Why You Should Build An App In The Cloud As A Solo Dev
There’s been a lot of hype about cloud computing in recent years. It seems like everyone is talking about how it’s the future, and that it’ll soon replace everything we know and love. And while there may be some truth to these statements, they can also be misleading if you fail to take into account exactly what the cloud is capable of doing – and what you can actually achieve with its help.
So why exactly should you build an app in the cloud as a solo developer? What are the benefits of using this technology? To answer this question, let’s first look at what cloud computing really means – and why you should want to use it.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is basically a way of delivering computer resources – such as servers, storage, databases and networking – over the Internet to your devices. These services can be accessed over the web through remote servers instead of computers in your office or home, so you don’t have to buy the equipment yourself.
With cloud computing services, you only pay for what you use versus purchasing expensive hardware that may not get used all that much or at optimal levels all year round. Cloud also provides scalability when it comes to uptime by allowing organizations to purchase new resources on demand with adjustments occurring within minutes compared to days or weeks with physical infrastructure. So if there are more visitors coming over to your website on a particular day due to a holiday promotion for example, you can adjust the resources to keep your application up and running as needed.
If you’re new to this technology, you may not be aware of all the cloud computing services that are currently available. They’re generally divided into three categories or “layers”:
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service : This includes things like servers, storage space and network access (e.g., Amazon Web Services).
PaaS – Platform as a Service : This category usually involves an app platform that lets developers build, test and deploy apps without managing infrastructure themselves (e.g., Google App Engine).
SaaS – Software as a Service : Here, we have a complete application that you can use over the Internet instead of having to install and run it on your own computer (e.g., Dropbox or Evernote).
And don’t forget about storage, backup and hosting services as well! You can find many different cloud providers offering these types of solutions. Best of all, using the cloud is usually a lot easier than setting up an Intranet solution in-house. It also allows you to avoid much of IT maintenance and management tasks by outsourcing them to the provider – which isn’t always possible with traditional software applications. Plus, since you’re paying for a cloud service based on usage rather than having to make a large capital investment, you have more flexibility when it comes to budgeting since you’re not committed to a huge license fee.
The Benefits Of The Cloud For Solo Developers
Now that we know what cloud computing is, let’s take a look at the biggest benefits of building applications in the cloud as a solo developer:
1) Faster Time-To-Market : By using readymade and easy to use templates from builders like Appy Pie, you can quickly build your app without any coding. This is especially true for apps based on Facebook or other social media platforms. Also, if you’re building mobile apps for Android and iOS, using cross-platform development tools or frameworks will help speed up the process even further by allowing you to develop just one app and then publish it on both these platforms.
2) Scalability And Cost-Effectiveness : By using cloud services, you only pay for what you use at any given time, which gives you lot more flexibility when it comes to budgeting as well as scalability since resources can be accessed and added quickly on the fly if needed. This represents a great plus especially for solo developers who will often have to work within restricted budgets. The fact that small businesses spend less than larger enterprises when it comes to the cloud is also a significant advantage – not only because of the capital investment required, but also due to costs associated with staff and IT management skills needed. Small organizations tend to be agile by nature meaning they can respond faster to market demands, and cloud technology allows them to do it even more effectively.
3) Option To Lease Or Buy : As mentioned earlier, in the fixed capital investment model (such as what you would have with an Intranet solution), you’re stuck buying a license or paying for a hosted solution that could go up to millions of dollars. But with the public cloud, you can lease just enough resources based on your app’s needs month by month instead of having to make a huge upfront commitment to resources that may not be needed all the time. This is perfect for solo developers who will often have fluctuating workloads and need access to computing power when they need it without having to worry about over-committing their budgets on resources they won’t be able to use all the time.
4) Reduces Overhead And Support : With cloud computing, you can have IT staff working on-site managing an in-house application or software solution (if you decide to go that route), however it also reduces your need for support since the service provider will do most of this work for you. Instead, it allows you to focus on other important business activities. Cloud services are usually offered by software vendors who provide support for their applications – so if there is something wrong with your app and it doesn’t respond, it will be their responsibility to fix the problem instead of yours as a solo developer. This means less headaches for you and more time focusing on your core business activities.
5) Accessibility And Interactivity : One of the main advantages of cloud computing is that you can access and use any applications or services from just about anywhere at anytime – whether it’s on a mobile device, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Apps delivered as a service are also more interactive than traditional data-driven software applications using databases because everything is up to date in real time with no lag times. Businesses need this type of responsiveness from their software solutions today with customers expecting fast loading times and good user experience. Also, there will be an expectation that the app will work 100% on any device without issues – something you don’t necessarily have to worry about when using cloud computing.
6) Increased Security And Privacy : Because cloud services are hosted in data centers, they tend to be more secure because these facilities have to meet certain security standards before being approved by service providers. It might not make sense for a solo developer with limited resources or knowledge in this area to build their own data center and then invest in physical security measures. However with the cloud, you can rely on someone else dedicated to managing this infrastructure instead of having it take up precious time on your end. Also, the privacy of customer information is usually taken seriously because companies that provide cloud services realize that their business depends on trust from users – so it’s common practice among vendors today to use multiple layers of encryption technology coupled with identity and access management to keep customer data safe. Generally speaking, solo developers don’t have to worry about issues related to security and privacy because this is a responsibility of the service provider hosting their apps in the cloud.
7) Lower Costs : Finally, one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that it’s significantly cheaper than traditional on-premise software solutions. With all these apps running on the cloud, solo developers can avoid expensive hardware purchases that are needed to run their applications and instead focus on getting a smaller computing lease each month based on their needs. There is also an added benefit of scaling up or down resources as your business demands change so you aren’t locked into high costs for unused resources. Because of the flexibility and scalability of cloud services, solo developers can save money on their computing power without losing the ability to deliver high quality solutions.
Phew! That was a lot. So we’ve covered testing, getting your materials ready to launch, content creation and marketing/promotion. It’s time to wrap it all up.
Developer Tips: The Launch And Maintenance Of Your App
You’ve developed, tested and launched your app! Now what? You cannot expect to just sit back and wait for users (and money) to start flowing in – you have to be proactive with your marketing and promotion efforts. There is no such thing as a solo developer that just builds an app and then sits back waiting for money to come rolling in.
There are many ways you can get your name, brand and app out there:
1) Participate In Events : Sporting events, conferences or trade shows where your target market will be attending are great opportunities to get your app in front of potential users.
2) Create A Website Or Blog : If you’re not already running a personal or business website with a blog, now is the time to do it for free on WordPress.com or Wix and promote your site through social media and email blasts (Blogging helps both SEO and can be used to establish authority in your field).
3) Social Media : Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ to promote your app’s existence. Make posts about new features and updates so you stay visible. Twitter is especially good for announcing any discounts or promotions that are currently running with your app (as long as the promotions are relevant to your app).
4) Use Email Marketing : Similar to social media, you can use email marketing (via Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor ) to keep your name and brand in front of potential users. This will require collecting emails with an online form on your site, app or at a trade show. The free plan offered by Mailchimp allows you to send 12,000 emails per month to a maximum of 2,000 subscribers – so use it wisely!
5) Promote Through Affiliate Relationships : If your app is appropriate for certain types of businesses (such as a fitness or lifestyle tracker), you can reach out to local merchants and offer them an affiliate relationship where they’ll get a commission for every sale of your app that originates from their store.
6) Promote Through Deals & Coupons : Offer discounts and coupons to drive more downloads – especially if you have an existing customer base in which you can market the offer. As mentioned above, Twitter is great for announcing deals and promotions so consider creating a separate Twitter list for all of the Twitter handles belonging to the businesses or individuals that you’re offering a deal with.
7) Work With Companies That Repackage Apps For Rebates : Similar to affiliate relationships, there are other companies that can help increase your app’s exposure by promoting it through their existing customers. For example, AppGratis offers a free app of the day in a wide variety of app categories and is used by over 10 million people every month.
8) Network : Meetup groups are an easy way to network with local coders, designers and entrepreneurs – all of which can potentially point you toward potential users or help you with general marketing advice.
9) Advertise Your App In Relevant Blog Posts : If you are an expert in a particular area (i.e – home fitness, food & recipe apps), then write “guest posts” for blogs within your area of expertise and include mention and links to your app/site.
10) Contact The Press : If you’ve done a good job of creating reviews for your app, then reach out to the press and let them know about your release. Linking back to any recent coverage is a good way to start (especially if it was positive). You can also run paid ads on sites like TechCrunch or Mashable directly targeted at potential users of your types of apps.
11) Get A TED Talk : This may not be appropriate if you are just starting out in the entrepreneurial world, but once you have some experience and traction under your belt, applying to speak at an event like TED will help expose you to thousands of new potential customers. It’s always nice when large companies contact you and want to put on a pitch for your app. They are doing it because they think that you’re the next big thing, so take advantage of it when possible!
12) Improve Your App : Continue making updates to your app to both improve the code and add new features. Doing this will keep you top of mind with users who already have your app but also keep you visible in the “What’s New” section on iTunes or Google Play for those considering downloading it for the first time. This can be an especially good way to generate additional press coverage . If you do any future version releases, be sure to announce them via social media (Twitter & Facebook) as well as through email marketing campaigns (Mailchimp has a nice template for release announcements).
I hope you find some of these 12 ways to promote your app helpful. To recap, the best way to stay top-of-mind is through an existing email list of previous and potential users. You can easily create one using MailChimp or similar services that offer easy integration with popular CMS systems like WordPress. As mentioned above, you should also be sure to collect emails in your pre-screening process by including it as part of the sign-up form/wizard. It’s also important to follow up on any support requests and make sure that forum members are satisfied with a resolution before closing out their ticket! This will help foster good relationships with both customers and public users. No matter which options you choose for your app promotion, I wish you the best of luck with your next release!