How to Become a Successful App Developer. 3 Steps.

How to Become a Successful App Developer Header

Who would you call a successful app developer? Someone who makes $5,000 a month? Or maybe someone who has 100,000 installs on majority of his apps. No matter how you would like to define one, you would most likely want to learn how to become a successful app developer.

I've been making apps for a long time, and I can say that I've made quite a number of successful apps. Unfortunately, not every app developer can say the same.

I interviewed a lot of app developers, and they have told me a lot about what it takes to build a successful app. All of them had their different ideas; but amidst all of these, they had one common principle...

Promotion Matters.

how to become a good app developer

Through good promotion, any app can become "successful". But I have discovered it takes more than that. To illustrate, a man built a utility app to help people find their phones using their voice. He promoted it really well, and managed to get his first 100,000 installs within four months.

During that four months, he made a consistent income through ads. But he had a retention rate of 1.1%. Why? For starters, his app didn't function properly. It was really ugly and it crashed a lot.
Once he had stopped promotion, his app had a rating of 2 stars. During promotion, his app had about 500 - 1000 installs per day, but now, it had slipped to 5 - 10 per day. His active users had dropped from 10,000 to 100 because of poor functionality. And even worse, revenue had dropped from $40 per day to $0.8 per day.

That developer was me. After building that app, I learnt a lot about what it means to make a successful app. A successful app is not one with a great number of installs, or one which produces a lot of revenue.

My definition of a successful app is

One that has a good number of "active", loyal users who truly value your app. It may not be monetised, but if it is, it should be able to make the developer a consistent stream of income; one that doesn't depreciate abruptly, but grows and has some minor falls.
That is what every developer should try to gain.

Of course, promotion does matter, if you want to learn more about that then you can read an article about that. I've learnt a lot about what it means to be a great app developer, and now I'm going to share those tips with you.

How to Become a Successful App Developer

There are many things you need to know about becoming a successful app developer. But with the help of a few successful devs, I've been able to break it down to 3 tips.

#1 Build Apps that Deserve to be Successful

This is quite an obvious one, but it can never be stressed enough. If you want to build an app that can make you successful, that app has to be really good. When it comes to building a successful app, it ultimately boils down to two things:

Serving a Purpose

Serving a Purpose | How to become a good app developer

I gave an example of one of the apps that I made a long time ago. An app that can't serve its purpose is useless in my opinion. And if you really want to become a successful app developer, you're going to have to really work hard on your app.

First of all, build an app that solves a problem, not necessarily another utility app such as a flashlight or calculator. Instead, build something unique, or improve on something that already exists so as to give yourself an edge over competitors. 

One more thing to note out is that you shouldn't build an app to make a quick buck. You need to really take time to perfect your app, making sure it serves its purpose.

UI Design

Another pro tip: "Focus on your UI". If you can, take courses about it. A good functional UI is one that even a dog can understand, or to be more realistic, one that even a computer illiterate can understand. It may not necessarily be the flashiest UI, but it should help you to accomplish the purpose of the app.

"Why should I focus on UI?" you might ask. You should know that an app that has a good UI but can't serve a purpose, may be preferred to an app with a really bad UI that can accomplish a variety of good tasks. 

This is simply because people like what looks good and hate what doesn't; simple. I've found out that people (especially perfectionists) don't want an ugly app with an ugly icon taking up space on their phone. As a result, they look for better looking alternatives.

The next question is, how can I build a good UI? You can read this post to find out how to build a good UI that can in turn, make you a successful app developer.

Get a Free App Promotion Schedule To help you get your first 10K Installs

#2 PROPER Promotion

Earlier, I said that becoming a successful app developer takes more than just promotion. But that does not exclude it. After building a stunning app, you need to know how to get it out there. Sitting down on your couch, while hoping that your app will go viral is a waste of time. 

But as I said, you need to know how to promote your app "properly", reason being that you are trying to get your app out to a specific category of potential installers. 

For example, a rookie app developer named Richard has a travel app named "Oceanspan" (Just an illustration). 

Let's say that Richard decides to promote his app anywhere he can. He promotes it all over social media, posts his apps on many forums ranging from music to coding, and gets app review sites to write about his app.

This tactic may work really well, but let's look at another scenario.

What if Richard decides to promote his app to a really specific audience. He decides to post it to groups that are filled with people who are interested in travelling. He posts his app on travelling, exploration, and vacation forums and gets travelling blogs and sites to review his app.

Although the first tactic may work great, the second one will most likely do much better. Even better, Richard has found the perfect audience for his type of app. Now, if he offers a promotion or product, this group of users are more likely to buy it.

That's the exact difference between "Promotion", and "Good Promotion. This is what differentiates successful developers from unsuccessful ones. So if you really want to know how to become a successful app developer, you should not skip this process.

For a more in-depth promotion guide, you can read this article.

#3 Monetisation Strategy

It is no surprise that some monetisation strategies are better than others. This is seen more in different territories and types of apps. 

The most popular monetisation method is the use of ads. This can be great for a lot of apps, but sometimes, this isn't the best way. Let's go back to our travel app. If Richard is building an all screen app with an immersive user experience, it may be a good idea to limit the amount of ads he uses and focus more on in-app purchases and paid services.

I'm not saying that using ads is a bad idea. After all, if you have a lot of active users, ad revenue may be the best option. But in the end, it all boils down to user experience. 

Your major goal should be to avoid "abusive experiences" and try to make the user feel as comfortable as possible. 

It may also be a good idea to use ads to make the user feel "slightly uncomfortable". Developers use this tactic to push the user to pay for the premium version of their app.

You have to be very careful when doing this though. If your app does not provide irreplaceable value as it where, it won't be a great idea to implement this strategy.


The road to becoming a successful app developer is no straight one. There will be a lot of bumps and potholes. But with proper training and guidance, you will get there eventually. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your buddies on social media.

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