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

by Chris C. Ducker · 49 comments


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 Elance.com. 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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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben September 1, 2011 at 14:20

Benny, I saw your original post on your own blog. It really motivates me! I know that exact feeling when you’re making $x,xxx in a day, as I’ve had a few (wish I could say more than a few) of those days.

Benny, once again, congratulations. You deserve it!

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 23:32

Thanks Ben! I’m glad you saw my original post. That you for that.

I’m glad you’ve had those days when you saw sales like that! It’s really amazing to say the least. I hope you have some more of those in the near future!

Thanks so much Ben!

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Stuart September 1, 2011 at 17:12

Benny, you’re an inspirational man indeed. I read your story on your own site, and read your interview at SPI, and now this – you’re getting the recognition you deserve amigo!

If there was ever proof needed that someone with no prior standing and with no ‘connections’, could give their dreams a major shot of reality, this is proof.

Keep rocking Benny :-)

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 23:34

Thanks Stu!

You’re right. I had no prior standing. I had no connections. I just had an idea and a goal to make an app that I wanted to use and hoped others would like it as well.

I just had no idea the App store would love it enough to feature it! Amazing.

Thanks so much Stu. Keep rocking as well!

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 17:36

Benny – Amazing stuff, I saw your interview on SPI couple of weeks back, truly inspirational. Goes to show, if you really put your mind and effort into something, it can be achieved. A great success story, ive already mentioned it to my friends and colleagues.

Nice work

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 23:40

Thanks so much! I’m so happy Pat gave me a chance to talk about my story. I’m living proof that if you put your mind to it and the work, you can achieve your goals.

Before I used to read about those people that made money online and now I have my own story. I’m so thankful!!

I plan to keep inspiring others.

Thanks!

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steve September 1, 2011 at 17:42

Hi Benny

Fantastic to see such a great sucess. Keep on going :-)

App of the week is a real achievement let alone the income.

regards

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 23:48

Thanks so much Steve!

To be honest, if for some reason it all ended today, I’d still be happy. It’s been fun.

However, I plan to keep doing this for a long time. :)

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 21:40

Chris,

Looks fantastic! I’ve been a long time reader of VBL and it’s great to be able to share my story here! It’s an honor!

Plus nothing can beat the look on your face. :)

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Chris C. Ducker September 1, 2011 at 22:37

Hehehe… Glad you liked it, bud.

So, let me ask – and I’m sure the rest of the VBL Tribe is thinking of this, too…

From when you launched this app, to today – how much has it earned you….?!!

C

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Benny September 1, 2011 at 23:51

Ahhh..the all important question. :)

Till now I’ve earned $26,000.

With about $15,000 of that coming from App of the week. :)

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Chris C. Ducker September 3, 2011 at 04:11

That’s what I call a ROI.

Good for you, man. A great story…

Everyone – pay attention to Benny. Subscribe to his blog. He has more up his sleeve, I’m sure!

C

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Bojan September 1, 2011 at 23:06

That is awe inspiring story you have there. Seems like every day there are new apps being pushed out and if the idea seems compelling, you can gather customers and people who will enjoy your app.

This kinda motivates me to get into a litle bit of pgoramming myself…

Congratulations and best regards from Belgrade

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Benny September 2, 2011 at 00:03

Thanks Bojan.

I don’t know the number of apps that are released daily but I’m sure it’s in the hundreds if not thousands.

That’s why I’m so surprised my idea stood out so much. I knew I had an idea that didn’t have much competition. Just didn’t know it would get featured so fast.

But I’m glad it did.

Definitely give it a shot! Who knows what will happen.

Thanks so much!

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Sal Greco September 2, 2011 at 00:44

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS… I love how STOKED everyone is for Benny…

Let’s the love keep pouring around here! Great work again man… Superb!

Surfs up,

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Benny September 2, 2011 at 09:18

My buddy Sal!

Thanks so much Sal! Like I said, I feel like I’m surfing for the first time and riding a huge wave! I hope to keep riding that wave!

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Eugene September 2, 2011 at 02:03

What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Great stuff man! I love that your story is getting featured on some big sites now and you’re getting some huge recognition for your efforts.

Hugely inspiring!

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Benny September 2, 2011 at 09:19

Thanks Eugene! Yeah I’ve been such a fan of VBL since I’ve started blogging so I’m thankful to be mentioned here!

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Mike Stankavich September 2, 2011 at 05:28

Benny, great story. The idea of looking for bad reviews to find unmet customer wants and needs is really powerful. I believe that a large part of your success is due to the time that you spent getting to know your market and your potential customers. There’s also a lot to be said for “scratching your own itch”. A lot of great products, notably Basecamp, were created by developers who had an unmet need of their own who built a solution to fill that need.

If the app that my partner and I are building has anywhere near that level of success we will be thrilled!

By the way I’m forming a team of iPhone/Android developers and designers in Cebu to build this very sort of app. I’ll just leave it at that – don’t want to plug myself too hard on Chris’s blog after all :)

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Benny September 2, 2011 at 09:22

Hi Mike,

Great comment. Thank you. I believe a lot of products come from people scratching their own itch.

I hope your app does well! When I started I hoped for $100 a day. Would have been happy with that! Now I hope to keep close to the levels I’ve been at. We’ll see how things go six months from now.

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Spencer September 2, 2011 at 14:54

Benny – Awesome and inspiring story! Congrats on your success with your new iPhone App. Makes me want to go out and develop an idea I have had for a couple of months now. I just might add some time in my schedule for that – thanks for sharing!

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Chris C. Ducker September 2, 2011 at 19:11

Thanks for dropping by, Spencer.

Love your blog, by the way! Great content.

Just dropped you a tweet. :-)

C

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Benny September 3, 2011 at 01:30

Thanks Spencer! The app market is so huge there’s always room for more apps. I’m glad my story inspired you. You do have a great blog like Chris said!

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Janet September 2, 2011 at 16:32

His story is incredible and I’ve been following it through his and other blogs as well… Not to mention this success gives an easy guest blog topic for him to become even more famous. ;) Way to go Benny!! I love it!!

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Benny September 3, 2011 at 01:34

Thanks Janet! Always great to hear from you!

I know you’ve been working hard on your business. Love reading the updates about it!

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Christian Hollingsworth September 3, 2011 at 18:51

You’re such an incredible inspiration to us all Benny! I’m so grateful I’m able to consider you a friend. Just remember me when you own the largest app distribution company on the planet!

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Benny September 6, 2011 at 08:54

Hey Christian!!

I’m definitely glad I’ve met you this year. I kinda forgot how we crossed paths. Anyways, I’m glad we did!!

Just remember me when you’re the CEO of your own company. Okay?

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Frank Schwarz September 4, 2011 at 20:44

Super, Super and Super. Benny, great job and thanks for the inspiration. I guess I better get on this App creation track.

Thanks Chris for more great content.

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Chris C. Ducker September 5, 2011 at 13:07

Thanks, Frank.

Yes, Benny’s story is indeed a great inspiration point. I’m looking forward to seeing what he follows up with! :-)

C

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Benny September 6, 2011 at 08:49

Thank you so much Frank! I wanted to inspire others with my story. I’m just a regular guy who decided to finally do something about my dreams. I know others can do the exact same thing.

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Avery Dibiase September 5, 2011 at 05:59

Benny’s tale was truly amazing and leaves me very very inspired. As a newbie to both making money online and follower of those who have found success like Chris C. Ducker, Pat Flynn, and Corbett Barr, it’s very uplifting to hear about regular individuals who set out and succeed in commanding the lifestyle that they enjoy living. This story made my day and served as a catalyst to get me in the groove to jumpstart my online business. It was great that you shared to your story for often times situations like this go without recognition. May you have much fortune in your future endeavors and I hope to join you soon in the community of successful online entrepreneurs!!!!

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Chris C. Ducker September 5, 2011 at 13:11

Hi Avery

To be mentioned in the same sentence as Pat and Corbett means a lot to me. Although they are two of my closest online buddies, they are also my two biggest mentors, too. I’ve spent time physically with both of them, and they both know how to play the game better than most. Thanks for that!

You’re only a few steps away from that hallowed ground of being a true ‘virtual entrepreneur’, buddy. I can feel it.

Stick with it!!! :-)

C

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Benny September 6, 2011 at 08:48

Hi Avery,

Those are three great guys to learn from. Read all their stuff but more important put what they teach you into action.

I’m glad I inspired you because I am like you and am working on my online business. The app is just one part of it but I’m still working hard to do more.

I wish you future success!!

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Avery Dibiase September 6, 2011 at 13:38

Greetings, Benny

I couldn’t agree with you more these guys are indeed talented and more than worthy of listening too but application of the knowledge is what counts. Action is what matters; otherwise we would just be erudite book readers and podcast subscribers. We are indeed travelers of the same journey in seeking to run successful businesses and hearing about your experience is further confirmation that this goal is actually attainable. If by chance, I would like to connect with you on other social media platforms as well. See you at the top and keep up the good work!!!!

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Chris C. Ducker September 6, 2011 at 18:59

I couldn’t agree more…

Rock n roll, Gents!!!
:-)

C

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Avery Dibiase September 5, 2011 at 13:47

Hello again, Chris. Man, you really deserve to be mentioned on the same sentence as these guys for you all had the guts to do what you really wanted to do and for that you all deserve a big tip of the hat. It’s really cool that you guys are big on supporting one another and reach out to your supporters as well with viable, no frills content. We just might have to refer to you guys as the “Crush It” Crew. I am pretty sure that the knowledge that you all are providing is leading me in the right direction to join the pantheon of virtual enterpreneurs. Thanks again for the words of encouragement and have a great week.

P.S. The Virtual Ceo TV was an awesome idea. It really sets the site off with variation in content and the videos are quite insightful.

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Seleema September 6, 2011 at 00:24

Hi Benny! It’s so great that you’re featured here. It’s my first time here, thanks to you. I’m just so happy to see you get the recognition. This is a great read as usual Benny. Keep up the good work, and you already know I’m proud of you and can’t wait to see what’s next. You inspire me and make me want to just give it all I got.

Be Your Best YOU!

- Seleema

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Benny September 6, 2011 at 08:43

Hi Seleema! Great to see you here. I definitely know I have you in my corner! Thanks!

Definitely be a regular here at VBL. You’ll learn so much and Chris is one of the best online.

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Chris C. Ducker September 6, 2011 at 19:00

Ah, shucks……….. Thanks, Benny!

But, you already had your guest post published, no need to flatter me any more!!!!!! :-) LOL.

Thanks for the kind words, and Seleema – welcome to the VBL Tribe!

C

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Carlos September 7, 2011 at 05:50

Hi Benny and Chris. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story, and hope Benny keeps climbing.

Again, Thanks.
Carlos

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Benny September 8, 2011 at 13:05

Thanks so much for reading Carlos! Appreciate the kind words as well.

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Florian September 8, 2011 at 00:30

I already read the interview within Pat Flynns Blog, but it’s always great to hear how things can work out. Thanks for the great post!

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Benny September 8, 2011 at 13:09

Hi Florian,

Thanks for reading again. Lots of patience and hard work did pay off!

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Hugh September 8, 2011 at 22:45

Congrats Benny! That is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing the whole evolution of building your app and eventually making it to app of the week. The best part about this is that you don’t seem like a tech geek, just a guy with an idea who worked his ass off to see it to fruition. Just awesome.

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Benny September 10, 2011 at 23:53

Thanks Hugh for your kind words! I’m not a tech geek in the sense of programming but a tech gadget lover. So I enjoyed the process of getting it made.

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Joe Magnotti September 18, 2011 at 11:01

Benny,

Did you authorize the version your app on Android? The author even says it was inspired by you! Check out “365 Photo App” by Pawel Bialecki. It’s free too.

https://market.android.com/details?id=pl.pawelbialecki.a365photoapp&feature=search_result

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Benny September 22, 2011 at 13:04

Hey Joe!

Thanks for pointing that out to me. I didn’t authorize it. He read my story on Smartpassiveincome.com and quickly put it together. He told me about it in the comments there. So I knew about it. There’s nothing I can do about it.

I plan on having my own version on the Android and am not worried about the competition. He may have been there first but I believe mine will be executed better. :)

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Chris C. Ducker September 22, 2011 at 17:59

Absolutely no doubt that this will be the case…

Keep rockin’ it, Benny!

C

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Eileen November 23, 2011 at 04:57

Loved reading your blog Benny … Great stuff and so inspirational .
Way to go !

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