1st December 2008 was the day when ShoutMeLoud was born, and blogging was easy back then. When I say easy, it meant it was not as competitive as it is right now. Back in those days, all I had to do is write content and traffic used to come naturally. In the past six years, a lot has changed, and blogging has become a mainstream media. These days every smart kid on the planet understand the power of blogging for passive income, and you might have noticed a significant growth in the number of bloggers.
With time, it becomes necessary for any blog to look at the modern way to get more subscriber. None the less, it’s more important to give a great user-experience. Having the best of the content is not the only criteria for creating a successful blog. Promotion, marketing have become a necessity for a blog to grow.
From last three years, I have seen a significant increment in mobile users (Stats below), that made me think about launching a mobile app for my blog. Though it was not all of sudden that I ended up creating the App for my blog, it was a slow deciding process. If you have an established blog, you might have been considering this option for long. If yes, you should read on to understand what all I have faced while figuring out about launching a dedicated mobile app for my blog.
Does a blog need a mobile app?
This was the first question that I had in my mind while making this decision. Will mobile app work for
Will the mobile app work for the blog?
Why will somebody use an app when I have a mobile site?
Is it worth investing such big amount in developing the mobile app?
And many more such questions.
For long I was keeping an eye on the rise of mobile apps, and it was no brainer that a lot of transaction started happening on mobile. Smart people started focusing on mobile apps and making a huge chunk of money in one shot. But again, will it be a wise decision to have a dedicated app for a blog?
For long I was using mobile apps such as Zite, Pulse, Flipboard to read content on my blog. I didn’t realize when my reading habit entirely shifted from Desktop to Mobile. I enjoyed reading news while lying on my couch or bed.
I often started searching for the app on App store (I’m an iPhone user) related to internet marketing, blogging, and niche I’m interested in. To my surprise, there are not many niche based apps, and I see a lot of future for such apps in coming days.
Interesting stats related to mobile apps:
Regarding number, Mastercard online shopping survey 2014 reported India alone has grown by 100% in Online purchases made through mobile phones. Here is the key takeaway from the report:
Here is another interesting chart by Nielson on monthly usage of mobile apps Vs. Mobile site:
Is int it the result shocking?
Users prefer mobile apps over mobile web.
In the past, I used Blogoapp (Now it’s shut down) to offer ShoutMeLoud content on mobile, and within few days, I noticed a significant number of readers subscribed to my blog updates.
That was the wake-up call for me, and I realized that I was missing out another big market to grow my subscriber base. None the less, having an app would help existing readers to consume content from my blog in a better way.
Should I use an online tool or hire an Android developer?
Once I have decided that I need to have an app for my blog, I started looking for an online automated solution. I was bombarded with many and few of them sounded interesting. We have covered few such sites in the past over here. I also purchased a license of Andromo and used it to create apps for my other blogs.
It was not that bad, but it certainly lacked few things. I have listed down few reasons; why I ditched automated Android app creation program for custom Android app:
- I have to pay monthly or yearly for updating the app.
- I can add only those features that are available on such services.
- Design customization and branding options are limited.
- They support push services from selected service provider, and many of them offer no integration with WordPress.
Now, if you are developing an Android app for your blog and there is no push notification, your app will be least effective. In fact, you can see the apps that I developed using online services over here.
For push notifications, I used
Parse (Now using Google Firebase) that offers free push notifications to 1 million unique devices, and it also has a WordPress plugin that automatically sends push notification for new blog posts.
When it comes to developing the Android app for ShoutMeLoud blog, I was sure that I would be taking help of an Android development company. It was @Aneesh who helped me creating the first version of ShoutMeLoud app. While he worked dedicatedly, but it took more time to release the app, and the scope of future improvement was limited. That’s when I decided to hire a development company so that I can get every feature I need, and get support for future updates.
Finally, I found a company based in Gujarat and send them my requirement. Till then first version of my blog Android app was live on the App store, and I started getting constructive feedback from the early adopters. Based on feedback I send my requirement to the company that I hired, and we developed the 2nd version of the app and launched it on the Google play store.
The application costed me about $1437, and I made the deal with the company to offer the similar functionality app for ShoutMeLoud readers at the fraction of the cost.
Was it worth developing the Android app for my blog?
To be honest, so far I have spent a lot of money in developing the app and I have made no money out of it. I’m also sure that this app will not make any money for next few months or maybe year. My goal with this app was not to make money but to offer a better reading experience for my readers. Moreover, having an app will also open a new source for gaining subscribers.
Right now, this app is generating decent traffic and is installed on 900+ devices. You can see the stats below:
Future Plans for the app:
I will be releasing an updated version of the app in coming week that will have features like:
- Deep indexing (New feature added by Google)
- Commenting from the app itself
In next iteration, I would be integrating my Youtube channel in the app itself. In coming days, the app will have more subscribers, and I will be adding many more new features. The goal is to create an active subscriber base for my Android app, and in the future it will make money automatically. I believe money follows where the audience is.
My team has also started working on the iOS app and it will be launched in the Apple app store by mid of April. I’m very excited about the iOS app, as it has been requested by ShoutMeLoud readers. If you want me to add any special feature on our Android or iOS app, you can let me know in comment section or drop me an email at [email protected]
It’s your turn! Should you get an App for your blog?
If you are wondering should you or should you not? I would suggest you to get out of this dilemma and get an app for your blog right away. Having an app may not give you benefit in short-term, but it would be your most powerful weapon in future. How many time have you heard experts saying “Power is in the email list”, similarly I believe
“Future & Power is in the mobile apps”
To end with, I would like to know what’s your strategy for blog mobile app? Are you going to get one for your blog or you planning to leave it for future? I would love to hear your thoughts and insight in comment section below.