REAL Content Marketers have an iPhone App – So Here’s How to Create One!

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When it comes to content marketing tools, iPhone Apps don’t often rank highly on the list. Most content marketers would consider blogs, white papers or videos as the biggest items in their content marketing toolbox.

But when you look at the modern landscape of online users and potential prospects, the impact of mobile devices is hard to ignore. So many people are using iPhones and other smartphone devices to find information. Shouldn’t you be providing mobile app content to meet their needs?

Consider this food for thought.

  • 82% of U.S. adults are active cell phone users, and 42 percent of those users have cell phones with apps (Source)
  • By 2015, revenue for mobile advertising – fueled by connected and engaged mobile users – will increase eight-fold to around $24 billion. (Source)
  • There are 1.2 Billion internet connected smartphones presently in use worldwide. (Source)

And the term “worldwide” brings us to Kevin O’Donnell, a foreign language fiction writer, up and coming artist and master of iPhone app content publishing.  I haven’t told him this yet, but I actually found him doing a Google search for my name in Japanese (“二ール・シェーファー” for those who are curious).  Kevin mentioned me in a blog post, but as surprised as I was to find him talking about me, I was even more surprised to hear that he had become an overnight iPhone app ninja.  You see, even though Kevin had little to no experience with coding to start with, he’s developed a simple process for creating content-based iPhone apps that are increasing his visibility and profitability as an author.

From Blogger to App Developer

As a content creator and blogger, Kevin, better known to fans as “Dogentricks,” was frustrated with trying to publish his content in more accessible ways. He grew a fan base on social media and with blogging and was ready to take the next step to publish his work.

“Much like most content creators on the web, one of my primary goals was to be seen by as many people in as little time as possible. I figured that creating a free content base to attract readers would be the best way to start; this way I could monetize products (book applications) after developing a solid foundation,” he shares.

He first considered eBooks, and found that while they were easy to make – they weren’t visually interesting. He wanted to find a better way to distribute his work that would be engaging for the reader.

“The idea of turning my books into iPhone applications was rather daunting at first, but the more I looked into it, the more I realized the feasibility,” says Kevin. Although he initially thought he’d need a professional coder to complete the job, he got by with tutorials, pre-written codes and a lot of trial and error.

Since launching his iPhone apps, he’s been feature multiple times on the Japanese iTunes store and has received several letters of intent from Japanese publishing companies interested in formally publishing his work. His downloads to date are roughly 13,000 for free applications, and 250 for paid applications. Plus he’s been doing all of this while working full time as a middle school English teacher.

The Step by Step Guide to Creating Apps for Content Marketing

Having no experience in developing iPhone apps didn’t stop Kevin, and it shouldn’t stop you. Even though you’re likely not looking to get your Japanese language short fiction published, you can learn a lot from Kevin’s process. Using these steps, you can expand your content marketing efforts to make something unique for the large (and ready to buy) mobile market.

Step 1 – Convert your content to a PDF.

After proofing your content throughout, save it as a PDF using your favorite PDF creator tool (like Adobe Acrobat). Be sure that your text and images convert well into the PDF format.

Step 2 – Convert the PDF to JPEGs.

This step will save your PDFs as readable images. Each page will be become a single JPEG. Kevin recommends “PDF to JPG” on the Apple App Store.

“The reason I went with this one is because I needed vertical text support; changing my word documents into JPEGS was the easiest way for me to avoid frustrating code,” says Kevin,  “I encourage users to explore their options before deciding what type of code they want to use.”

Step 3 – Become a member of the Apple iOS developer team to obtain licenses for your content. 

This is Apple’s way of “patenting” the app that you create. It costs $99 per year to hold a developer’s license that allows you to create apps for the iOS platform.

“The paperwork with Apple can be a bit of a hair puller at times,” shares Kevin, “but there are a lot of useful YouTube video tutorials on this step.”

Step 4 – Download a pre-written code to format your app.

Kevin selected a comic book code that would best display the pages of his story in sleek way on iOS devices. The Code Store and other outlets sell pre-written iOS code that you can use to customize the look of your app. Look for something that will integrate well with your format and make your app simple to read.

Step 5 – Drag and drop the JPEGs into the code.

Your pre-written code will come with an instructional PDF that describes how to display the content. Although this process may take some getting used to, it gets faster with time.

“For me, it took me around one week to get my first application online, one day for the second, and around a few hours for the third (not including the time it takes apple to approve things).

Step 6 – Upload your new app to iTunes connect.

During this step you’ll also be able to decide on the price. Kevin recommends watching the step by step video tutorials for submission. “It’s not hard, but it can be complicated,” he advises. After submission, you wait for approval from the Apple iTunes program and then your app is live.

Kevin experimented with price for a while. Although most of his downloads have been free, he has experimented with offering $.99 downloads to monetize his work. He noted that the price change from free to $.99 and back again triggered some new downloads due to tools that alert users of discounts on apps. You may be able to use this to your advantage to trigger some attention.

Making This Idea Work for You

With the technology and steps that Kevin used, you can create content resources that can be purchased from the iTunes store. In fact, you may already have a half dozen pieces that are ready for conversion into mobile app form. If this is the case, Kevin advises to convert them together.

“For users with a significant content base looking to get multiple applications on the iTunes store, I recommend doing everything all at once,” he says, “Although the process is not necessarily difficult, it can be very finicky at times; uploading multiple applications at a time will definitely stream line your work flow.”

So how long is it going to take you to get an iPhone app up and running? If you’ve got white papers, checklists, guides or other content marketing on your blog or website, there’s no reason why you can’t create an iPhone app from your work. Or think outside the box and look for ways to create brand new content for the mobile market. What types of users are accessing your site through their mobile devices – and how can you meet those needs?

Now that you’ve seen the steps, what do you think? Is an iPhone app in your content marketing future?

About the Interviewee

Kevin O’Donnell, more commonly known as Dogentricks, is a visual artist and up and coming writer in the Japanese literary scene. After studying Japanese intensively at Keio University, Kevin began dabbling in the lunacy known as foreign language creative writing. This eventually led to “Zatsubunshu,” a collection of short stories, personal anecdotes, and poetry. Notable achievements include multiple features on the Japanese iTunes store, letters of intent from Japanese publishing companies, and a maximum power level of 16,000 (when using kao-ken).  Check out Kevin’s introductory video here:

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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    • says

      That is a good question, Bob. I would imagine it is … the trick is to find prewritten code to format your mobile app. You should start with the link above to The Code Store to see if they have an Android templates. Good luck with it!!!

  1. says

    Neal, what a cool, step-by-step detail of mobile content marketing approach.  Thanks for sharing Kevin’s story and his business roadmap, warts and all!

    • says

      Thanks Joel – and sorry for the delay in getting back to you! Yes, I didn’t want to do just an “interview” for an interview’s sake – the purpose of this blog is to give practical advice that you can replicate. It doesn’t happen with every blog post, but I do my best to make it happen!

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