Do you want to make money online? There are several ways to do so, but it’s hard work. No one said that being in business for yourself was easy, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Being your own #BossLady comes with a feeling of accomplishment and a flexible schedule to enjoy a work-life balance. The easiest way to get started is to do something you love.
Jackie Beck started the personal finance blog The Debt Myth in 2011 because she’s passionate about helping others who want to change their financial life. Jackie and her husband paid off over $147,000 of debt. Since then she has helped thousands of readers pay off their debt and enjoy a debt free life with the Debt Is Not Forever initiative, which I was happy to be a part of.
Today Jackie is here talking to us about her Pay Off Debt app and how it helps her make money online. Please welcome Jackie to the blog today and feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below, she is happy to share.
What is the Pay Off Debt app?
The Pay Off Debt app is a great way to stay on track while getting out of debt, especially for folks who are using a debt snowball. The app shows the estimated debt free date, the estimated payoff dates for each individual debt, and a bunch of other things.
It’s easy to play with payment amounts to see what affect those changes might make. (It’s motivating to be able to see how even a small additional amount put toward debt can speed things up — sometimes quite a bit — and to be able to see actual progress.)
Why did you decide to create an app?
In short? Star Trek. I loved the idea of having a little tricorder in my hand (the iPhone) that would actually let me and others do useful things. And of course I also wanted to earn money from it while helping others.
How did you get the idea to create an app?
Back when I was paying off my student loan, I completely obsessed over the process. I would send in a little bit extra as often as I could and each time I would do all these calculations to see how much closer I was to being done with that debt. (Obsession is a good thing when you’re paying off debt!) Then when I got an iPhone, I thought there might be other people out there who would enjoying tracking their progress and seeing their debt-free date get closer and closer.
So I did a little research and saw that there wasn’t anything like it at the time. I did, however, find people who were complaining that they couldn’t use unrelated apps to help get out of debt. So I figured there were at least a few people out there that would be interested and gave it a shot.
Are you a tech chick? Did you develop it yourself or get help?
I contracted out the coding, but did everything else myself. “Everything else” included writing the software specification, doing the math to get the calculations to come out right, mocking up the screens, creating graphics for the app, testing it (lots of testing it), and promoting it.
How did you spread the word about your new app?
When it first came out there weren’t really very many apps in the app store period, so I didn’t have to do a whole lot. I just put it up there and people bought it and wrote about it. Now, of course, things have completely changed. There are an insane amount of apps out there of all types (and lots of debt snowball apps too) so the “build it and people will come method” isn’t something that’s got much chance of working any longer.
Current marketing tactics for Pay Off Debt include: having a detailed app store description with images that feature benefits (vs. simply screenshots), Pinterest (my absolute favorite marketing method), doing interviews and reaching out to journalists with relevant tips, featuring the app on my website TheDebtMyth.com, and offering an affiliate program for the app so that others can promote and earn money from it too.
How is the response to the Pay Off Debt app?
Pay Off Debt was launched in the spring of 2009, and (last I checked) it’s had over 46,000 paid downloads since then.
Why did you decide to make it a paid app instead of offer it for free?
I always knew I wanted Pay Off Debt to be a paid app vs. a free app with advertising. That’s because for the most part the kinds of advertisers who would be interested are companies that sell loans and encourage people to borrow. I want to help people get out of debt, not dig them in deeper. So free + ads was out.
Then I took a look at other apps that were selling well. (There wasn’t any direct competition at all when I was doing the research, so I was mostly looking at games.) I noticed that most of the paid games were 99 cents, and their reviews were filled with complaints about how they weren’t worth the money. So I knew I wanted to charge more so that people would value it vs. thinking of it as a throwaway app to try. Once the app was live in the app store, I basically experimented with prices ranging from $1.99 to as much as $10.99, eventually settling on $4.99 in recent years based on sales.
Be very, very clear about exactly what you want your app to do and how it should function, especially if you will be hiring out the development. You need to be able to articulate exactly what will happen regarding every aspect of the app. (What happens if a user taps here? What happens if they do something unexpected? What does each button look like? etc.)
The clearer you are, the more likely you are to get what you want within the quoted price range and the fewer headaches there are likely to be. If you do hire out the development, make sure it’s work-for-hire so that you actually own the app, and check references.
Also, realize that you’re going to have to work hard and consistently to get your app out there and get downloads/sales. This is especially true if your app does well and hits the top 25 in its category (Pay Off Debt has been the #1 financial app several times over the years) because you’ll find that a number of similar apps will sprout up as soon as others realize there’s a market for it. Of course, it’s also true if you’re not in the top 25, because then you’ve got to consistently work to even be seen at all in the very crowded space.
Finally, test out your idea quickly if possible with your target market (you may even be able to validate it without actually building the app) so you have an idea of how it might do before putting hundreds of hours and lots of money into it.
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