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Wednesday 18 December 2013

How to Reward Yourself and Build a Business at the same time

I just spent the weekend in Portland, Oregon to watch my son in a swim meet.  I make my home in Canada and was contemplating all the wonderful ways that various companies are trying to encourage me to do what I really like doing anyway.  I like to write apps.  I've written a few of them.  I write software professionally but have been creating mobile apps now for more than two years.  I have been rewarded (sorry, no Ferrari or beach house in Hawaii yet) but still it's remarkable how small rewards make you feel good.  Everybody likes getting presents...

In Canada we are fortunate to have at least two great programs that I know of that will send you stuff for simply creating Apps for Windows Phone.  You even get to keep the apps and if you work hard and focus, you can build a business around it.  But the business part is really for tomorrow.  Today it's about getting stuff.  Stuff like Xbox, Laptops, Phones and many other items.

The first program you have heard about in this blog before.  DVLUP from Nokia.  It is sort of game for developers.  Write Windows Phone or Windows apps and get rewarded.  Rewards run all the way from the obligatory t-shirt to a Surface Pro.  If you are serious about developing the real gold is in some of the rewards that offer design assistance, app promotion (pump up your downloads) and other goodies.  One of things I find useful is their challenges.  Sometimes it's difficult to think of ideas.  Well, DVLUP's challenges actually give you the ideas.  All you have to do its build it, then get points.  For example I created an app "Where Am I" for a challenge.  It gave me an excuse to learn about HERE Maps and GPS in general.  Plus I got some points for it.  The app allowed you with the tap of the screen to tell your friends where you are.

There is lots of help at DVLUP too.  There are a bunch of Nokia Developer Ambassadors that will do almost anything to help you.  If you are stuck on something and can't find the answer.  Ask one of them and they will show you the way.  I've had a few occasions to ask for help and they are excited to jump right in and give you a hand.  Most of them are also Microsoft MVPs and are experts in Microsoft development technologies along with other 3rd party tools.  You really can't go wrong there and there is probably one near you.  They operate around the world.


Developer Movement (aka Code Kwondo) in Canada

Last spring and summer, Microsoft supported new app development with Developer Movement.  It was great.  You basically wrote and submitted apps and you got points that you could cash in for things like HDTVs, Stereos, Laptops and of course T-Shirts along with a bunch of other stuff.  Well, that program went on hiatus for a while and it's back and back with a "haiiiiiiiiiaaaaa".  The theme this year is a martial arts one.  Can you become a Code Sensei by creating lots of apps and earning lots of points.  The prizes are even more fabulous this year.  One big add is that they are rewarding developers that create apps that generate downloads.  If you can create an app that generates lots of downloads (more than 100) you can really rack up the points.   But of course, even more important is the fact that you can collect colored belts as you accumulate points to the point that you can become a code sensei.  Along with the program, Microsoft offers help in building your apps.  All the tools are cheap... well actually FREE.  Everything you need, including Visual Studio and Windows Azure (you get bonus points if you build with Azure).

In theory, you could earn an Xbox One (50,000 pts) for free with just two apps.  Here is the tally:
So after one app you are at a stellar 31,000 points which will get your an xbox 360 or any number of items.
  • 10,000 pts - App #2 - A second app that uses Windows Azure (easy now that you've done it once).
  • 10,000 pts - App #2 also zooms past 100 downloads
So, now you are sitting on 51,000 points.  You only need 50,000 for the Xbox one so you have enough left over to splurge on the coveted Developer Movement Shaker Bottle.  Why stop there, still lots of stuff to get.  While you are at it check out marketing opportunities for your app to pump up your downloads and earnings from the apps.  That's the business part of it.  Remember, you are SELLING your apps, even if for free.  Add advertising.  Slip in some in-app purchases.  Charge for your app.  Be rewarded for your hard work.

Did I mention you can double dip by submitting apps to both Developer Movement AND DVLUP?  Sweet eh?  Remember all the apps you create are yours to keep.  Be sure to think about things like advertising, in-app purchases or pay apps.  The stuff you create IS valuable.  Treat it that way and see what happens!

Who really wants to just eat turkey and watch football over the holidays anyway... right?

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