So you have a great idea for a website, or a new app idea that’s going to be a million dollar invention. Now what? You’re not alone. Many people have great business ideas but then don’t know what to do next. Where do you start?
You start right here. This guide will walk you through everything that you need to get your new idea off the ground, and into the hands of the world. Get excited!
It’s actually not that hard to make an app idea become a real product – just follow these 5 easy steps:
- Step 1 – Research your idea
- Step 2 – Acquire a domain name
- Step 3 – Build your app/website
- Step 4 – Market your finished product
- Step 5 – Make money from your app/website
I’m excited you’re going to become an internet entrepreneur. You will run into obstacles along the way, but if you keep your perseverance it will be worth it in the end!
Step 1 – Research your idea
The first step is all about making sure your idea really is a good one. Many times you’ll come up with a great idea for an app, but then realize later it’s already been done, or there are no customers for it besides yourself. Nothing’s more frustrating than spending months on an idea, only to find out later it’s actually worthless. Use this list of questions to discover things you may need to think about:
- Has this idea been done before? Search for solutions that already exist. A product may already exist, you just couldn’t find it quickly in your first attempt. Search using alternative keywords that other people may be using to search.
- Who are your competitors? What makes you unique and different from them? If there are other competitors, that’s not bad – it means the idea is profitable! But if there are many and they’ve been established for a long time, it will be difficult to win against them (ie, don’t compete with Google).
- Who is your typical customer? What type of person are they? What is their age/gender/income? How many potential customers are there in this market, and how will you be able to reach them to let them know about your new app/website?
- How much investment is needed? How much money are you going to need to get started? Will you need to hire employees, and at what cost? Do you need to pay for any resources, such as a computer, inventory, or a warehouse? Where will this money come from?
If after answering these questions you still feel like you have a good idea, congrats! Proceed onward with the inventing!
Step 2 – Acquire a domain name
Everyone knows having a good domain name is crucial. The problem is that all the good ones are taken! But with some ingenuity you’ll be able to come up with one that’s short and catchy.
Keep in mind that right now you’re only buying the name of your website, not the actually website itself – that will come later. Names must be renewed every year, and usually run about $15.
I bet you already have a few domain name ideas in your head. Go on over to NameCheap and search for some domains you liked. If you’re lucky it’ll be available, but most likely you’ll have to be creative to find one. A couple tools I use to help me come up with unregistered domains are Instant domain search and Name boy.
If you can’t find anything you like, consider buying a domain that’s already been registered. Many internet ‘squatters’ snatched up domain in hopes to resell them later at a higher cost. It’s possible for a good, taken name to be purchased for under $1000. Contact the domain owner via a WHOIS lookup, or find domains for sale via a domain marketplace like AfterNic.
Step 3 – Build your app/website
You’ve got the idea and name ready, now to actually create your website/app. Unless you’re a super genius, you’ll probably need to hire 2 people to help you out with this: a designer and a programmer. A designer is an artistic person who create the look of your product: the logo, the layout, colors, etc. A programmer is the nerd that knows computer code and can make that design actually function the way it’s supposed to function. For example, consider Google. Designers made the home page look the way it looks, with the logo, links, and search button. But the programmers made the site able to search billions of webpages and produce a results page in lightning quick time.
Most of you probably have some designer and programmer friends, but please don’t use them. They’re sick of hearing business propositions in which they get “50% of the profit” because you split it with them just for having the idea. Instead, man up and hire a couple people. You don’t have to hire employees, instead there are sites where you can post a task, people will bid on it, and you will pay them the agreed-upon price when it’s complete. Depending on the scope of your project, you can probably get a decent design and programming job done for $200-500 each. I use Elance to find qualified professionals, judging based on their reviews and how much experience they have.
As the designers and programmers are working on it, make sure you help test it. There are many browsers, phones, and computer types, and just because it works on one doesn’t mean it will work on others. The last thing you want to do is pay someone for a product that only works on 10% of computers.
As they create the design and code, you’ll need a place to put it, also known as “hosting.” This allows your website/app to be access via the internet. Expect to pay $5-20/month for a shared host, meaning you don’t need the server to yourself as you can share it with other webmasters. As you get more popular, you’ll have to upgrade servers to accommodate more traffic. I recommend starting out with StableHost. I just switched to them from HostGator and have been SO happy with the experience. They’re great for both beginners and experts.
Step 4 – Market your finished product
Alright, your new website or app is done and ready to be used! Congrats! But even though you feel like you’re almost done, getting customers and the word out there is half the battle. Most people think if they build it, they will come – but that’s not the case. People need to know that your app exists, and telling them is hard!
There are 3 main ways you can get the word out there:
- Search Engine Optmization (SEO) – Search engines such as Google will drive traffic to your site if they think it’s relevant to what people are looking for. Add your website to the Google index, and don’t forget about Bing too. Once you’re in their system, they’ll regularly scan your website to see what’s on it. This is where SEO comes in – you must have lots of good information on your pages. Write blog posts and articles that use the keywords that people will be using in their search queries. Use Title and H1 tags, and add Meta Descriptions. Also reach out to other websites and see if they will link back to you – this is another measure that search engines use to rank you on (how many “backlinks” you have). This is only a quick overview of SEO, search for much more detailed info if you take this route.
- Advertising – You know what advertising is. You see it on TV, radio, and billboards every day. You can try that offline route, but you’ll find it’s more cost effective to target people that are already on the internet for your app/site. The most popular way to advertise on the web is via Google Adwords. With Adwords, you pay a cost per click, and your advertisement gets on the front page of the search queries you bid on. Go to Google right now and search for ‘cars.’ That block of links at the top with a different background color is all ads. Paying for advertising can get expensive ($0.20 – $3.00 per click), but if you can target exactly who’s looking for your product it can be super effective. I’d recommend trying SEO first, and if it doesn’t provide any results after a few months, try this.
- Word of mouth – Your app must be so great that people love to tell others about it. We all wish for our products to go “viral” because that’s the quickest and cheapest way for exposure. It’s also the hardest. Other than making a solid product the people rave about, make sure you set up facebook profiles, twitter accounts, pinterest pages, etc to make it easy to share and talk about your site. You can also try offering incentives for your users to tell their friends about it in exchange for a reward.
Step 5 – Make money from your app/website
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! It takes perseverance to have a successful app, and I applaud you. Now that you’ve got people using your site/app, it’s time to monetize it. There are two main ways I suggest trying to make money from your new website.
Charge for it: That’s right, make people have to purchase your product. This can be by setting a price in the Apple App Store, or requiring paid user accounts. Lots of people overlook this route since lots of stuff on the internet is free, but if you’ve made a high quality product it’s worth it! There are loads of companies that sell access to their website, and they do quite well. Consider a one time purchase, or recurring membership fee monthly or yearly. You can start accepting payments with a service called Paypal. You set up an account, direct people to a payment page, and you get money in your email account which can be withdrawn to a real bank at any time.
- Lots of people think their ideas are worth lots of money, and then get disappointed when they try to sell it and no one buys it. Keep in mind that ideas are just thoughts, and thoughts have little value. Actually making the idea into a real product is where you can get a real reward.
- If you sell advertising, don’t test out the links with clicks from yourself. This is considered “click fraud” and will get you banned from making any money with that program since they’d be paying you for fake clicks!
- Don’t give up! It’s easy to start the first few steps, but nothing is accomplished unless you complete all 5! You will hit roadblocks, but keep your chin up and keep trying!
It’s fun coming up with the next-best-hottest internet idea! But actually making it a reality is even more amazing. Although this guide can’t cover everything you’ll encounter, it’s a good start. Comment below if you have any questions about making your business idea come true!