The app success story of Kartik Sharma, an Android developer from New Delhi, India of Kshark Apps who has got nearly 5 million downloads with a portfolio of 25+ apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Learn how he comes up with an app idea that would surely work, focuses on an ASO technique that gives 50% increase in organic app downloads and what trends he relies on to earn $10,000 per month from his app business.
Tell us about yourself and what are you working on?
I am originally from New Delhi, India but work from everywhere around the world. To put it in a better way, I am a Digital Nomad having worked from 8 countries in the last 24 months and the app business enables me to afford that lifestyle.
I consider myself a tactical app marketer who is passionate about helping people and building a sustainable app business in the process. My portfolio has around 4.7 million downloads till now and I am planning to cross 5 million soon.
How did I strike upon a goldmine in my first attempt
I started my app journey in college. I got my small moment of success when XDA -developers featured one of my opensource ‘File Explorer’ app on their home page.
XDA-developers is probably the biggest mobile developer forum with over 7 million users. Within a day, the app got downloaded over 20,000 times!
I was shocked and overwhelmed, to say the least. I had no idea the app would receive such a tremendous response when I cluelessly shared it on the forum. People started approaching me for collaborations as they believed this app could be huge.
The app kept on getting tons of installs daily as it’s only competition in that niche was a paid app. Within 2 years, the app got over 2 million downloads and at one point was getting more than 15k downloads a day.
This success taught me something great. The Top Paid section of Google Play Store is a gold mine. I would regularly check the top paid charts and then try to make a free app with a similar or better functionality and throw it to the masses.
This strategy works every single time. No longer do I have to sit and ponder if my app will work. I already know it will, because I know there is an audience for it.
I am working on some more utility apps at the moment. One of them is a direct competition to Cam Scanner which has been on the top charts forever. Let’s see if I can grab their market share!
What’s your approach to coming up with an app idea?
I almost regularly check the top charts and see what is working. I love the reviews section in the Play Store, it can give you great insights into what people want from the app.
Especially look for the 2 or 3-star reviews. They have the best insights. You can hijack the feature suggestions these users are giving and build your own app.
Did you validate your idea? If yes, how?
I do an initial market analysis by looking at the Play Store. Then I go to Google Keywords Planner, look for keywords related to that niche and look at the traffic that they are getting. (This is one of the strategies covered in 7 effective strategies to validate your app idea over the weekend)
After figuring out some keywords, I use Sensor Tower and Mobile Action to figure out the keywords which are highly searched but not that difficult to rank. Both the tools have a difficulty ranking for keywords.
Although it is a good way, I wouldn’t suggest you rely 100% on these tools as they have failed me a couple of times.
For e.g. Sensor Tower suggested, that the keyword ‘bloatware remover’ was almost impossible to rank due to its high difficulty ranking. Thank God! I didn’t pay any attention. My app ‘Bloatware Remover Free’ now ranks no. 1 for that keyword in almost every country.
How did you go about developing your app?
Although I come from an electronics background, I used to develop apps as a hobby. It was a sweet escape and I loved it. So most of my apps have been developed by me.
Except for the iOS ones, for which I hired some freelancers from Upwork.
What is your strategy for marketing your app?
I would tell you but then I would have to kill you! Haha… Jokes apart, my strategy for marketing apps is stupid simple.
My whole focus is to start getting organic traffic as fast as I can. According to a study, more than 70% installs in app stores are still organic.
I already do the keyword planning during the market validation phase as I mentioned above. Then I would go ahead and write my app title and description by using those keywords.
To know the specifics of how to do that, I would highly suggest people go and learn ASO or app store optimization. There are tons of resources on the internet for learning ASO.
Learn and implement, nothing beats execution and experimentation.
In my experiments, App Icon has the biggest role in ASO. I have seen around 30-50% increase in downloads just by changing the icon for my app. Your goal should be to stand out from the other apps in your niche.
How does your app make money? Can you talk more about growth in users and revenue?
I am a big fan of freemium model i.e keeping a free app on the play store and then directing the traffic from there to your premium app.
Right now, I would highly suggest you guys implement in-app purchases (IAPs). They can literally change the game for you. Also, in my experiments, IAPs get 80% fewer refunds than the normally paid apps. Maybe because there isn’t a directly visible button to refund those.
What’s next for you?
I have shifted my focus in recent years to pushing apps that can actually become a part of people’s everyday life. Most of my app development efforts are directed in that direction now.
I am also building a highly exclusive community of successful app developers and appreneurs to propel the growth of entrepreneurship in the app industry.
What’s your advice for app disciples who are just starting out?
Just like any business, succeeding in the app business needs some serious efforts. You can’t just push one app and expect to succeed (Although it happens, it’s extremely rare).
Keep looking at the market, see what people are looking for. Follow the trends and build on them. For e.g Bitcoin is all the craze right now, so make some app directed towards that audience.
Listen to what the market is saying, don’t blindly get romantic about your app idea.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
I recently started a blog to share my story on how I got into the app business full time. You can read it here.
If you are specifically interested in learning about the app business, I do have an exclusive group of app developers who are pushing the envelope and killing it in the app industry.
Feel free to drop a request at App Business Mastermind. Although I do require you to have done some efforts in app industry to qualify for entry. As of now, the criteria is that you should have at least one live app in the Play Store or App Store.
You can also add me on Facebook and ask your doubts. I do reply as soon as I can.
What tools/books do you find indispensable for your app business?
- Google Keyword Planner
- Sketchapp for Mac
- Android Studio