How To Create An iPhone And Android App For $25


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A couple weeks ago, Robert Scoble tweeted out a link to an interview with a couple entrepreneurs who did something I haven’t seen others perfect. They came up with a way to let anyone create an iPhone application without developer knowledge or a lot of cash. Of course, I was thrilled about the idea and a little apprehensive about the results, but I just had to try it out.

isites screen

Their company, Genwi, recently launched iSites.us, a site that enables people to easily create an application for the iPhone and Android platforms with little effort, and little cash outlay. The whole process involves $25 (or $99 – see below), some image preparation, and about 10 to 15 minutes of your day. This is followed by a week or two of waiting, depending on demand.

Preparation and Planning

iSites offers a couple different pricing options. The more expensive option gives you full control over advertising, allowing you to have your own ads embedded in your app or none at all. The cheaper option (the one I chose) is $25 and includes their own ads in your application. The ads really aren’t in the way, so for me, this was not a problem. If you want your own ads, you’ll need to make sure you have an account with the ad network you choose, but either way, give it a little thought and determine what will work best for you and your budget.

Another thing you need to worry about is your brand management. Before starting, think about your application’s title and description as well as keywords. Additionally, there are a few images you have to have ahead of time. You need an icon, an iTunes display image, a banner and a splash screen image (see the iSites Learn More page to get a peek of the image size and file type requirements. It’s best to have these images all ready to go to streamline the creation process.

Finally, you should grab the category feeds for your blog or site so you can have categories in place when the app launches. The more frequent your content, the more categories you may want to have set up.

Creation and Approval

The creation process and completed application is better seen than described, so I’ve included a video showing the process. For the most part, it’s about 10 minutes of filling out web forms and uploading some images. After that, it’s just a game of waiting for an email announcing the completion of your application.

There may be the rare case in which your application is not approved. In this case, you’ll need to revise text, images, title, etc until it’s approved. When the whole process has been completed, you can just search for your app and download it.

Completed Application

Once completed, the application doesn’t have a lot of features, but it does have some of the important ones. When you start up the application, the first thing you see is the splash screen. I saw at least one other company creating iPhone apps while inserting their own brand here, so I really liked that iSites helps you insert your own branded spash screen here. The app then loads up to the Home screen which shows a listing of your recent posts with thumbnails where available. Each post can be selected to view and read. While reading a post, you can jump up or down a post, favorite it or share it via email, Facebook, or Twitter. The sharing options are a must for an application like this.

photo photo photo photo

Over all, the application is really smooth and brings my blog to a whole new audience pretty seamlessly. Better still is the ability to manage it from the iSites web site control panel. From the control panel, I can change my images, description, etc. Additionally, I can add or change categories and other feeds. This really does feel like a pretty decent blend of control and simplicity.

Application Analytics

I love numbers. More than just any numbers, I love numbers that tell me people are reading what I write. Even before purchasing my app creation, I was a little excited about the prospect of seeing how many people downloaded my iJoeTech iPhone application. Once the app has hit the app store, you have analytics at your fingertips via the iSites web site control panel.

iphone app analytics

Amazingly, I had a nice bunch of downloads of my app before I even knew it was in the App Store. Pretty exciting. While it’s fun to watch, the numbers are important as a barometer for how your keywords and other criteria work to get someone to look at your app and then to download it.

What’s Missing?

I’m not sure if the analytics pages cover just the iPhone downloads or both iPhone and Android. I’d love to see analytics for both on the same graph. It would also be nice if the application had an option to open a post in Safari. Most of all, though, I’d love if there was some way for the application to hook into my WordPress and let the user submit a comment right from the app.

Conclusions

I’ve been wanting to create a JoeTech.com app for the iPhone for a while now and although I had seen other offerings, this one resonated with my mostly due to the ease of setup and the low cost. It truly is pretty amazing that I can give JoeTech.com readers a customized iPhone application so easily for only $25. I think every blog should have such an app and iSites.us is the place to get it done.

How Blog Spam Works


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Yesterday, along with my normal blog spam I clear out daily, I found one that stood out. Instead of the script that was being used actually formatting the spam as it was intended, it dumped the whole spam template as a comment on one of my blog posts.

{hi|hello|howdy|greetings|gooday} there, i just {stumbled|came across|discovered|found|saw} your {blog|website|site|web portal} via {google|yahoo|bing}, and i must say that you write {exceptionally|pretty|interestingly|awesomely} {well|good} on your {blog|website|site|web portal}. i am really {impressed|taken|moved|motivated|struck} by the {way|mode|method} that you write, and the {content|message|subject} is {superb|good|great|quality|excellent}. {anyway|anyhow|anyways|in any event|in any case}, i would also like to know whether you would like to exchange links with my {blog|website|site|web portal}? i will be more than {happy|willing} to reciprocate and {put|enter|insert|drop} your link off in the {link exchange area|blogroll|link section}. {waiting|looking|anticipating} for your {reply|answer|response|respond}, thanks and {cheers|have a great day|enjoy your day|gooday}!

To other bloggers, this may look a little familiar. It’s the popular complimenting blog spam. The idea is to compliment the blogger so that he or she will want to approve the comment. Once the comment is approved, the spammer has a link back to their site and, depending on the threshold of the blog, the spammer has a previous comment and may be auto-approved for future comments. The script seems to choose randomly from each of the variable pieces of content to eventually form a comment that is supposed to appear to be hand written for your blog. Don’t get fooled by this junk.

The spam I got was from michaelwoo.net, which is the web site of some kid who seems to think he’s on the right track in online marketing. His contact email is me@michaelwoo.net which he spells out on his site as “me@michaelwoo dot net”. I find it funny that he’ll use a script to comment spam popular blogs, but takes measures on his own site to prevent spam-harvesting scripts from getting his email address.

10 Critical Blogging Tips I Learned At Phoenix WordCamp


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Yesterday, I got up earlier than normal and instead of heading into work, I headed out to meet up with Wes Novack at Phoenix WordCamp, a Phoenix gathering of about 400-500 bloggers, for a day of WordPress and general blogging education.

photo

Phoenix isn’t the only city to have a WordCamp. They’re all over and they’re a great way to get a ton of important blogging tips for only about $30 to get in. If you’re a blogger, find your local WordCamp and buy your ticket early because our WordCamp sold out. I learned way too much to post it all here, but I’ve pulled out the most important tips for you below:

Read and Re-read Before Publishing

Originally expressed during the keynote from Lorelle of Lorelle on WordPress, this was reiterated throughout the day by other speakers. Be it text or video, photos or audio, take a look when you’re done and edit as needed. Then read through it again just to be sure. There’s nothing worse than publishing a post only to have someone point out mistakes after most of your readers have already seen it.

Publish With Intent

Whether you’re writing a review, a how-to, or just an editorial piece, do it with intent and know what your intent is going into it. Loreelle reminded us that if you publish with intent, it will show through to your readers.

Don’t Plagiarize

It’s easy on the web to just take good content and share it as your own. Lorelle couldn’t stress enough that this is just unacceptable. Not only can it make you look bad, but you’re also not offering anything original to your readers.

Be Timeless

Yet another top tip from Lorelle is to write timeless content, and I couldn’t agree more. Unlike a newspaper, you want people to find your post for the first time months or years later. When they do, it shouldn’t feel old or outdated.

To Stand Out, Be Outstanding

What a great point made by Dave Moyer, from wordcastpodcast.com. When you look at a blog and it’s just OK, you probably won’t be back. It’s the outstanding blogs that are rewarded with reader loyalty.

Make Use Of Keywords

GoDaddy.com not only sponsored the event, but they threw in their SEO expert, Jim Christian. In addition to a lot of other great SEO tips, Jim reminded us that you should use your target keywords in the post’s title, description, keywords, and any tags. You can’t retain readers if they can’t they find you to begin with.

Engage Your Audience

Writing is only half the job, cautioned Jayson Cote’ from WPCOOP.org. The other half, he says, is engaging your audience, and I agree completely. I don’t always respond to every comment on my blog, but I try to personally respond to most and this theory carries over to your social media as well. Social media is a two-way conversation.

Find Your Unique Voice

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders, the best speaker of the day in my opinion, warns against being average. He says, “It is very hard for someone to become you because of blank. Find out what that blank is.” This will also make it a lot easier for people to remember you. Most of the sites I visit are from memory and not bookmarks.

Merlin Mann (43folders.com) at Phoenix WordCamp2009

Give More Than You Get

Merlin could not be more clear about his stance on social media and blogging and how he hates that so many people want to create a selfish, one-sided relationship with their readers. Everyone wants to be successful and help themselves, but the best way to do that is to give first. When you do that, good things will come back to you.

Form = Function

That is to say that neither form nor function is most important. When you design or choose a template for your new blog, be sure to think about design, but make sure you think about usability and function, too. The two should compliment each other.

I hope these tips help you and if you have your own, please leave them in the comments.