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5 Feb 2014

What to Know Before Building Your App Empire

The dream of an indie developer is they want to be able to develop games for a living and nothing else. It’s a dream to start at, but what if you want to go further? What if you want to not only develop games for a living, but you want to be like Walter White and be, “in the empire business?” What if you want to build an app empire that will provide you with the chance to enjoy a little more free time, save often, and have a quality of life that you’ve been wanting for so many years? Is it possible?

Yes it is, and I outline how to start in my ‘How to Start an App Business – the Initial Phase’ post that I wrote recently. However, before you start to build your empire, you need to know a few things about running your empire. Take these tips to heart, and set yourself up for success before beginning the initial phase of building your app empire.

Your app empire will not run itself.

Hollywood has glamorized entrepreneurs, and led many to believe that if you have a great idea and find success in creating an empire of some sort, that you will have nothing but free time on your hands and won’t have to work nearly as often as you do now. That’s wrong on so many levels. At the end of the day, somebody has to run your empire, and at least initially, that responsibility is going to be reserved for you.

Nobody creates an empire and gets rich just because they had a good idea, snapped their fingers, and made it so. Instead, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful in building your own empire – especially if it’s an app empire. These days, everybody and their grandmother is developing an app in hopes that it will become the next Instagram, meaning you also have a lot of competition. Thus, you can’t afford to set back and relax – especially if you want to actually build your app empire in hopes that your wildest dreams will come true.

If you are smart about growing and continue to have great ideas being implemented into your apps, then possibly one day you will be able to hire someone that can act as the managing director of your app empire, thus running the day-to-day operations for you. Afterward, you will probably have more freedom to do whatever you want, which is great. But until then? Get comfortable with operating your empire. 

You will spend more time marketing your game than developing it.

At least before your can hire a PR firm dedicated to spreading the word about indie games. As you begin building your app empire, you are going to have to fine-tune your tactics to marketing your game, and believe it or not, but you will be spending more time marketing your game than you did developing it. That sounds crazy, right? But it’s true. You need to ensure that people are buying your games all the time, while striving to ensure that your sales continue to rise year-to-year.

What do you need to do to market your game(s) in the beginning? I’ve covered this dozens and dozens of times in past posts, so go through the backlog of posts and read up on how to properly market your game. Yet I’m not going to leave you high and dry without a few morsels of knowledge to chew on regarding marketing your game(s):

  • Use social media to your benefit
  • Guest blog on other indie developer sites whenever possible
  • Use YouTube. Just do it.
  • Contact proper members of the press.
  • Be vigilant.

Start with a small team, then work your way up.

There has never been an empire that started with hundreds of employees. Instead,  (mostly) all of them stem from humble beginnings. For example, Apple Inc. started with only a few employees in a basement. Valve began with only a few employees as well. Heck, Sid Meier developed his first games by himself, and today? The Sid Meier brand is an empire in itself, generating millions of sales over the span of a few decades.

You will start small. That’s a given. And while you probably want to have an empire that employees hundreds or even thousands of people, today isn’t the day that’s going to happen.

Instead, you need to work for it.

Work today to build your team bigger and have the ability to hire more people.

Work today so you can develop more games and make them better than ever.

Work today and work hard. And tomorrow? You will be that much closer to having the app empire you are dreaming of.

Every empire comes from humble beginnings, and it’s only through hard work and dedication that you will grow your team from a few guys trying to fulfill a dream to an app empire that will allow you to have the freedom to live your life on your own terms. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but with the drive to make your dream realized, you can make it happen.

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