Finding A Technical Co-Founder Or Developer For Your Startup

How do you find a co-founder or a developer to come onboard your startup?

How do you speak to Code Monkeys? And what do you do if you don’t know any developers? For entrepreneurs with business and non-technical backgrounds, these issues can seem like huge and overwhelming bars to making your idea a reality.

The good news is that you can take concrete steps to find technically-minded folks and get them excited about your projects. It just takes a little research, a willingness to ask around, and the ability to form sentences more coherently than Kanye West.

It just takes a little research, a willingness to ask around, and the ability to form sentences more coherently than Kanye West.

1: Speak the language

The first and most essential thing that will endear you to technically-minded potential co-founders and developers is surprisingly basic: the ability to sound at least familiar with their area of expertise.

You don’t have to become a complete programming geek, but you do at least need to put enough effort and do enough research to be cocktail-party-literate in code.

Computers are a science, and there’s a technical jargon that separates people who know what they’re talking about from people who get made fun of on the Whartonite Seeks Codemonkey tumblr. You need to either learn enough that you’re able to correctly communicate your needs — like knowing the difference between Swift, Android, and website building — or be able to frame your pitch so that your co-founder can tell you what you need.

2: Make sure you (sound like you) know what you’re talking about

In the pitch itself, developers get excited in the details. Having tangible research, the results of an MVP experiment, domain experience or field credentials go a long way towards proving your credibility.Make sure you front-load all of that when reaching out to people.

Remember that it’s not just on your co-founder or developer to bring some tangible skill to the table. You have to prove that you’re showing up with the skills that are going to make your startup a success and make someone excited about working with you. To that end, it’s definitely a faux pas to be stingy about what you’re offering someone to come onboard. Resist that proprietary possessive fallacy that your idea is yours. When you start collaborating with someone else, the idea gets bigger than just you. And most of the time, that’s what makes it better.

Resist that proprietary possessive fallacy that your idea is yours. When you start collaborating with someone else, the idea gets bigger than just you.

3: Brevity and clarity are an entrepreneur’s best friends

When you’re reaching out to co-founders and developers, bear in mind that successful emails are short, direct, and spelled correctly.

Even if you have the Best Idea Ever, dial down the hyperbole. Yours isn’t the first idea a developer’s heard and it won’t be the last. You’ll be much more convincing if your pitch is based on evidence.It’s even better if you can provide figures, like the example from Derby Jackpot does, of what the market demand is and what kind of opportunity you’re trying to seize. When in doubt, think “Just the facts,” and not “What would Kanye do?”

If you already know what technology requirements your project needs, specify that. But if you don’t, don’t trying and bluff your way through it. The Derby Jackpot pitch makes no mention of what platforms they want to launch on or what components they need to make virtual horse racing a reality. And that’s fine. The email makes up for it by cleanly and clearly presenting the idea. It also wraps up quickly, with an easy invitation for interested developers to ask questions and learn more. Leave them wanting more.

4: And remember, the social network isn’t just a movie…

If you don’t know where to start looking for a technical co-founder or developer, that’s okay. There are other people out in the world who do, and chances are you know some of them. Pack that pitch email with details of what you’re looking for in terms of time commitment/what you can offer, and send it out to 5–10 of your friends. Ask them to refer you not just to one or two folks who may be interested in your project, but to include people who may know someone else who is. Ask for introductions and more than likely, a few degrees of separation later, you’ll have a strong list of candidates.

The more effortless it is to help you out, the more likely people will do it.

As with your pitch email, you want to make the referral process as easy as possible. The more effortless it is to help you out, the more likely people will do it. One good way to think about phrasing your request is with a scorecard. Avoid a lengthy back and for by detailing what you’re looking for and what you’re not. What kind of commitment you’re looking for, what your budget is, whatever logistical constraints you have: any detail at all will help your network find the person who can best help you.

5: Look around and use online resources in your search

If you’ve tapped into your network and come up dry, that’s okay. Here are a few ways to tap into the world of the internet (and the ground) to find a developer:

  • Check and see if you can insert yourself into a pre-existing network or local community. You may live somewhere with meetup groups, tech or programming-specific schools and bootcamps, and tech-related business events. All of these are great avenues to explore and make connections.

If you’ve left no in-person stone unturned and still come up short, don’t despair. There’s still a magical land called the Internet, where people can connect with each other across space and time.

Wherever you go online, just make sure you follow some basic etiquette. Take the ten minutes to get a feel for the community you’re entering. Get a sense of its tone, read the rules, and make sure you’re posting in the appropriate way, in the appropriate space. You don’t want to immediately spam a thread with requests — and just like in reaching out to individual developers, make sure that you come across as thoughtful, engaged, and able to provide some value to the discussion.

It’s all about the long game

However you reach out, it’s people who are going to make your company. You want to create a connection that’s strong enough to see you through all the exciting challenges of building and launching your idea. So don’t be afraid to reach out, put in the time to make connections with both tech-minded individuals and communities. The best thing you can do is to a take those extra few weeks to really get to know someone. Then find your team, and get to work.

Founder Friday Series

This post is part of a series of short, candid, quick videos and essays on entrepreneurship and starting your own business– I call it Founder Friday.

If you want to see more of these, leave a comment and let me know that you like it.

How Much Does a Website Cost These Days?

Launching a new business involves many details, and at some point, you will start to think about your online presence. You need a website, and not just any website, but a fully functional site that includes some form of email capture, and enough branding to tell your story. Accomplishing these goals, however, comes with a price tag, and you may start wondering how much does a website cost these days.

The majority of customers — 61 percent — are researching products online. In fact, 12 billion searches are taking place each month in the United States, making a high-quality website very important. But once you start asking for quotes, you’ll likely discover that they vary greatly. You may receive one quote for $2,000 and another for $20,000.

So what is the difference, and what’s involved in the actual process of building a website?

Breaking Down the Costs

Many web designers will explain that pinpointing the exact cost of a website project is difficult. This is mostly because there are so many different variables involved, with no two projects being identical. For example, what kind of functionality and features do you need? Is it an e-commerce site? Do you need a blog? Do you already have content created, or will you need to have it written during the design process?

You may be figuring out these answers as you go along, which is totally normal, but it’s also helpful to have a nice little starting point to build off of. Getting a general sense of what’s involved in the process, and a ballpark cost for each task, will help you estimate your overall budget and solidify your project requirements. Here’s an average cost breakdown.

Domain name. One of the first tasks on your website development list is purchasing the domain name. Costs vary, but you can expect to spend around $10 annually.

Website hosting. Your website will need to be hosted, which basically involves a company selling you space on its server to store your website data and files. Costs vary, but you are looking at about $10 to $100 annually.

Premium theme. If your developer is building your website in WordPress, you may need to invest in a premium theme. Costs differ based on the specific theme that you select, but you will likely be paying a $50 to $200 one-time fee for a beautiful looking theme that you can change up to fit your specific needs.

Website planning, design and development time. This category is a large chunk of your overall budget, and also where you’ll get the most variation in quotes. A site can take anywhere from 1 to 1,000 hours to complete; and expect to pay anywhere from $25 an hour (professional in developing company) to $150 an hour (or more). Keep in mind that you pay for what you get, but price alone won’t indicate quality. It’s a tricky dance.

Images and graphics. Your website will need graphics to liven up all that white space on the page. Basic stock images cost around $10 each, while higher-end images may cost you hundreds of dollars. While many stock image options have improved, sometimes its best to invest in custom images that fit your unique brand.

Content creation. Will you be writing content for your website, or will you need outside expertise to develop the pages? If so, budget at least $150 per page of new content.

Other Factors That Affect Costs

Sometimes, you just need a basic website to get your business off the ground. Other times, the functionality you need is more advanced, such as e-commerce capabilities or special programming. Here are a few additional costs to factor into your budget.

E-commerce shopping carts, catalogs and payment processing. If you need this functionality, plan to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000.

Maintenance costs. It’s also important to think about the future of your website. Will you maintain the website in-house or seek outside assistance for maintaining the site?

What happens if the site 404s at 2am, who’s your developer 911? Put aside some budget each month for mainenance — factor it into your costs (maybe anywhere from $250 to infinity).

It’s also important to consider the benefits of a responsive design, which automatically resizes for mobile devices and tablets — an increasingly important feature as more and more people access websites in this way. Also, factor in your needs for multimedia elements. For example, do you plan to feature video on your site? If so, include this requirement when requesting a bid.

Total Cost Ranges

At this point, you may have a general sense of what’s involved in building your website and what pieces need to come together, but what should you budget for total cost? Here are the general price ranges. They are complete estimates that you might just use as a rule of thumb:

Basic website — This level will allow you to brand and market your company, showcase your products and services, and use the site as a lead-generation tool. However, it may not have two-way functionality and features such as a blog or social media tools.

Price range: $2,000-$10,000+

Advanced website — You have all the components of a basic website, but you maybe also have something extra like a super-duper fancy design layout, e-commerce (so that you can sell products), or some optimized conversion considerations (like A/B testing, and deeper analytics for your email capture).

Price range: $7,500-$30,000

Custom website — This is suited for a large business with complex Web development needs, including social networking, blogging, e-commerce and other Web applications.

Price range: $15,000-$100,000

Taking the First Steps

The best way to get started with building a website is to work to define the project scope. List what your website “must have.” What items do you need that are nonnegotiable? Then, list your “nice to have” items. Present these items to developers to get bids on the project, and based on their estimates, you can add in — or take out — some of the nice-to-haves in order to make the project work with your vision and your budget.

By defining specific requirements upfront, and ensuring that you select a developer that is equipped to deliver to those specifications, you’ll ensure that your vision and desired outcome are achieved and there are no surprises along the way.

How Do You Balance Your Time Between Execution and Managing People

More of a running a business question, but how much of your time do you spend executing vs. being in meetings, conferences etc?

(I’m used to being an executor and now my job seems to be meeting with people and managing)

Great question.

It depends how big your company is. Once you’ve got 7 or so direct reports, management basically becomes your full-time job. Depending on your management style, that can mean a lot of meetings.

I spend most of my time being in meetings and stuff, but I still end up doing a lot of operational stuff in between. I’m still executing, but it requires me to be really clear about which meetings I’m not taking (any with people I don’t know, or where the meeting doesn’t directly contribute to our 2–3 strategic goals right now) and also it sometimes gets pushed into the evenings or the weekend.

Certainly as someone who used to be all execution, the change can feel really frustrating. It’s like going from 90% execution and 10% overhead to 90% overhead and 10% execution. But the secret is making the management stuff feel like execution. Because it is. It just doesn’t feel that way most of the time.

Resources to check out:

Founder Friday Series

This post is part of a series of short, candid, quick videos and essays on entrepreneurship and starting your own businsess– I call it Founder Friday.

If you want to see more of these, leave a comment and let me know that you like it.

How to Get a Job at a Startup

How to get a job at a startup

People are constantly asking me how to get a job at a startup.

It’s can feel like a difficult thing to do if you’re not already involved in startups or the tech industry.

The problem with getting a job at a startup is that startups are a bit like a black box, where you have no idea what’s going on inside. There are at least two reasons for this:

  1. Startup skills (the skills that startups are looking for when they’re hiring) often aren’t university skills, they don’t necessarily align with degrees and they certainly don’t look anything like traditional roles at most bigger companies, which tend to be highly specialized and functional.
  2. Startups are usually bad at process and planning. That means they’re not good about identifying roles and jobs they need to fill, writing job descriptions for those roles, and performing a full candidate search process. It just isn’t the most important or highest priority thing at most startups, whereas bigger companies often have entire teams dedicated to hiring.

So if you really want to work at a startup, what can you do? I have three pieces of advice:

1. Specialize in one or two things that startups often need

In a previous post, I’ve described the 20 skills I think a Full-Stack Entrepreneur could work on to be successful. Those areas are true for people looking to work at startups as well.

Areas of expertise that you could develop that most startups are looking for include (in no particular order):

  • Product Design
  • UX/UI
  • Customer Support
  • Data & Analytics
  • Customer Development
  • Project Management
  • Product Management
  • Growth Hacking
  • Business Development
  • Enterprise Sales

Marc Andreessen has a great blog post series on career planning in which he quotes Scott Adams (the guy who created Dilbert):

If you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort.

If you want to become really good at something quickly, the key is to narrow down the focus to as small of a thing as possible. Doing this lets you consume and exhaust most of the existing resources around that topic fairly quickly and gain a lot of the knowledge.

Here’s an example: Rather than trying to learn everything about product design, pick one area — like user onboarding — that you’d really like to focus on, and learn everything you can about that thing.

If you want to get really knowledgeable about user onboarding, I would read through all the onboarding teardowns on useronboard.com, I would read all the questions on Quora and topics on GrowthHackers.com related to user onboarding. I would study the onboarding flows of some of my favorite products. And I might even reach out to a few product designers through Twitter or over email and ask them their thoughts. I’d probably also do some reading on UX/UI and landing page optimization and build out a few onboarding flows myself.

Following these steps, you could get pretty knowledgeable about user onboarding in a matter of weeks.

The best products don’t try to do everything for their users — they focus on doing one thing really well — and you shouldn’t try to be a swiss-army knife for everything a startup needs. It’s easier to get a job if you’re good at something that would be very useful to a small number of startups rather than not be very good at something that a larger number of startups want.

2. Rock the interview

As a person new to startups, try to avoid allowing the interviewer to focus on your past experience, because most of it probably won’t be relevant to the new role.

Instead, recognize that every startup has a problem. In order to get the job, you need to convince the interviewer that you can solve the problem, because you know what they’re doing wrong and you know specifically what you would try to fix it.

When you interview at a startup, make it very clear what you know versus what you don’t. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend you do. It will become blatantly obvious very quickly.

Something that really makes you stand out is walking them through specific examples of how they think they could improve their product or process. Give them your ideas for free. The ideas are not your secret sauce. What they’ll hire you for is executing those ideas.

3. Flip the tables

My biggest piece of advise that few people actually follow is to put yourself in situations where companies can fight over you rather than the other way around.

When applying for a job at a startup, you’re just one applicant out of dozens. That puts you in a pretty bad position.

I accidentally stumbled onto a solution to this problem when I started teaching classes about coding and growth hacking at places like Udemy, Skillshare, and General Assembly. People at startups (often the founders) paid money to sit in a room with me for an hour while I taught them everything I had studied and knew about coding and growth hacking.

Every time I taught, there were 30–40 people in the room. Each one of them needed someone like me (otherwise why else would they be there?). And so people often came up to me afterwards asking if I was looking for a job or doing consulting work. “This was great stuff,” they’d say, “but it’s a lot of work and you’re really good at it. Could we just pay you to do it instead?”

Even if you don’t think you’re an expert in something, you can become fairly knowledgable about something small very quickly (see point #1).

Also, I learned that you don’t have to be an expert in order to teach a class about something and have it still be valuable for people. When I first started teaching about my experience learning how to code or growth hacking, I wasn’t an expert in either. I was fairly up-front about this (I used to say “I’m just a beginner, but I can tell you everything I’ve learned and read from these experts, and hopefully you’ll get something valuable out of this class.”)

It turns out beginners who are a few steps ahead can actually be really good teachers (sometimes better than experts), because they’re easier to connect with, and they have a better understanding of what a beginner doesn’t know.

So hopefully these three tips can help you get a job at a startup. Have any additional advice or tips for snagging that interview or getting that job? Or have you seen anything really work (like this guy who got a job by running $6 worth of Google Adwords for people searching their own names)? I’d like to hear about it! Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Founder Friday

I’m doing a series of short, candid, quick videos and blog posts — I call it Founder Friday.

If you want to see more of these, share a note in the comments and let me know what you think.

Lessons From Famous Entrepreneurs for Startup Founders

Starting a company isn’t easy. When you find bugs in your software, get schooled in a meeting with an investor, or simply feel like your company isn’t where it should be, you’re likely to feel discouraged.

In these moments of weakness, it can be helpful to think of the most famous entrepreneurs. These are the people that persevered and changed the world in spite of various obstacles, and their stories offer lessons to founders everywhere. Here are six key takeaways that any entrepreneur can benefit from:

Define Your Own Market

Founders need to hear from customers about what they think of products and services, but this feedback is only helpful to a point. Henry Ford, who revolutionized automobile production in the early 20th century, famously said that if he asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said “faster horses.”

Ford’s point was that if you’re creating something truly innovative, a product that’s unique and ahead of its time, your customers won’t be able to give helpful feedback. Instead, you need to define the landscape for the customer, creating a world where they can’t live without your products and services.

The best products are created where there is little competition, where innovative solutions can change the world. Henry Ford didn’t see competition. Instead, he defined his own market.

Accept and Embrace Failure

Steve Jobs may be famous for bringing Apple success with the iPod and iPhone, but he wasn’t always on that track. Jobs founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, but it wasn’t all rainbows and flowers. After facing various obstacles and struggles at Apple, Jobs resigned in 1985 because of conflicts.

But that didn’t stop Jobs. Rather than go to work for someone else, Jobs started NeXT, which was eventually acquired by Apple, as well as world famous Pixar.

Through it all, Jobs never gave up on his dream of entrepreneurship, nor in his faith in Apple. Years later, after the NeXT acquisition, Jobs stepped up and took the position of CEO at Apple, putting the past behind him.

Many would’ve given up along the way, but not Jobs. In the face of difficulties, even when he was the most famous entrepreneur in the world, Jobs never stopped trying to create the world’s most innovative companies and products.

Do the Grunt Work Yourself

When Lori Grenier, serial entrepreneur, started out, she did most of the grunt work herself. She hit the streets and visited all types of different neighborhoods to ask various people what they thought of her earring organizer. She handed out a questionnaire to people asking whether they would buy the product, and how much they’d be willing to spend on it.

Lori wasn’t too good for the job — she was committed to getting on the customer’s level so she could truly understand what they wanted.

“Get out there and pound the pavement,” said Lori in an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine. “Look beyond your friends and family — their innate desire to support you and give you positive feedback might not be indicative of the larger consensus. Go to different neighborhoods and get opinions from all types of demographics.”

Don’t Define Yourself by Your Competitors

Just because someone has years of experience doesn’t make them better than you. Just look at Evan Spiegel, 25-year-old founder of Snapchat.

Spiegel famously turned down a billion dollar deal from Facebook, which was hard for many to believe. Instead of bowing to the competition, Spiegel decided to continue working on his own. He wanted to be in charge, and was committed to building a team that was committed to the success of Snapchat.

“We have a lot of admiration for our competitors, they are really serious, really big and they know what they are doing,” said Spiegel in an interview. “So, I think it is always, always tough. But I don’t think you define your business, what you are doing in terms of other people. The way you have to do is what you believe in and what you want to do. And we built a team around that idea. So when you built a team that is terrific who believes in building something really meaningful, you just keep going.”

Stay Relevant for the Long Haul

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he was living in a college dorm room. Eleven years later, Zuckerberg is still leading the team to success.

Zuckerberg shows entrepreneurs everywhere what can happen if you’re willing to fully commit to an idea, a company, and a vision for the long haul. Zuckerberg was not looking to make a quick buck in college. Instead, he wanted to revolutionize the way people communicate over the Internet, and he continues to be committed to this vision.

Many experts cite Facebook’s ability to perform on mobile as a reason it’s been able to stay successful and relevant all these years. In 2004, when Zuckerberg started Facebook, mobile phones weren’t in the picture, and many other social media sites, such as LiveJournal and MySpace, weren’t able to stay relevant in a mobile world. Today, Facebook says that 87% use Facebook on their mobile devices, and roughly 48% use Facebook only on mobile devices.

Be Fearless

Electric cars, humans on Mars, and solar panels for the average joe. A few years ago, these would’ve sounded like the musings of a mad scientist, but Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity, is committed to making these dreams a reality.

Elon Musk isn’t content with the status quo, and he’s not ok with creating companies that don’t see into the distant future, even when critics say that he’s attempting to do the impossible.

He thinks about how his innovations can revolutionize and change the world — and he’s not afraid to go out and make it happen.

Whether you’re building a new software system, running the next unicorn, or opening a brick-and-mortar business, be fearless like Elon Musk. Go after what you believe is right, and don’t shrink in the face of challenges.

Lessons from them Best

As you lead a company to success, you may face challenges, but you also get to impact daily life for your customers. Look to the famous entrepreneurs that inspire you to do better and keep innovating.

Why I Do Startups (Plus Startups vs. MBAs)

Why do I do Startups?

When you’re running a startup you certainly don’t do it for the money. Paper valuations, even those worth millions, end up coming out to $0 most of the time (90% of startups fail).

And I certainly don’t do it for the stability (there is none).

So why do I do it?

It’s kind of selfish. I do it because I love what I’m doing at any given moment — all the stress, uncertainty, and anxiety around finding product market fit.

I get off on constantly having new problems to solve.

Maybe it’s because I’m trying to escape boredom. Boredom scares the shit out of me. Doing the same thing every day sounds like hell.

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.” — Thomas Carlyle

But I also think of the act of running a startup as building the life I really want to be living.

That means a life in which I’m constantly learning, facing new challenges, and then achieving and conquering those challenges. The feeling of going from being totally underwater and drowning, to occaisionally being able to come up for air, to swimming, and eventually surfing — that’s an amazing feeling and I’ve grown quite addicted to it.

The more experience you have trying new things and figuring it out, the more confidence you build in yourself and your ability to tackle bigger and greater problems.

Like in improv comedy, after you throw yourself on stage enough times without any lines, you learn to trust yourself in new and unexpected situations. There’s no way to put a value on that. It’s priceless.

It’s about trusting yourself. Knowing that you can be thrown into an uncertain situation and knowing that you’ll be alright.

Trusting that you have the ingenuity to figure it out. I believe everyone has that ingenuity but few people are willing to let themselves be scared enough to figure it out.

STRESS

People often talk about stress as something negative.

But stress can also perceived as something positive — a challenge, a new obstacle, something exciting. Weightlifters and runners talk about stress, but they perceive it differently. It’s a stress that makes you better, it’s a stress that makes you stronger.

Being at a startup is about constantly learning, and improving things like leadership, your ability working with people, and your ability to master yourself.

Developing new skills is never boring.

That’s why I do what I do.

Startups vs MBAs

Of course, some people go back to school to get an MBA. I considered it for a while.

When you get an MBA, you spend 2–3 years, pay $200k, and you get a degree. You read case studies, interview business leaders, and learn frameworks for tackling problems.

Harvard Business School relies heavily on case studies — business situations that are dissected as white papers. But these case studies are simplifications. They only show a small part of the whole picture. As Ben Horowitz would say, that’s not the hard thing about the hard thing.

If you only ever study case studies, then you’re missing out on the nuances of the situation — the people, your biases, the holistic picture — the things that are really hard that you can’t learn from a book.

To me, deciding between going to business school versus starting a business is a no-brainer. I think the best way to learn is to do something yourself. The problems you run into are the kind you never would have anticipated. The speed at which you learn those problems is so much faster.

And also you don’t end up with student loans. (Ideally, you get paid to learn.)

Plus, interestingly, entrepreneurs get paid more if they go back to the workforce (as long as they’ve been running their companies for at least 2 years). The set of experiences you get are so unique and valuable.

Starting a business is the future of education.

That’s it for today’s #FounderFriday. If you have questions, post them below or email founderfriday at onemonth.com.

How to Successfully Promote and Market Your App

Stories about successful apps are everywhere — Mint, Flipboard, Uber and many others. The companies behind these successes built apps that quickly rose to stardom, and along with that notability came large amounts of revenue. But many apps, even the most /creative, innovative and well built, don’t experience this type of success. Why?

App stores are inundated with applications. Android users have over 1.6 million apps to choose from, and Apple’s App Store users can select from 1.5 million. The competition is fierce. Understanding how to promote and market your app places you ahead of the competition, as you gain the ability to reach users on a much larger scale.

How to Promote Your App

Before taking any steps to promote your app and start wondering how to market an app, there is one decision that you need to make. You must be clear about your target audience. Who will download your application? Who will you serve? Are there several different segments or only one?

Once this decision is made, all other marketing efforts can be tightly focused, and as a result they will be more efficient. Here’s a few methods for growing your app’s user base more effectively.

Build a teaser website. This will be your hub for spreading information and capturing email addresses for people who are interested in your application. Your site should be simple and effective, and it should also include a place to blog.

Start blogging. Using basic SEO principles, write content that will draw people to your website and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. Once subscribed, you can offer valuable content, but you should also share information when your app launches. Social sharing, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, can also be leveraged to share content and connect with potential users.

Generate a plan for blogger outreach. Who is blogging in the niche that your app targets? You need to find these people, because they are influencers who can launch your app to stardom. Ask for an opportunity to guest blog to get in front of their audiences. Typically, you will include a biography at the end of the post, where you can place a link to your app.

Make the app free at the launch. Don’t create another barrier to download, especially when you’re building up reviews of the app. Any blogs discussing the app can promote it as free.

Create a podcast. In addition to your blog, you can create a podcast that is focused on your app niche. Publish on your site and also on iTunes. Or better yet, repurpose your podcasts into blog posts, or guest blog posts, to leverage your resources and reach more people.

Develop a product video. When developing your app website, create a product video that tells the story of your app’s development. Stories are powerful marketing tools and help you capture the attention of the visitor.

Create an interest-driven Facebook group. What niche does your app target? Created a targeted Facebook group, where people with common interests related to the app can get together and socialize regularly. You will build authority in the niche as the group owner and gain traction for your app.

Consider using Facebook ads. Target your specific niche, with the ability to leverage demographics and interests. When you drill down and focus on a highly targeted group of people, overall advertising costs will be lower and your ROI will be higher.

Leverage social media marketing. Host a Twitter chat to engage with people who may use your application. Take for example RunKeeper, an app that has a great blog with lots of content, including tips for runners and success stories. They share the content on Twitter, but also host a chat, where they can bring together people with common interests and build authority and meaningful connections.

Capture ratings. A higher rating in the app store translates into more downloads. So if your users love the app, ask them to spread the word. For example, Localytics uses segmentation to identify people who frequently use your application. You can then target that group with in-app messaging asking them to rate your app.

Regardless of which marketing strategy you select, it’s important to synchronize your promotions. Attempt to have almost everything appear at the same time before your app launches. This results in your target market seeing your app in several different places and thinking, “Gosh, I really need to check that app out — it’s everywhere!”

Marketing an App: What to Avoid

Some app developers make the mistake of opting for email marketing. And in general, email marketing can be effective when it’s highly targeted and integrated with your other marketing efforts. But trouble can occur when blanket or form emails are sent out with information about their applications.

You can also skip press releases when promoting your app. This method may have been effective several years ago, but today, there are millions of apps available. As a result, press releases about new apps are often discarded, resulting in wasted money, energy and time.

And finally, skip the “for pay” review sites. They often get less traffic than expected and, equally important, it’s unlikely that your target market is using those sites to make purchasing decisions.

The Next Steps

Every app developer has a different strategy, and a different budget. But the most important aspect of marketing your new app is the willingness to try many different tactics. A “one size fits all” marketing approach doesn’t exist because of the variety of preferences and review processes of your target audience. There is no one-size solution to how to promote an app; you have to consider your target audience and how to best reach them.

A willingness, however, to attempt different marketing tactics and measure those results will create a winning strategy that will result in more users downloading your app, as word spreads quickly.