131: Building an App Empire: From $0 to $70k a Month

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Note: Click here to download Carter’s top tips for earning money with apps today.

Is there still an opportunity in smartphone apps?

Carter Thomas thinks so, and shares some interesting and insightful ways to take advantage of the 3 giant app marketplaces (Apple, Google, and Amazon).

Carter and his company are app-production machines, pumping out a crazy 1500 new apps in 2 years (mostly 2013 and 2014). Nowadays, the strategy has shifted somewhat to creating fewer apps and putting more resources and marketing behind them.

Since I really know nothing about the app business — and it’s been a loooong time since we’ve done any app-related episodes on The Side Hustle Show, this was a pretty interesting conversation for me.

I see (and Carter sheds light on) the parallels between the app world and the larger Internet and other complementary business models. Even though the marketplaces are crowded and it’s a battle for visibility, there are still some concrete tactics you can do to earn money with apps, even as a side hustle.

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  • How to come up with app ideas or validate one you already have.
  • Carter’s strategy of proactively reaching out to other developers to help improve their products.
  • The 2 general app categories and the 1 question you should ask before you begin.
  • An innovative and cost-effective way to get your app 80% built before hiring a developer.
  • Carter’s take on the various app-building services and software.
  • What he sees as the biggest opportunity in apps today.
  • Typical app monetization models, plus one that most developers overlook.
  • His suggestions on how to get your first 1000 downloads.
  • Carter’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


Building an App Empire: From Zero to $70k a Month <– click to tweet!


Free PDF Download:

Click here to download Carter’s top tips for earning money with apps today.

building an app empire carter thomas

7 thoughts on “131: Building an App Empire: From $0 to $70k a Month”

  1. Great tips Nick . . . I recently published my first app and it has gone very well but it isn’t without headaches as I am not a programmer and GOOD programmers are hard to come by. In the end it worked out but it is a lot of work and I have found the small headaches with customer support (due to the nature of our app) may not outweigh the boost in income it has generated.

    We are giving our app a few months to see what it can do on its own prior to investing more time/resources into it. It was released on July 29th and has about 500+ reviews between itunes and google by offering a free cheat sheet to my list in exchange for a verified review. This help tremendously in driving initial sales.

    I put a tiny bit into a few Facebook ads which (in this case) didn’t really help at all. Beyond that we haven’t done any marketing but are still able to get ~300 downloads/day.

    I will update more in December. I think we will hold out till then to do any updates. I will use this podcast as a resource however for any changes or new apps.

    Great lessons here.

      • Sure! most of our development cost was from other costs not associated with development (due to nature of app). I actually did all graphics and was able to work an profit share deal with the developer as I know him.

        We sell an in app purchase for $9.99 with various sales that we have run to ignite initial sales.

  2. Hi Nick,
    What if we have a great idea for an app that we know would be valuable, but we don’t have the time, money, or know-how to hire a developer and guide them through the app making process? Can we somehow sell just our app ideas?

    • My kneejerk response was probably not, but then I thought of Nate’s story from a few months ago, about product licensing, and wondered if there was a similar market for app ideas. Not sure where to begin on that front though. Reaching out to current app developers?

  3. Part of me feels like, “Yeah, let me go for this! This is waaay better than the rat race I am currently going through!”

    But then there’s another part of me, deep down, that feels like “I need to have a stable skill-set so that if I fail at this, I can pick myself back up and gather up all the pieces and try again later.” I feel like if I were to lose my job, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a better footing for another project later on. I’m making okay-money now, but if I spend it all on a project like this, I would probably find myself back in the U.S. and on welfare again and it would take me even longer to get into another project that I care about.


  4. You can track LTV of paid customers through Facebook acquisition marketing campaigns or through other ad networks.

    The companies that do this are:


    to name a few of them. Their business models are such that you pay generally a fee for how many events you are tracking per install. So if you want to track if people complete a level, reach a certain piece of content or video for example – you can configure that how you want and you can measure your paid customers (also your organic lift and their behaviors). It helps you figure what networks deliver the best customers for you.

    Is it something for a single side hustler to triage and manage? Tough to say, but the tools do exist out there if someone was interested in doing that.

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