Do you have a blog, wellness hobby and/or business? Do you enjoy using technology? Are you looking for innovative ways to expand your brand? Let Chris Outlay, PhD and Alana Platt, PhD introduce you to the exciting world of app development for blogs and fitness enthusiasts. Learn why bloggers decide to develop apps, how apps can help grow your community and increase revenue, and where to get started developing an app.
Christina and Alana both teach at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. We are going to talk about going mobile to build your brand, grow your community and earn revenue. Alana is also an app developer and Christina has recently launched her own app.
The slides of this presentation are available for anyone who wishes from Chris!
What is Mobile?
- Mobile devices are portable computers (smart phones, tablets, wearables, etc) to access information on the go.
- Unattached immediacy
- Facilitates social exchanges
Mobile use in the United States: Users spend 80% of the time on their mobile devices on apps and only 20% on a browser. Apps reach more people! Mobile is due to take over total internet usage this year. The main activity of mobile use is socialization.
Monetization is possible on mobile devices.
What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
- Grow your community
- Increase awareness of your brand and grow your brand.
- Earn Revenue
Chris and Alana conducted an informal survey of the FitBloggin blogger lists. Of the Fitbloggin14 Site Survey – Approx 1/3 of the surveyed Fitbloggin sites were NOT mobile friendly. There is a difference between accessible to mobile and optimized for mobile.
Also in surveying Fitbloggin sites – there is a variety of content on the blogs that connect to Tracking, FB groups, Nutrition, Recipes, Events, Services. All of this content can be available in mobile apps!
There are multiple ways increase your mobile accessibility:
- A community within an existing app (Bizaboo, etc)
- A mobile version of your website
- A stand alone app.
What method do you choose when going mobile?
Mobile Website: A version of your website that is designed to be viewed on a mobile device
- Pros: Fast to build, common technologies, one platform (works on Android, iphone, tablets, etc)
- Cons: Reliant on connection quality, limited interactions
Mobile Apps: A program installed on a mobile device that is complimentary to your website
- Pros: Custom interactions, prestige
- Cons: Cost, multiple platforms require separate version of apps
- Lorna Jane – there is a mobile website, but it required a lot of manipulation (pinching. Zooming, etc) to use. However, they have their own app. The app is free and is geared toward distance based exercise (walk, run, bike). Helps track distance, calories, etc. You can also use badges and earn a free bracelet from the store.
- Examples from the audience – Fit Sugar, American Express, Twitter, etc.
Qualities of a Good App
- Easy to Use
- Focused on core community
- Ample functionality but not “everything and the kitchen sink”
- Aesthetically pleasing
How to Get Started
- Think of an app idea – a similar process to thinking up a blog post.
- Refine your idea
- Talk to members of your community
- Document your ideas for development!
- Pick a platform (Android, iOS, etc)
- Decide how to build it
- Build, test and publish!
Christina’s Experience making a mobile app
She just published an android app: WorldTrip Travel Calculator. Her app helps to figure out currencies, exchange rates, clothing conversion, plug adaptors and other needed information for traveling to new locations. What is the currency of Aruba? A Florin. She created an app to get all that information in one location without needed to look everything up yourself.
Question: Does she have to do the updates herself? She does or if you’ve hired someone to build the app it would fall to them. She has not yet done an update from her initial launch.
FITScholar is about both Fitness and IT information. Her app speaks to the Scholars who travel. As a result of her app, her brand has expanded to include travel. The App also brings in other audiences that might be new to her site and brand.
Earning Revenue – Choices
There are a variety of ways to earn revenue via a mobile app. They all have pros and cons.
- Charge for the app (less popular, most people look for free apps)
- Have in-app purchases
- Have ads in the app
- Incorporate mobile affiliate marketing (Christina’s choice)
- Make it subscription-based
Earning Revenue – Mobile Affiliate Marketing – Christina’s choice!
Amazon Associates for Mobile; it is NOT the same as being a website affiliate. Through the Amazon program you can actually create product pages within your app or create links that go directly to Amazon.
Design, Build, Test and Publish
For Christina’s Prototype she used college students – Alana’s students helped to build Christina’s app. There is some risk going with students but it also is free. Often you need to find an additional creator to help build the final product. Contact local colleges to see if there are mobile development classes which may be interested in working on a real life app.
Christina’s final app was built by an odesk freelancer. For the next update there are options: Go back to the freelancer, use another set/class of students, or herself. A full list of places to find app developers is on the presentation slides.
What was the cost to Christina? $300, it would have been free if she had stayed with all students.
One good thing to do is to story board your app – it will help make your ideas more concrete and help a designer fit your vision.
More App Examples:
Latin Diva – Free App (Apple & Android) for clients of Latin Diva fitness instructor
- App includes background information on Latin Diva
- Schedule of events
- Social Media, newsletter, special offers
Curly Nikki – Free App (Apple &Android) for her community
- App version of the website forum only
- Ads to generate revenue
- Sticky posts and announcements
MyWellnessManager – Alana’s app – Apple App
She developed her app after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. She researched the treatments that work for other people and how to manage the disease. She used her research to a wellness app to help people track their wellness and manage illnesses (chronic or otherwise) or medications. She worked with an MD to ask the right questions and provide the right treatment.
Technology in Alana’s App
- Stores wellness data
- Feedback dashboard
- Social media integration, badges
Design in Alana’s App
- Set-up Wizard
- Multiple components – easy navigation, side bar, etc.
- Push notifications
- Feedback, Feedback, Feedback!
How does Alana make money on MyWellnessManager?
- App Store sales
- Version is geared towards individuals
- Released in fall of 2013. $2.99 per download.
- Corporate Clients
- Working on a version for employers
- Licensing & consulting fees
The Apple store is slow to accept apps sometimes. It will take time, but it is faster for updates to the apps than the initial submission.
Pros and Cons of different platforms
• Perception of high quality apps, rigorous standards
• requires annual development license ($100)
• currently the world’s most popular mobile platform
• one time developer registration fee ($25)
• Microsoft, Research in Motion (Blackberry), Symbian
Finding a Developer
- Where do I look?
- Word of Mouth
- Craigslist, Freelancer. Com,
Most Android development is based on Java language and uses plugs in – Christina’s uses Eclipse. iphone app development is often more complicated.
Apps can be developed on your own but there is a steep learning curve.
- You SHOULD go mobile
- YOU can have a mobile app
- You DON’T need to be rich
- You DON’T have to know how to code
- You DON’T have to have a big company
ALL YOU NEED IS AN IDEA!
(Additional resources are located on the slides and on FITScholar.com, in addition feel free to reach out to Alana and Christina via email)
To find out more contact Chris Outlay, PhD, group fitness professional and owner of the FITScholar.com blog, or Alana Platt, PhD, co-founder of the MyWellnessManager health app. You can find Christina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can find Alana at her website, Twitter, Facebook, or email.