To look at websites for some of the largest online news sources (The New York Times and The Huffington Post come to mind), you’ll notice the enhanced blog format is fast becoming the CMS of choice for those who need to distribute items of interest quickly. It makes sense, for blog content is more apt to be picked up in a timely manner by search engines, and as one checks social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter you’ll find the majority of links shared go to some kind of weblog. The rise in smart phone usage, too, stands to increase readers and subscribers for blogs – if you maintain a blog and seek a stronger following, you may wish to consider making it easier for people to find you by creating an app for quick access.
Of course, if you don’t have the budget of a Huffington Post or New York Times to hire a developer to create something spiffy for you, you may be relieved to know there is a less expensive solution, provided you are willing to accept the restrictions required of each of the low-cost app developers and wizards working to cash in on the app craze.
Before you do sign off on that iPhone or Android application, however, you’ll want to take some time to consider if you truly need such a thing. Think about your blog and what you write and post: how broad or how narrow is your target audience? Do you have an established subscriber base you track from the blog statistics or through analytics like Feedburner? Do you believe you will see a healthy ROI in terms of new readership, monetary compensation from AdSense or other affiliations, or sales of products and services you promote?
Most importantly, do you really think anybody would download your app?
If you are fairly confident your blog can develop a smart phone following, and you have a few hundred dollars to spare, the next step is to research the quick-fix app developers for the right fit. Many of these companies typically develop the application using the feeds you provide from blogs, YouTube accounts, Twitter accounts and other RSS from sites or social networks. Here is a short run down of some of the most hyped developers for small budget projects.
BlogApper – This developers works mainly to produce native iPhone applications (readers can browse content whether or not they are online). Bloggers have two pricing options: pay $25 a month for continued service or pay a flat fee of $179 for a one-time production. BlogApper will take the RSS of your blog and allow you to customize with graphics before it’s submitted to the iTunes store for review.
AppMakr – What is nice about this developer is that their site allows you to see beforehand what your blog will look like as a phone app. With AppMakr you can customize your app to include blog RSS, Twitter, podcast RSS, and even iTunes feeds. Pricing options are $199 for basic services that require the AppMakr logo or $499 for publishing under your own brand.
iSites – A significantly cheaper option, iSites will produce an app for $25 which will incorporate several feeds into one application (not bad if you have a podcast or several blogs under one banner). For $99 a year you can integrate your app with a mobile advertising account like AdMob and monetize it.
As more companies turn to establishing their brand via smart phone exposure, it’s likely to see more companies spring up in the near future. If you plan to reach readers through mobile browsing, take care to investigate every app maker you consider before making the investment. Once readers subscribe, then comes the challenge of keeping your app on their phones.