From ‘Nothing’ to ‘App of the Week’ on iTunes, and Several $$$’s in My Pocket!

This is a Guest Post by Benny Hsu from Get Busy Living.

It’s pretty amazing how things change so quickly. The beginning of 2011, I had nothing but an easy, but unfulfilling job and a goal. My goal was to create income from online businesses so I could quit my job one day and control my own life.

I had a breaking point in October 2010 that changed my attitude on life. I started a blog called Get Busy Living, and I wanted to help other people stop sleepwalking through life and live an epic life. I wanted it have a thriving audience and sell my own products from it. I was inspired by people like Pat at Smart Passive Income and Corbett at Think Traffic.

At the same time I had an idea for an iPhone app. I found Smart Passive Income just a few months ago and really got hooked on his content and his story. Here was a regular guy who got laid off but created a massive business online.

One income stream was from iPhone apps. I’ve wanted to create an iPhone app but thought I would need to learn how to code. I’ve tried looking at books or online but after a few minutes of reading, it proved too difficult for me. Then I read that Pat had his apps outsourced on The possibility to create my own app became more real. Now I just had to take action.

Moving the ‘Idea’ Forward

Sometimes the best ideas for products come from our needs. I had used an app that saved a picture a day for a few months. I enjoyed seeing my photos for the month. However the app was pretty basic. The design was bland. The developer did a great job of creating it but spent no money on graphics. I looked in the App store and saw that was the only app. Online there was a community of people who loved to do 365 projects. They take a photo a day and post it on their blog or to social media.

I learned when you create a product to not market it for everyone. If you do, you’ll reach no one. I targeted it for people who wanted to save a photo a day. Those could include parents with their newborn, families, people wanting to improve their photography, or those who like to do a photo journal.

I went through the reviews and looked for the moderate to bad reviews. I was looking to see what people wanted. Based on the number of reviews, I knew there was demand for it.

I bought an ebook to get me started on the steps. I didn’t need to know everything about creating an app but just needed to start and have a guide to help me. On Elance, I posted my job and had to get companies to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so they wouldn’t use my idea, before I gave them full details of my app.

In the end, it was down to two companies but I went with one caused I loved their graphics portfolio and reviews. In the initial proposal they said it would be done in 1.5 months. I learned to expect it to take longer. I didn’t expect it to take six months from the time I hired them. I didn’t get upset it was taking so long. They weren’t rushing me to get this project done either. In the end, it was better it took longer to finish.

I Submitted My App to Apple

After completion, I uploaded my app to the App store and once approved a week later, I could set the date I wanted it to be released. I learned from other’s experiences that releasing it on a Wednesday or Thursday was better to build up momentum leading into the weekend.

I had decided Thursday, August 11 or August 18. I went back and forth so many times. I had the website ready so there was no reason to wait another week to release it. I decided on August 11.

When you release an app, your app will show up in the “new” section in your category. So mine was in the photography category. Unless people used keywords to find my app, they would see it there. However, each day there are new apps so the newest ones get slowly moved down the list. My goal for the app was to first break even. I put in $1900 into development, which was a lot of money to me. However, I didn’t spend more than I could afford to lose. If I didn’t make a penny back, I could have still paid my mortgage and bills. That was important.

Downloads and $$$ – Nice!

In my first full four days in the App store, I had 1325 downloads of my app for a total of $916 after Apple takes out 30%. Amazing! I got excited that I could make money back and then some!

Then Monday-Wednesday proved to be slower days with a total of $294.94 in sales. On Wednesday it dropped to a low of $65. Normally I would have been ecstatic with that much but I wasn’t expect three straight days of declining sales.

Little did I know my life would change the next day.

Every Thursday, the App store features 35 “New and Noteworthy” apps for one week and are listed on the front page of the store. After a long day at work on Thursday, I decided to see check on my iPhone at 10pm. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I saw my app, not only featured, but in the #2 spot! The spot was above the fold so it was a prime position! I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was there cause I had the app on my iPhone. I know that doesn’t make sense but nothing at that moment did. I called my sister to have her check. She saw it too!

The next day I checked my sales for Thursday and it went to $683.86! Based on how last weekend sales increased each day, I hoped for the same. I couldn’t wait to wake up each day. Friday and Saturday I made a combined $2408.05!

Sunday morning I see an email from Pat, who I sent an email the first weekend about my app. I just said thanks because his success with apps inspired me to do it too. He was so excited to hear that and wanted to do an interview. In his email, he noticed I was ranked #4 in the photo category and imagined I was making $200 a day or maybe more! I couldn’t wait to tell him I made a bit more than that!

Then I got a second email and he told me the App store Facebook fan page with 2.5 million fans just mentioned my app! Though I couldn’t tell how many sales came from that, my sales for that day alone were $2320.89! This all felt unbelievable. Every day I was on the “New and Noteworthy” section, I earned an average of $1636.09 per day.

Getting an Email from Apple’s Marketing Team

I knew sometime the following Thursday my featured position would be over. However on Tuesday, I got an email from a member of the App Store Marketing Team to request art assets for a potential upcoming promotional opportunity on the App Store. They could not guarantee its use but wanted to have it in case.

Could this really be happening…?! I knew this email is rare for indie developers! I had less then 19.5 hours before the deadline. Thankfully have a brother who is an illustrator for a small animation company. That night in a couple hours he made the promo art.

I had no idea what time they changed the apps on the featured page on Thursday. I was on a forum for app developers and one congratulated me for being app of the week!

Photo365 - App of the Week

I quickly checked on my iPhone and saw it said “Photo 365: App of the Week”. I jumped and screamed like I won the lottery! In this case, I won the app lottery!! My heart was racing and I could not focus on work all night.

In the four full days as App of the week, I have made $9679.60!

What This All Means

I’ve wanted to make real money online for so many years and finally I had my first big moment! This moment not only took months but years of trying and failing.

However, with this success, the real work is ahead of me now. This could be a steady income stream if I make the right moves to capitalize on the early success.

Also making apps isn’t the end for me, I still have so many things I want to do! I now have more confidence moving forward. However, without taking action, believing in myself, consistency, and hard work, none of this would have been possible.

I’m very thankful every day.

NOTE FROM CHRIS: This story is not just incredibly inspiring, but ‘clear as day’ proof that it is possible to ‘make it’ online as a new entrepreneur. A lot of what we talk about here on VBL is getting something going for yourself, making a difference, developing a business around your passions, etc. Well, Benny is testament to all of that and a lot more. As you can see from the image at the top of this post… I purchased the app!!! Hey – I support my Tribe! :-)

Since I’ve gotten to know Benny pretty well through the VBL Tribe, I feel its important to mention that whenever he leaves a comment here at the blog, its very plain to see that he has digested the entire post – be it written, video, audio, whatever… He digests. He sits back and he obviously makes things happen. I want to take my hat off to this young man today. 

Benny – I wish you all the best in your continued entrepreneurial journey, my man!

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