Outsource or DIY (Other little-known options for app development)

There is life out there! Sometimes you don’t know if you’re talking into the big black hole of cyberspace, or if someone’s actually on the other end…

After my last post, I received an email asking me why I would hire a freelancer (outsource) and not build it myself, especially since I described it as a “simple” app?

It’s a reasonable question, given there are many do-it-yourself platforms for app development now on the web. So…

How do you decide whether to build it yourself, or hire someone else to build it for you?

There are a lot of considerations, but for me:

The most obvious answer would be based on your skills and abilities to be able to build your own app, but even more so, it’s based on your time and budget.

Although I am somewhat interested in the ins-and-outs of programming, it doesn’t light my fire. I just don’t have the interest level to build-it-myself, which means if I were to hit a stumbling block, it might jeopardize my whole project. Having an individual or a team of experts will cost you more, but technically they should save you time and headaches, and may also provide invaluable insight into functionality or user experience (that you may not have otherwise known).

I also have a young family (= lack of time) and a full-time day job (= additional lack of time, but some budget to work with), so outsourcing makes sense for me personally.

Do-It-Yourself App Development

However, with that being said, there are tools out there that allow you to build your own apps, for a relatively small fee (compared to the hourly wage charged by programmers), and you don’t need any knowledge of code or programming experience.

I’ve come across a couple such recommended platforms through my research and the various other blogs and podcasts I like to follow:


AppsZero lets you build apps, without knowing anything about coding – essentially doing to apps what WordPress has done for websites. Instead of spending hours manually editing code just to insert a blog post, you just push a button, write, and click to publish.

AppsZero claims to have created one of the most easy to use, intuitive ways to build apps, and all you have to have is the idea (although there are a ton of ideas when you check out their site and see some of the other apps). Their site has a gallery of existing app templates, related to restaurants, retail, fitness, etc. From what I gather, this would be ideal for an existing business, both online and bricks-and-mortar, to get exposure on the app market quickly and easily.

This service also publishes your apps for you – whether it’s for Google Play, iTunes, Kindle, etc. – and even though it’s apparently plug-and-play, they still have live chat 24-hours a day (so even if you manage to muck up this basic system there is support there to help you solve your problems). And their biggest claim to fame? They report that their average user is pulling in just under $1,000 USD per month.

The App Shortcut

The App Shortcut, developed by the Free the Apps creators, also provides a framework for those with zero experience to be able to get an app up and running in hours, and making money within a week.

Similar to the plug-and-play model used by the AppsZero service, The App Shortcut provides source code and “done-for-you” ready made apps, specializing in entertainment type apps (e.g. Funny Me, Zombie Me, iFart, etc.) that really only needs your personal customization.

But their secret sauce appears to be their training systems on app creation, traffic strategies (to attract customers to your apps) and Android-specific training.

Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income (one of my personal heroes) has recommended this product from the Free the Apps guys. Although I haven’t tried it personally, I trust the source of the recommendation, so I expect it would be worthwhile for anyone interested in building apps for the first time.

Outsourcing App Development

Not only do I lack the time to complete the job myself, I already have experience in outsourcing projects, particularly on Elance and have had relatively good success with that process.

Although it’s highly likely I would’ve gone this path anyway, I was particularly influenced in going this route when I read Chad Mureta’s App Empire. It’s a fantastic read – very comprehensive with easy to follow how-to information on app development and marketing, with advanced techniques on monetization and business automation.

Chad’s had massive success (yes, millions in revenue from apps), which provides for both inspirational and practical real-world examples. Where this book separates itself from other programs is its insight on how Chad assesses potentially winning app ideas, which is of particular interest to Testing the Muse readers.

I was first introduced to Chad’s App Empire book through Tim Ferriss’s blog, of which I’m obviously a huge fan and heavily influenced by The 4-Hour Workweek. Chad’s personal story and the rise of his App Empire blew me away – very inspirational, with tons of actionable advice.

Inspiration and how-to guidance aside, one of the main reasons why I outsourced my first app is for precisely that reason: it’s my first time. I want to be able to view and direct the process from start to finish, without increasing the inevitable headaches by adding a new learning program or course to the mix. Focus on concept and user experience, and hand the programming to the experts (for the first time, at least).

The secondary reason for outsourcing is for speedy development. Handing a job over to others who’ve done it before and know what they’re doing should make the process more efficient, right? I bloody hope so.

As for timeliness, I also just wanted it done ASAP. No, this is not a Christmas or retail-related app, but it is important that I release it before the start of the New Year.  It also creates for a nice tight, but realistic, timeline to be able to keep the project moving forward. I may optimistic on this point, so we’ll see how things progress (slow so far!)

For future app development, after doing research on the programs outlined above, I admit I am interested in spending a little bit more time to experiment with DIY platforms. It might be a fun personal challenge to use one or more of the above resources to build an app myself once a little bit of time opens up.

If you’ve built an app yourself, and had little or no prior coding experience, let us know how it went in the comment section!

Or, if you’re someone who’s interested in trying to build an app yourself, use one of the platforms above and let us know about your experience in the comment section. That would be an amazing way to share your experience with this community.

Because of this question from a reader, and the several resources mentioned in this post, it only made sense to add a Resource page to the website. Visit it here.

This will be the new home for all the tools used on idea testing and business validation used on this site, as well as any resources that may help you on your way to testing your own muse.

My next to-do:

  • Set-up the Test LAB (resource page) with references and links to various resources mentioned to-date.
  • Follow up with freelance prospects on Elance that have bid on my app project.
  • Keep up with the schedule of producing at least one new blog post per week (no small task with a toddler and an infant! :)

 Action you can take:

  • Visit the Test LAB (Resources page) to follow-through with building your own app.
  • Comment below if you’ve built an app yourself, with little or no prior coding experience.
  • Comment below if you have or plan to use one of the platforms above – let us know about your experience!

Yours truly,


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