, it’s just as important to see how “regular” people with a passion created their dream life.
Today, we’re excited to have one of our members share their success story with you.
Shaun Gianetti was actually one of our original AE members back in 2012, and has been a consistent power player and contributor in our Alumni group. Shaun has a ton of experience producing a wide range of apps, which gives him a unique insight on this business. Originally his app business started as a passion project with his son, but now has grown into an established machine of 45 published apps with 10 in progress. Shaun is now the largest publisher of apps in his country and has been a regular guest speaker in Trinidad.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with our community, Shaun! Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
A: Although my first app did not make me much money (to speak of), it is what launched me into the business. And for that I am grateful. My son was having learning difficulties and a teacher suggested “Fry’s Sight Words”… so I downloaded several apps that fit that description. But I was not happy with the UI/Functions and general abilities. I thought, “I bet I could design a better app.” Fresh out of a webinar on publishing apps with no code writing experience, I searched for more and more info about getting into this business. I came across the App Empire course, I was also attending Trey Smith webinars too. Luckily for me Trey was a friend of Chad Mureta and was offering Chad’s course and a bonus to his “Mobile Game System” and “Project Zero.” So that is where it started.
The App Empire Alumni FB was a buzz of activity and ultimately one of the greatest resources for information and encouragement from my peers. I was among the first to reskin a game app. Avalanche Mountain. I was also fortunate to find an excellent Art Studio and quickly became friends with the Lead Art Director. He in turn put me on to a Ukrainian programmer who built my first “from scratch” game that was amazingly successful and yielded 700% ROI.
Q: Amazing – we’re glad to have you in the Alumni too! You’ve always been super helpful to other members. And it’s a testament to why you’re successful that you kept going even though your passion project didn’t return the results you hoped. Many people stop there! Why do you feel your “from scratch” game saw 700% ROI? What do you attribute that to?
A: Haha, At least I can say that the passion project is what got me into the business. The tricks back then to get noticed (and high ROI) no longer work. One of the Ninja tricks for that app was to release it as Paid at $4.99 for almost a week. It was nerve wrecking as that first week had dreadfully low downloads. Then I switched to free at midnight on Friday. The app got noticed by websites that track price changes. It took off like a rocket. Averaging 20,000 to 25,000 downloads per day for the first week of being free, then the next week 10k-12k per day and so on. Of course the ad network was switched on. Back then RevMob had an eCPM of about $20. So earnings were excellent. Within 2-3 weeks my app had paid for itself and it was all gravy from there. I repeated that Free/Paid trick with many games, over time it became less and less effective. Funny story: I knew it hit a nerve when I got flagged by Apple with a request to change my App name. It was “World of War Tanks”. There was a PC online game called “World of Tanks” that complained that mine was creating confusion with their game (even though they did not have an iOS game). 2 years later they created an iOS game. I changed my name after arguing with them for a month. It was during December. I changed it to Global War Tanks in January.
Q: You know you’re doing something right when you’re creating some waves! What were some of your biggest obstacles? How did you get through them?
A: I can’t say that I’ve had huge obstacles. My education app that was my first development missed its launch window and bombed. But all of my games have covered these costs. The biggest hurdle for any app publisher now is “discovery”. Compared to a year and a half ago, launches have had really poor results by comparison. ASO is more and more important to each app.
Q: Would you say your game “bombed” because your launch window was missed or did you feel other factors were involved? And how do you assess apps now that you think will fail or be successful? What do you look for before building it out?
A: When I first researched this app and keywords, the peak search period on Google around the World was September/October. Why? Because parents would have had their first meeting with their child’s teacher and the recommendation would have been get “Sight words” for your kid… and parents would go Google it. My launch was mid to late November… ack!!! Close to the end of the School Term. I missed the boat. It was either that or wait a year… I dove in and eventually recovered 20% . The key to assessing apps is ensuring that you have done your best at producing a quality app. Don’t cut corners for expediency. Do your best to research ASO and trends.
Q: Did you ever having a turning point or hallelujah moment that really cemented things for you?
A: For me the realization that games should be my focus came early. Most of my apps have done reasonably well. A couple duds here and there, but despite this, my profitability is at about 80% above cost. Many who entered a year after me are still underwater.
Q: What do you see as common mistakes people are making that keep them underwater?
A: I think I was lucky to get in when I did, when discovery was much easier. The most common mistake people make is to think that stock art will cut it. Another is hiring a lousy graphic designer or buying code just because it is cheap, but may have poor user experience or potential for retention. But there are also other problems that don’t help the situation, sometimes the App Store is just broken and your app is never discovered. I recently released a beautiful puzzle game and discovery has been non-existent. It peaked at 90 DLs and reduced to 0-5 per day. It’s 2 weeks old with some good reviews. Too much crap to compete with out there? Maybe.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about this business? What drives you to keep going?
A: I love the creative aspects of this business. Years ago I was an advertising Creative Director. So this keeps my creative juices flowing. It’s fun. And all my 10 y.o. son’s school friends think he has the coolest Dad, cause I make games
Q: Haha that’s awesome. Love to hear that! What is one of the most memorable pieces of advice you ever received?
A: Simplicity of App names… I showed Trey Smith a game of mine about 1 1/2 years ago. I thought I had a super cool game name. He suggested “Just call it: Helicopter War Game”. It was a hit and my most successful Project Zero Game.
Q: Right, it’s amazing how often people tend to complicate things. I’ve definitely been guilty of it.
Q: The inconsistency of Apple reviewers – just crazy. What are other things you or you feel people need to simplify in this business?
A: App names should be 2-3 words at best. Long names just look like a scam. Unprofessional. Developers need to concentrate on quality, not necessarily quantity. (Less stress too)
Q: It’s one thing to get started (a huge struggle in itself!), but it’s another thing to get over those first hurdles and become what we call a “success story.” How do you feel others can get over these hurdles to really accelerate their growth and find their own success?
A: People have to know up front that this is not a get rich quick scheme. Your first app is not going to make you a Bazillion Dollars. You need to keep publishing and build experience. Being reasonably well capitalized is also pretty important. Because some apps are going to be duds and some will just get your money back. Always aim for quality. There is so much crap in the store, I don’t know how some get past review. Once you have gained experience, then you need to consider several business models. E.g. partnering with some other Indie Publishers and pool your resources to get into the AAA category.
Q: I’d say a common concern people tell me is, “I don’t know how to partner with other publishers when I’m not successful.” What would be your advice to them?
A: Sounds like a Catch-22 situation. Success attracts success. I would say that you need to network a lot, be visible on Facebook groups and participate in the forum discussions to build credibility. Eventually you will come across a few peers that are at the same level of production as yourself. Try and start a small project together. Small: 5 people – $1,000 each. Now you have a $5,000 app (potentially). You have group participation of ideas, pool the apps earnings into a small business model. Rinse, repeat.
Q: Great advice! What do you see as the main reasons people do and do not succeed in this business?
A: Under-capitalization. Without enough money you won’t be able to stay in the biz too long. No business plan. If you don’t know where you are going… any road will take you there.
Q: When you look at the future of this business, what do you see? Are you planning to make some big changes? Are you sticking with your current model? What are your plans?
A: The quick money for most small apps is gone. Discovery is harder and harder. Reskins had a lot to play in this part, not too different to what happened in the introduction of the internet. Every rope has an end, but we still have some good years ahead if you move smart. So you either have to grow or get out. I’ve mapped out several business models. Scaling up in size is key for me in the next year. 1. To increase the number of published apps x 20. 2. To build a select number of medium apps that can be resold as turnkey solutions 3. To continue pursuing a partnership with some selected friends and build several super AAA games. 4. To consult with local companies for customized apps.
Q: a) And where are you focusing your efforts in order to start scaling faster and grow your app publishing by 20? b) Also, how effective have partnerships been to your business?
A: a) To scale faster, I need my wife to quit her job and project manage full time, followed by hiring some virtual assistants to remove the mundane activities from day to day. I already have an artist who can scale up with me at any pace I require. I have also expanded my base of developers. So my objective should be achievable. b) The partnership I have is a group of individually successful appreneurs, each with their own strengths that compliment our group. We are currently in production mode on several projects simultaneously.
Q: If an aspiring entrepreneur walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?
A: Reskin a few apps and publish them asap to gain experience in the “Process” of 1. Outsourcing & 2. Publishing. More importantly, DON’T make your first app your passion project.
Q: Beautiful, I love that. Gaining experience and being strategic instead of emotional is huge! Anything else you would like to add?
There is so much more developmental resources available now compared to 2 years ago. There is still good money to be made out there, if you have the right plan and money to work it.
– This is a guest post by Aaron George, fellow app developer and founder of LawKick –
You’ve probably heard all the buzz about privacy issues online these days. The rise of the Internet, and especially of mobile devices, has connected people like never before and allowed people to interact in new ways and broadcast their lives to millions of people around the world. That’s why privacy has become such a big concern lately.
1. What Information is Collected
Examples of PII:
UDID (unique device identifier)
Examples of non-PII:
Interactions with the App or Service (pages visited, links clicked, other actions)
2. How the Information is Used
If you don’t have any server side databases and you don’t have sign up forms or use Facebook Connect, and your users can just pick up the app and start using it, you may not be collecting any information at all. This is often the case for simple games, e.g. Flappy Bird.
3. Information Disclosure and Sharing Policies
The real concern about sharing and disclosure of information deals with PII. People generally are uncomfortable with any company that is reselling their personal information for a profit, or otherwise sharing it without their knowledge or permission.
Your apps would be sharing or disclosing information with third party services such as analytics services or outside service providers that you may work with. This is rarely PII, but it still needs to be disclosed.
Be particularly careful about this one because there are serious legal issues and penalties if you are collecting PII from children under the age of 13, even if it happens unknowingly. Non-PII is ok to collect.
You may notice that internet services like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn, etc. don’t even let you sign up unless you’re 13 or older, and this is why. The law is very concerned about predators preying on children via any interactive websites or apps.
Do not collect PII if you develop kids’ apps! The only way to legally do so is to comply with the COPPA requirements, which are extremely difficult to meet (that’s why even Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are unwilling allow users under 13).
If your app would be likely to attract children for any reason at all, and you collect PII from users, you need to take steps to prevent children from using the app. The best way to do so is to use Facebook or a similar authentication service, because they already require users to be 13 or older for you.
Trust me. You do not want to face a $50,000 penalty like these guys did.
Yes, these privacy issues are kind of a headache to deal with. But it’s really important to be aware of them, especially if your app company is growing and you’re gaining more and more users. When you grow, the natural tendency becomes to collect more data and use it to your advantage, and that’s where privacy concerns might arise.
If you have questions or concerns about potential privacy issues within your app, it’s best to consult with a lawyer that works in the internet privacy field as soon as possible. You do not want to pay the price down the road for a privacy violation that could’ve been dealt with early on.
Aaron George is an entrepreneur with a background in app development and law. He’s also an active blogger and the co-founder of LawKick. LawKick is a platform enabling people to connect with lawyers online and get price quotes for free. Make sure to check out Aaron’s previous post, Top 5 Legal Issues Facing App Developers. Connect with Aaron here: http://about.me/aarongeorge
We recently talked about how distracting technology can be to your productivity and goals. In an age, when everyone can be immediately reached at the tap of a button, distractions are at an all-time high and our attention span is at an all-time low.
But there’s always two sides to every story, and we should give technology its chance to defend itself, right?
Technology is the double-edged sword prevalent in everyone’s life. It’s had an effect on every aspect of our culture: relationships, career, opportunity, well-being. It’s touched almost every part of the world in both the negative (I’m looking at you, selfie sticks…) and positive (access and opportunity to some of the poorest nations).
Welcome to 21st century problems! How do we find a balance between being connected and being a walking computer?
It’s all about slowly integrating solutions, even if it’s as simple as committing to one hour each day completely unplugged and only reachable by face-to-face contact…or carrier pidgeon.
Part of mastering that balance is learning how to leverage technology properly, not just how to avoid it. It’s taking technology and showing it who’s boss!
“I own you, you don’t own me, fool!” You tell ‘em….
- How to Master Anything (Interview w/ Tim Ferriss)
- How to Get Anything You Want in Life
- Top 5 Ways to Build Your Lifestyle Business (that aren’t too good to be true)
- Appreneur Success: From Failed Passion Project to Building 700% ROI Apps
- Guest: 10 Great Apple Watch Apps You Can be Really Enthusiastic About