How to make a mobile app on a very small Budget

How to make an app on without spending a lot of money?

Hi friends, in today’s insight, we are going to look at how you can make a great mobile application on a very small budget. We are going to look at the amazing tools you can use and the strategies you can employ to achieve this.

This approach is also scalable, allowing you to scale as your user base grows. For the sake of Diana, let us dive in.

NOTE: We are assuming that you have a computer, an internet connection, and programming skills. We will not account for the cost of getting these things. You also need a mobile app idea, an idea that solves a real problem.

WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE A MOBILE APP?

Mobile application development is a very demanding and expensive undertaking. You need a set of skills and tools to use for development. You will need a team of programmers and designers, you need servers, testing devices, computers, data access through APIs, etc. Most of these things will come at a cost.

In order to make a great mobile app on a very small budget, you need to find an alternative to most of the aforementioned. It simply means you will need a very small team or a one-man team. You will have to do most other things yourself, this can take a lot of development time but it can be done.

A CHEAP APPROACH

We are going to get rid of some of the things that we need for mobile app development and use third-party free services for most of our implementation. We will not own any server or assemble a team. We will need a computer, internet connection, and a testing device (Your personal phone).

By doing this, we will get rid of the development cost almost entirely. The biggest cost that we will have is time (since time is money) and distribution costs (Google play store or Apple’s app store). So, what platforms should you use to make sure the development cost is extremely low?

PLATFORMS AND FRAMEWORKS

There are many free and open source platforms and frameworks that can help you to develop Mobile applications. If you want to go native, Android Studio and Xcode are freely available.

For cross-platform development, React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, Ionic, and Cordova are all available for free. To save some development time and lower the cost, we recommend React Native.

With React Native, you will be able to develop Android and IOS applications from one codebase using React and JSX (a Javascript syntax extension).

Many wonderful applications such as Facebook, Shopify, Flipkart, Pinterest, Bloomberg, Skype, Oculus, Vogue, Tesla, Wix, Instagram, etc have been built with React Native on the Front-End.

React Native has a huge community and a lot of open-source packages to help you extend the functionality of your app.

react native apps
Mobile apps built with React Native

How about the backend? Aren’t servers expensive? How do you make an app with data access and a small-budget backend infrastructure?  Well, this is where Firebase comes in.

BACKEND SERVICE

Using firebase will make your work very easy as a mobile app developer. Firebase is a Backend as a Service (BaaS) offered by Google for creating Mobile apps and web apps.

Firebase comes with Analytics, Authentication, Real-time Database, File storage, Hosting, Machine Learning, Cloud Messaging, Cloud Functions, Remote Config, and many other services. The good news is firebase has a free tier called Spark Plan to help you get started.

Using React Native and firebase will reduce your development cost to almost zero. You don’t have to implement your own authentication or manage your own servers. You simply link firebase to your React Native project and it does most of the heavy lifting for you.

You must note that as your userbase grows, your app will go beyond the free threshold allocation and you will be required to pay for the extra resources that your users are using. Your app would probably be making money at this point to pay for extra resources.

Up to this point, your only costs are your time, computer, and internet connection charges yet you have your backend and frontend sorted out.

Assuming that you have gone through the entire development and testing process and your app is read for your audience, it is time to deploy it to a distribution platform.

DISTRIBUTION YOUR APP

If you want your app to be downloaded by the millions, you will need to submit it to a distribution platform such as Google Play Store for Android or Apple’s App Store for IOS. This is where you spend a sizeable amount.

If you want to Deploy to Google’s Play Store, you will need to open a developer account and pay a one-time fee of $25. If you would want to deploy to Apple’s App Store, you will need a developer account which comes at $99 per year.

If you really want your app to be in the hands of millions, you need to deploy it to these two platforms at all costs.

However, if you just want your app to be online, you have a free third option of distribution. You can deploy your app to Amazon App Store for free. You must note that not many people use the Amazon app store.

USER ACQUISITION

Building Mobile applications on a very small budget allow you to spend some of the funds on user acquisition through different forms of marketing.

If you still want to maintain a small budget, there are many ways of marketing that you can employ to increase your user base. We will explore these in future insights.

MONETIZATION

By this point, you would have built your app on a shoe-lace budget. You can monetize it for free using various means. Here are the ways of monetizing mobile apps.

CONCLUSION

You can see from this that once you have a computer, a testing device, and an internet connection, you can make a great mobile application with authentication, Real-time data access, file storage, analytics, and more. All these can be achieved on a very small budget.

Your only expenses will be to pay for distribution platforms (Play Store & App Store). $25 for android only, $99 for IOS only, and $124 for both android and IOS.

Practical Guide to Mobile App Development