It might seem like it’s a man’s world out there when it comes to tech, but London mum-of-three Charlotte Maslen is determined to change all that. Now a hugely successful app creator and the brains behind the popular iHypnobirth app, Charlotte is launching a new educational program to inspire other women to do the same.
Her initial outlay of £400 when she set out to create an app allowing pregnant women to practice hypnobirthing has seriously paid off. She’s already earned over £50,000 in download fees on Apple’s App Store. And the message she’s determined to get out there to other women who might have a good idea, is that tech skills and experience are absolutely not important. It’s just about finding a gap in the market.
“I want to empower women,” Charlotte tells HELLO! “The fact that the tech world is run by men gives women an opportunity with apps. The difficulty we have is that when everything is created by a male brain, you have more apps that are suited to men. It’s why we need to have more women creating apps for women because we are 50 per cent of the population."
Charlotte was pregnant with her first child when she found a gap in the market
When Charlotte was pregnant with her second child eight years ago she was stunned to discover there were no hypnobirthing apps on the market. “I was learning hypnobirthing and the only option was to use a CD to practice. I worked in digital marketing but I honestly had no coding experience, but I just thought, this is crazy, I am going to make one.”
Charlotte only invested £400 in getting hold of some stock footage, and she found a developer abroad who could bring her simple app plans to life. She worked with a friend and hynobirthing practitioner to provide the meditations.
“I know everyone thinks finding a developer will be hard but it really isn’t,” Charlotte insists. “You need to think about what you are going to put in your app – mine was very simple app, all you need for hypnobirthing is to listen to the hypnosis every day, or as much as possible. So, it was about the audios really. We’ve recently done a beautiful update actually, it looks amazing now, but at first it was very simple, it looked very simple.
“I found the developer online – sites like People Per Hour or Fiverr for example. There are lots of websites where you can contact developers.”
Initially Charlotte employed a developer in India who she paid £10 per hour to create her app. “But all my updates are now done by a developer in England and she is a woman,” Charlotte says. “I feel strongly about this now. All of my apps are designed, and created by women. The content is all women, even the build is all female developers. I just think tech is so male heavy and women can do this as well.”
Charlotte now has three children (one at university, the other two school age) and finds being an app developer is the perfect role for a working mum.
“Because everything is digital, I have been working from home, which has just been so blissful because then I can just pick them up from school. I do go into London for meetings because I do work with other companies producing their apps now. But mainly I can work from home, so it is great for me.”
The main piece of advice Charlotte would offer to someone inspired to create their own app is just go for it.
“If I can do it, and I don't know how to code, and I have got 5 apps on the app store, then you can too!” she says.
Here’s Charlotte’s top tips for creating your own profitable app:
1. The Big Idea
All apps start with a great idea. If you’ve thought of an idea for an app the first thing to do is some research. Does a similar app exist? If so, could you create a better one? If an app doesn’t exist, ask yourself, how does your app idea solve a problem and help potential users? For example, when I was pregnant I wanted to download a hypnosis app for birth however one didn’t exist, so I created the iHypnobirth app.
Once you’ve decided on your app idea it’s time to think about how it will work.
Would you like it to contain audios, articles, videos? Will information feed into your app from outside sources? For example, would you like a weather or news feed in your app?
2. Create a brief
Once you’ve decided on what you’d like to include in your app it’s time to create a brief for your app designer. This sounds daunting but you can create a super simple brief. Some designers may simply need a breakdown of all the functions you’d like to include in the app and an overview of what the app does. I advise speaking with them and sharing your vision for your app.
3. Find a UX Designer
Once you have a brief it’s on to the fun part, finding someone to design your app. I advise using a UX designer. A UX designer is a user experience designer who will create designs that ensure the app is easy for the user to navigate. You can find thousands of freelance UX designers on sites such as Fivver, PeoplePerHour, Upwork, DesignCrowd. All freelancers are reviewed so you can ensure you find a reputable person and one who is suitable for your budget. I recommend requesting to see previous work, asking for a timeline and agreeing on a budget before they begin the job. They will create designs for each page of your app and a flow for how the app will work. This is called a storyboard.
4. Find a developer
You have a fantastic storyboard, now it is time to find a developer to build your application. This is the trickiest part of app development for a novice because you may not be familiar with the technical side of app development. I wasn’t when I created my first app and I’m still not technical now. As with above you can find freelance developers through websites such as Upwork, Fivver & PeoplePerHour. App development is generally cheaper if you hire a developer from abroad however the language barrier is a potential risk. Jump on a Skype call with your potential developer and ask them to talk you through your storyboard. Ensure they know exactly how the app should work. If you store your user’s data on an app you will need the developer to create a place where this will be stored. Again, ask your developer If they can help with this. I also suggest asking all developers for examples of work and contact details for previous clients. Once you’ve agreed a price and you both know exactly how the app should work the developer will start to build the application. Once they have completed the build process they will send the app to you for testing. Ensure you test it properly and if it’s not working keep going back until it is.
5. Putting your apps on the app stores
You will need to register as a developer on the Google Play & Apple app stores if your app is going to be built for both. My apps are only on the Apple store because the paid user rates were higher however you could create an app that can be used for both stores. Discuss this with your developer. Once you have an account on each of the stores your developer will upload the app for you. Your apps are now live for the world to download.
Tips for keeping costs down:
Keep it simple
The more basic the app, the cheaper the cost. I used stock photos for my first app and designed it myself. The biggest outlay was getting a developer to build it but because it was a simple app with only three screens and some audios the cost for development was less than £300. I then paid to upload to the app store which was £70 for a year’s subscription. Once I knew my app was popular I invested in creating an app with more functionality and content.
Do as much as you can yourself
You can reduce costs by writing content yourself, sourcing stock imagery online and using royalty free music. However, ensure that whatever you produce is of the highest quality. I wrote content myself, but I asked a psychologist who trained as a hypnatal practitioner to write and record the meditations so that users were getting the best experience possible.
To learn more from Charlotte, find her on Facebook : Facebook.com/appcreatorprogram
Read more inspiring stories from incredible, successful women on HELLO!'s new Empowerment Channel.