When it comes to becoming a freelance app developer, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.
You may be asking yourself:
- What's the first step in establishing my business?
- How much will it cost to start my freelance app development business?
- How do I price my freelance app development business?
- How do I market my freelance app development business?
- ... so much more!
We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your business.
The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!
💡 Introduction To Becoming A Freelance App Developer
Is Becoming A Freelance App Developer Right For You?
There are many factors to consider when becoming a freelance app developer.
We put together the main pros and cons for you here:
Pros of becoming a freelance app developer
• Ability to start your business from home
It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!
• Little startup costs required
The cost to start a freelance app development business costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 6,004 to 38,644.
• Rewarding work
Starting a freelance app development business can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.
• High customer retention rates
Once a customer invests in your product, they've invested their time and energy to utilize your product/service which is highly valuable to them. Typically, your product or service becomes indispensable to your customer.
• Quick build time
The average time it takes to build your product is quick - typically around 8 months. This will allow you to bring your product to market faster.
• Pick & choose the clients you work with
Freelance App Development Businesses have the ability to choose the clients they work with. You have the freedom to work with only a few loyal clients or with hundreds of clients!
• Control of workload
With becoming a freelance app developer, you have the unique ability to choose how little or how much you want to work. You also have the freedom to decide which projects you want to work on, and can turn down the ones that do not interest you.
• Gain exposure and experience
This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!
• Unlimited income potential
With becoming a freelance app developer there is no cap as to how much income you can make. The stronger your business skills and the more energy/time you put into your career, the more you'll make.
Cons of becoming a freelance app developer
• Crowded Space
Competition is high when it comes to your freelance app development business, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.
• Security Issues
With any Saas business, data loss and security issues may arise throughout your process of building your product. It's critical that you understand exactly what you're responsible for and how to avoid potential issues down the road.
• Work can be inconsistent
As a freelance app development business, the amount of work assigned to you and schedule tends to be more inconsistent, which may make your income less stable. It's important to set boundaries and budget accordingly based on the amount of work you plan to have.
• Lack of benefits
With a freelance app development business, you are typically self-employed and responsible for finding your own insurance, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.
Often times, as a freelance app development business, you typically work alone and do not have much face-to-face interaction with other team members.
As a freelance app development business, you typically pay self-employment taxes which can be quite high. It's important to understand what you will be paying in taxes each year so you can determine if the work you're taking on is worth it.
• No safety net
Typically, as a freelance app development business, you do not receive a consistent pay-check and instead earn money based on your transactions each month. During the slow periods, you typically take away less since the job is based on commission. It's important to budget accordingly for the slow times.
- Moovit (8.41K Alexa Ranking)
- DevExpress (9.35K Alexa Ranking)
- Truelancer.com (9.68K Alexa Ranking)
- Cash App (9.96K Alexa Ranking)
- Glide (23.6K Alexa Ranking)
- Wolfpack Digital - Revenue $200K/month
- Krit - Revenue $80K/month
- Appsitude - Revenue $50K/month
- Pioneer Mobile Applications - Revenue $30K/month
- LowCode Agency - Revenue $10K/month
- Apps:Lab - Revenue $3.7K/month
- Bloomy Lab - Revenue $1K/month
Let's take a look at the search trends for app development services over the last year:
How To Name Your Freelance App Development Business
It's important to find a catchy name for your freelance app development business so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your freelance app development business
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Why is naming your freelance app development business so important?
The name of your business will forever play a role in:
- Your customers first impression
- Your businesses identity
- The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
- If you're memorable or not
It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your freelance app development business.
You can search domain availability here:
Find a domain starting at $0.88
powered by Namecheap
Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.
It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.
As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.
Here's some inspiration for naming your freelance app development business:
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How To Create A Slogan For Your Freelance App Development Business:
Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.
The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.
Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.
Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your freelance app development business:
1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words
A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.
2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different
There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:
- Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
- What problem do you solve?
- How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
- Do you make people more successful? How?
3. Be consistent
Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.
It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.
4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan
Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.
When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.
5. Consider your audience
When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.
It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.
6. Get feedback!
This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.
Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.
Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your freelance app development business:
Little And Simple
New Freelance, Done Right
Political Stand Alones Are What We Do
Everyone Wants A Freelance.
Excellent Photographers Are What We Do
I'd Walk A Mile For Freelance.
Freelance - Go For The Game.
Successful And Impressive
I'm A Secret Freelance Drinker.
Ding-Dong! Freelance Calling!
Freelance, Not That Other Crap.
We Build Freelance.
Professional Is What We Do
Freelances With Example
The Joy Of Freelance.
Commit Of The Temporary
More Freedom, Political Temporary
Freelances With Employment
I Feel Like Freelance Tonight.
30 40 Intrepids Are What We Do
How To Find Work As A Freelance App Developer
Nowadays, finding work as a freelance app developer is not difficult.
There are various platforms that allow you to build your profile and by the touch of a button, become exposed to thousands of businesses looking for your work.
Here are the most popular freelance platforms out there:
Here's what you need to know about the two most popular freelancer platforms + examples of businesses who use them:
The largest freelancing website, where businesses connect with talented freelancers.
Businesses using Upwork:
Freelance services marketplace at affordable costs.
Businesses using Fiverr:
Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Fiverr?
It's free to join Fiverr.
There is no subscription required or fees to list your services. Freelancers keep 80% of each transaction.
Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Upwork?
Upwork charges freelancers a sliding fee based on the lifetime billings with a specific client.
Here's how this breaks down:
- 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
- 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
- 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000
Check out Upwork's website for all the details.
The Consulting Business Model
When implementing a consulting business model, you have a number of approaches to choose from:
Here are a few of the most common consulting business models:
1. The Time-Based Model
This is one of the more traditional consulting business models - where your rate, terms, and scope of work are outlined at the very beginning of the project.
Typically, with this model you would choose a day rate or an hourly rate.
2. The Project-Based Model
With a project-based model, you and your client agree on the scope of work you will be performing for a set amount of money.
There is typically a contract in place which covers the deliverables and expectations from both parties.
3. The Retainer-Based Model
The retainer model involves providing ongoing service for your clients over a specific period of time.
You may not provide a specific deliverable for your client, but instead, a broad scope of work over a set period.
4. The Consulting-Firm Model
This model is becoming more and more popular. The consulting firm model involves hiring freelancers or employees to complete work for your clients on your behalf.
Typically, in this situation, you still manage the relationship with the client, but you delegate some or all of the work to your team.
Which model should you choose?
The best way to determine which business model you will choose is to research other entrepreneurs or agencies in your space that are offering the same or similar service.
This will allow you to identify your competition, set your pricing, and determine your target audience.
🎬 How To Start A Freelance App Development Business
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Freelance App Development Business
If you are planning to start a freelance app development business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of becoming a freelance app developer and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $6,004
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $38,644
|Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a freelance app development business.||Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.|
|Office Space Expenses|
|Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space.||$0||$2,000|
|WiFi: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is an expense that's tough to avoid. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month!||$10||$100|
|Total Office Space Expenses||$10 (min)||$2,100 (max)|
|Employee & Freelancer Expenses|
|Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K.||$0||$4,000|
|Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate.||$0||$1,000|
|Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees.||$0||$500|
|Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses||$0 (min)||$5,500 (max)|
|Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article.||$15||$100|
|Web Design: Web design includes several different aspects, including webpage layout, content creation, and design elements.If you have the skills and knowledge to design your website on your own, then outsourcing this to an expert may not be necessary. There are plenty of other ways you can design a beautiful website using design tools and software.||$200||$6,000|
|A Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website.||$12||$200|
|Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown.||$5||$75|
|Server Hosting: To start your business, you will need to set up and manage a server. The cost for this is typically billed monthly and depends on the platform you choose (typically ranging anywhere from $0-$50/mo).||$0||$50|
|Website chat function: If customer service is a big piece of your business, you will want to consider implementing a chat bot on your website. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and some businesses even offer freemium services. To find what chat software is best for your business, check out this guide.||$0||$75|
|Total Website Costs||$232 (min)||$6,500 (max)|
|Business Formation Fees|
|Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here.||$500||$2,000|
|Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your freelance app development business.||$50||$700|
|Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700).||$0||$700|
|Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses.||$0||$1,500|
|A Patent: Patents provide protection against others stealing or selling your idea.Securing a patent can be very valuable, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if this is something to consider down the line.The process of securing a US patent can be both lengthy and pricey, and typically includes filing an application with the USPTO.||$5,000||$15,000|
|Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business.||$50||$500|
|Total Business Formation Fees||$5,600 (min)||$20,400 (max)|
|Training & Education Expenses|
|Online Learning Sites: With a freelance app development business, you and your team may not know all the steps for starting and growing a business. There are plenty of resources out there to help you, such as online courses or learning platforms, but they aren't always free! Starter Story is a great resource for case studies, guides and courses for starting your business.||$0||$1,000|
|Total Training & Education Expenses||$0 (min)||$1,000 (max)|
|Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo.||$0||$50|
|Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here||$0||$100|
|IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals.||$150||$2,000|
|Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses.||$0||$50|
|CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software system is used to track and analyze your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your business, implementing this, in the beginning, may set your business up for success and save you valuable time.||$12||$300|
|Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here.||$0||$25|
|Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms.||$0||$20|
|Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your freelance app development business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business.||$0||$50|
|Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses!||$0||$200|
|Online data storage: It's important to make sure the information for your freelance app development business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article.||$0||$299|
|Total Software Expenses||$162 (min)||$3,094 (max)|
|Advertising & Marketing Costs|
|Business Cards: A freelance app development business involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients.||$0||$50|
|Total Advertising & Marketing Costs||$0 (min)||$50 (max)|
|Total Starting Costs||$6,004 (min)||$38,644 (max)|
Raising Money For Your Freelance App Development Business
Here are the most common ways to raise money for your freelance app development business:
You may not need funding for your freelance app development business.
In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.
So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?
This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**
Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business
Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:
- Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
- Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
- Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
- Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
- Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!
Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article
What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Becoming A Freelance App Developer?
As a freelance app development business, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.
Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:
Here are some critical skills you will need to start your freelance app development business:
- Language acquisition: Common languages include Java, Ruby, Python, HTML)
- Creative thinking: Ability to develop innovative solutions and think outside the box
- Analytical skills: Ability to troubleshoot issues quickly and efficiently
- Attention to detail: Precise and detailed in the approach so that little to no errors arise
- Calm & Collective: Critical that you are able to stay patient when challenges arise
- Communication skills: The ability to explain your approach in a clear and concise way that all team members can understand.
To see more skills and qualities people look for in a freelance app development business, check out this article.
Advice For Becoming A Freelance App Developer
We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Here's the best advice we discovered for becoming a freelance app developer:
Andrew Askins, founder of Krit ($80K/month):
Learn what makes you great and where you need help. It will be worth every penny.
Read the full interview ➜
Phil Scarfi, founder of Pioneer Mobile Applications ($30K/month):
Maintaining a close relationship with our customers has helped us not only retain clients, but attract new ones.
Read the full interview ➜
Georgina Lupu Florian, founder of Wolfpack Digital ($200K/month):
Stay true to what makes you tick! Be persevering and results will come in the end. Don’t forget to play and experiment, besides sticking to the plan!
Read the full interview ➜
Cam Upson, founder of Appsitude ($50K/month):
If it's not your area of expertise and you have the money I would recommend hiring out for positions your not good at.
Read the full interview ➜
Georgina Lupu Florian, founder of Wolfpack Digital ($200K/month):
Be careful about keeping your mental health in good shape, as you are in for a marathon, not a sprint.
Read the full interview ➜
Jesus Vargas, founder of LowCode Agency ($10K/month):
Probably the best decision was to hire early. Hiring has allowed me to focus on growth instead of building apps.
Read the full interview ➜
Andrew Askins, founder of Krit ($80K/month):
Don’t get too caught up in arbitrary goals, it’s your business you can move as fast or as slow as you find fulfilling and sustainable.
Read the full interview ➜
Phil Scarfi, founder of Pioneer Mobile Applications ($30K/month):
Being successful isn’t supposed to be easy, if it was everyone would be trying to do the same thing you are doing.
Read the full interview ➜
Marvin Collins Hosea, founder of Apps:Lab ($3.7K/month):
The best decision I have made since we started the company is being transparent and let everyone run the company.
Read the full interview ➜
Aleksandr Lanin, founder of Bloomy Lab ($1K/month):
Move fast and break things. Broaden your horizons and be curious - you never know what skills might come in handy.
Read the full interview ➜
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your freelance app development business.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Learn more about how to write a business plan here
Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need
There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.
Here are some factors you may want to consider:
- Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
- Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
- Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
- Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
- Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.
Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.
Setting Up Your Freelance App Development Business (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.
How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?
Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).
But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.
There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:
1. Owner's Draw
Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.
At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.
As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.
This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.
If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.
The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:
- Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
- Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
- Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
- Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
- Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.
To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.
How To Price Your App Development Services
One of the most challenging aspects to becoming a freelance app developer is determining how much to charge for your app development services.
When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.
Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.
On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.
When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:
Understand your customer
It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:
- Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
- Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
- Level of price sensitivity with your customer
All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.
Understand your costs
When pricing your app development services, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your app development services so you can factor in a profit.
The actual cost of your app development services may include things like:
- The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
- Shipping + overhead fees
- Operating costs to run your business
You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.
Create revenue goals
When determining the price of your app development services, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your freelance app development business to make.
This process is simpler than you may think:
- Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
- Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
- Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
- Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell
This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.
Evaluate your competition
The last piece in determining how to price your app development services is by simply looking at your competition.
The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your app development services fits best in the marketplace.
All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your app development services, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.
Joel Runyon, founder of MoveWell discusses how he priced his product based on the commissions the app store takes:
We launched a really simple version of the app with a bunch of free routines and one or two paid “pro” routines. We quickly realized that wasn’t very sustainable model. Simply put - we were charging 1.99 per pro routine.
After Apple takes their cut - we’d make a little over a $1 on each one and have to convince people to buy multiple routines. Not only do you have to persuade each customer that each routine is worthy to be purchased - we were just creating a lot of friction along the customer journey to them giving us money.
So, we changed it to a “pro” subscription iteration (we still have 5 or so routines you can try out for free) and just added a ton of more routines for one simple monthly price.
That said - since moving to subscription - the business has become much, much more sustainable and profitable - especially considering you lose 30% off every purchase due to Apple taking it’s cut.
We grandfathered anyone who had purchased a previous routine - so they didn’t lose access and added a bunch more content to make the pro subscription that much more worth it.
Rate Calculator: How to Calculate The Price For Your App Development Services Services
Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.
The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand the hourly rate you should be charging to make your desired profit.
Please input below:
What Type Of Clients Will Buy Your App Development Services
It's important to first establish who you will be selling to, whether it's to businesses or consumers.
Typically, in this industry, products are sold to B2B markets (business-to-business).
Let's take a look at what this means for your freelance app development business:
B2B (or business to business) is a transaction where your freelance app development business sell's your product or service to other businesses to help them grow.
Business-to business industries typically includes SaaS products, B2B marketing firms, and other business supply companies.
Unlike B2C markets, the audience is not a consumer at all, but instead a business - so it's important to understand how to best market your product/services to that target audience.
With B2B, driving leads means understanding another company's business processes and creating a business strategy that will help their operation scale and grow.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Your main focus when selling to other businesses is showing value to their business and overall return on investment
- Focus on building relationships, rather than extending your brand awareness through social networks.
- Marketing approach should include things like attending conventions, conferences, and optimizing your online presence (SEO, email outreach, etc)
- Understand that the sales process may mean more effort educating your client, so it's important that you have a well-trained sales team that is knowledgable about the product
Identify Target Customer
A very critical piece in building freelance app development business is to identify your ideal target customer.
- Develop a niche and create a consistent brand that reflects your target customer.
- The colors, logo, content, and overall website should resonate with your target customer and should draw them in by helping them solve their specific "need".
Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
When building a freelance app development business, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.
This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.
If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your freelance app development business, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.
The point of your app development services prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.
In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.
How To Build A MVP
Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:
- Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
- Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
- Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like
Phil Scarfi, founder of Pioneer Mobile Applications dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:
When learning about creating businesses, my mentor spoke to me about the Lean Startup Methodology and how startups are using a somewhat scientific method approach to starting a business.
Maintaining a close relationship with our customers has helped us not only retain clients, but attract new ones.
I saw how successful this process worked and I realized I could take a similar process and use it for creating successful applications.
There are six main steps Pioneer takes to ensure successful development and launch of an application.
Pioneer stress tests every idea that comes through our doors. We will take everything that we know about mobile and merge it with your idea in order to find a general direction. This step will save hours, days, and weeks in design and development later on!
Having an app is pretty cool, but having an app that people will use is even cooler. Pioneer will help validate your idea through our "Lean App Methodology" and make sure that there is a market waiting for you once we're ready to launch.
Having a recognizable app is what gets an app traction, acquires users, and gets your app featured in the App Store. Our team of designers will sit down with you and create that first impression everyone will be talking about.
At Pioneer, we don't like to just hop right into things, we like to create a plan and then execute it. When it comes to the coding, we first create an architecture and choose the best technology for your app. By doing this we help save you future costs and make it easy to grow.
Throughout the development process, we want to make sure that we are all on the same page and that everything is working as expected. To do this we have an "Alpha & Beta Testing Cycle" that will ensure everything makes sense to users.
This is the time we have all been waiting for. However, once we reach this stage we're not done yet. It's time to get the word out and get users on the app. The Pioneer team will help you submit your app, market it, and get publicity!
Describe the process of launching the business.
When it came time to officially launch the business, having an online presence was a priority. I personally was not much of a web developer or graphic designer, so it made making a website a bit difficult.
After buying a domain, I found a few free website templates and customized them to match Pioneer’s brand. I then posted them online, sent them out to about a hundred people both friends and family and asked their opinion on them. After making some adjustments from feedback, I finally launched a final version.
Growing our online presence
Okay, so having a website was cool and everything, but what’s the point of having one if nobody goes to it?
This is where SEO began to play a big role. What Pioneer needed was to show up on Google when people would search for things like “affordable app developer”.
Through creating blog posts and some trial and error, we were able to start getting ranked high on Google. Within days, we began to get phone calls and emails inquiring about our services!
When it comes to creating an good SEO strategy, you must first figure out what you want to get out of SEO. Obviously, you want to show up in search engine results, but you have to figure out what your site should be showing up under. For example, if I am a baker targeting people in Denver, Colorado, I am going to want write blog posts or specific websites tailored to that location and any other specific keywords such as “baking, cookies, brownies, custom cakes, bakeries, etc). This will allow your site to come up when someone searches something like “custom cake bakery in Denver”. Once this is complete, you should make sure to sign up with Google’s Webmaster Tools, and have Google crawl your website.
🚀 How To Launch Your Freelance App Development Business
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
Best Website Platforms To Use For Your Freelance App Development Business:
There are a variety of websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success.
Here's everything you need to know about the two most common platforms for your freelance app development business:
Free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL.
Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.
Businesses using WordPress:
The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.
- Personal Plan: $12/month
- Business Plan: $18/month
- Basic: $26/month
Businesses using Squarespace:
Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Traditional Launch Strategies For Your Freelance App Development Business:
There are various different ways you can launch your freelance app development business successfully.
Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your freelance app development business:
- Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
- Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
- Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
- Live sales to get customers excited
- Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.
Marvin Collins Hosea, founder of Apps:Lab dives deep into the process of launching the business:
Personally, I don’t have any launch strategy, At Apps: Lab we launch solutions when we are ready aftermarket study and have the finance to support the business.
But here are some ground rules:
Do a market feasibility study first.
- Doing a market feasibility study is very crucial because it will help you understand the market. The time you need to launch or even if the product is viable in that region.
- A good example from our company on Launching LetaFood - an on-demand food delivery service. During our first launch, we did not do any market study and it flopped. We got three orders only in two months - which we never delivered and we had to stop LetaFood operations for a whole year. Eventually, we hired someone to do market research and study before re-launching and it went well now we are doing 86% orders conversion rate
Build a community around your product.
- After solving a problem faced by a number of people you build a community of people around that solution and you, the product owner act as a leader to them. You will have to keep on engaging with your community members and make them feel like part of your “product family”. The advantage of building and engaging your community is they tend to recruit other community members as long as you offer quality service and good customer care. A Product community is an agent of mouth-to-mouth marketing.
Have an input budget before and during launch.
- Before you launch and after launching track your running cost. You might be spending too much or not spending enough on your solution. This helps in calculating your profit in regards to your revenue and costs
Launch services or features progressively.
- Launching everything will always eat into your launch time and a lot of maintainability for small users as you grow. It is advisable to launch the core features and launch the other features progressively as per the users’ demand. You will be able to join the market early at the right time.
Your products need to have metrics, get metrics after launching your application.
- After launching your product make sure you collect users’ metrics like. The services they use the most, the pages they visit the most. Metrics will help you make informed decisions that are aligned with your users’ actions.
As mentioned in point 4, metrics can also help in choosing which feature to launch next for your users.
Leverage social media marketing.
- As a company, we have never used social media for marketing but there is a huge potential in it and we are going to try it out in 2020.
Consulting different experts in the industry even after launching. Keep updating them on the process of your business or product to help them give you affirmative advice.
Make sure you have metrics for the product, for example, the number of active customers, the number of installs and uninstalls, how much people check out, etc.
Don’t employ too soon, employ only when necessary because you can outsource most of the work.
🌱 How To Grow Your Freelance App Development Business
Improve your SEO
SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."
Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your freelance app development business.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner invaluable for discovering search trends.
- Google Search Console is very helpful once your website is up as it shows you what words/phrases are generating traffic.
- Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you to look at results of your competitor's website.
Publish Great Content
Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.
There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.
So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"
- Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
- Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
- Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
- Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
- Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).
Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.
If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.
Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.
Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:
Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.
Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.
Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.
For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.
Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:
- Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
- Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
- Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
- Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
- Leverage existing business relationships
Build A Blog
One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.
We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:
Consistency and Quantity
Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.
What’s more important is consistency and quantity.
Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.
This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.
The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.
This is nonsense.
There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.
For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.
You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.
Patience & Persistence
Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.
The only thing you have control over is your content.
You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.
So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.
Where to share your blog content
I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.
Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.
Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.
An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.
Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.
It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.
Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.
Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.
When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.
🏃🏼♀️ How To Run Your Freelance App Development Business
How To Retain Customers For Your Freelance App Development Business
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your freelance app development business.
Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your freelance app development business:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write a hand written thank you note
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Andrew Askins, founder of Krit dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:
Finding new clients is our biggest struggle. “Non-technical founders” is a much smaller niche than we started in (when we would literally work with anybody) but it’s still broad. Our clients have been real estate agents, lawyers, financial consultants, doctors and cybersecurity professionals. But 99% of the people in those fields will never even think of building a software startup. And for the 1% that will, we need to be in front of them at precisely the right time.
This means that outbound sales (cold calling and emailing) and ads have never worked for us. What does work is content, word of mouth and growing my personal network.
The majority of our clients still come in as referrals from my personal network. So I spend a lot of time online and in real life trying to meet interesting people and be helpful.
If I get hit by a bus tomorrow though, that won’t help the business. We can hire salespeople and encourage them to do the same, but I haven’t figured out yet how I would train someone to do what I do.
So instead, a year and a half ago we decided to start investing heavily in content. Right now this means producing super high-quality blog posts and newsletters, although in the next year I want to launch a video series and/or a podcast. It’s showing some early signs of traction, in the last year we’ve closed close to $300,000 in business through our content. This often still looks like referrals, but it’s a referral from someone we’ve developed a relationship with through our blog or newsletter instead of through coffee meetings.
The main ways we promote the content we write are email (through the Krit newsletter and the Startup Watching newsletter which I purchased in 2018), organic search and twitter (largely through my personal twitter account).
When it comes to retaining clients, we do a much better job than we do acquiring clients. This has been our main source of growth. A client typically stays with us for 2-3 years once we start working together.
I can’t tell you exactly why that is except that:
- We care about producing business outcomes, not just making money off of our clients.
- We’re honest, there are a lot of dev shops out there that are shady as f*ck so we focus on being transparent and honest even when it’s hard.
- We do what we say we’re going to and try not to create additional work for our clients - the consultants I’ve hired personally that I’ve hated working with are the ones that make me babysit them or think MORE about the thing they’re supposed to be taking off of my plate.
Diversify Your Product Line
Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.
It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.
Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product
- Meeting the needs of your customers
- Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
- Resistance to downturns/trends fading
- Create new revenue streams
How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Freelance App Development Business
You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.
Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.
Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:
User.com Sales Process
Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.
Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.
After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.
The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.
Word of Mouth
The most tried and true way to grow a freelance app development business is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.
Why you should focus on word of mouth:
- Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
- 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
- 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing
Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜
As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.
Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.
If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.
There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.
Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.
We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your freelance app development business.
- Social media tools such as YouTube, Twitter, Medium, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Vimeo
- Advertising tools such as Facebook Ads, Apple Search Ads or Instagram Ads
- Productivity tools such as Dropbox, Slack, Google Suite, Trello, Basecamp, Integromat, Todoist, Airtable, Asana, Buffer, Notion, Calendly or Toggl
- Payments tools such as Stripe
- Design tools such as Sketch, Figma, Invision, Adobe Suite or Canva
- Crm tools such as PipeDrive
- Customer service tools such as crisp, TawkTo or jivochat
- Education tools such as Udemy or Coursera
- Analytics tools such as MixPanel or Google Analytics
- Stock images tools such as Unsplash, Envato Marketplace, Freepix, Pexels or Pixabay
- Platform tools such as Custom Built, Digital Ocean, React, Node.js, Amazon Web Services, Vue, Twilio, AWS infrastructure, Google, Wayfair, CraftCMS, Webflow, Heroku, Amazon, Laravel or Django
- Seo tools such as Ahrefs
- Reviews tools such as airbnb
- Email tools such as Viber, Whatsapp, Telegram, ConvertKit, Mautic, Gmail, MailChimp, Revue, G Suite, Mailgun or Zoho Mail
- Accounting tools such as Justworks, Quickbooks or Google Sheets
- Freelance tools such as Upwork or Fiverr
- Apps: Beginner's Guide For App Programming, App Development, App Design
- How to Become a Mobile App Developer (A Complete Newbie Guide)
- How To Become A Mobile Application Developer - Wikihow
- How To Make $100/Hr As A Freelance Software Developer (No Degree Required)
- How To Become A Mobile App Developer
- How I Started A $10K/Month App Building Agency Using No/Low Code Tools
- Acquiring A Stagnant App Development Company And Leading It To $50K/Month
- How I Started A $3.7K/Month Software Company In Kenya
- On Starting A Web And App Development Studio Coming From The Real Estate Industry
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