Would you Adam and Eve it…..

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This is it…. we’ve bloody done it! We have actually built a children’s app. From scratch, with no experience what so ever, very little money and around the comings and goings of 4 children! and what’s even more amazing is it looks bloody brilliant! It’s far better than I could have hoped for and in fact better than some of the apps I’ve downloaded for my kids.

In the space of 10 months we’ve gone from concept to a finished product with only a few small detours around kids holidays, false starts and breakdowns! What a fantastic end to the year. For me, personally, I started the year feeling lost in unemployment and motherhood (as wonderful as it is!). Now, I’m really excited about where this road might take me.

It’s been a tough year for lots of reasons, but without exception, everyone has been fantastically supportive, helpful and enthusiastic, which has been invaluable as we’ve dragged ourselves over the finishing line!

We submit the app to Apple tonight and then, as long as they pass it, we will launch on the 21st December. The best Christmas present I could ask for and hopefully one you will all get too….. no pressure obviously!

We plan to video the app tomorrow and will upload it to YouTube for you all to see.

Thanks to the faith people put in us we dared to doing something crazy…. now I just hope it pays off!

Feeling the Love… locally!

It’s the digital age of twitter, facebook, skype, myspace (does that still exist actually), blogs etc and you do get caught up in the importance of globally connecting. The world is your market place, so they say. Especially when you’re producing a digital product that needs no transportation, shipping or even shelf space.

I love this idea. This commercial freedom to provide products and services to countries I can only dream of visiting. It’s the business utopia where you can connect with potential customers regardless of marketing budgets and advertising. The online connected world gives us the opportunity to canvass potential customers and get product feedback whilst still creating the product.

All this is great but….. on Friday I went to a local networking meeting. It was in a pub (hence my attendance) and only a handful of local start ups were there. We were all in different fields and heading down different roads but there was so much commonality to what we were trying to achieve.

I realised it was the first time I had actually described what we were doing to a group of people I didn’t know. It was so much harder than I thought! I am used to explaining it via email, blogs, Facebook with the luxury of the backspace button. But there, in front of real people, having to be articulate, enthusiastic and professional…. I think I failed there. I waffled a lot! And used the phrase ‘kind of like…’ a lot.

But everyone was so supportive and genuinely a) trying to understand what I was bloody on about and b) really wanting to help. There was some advice and offers of help but most importantly lots of enthusiastic smiling faces offering a friendly nudge of confidence.

So as much as I’m all for the global digital marketplace, I’m going to make sure I take enjoyment from the local support on offer too!

Deadline, Shmedline I Say

So the impending deadline looms. We have to submit to Apple by the 10th December if we want to launch the app before Christmas. The 10th December felt like “loads of time” in spring, and “enough time” in summer and “holy crap not enough time” now.

What is it about deadlines that mean you never actually work to them? They are a phantom goal you try not to think about too much. Something that starts off feeling sensible and organised but turns into a mythical point in time.

Don’t get me wrong, we are right on schedule…. if you assume we don’t eat, sleep or need the toilet for the next 3 weeks.

So there is only one thing for it…. child labour. We have 4 kids between us, who, lets be honest don’t really pay their way. It’s about time we got them to pull their weight. What’s the saying about monkey’s and typewriters? Its worth a shot I reckon….

Calculated or impulsive purchasing?

The question for today; Do you download apps to your iPad or your iPhone or both? Mr Tiny Shiny Apps (dev guy) raised a very interesting point. Do people download apps on their iPad for their kids to use at home or on their phone as a distraction tool in a crisis?

I only download apps on to my phone. Mainly because that iTunes account is linked to Mr M’s bank card…. oooops, cover blown now! But I have to say I definitely use them to distract the kids when I need them to be moderately still! Example being; talking to the mechanic about my MOT fails…. grrrr! Or when I’m taking my Mum for lunch so she has the (false) impression my children will sit for a civilised meal.

But I guess I should download them on to my iPad instead, and then they can actually see all the graphics and functionality. This is particularly true for the Phonics apps where Daisy really struggles to make her letter writing fit the tiny screen on my phone.

Always fancy dress day for Daisy!


So what stops me?

I don’t think about getting apps when I’m at home. Its when I’m out and its more of an impulsive purchase based on where we are or who we are with. I don’t think I have ever bought an app based on a top ten listing I’ve read….. or is that just me?

Really interested to hear your thoughts?

We need a power punching, marketing synposis please….

Excitingly we are getting closer to launch. I know you are all gagging to see it! But now we are so close we have been telling more people about it. The problem is we are a bit crap at explaining it! I was asked today ‘so i hear you’re doing an app thing? whats that all about?’ Straightforward question I hear you say. And this is where i deliver my power punching marketing synopsis to my audience, so they say ‘ahhh, i get it now. That’s a great idea, I’m in!’

In reality i went ‘errrr…. ummm…. its a kids app…. for kids…. on an ipad….. OR PHONE…’ I shout at her as she walks away out of boredom. My killer sales pitch was accompanied by these bemused facial expressions as I scrambled for my words.

‘well…errr…ummm’

‘it’s a bit like….errrr… a game thing’

‘or maybe more like a book…. on your phone….or…. stuff….’

So in long shpeel “Goldilocks and the 3 bears is a kids book app, primarily for kids to enjoy as entrainment rather than a educational tool. Its beautifully illustrated and will catch, and keep, children’s attention for long enough for you to have a cup of tea. It wont change your life, it wont get your kids through the 11+ but it is lovely, engaging and will give you a giggle. It will be available on iPad, iPhone and Kindle Fire in December 2012″
Can you help me get a shorter punchier synopsis please….

And don’t worry, no brain cells were injured during the making of this post…

This is why I’m not the artist….

A whole day spent on ‘designing’ the website and this is my output… oh dear, stick to what you know Melbourne!

Make it look just like that please….

But on a more seious note, what do you think gives an app credibility on its website? Apart from the words ‘Disney’ of course…

A storyboard you say????

We think we’ve found a builder! A real life, competent developer who isn’t scared off by our inexperience or our irritating need to have everything explained 100 times. Brave man he is.

But because he is a serious professional (unlike us!), he actually wants us to tell him what we want?!! And not in a “well… errr… sort of like… errr… nice” way. He wants details and specifics of exactly what each frame is going to do. Hmmmm you may think “well surely you have that by now”. Actually no! We kind of know what we want to happen in each frame but actually documented it in detail….. no. Slapped wrists all around and we get scribbling.

A storyboard he says, and we nod, nonchalantly, as if we know what that means/looks like. A few google searches, phone calls and frantic scribbling later and we have a start.

Being from the digital generation though we have to print every frame off, hand write what we want to happen and the type it all back up. No matter what, I don’t think I will ever be paperless…. even when creating a paperless children’s book…. Oh dear, anyone spot a flaw in my marketing plan?

It’s money where your mouth is time, Melbourne

There’s no putting it off any longer…. it’s time to get serious. I can’t play at this anymore. It’s time to create a development milestone plan and hand over some serious cash! Gulp

It’s not that I don’t believe it will be good, i do! But it feels a massive step to commit serious money to what is, after all, a punt. Its a gamble and it requires more skin in the game than a £1 lottery ticket. If it’s a success I’ll wonder why I was so nervous and reticent but if its a flop I have to go and explain to Mr M why he can’t have any time off work for the next 5 years……

Yes, its keeping me up at night wondering what the hell I’m doing and why I don’t just forget about the whole thing but I think I’m past the point of no return. I’m just as anxious about not finishing it as I am getting the bloody thing out there.

Comforting words of support required please…..

Oh and if anyone has any app sales data that isn’t written by the Brothers Grimm, I’d be really keen to see them!

Sound Advice?

I’ve been reading about how to use music within your app effectively. It wasn’t something I’d thought much about to be honest. I kind of thought I would attach some subtle, unintrustive background music and that would be it. But yet again there seems to be a whole wave of ‘specialists’ theorising about what music to use or not. I mean, I kind of assumed D-Mob – We Call It Acieed wouldn’t be appropriate so surely its not that tricky to find something…

I had some killer moves for this…. No really, I did!

Remember this video? Was that guy really a pop star???

However, I had forgotten how personal music is to people, and even kids. Daisy loved One Direction’s “Beautiful”, until her 7 year old niece told her it wasn’t cool and now she hates it! (yet secretly sings it repetitively). Harper is a massive “who let the dogs out” fan but as a parent it drives me mad. So there has to be a balance between kids accepting it and parents not wanting to rip their ears off.

It has to be something instrumental only so it doesn’t interfere with the reading audio and sound effects and something not on a loop every 30 seconds. And most importantly it has to be free to use…. So I figure I’m gonna DIY it. Now where’s that flute… *rummages in box of junior school stuff*

Any suggestions welcome?

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