Now that we’ve built two web apps, we’ve got a good perspective on what it takes to make them succeed. This is my conclusion: You’ve got to be prepared to spend cash to advertise your web app.

I’ve been spending one day a week on Amigo and it’s painfully obvious that the blogosphere is only going to get us so far.

  • Yes, Bare Naked App was a great guerrilla marketing activity (and a lot of fun)
  • Yes, getting on TechCrunch was handy
  • Yes, a lot of folks in the Web 2.0 community know about Amigo

However, none of that is yielding an increase in revenue. We’ve got a long way to go until we build a critical mass of people who use Amigo. This demonstrates the point of this post very well: Building a financially successful web app takes hard work, clever marketing and advertising dollars.

Signal Vs. Noise is not normal

I have a feeling that far too many people (including myself sometimes) think that the blogosphere is a free ticket to successful web apps. This just isn’t the truth. We all look at Signal Vs. Noise and think “All we need to do is launch a great blog like the guys at 37signals. It will create buzz around our app and then we’ll see the users flow in.”

Well, I just don’t think that’s the case. Signal Vs. Noise is an anomaly. It has a loyal readership (myself included) that is the perfect market for their apps. Jason and crew has done a fabulous job of creating passionate users. However, I don’t think their experience is easily repeatable.

Yes, the blogosphere is powerful

I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t have a great blog. It is definitely an extremely important part to any web app. However, it’s vital that you set aside money in your cash flow for advertising after you launch.

I called a friend today that runs a successful web app (the revenue from one app supports the entire company) and he said they often spend $10,000+ per month on advertising.

We were lucky with DropSend

So how did DropSend become successful with so little in advertising? There are two reasons:

  1. When you need to send a file, you’re often desperate and will often pay for the ability to do so
  2. It’s viral as it tells the file recipient about DropSend

Most apps (including Amigo) don’t benefit from these two vital elements. Most of them need good ol’ fashion advertising to spread the word.

Plan for the long haul

So when you’re planning your budget for your new web app, don’t forget that you’ll most likely need to spend money on advertising. Yes, there’s always a chance that your rocket to success because of some great press, but it’s far more likely that you’ll have to wage a long term marketing and advertising battle to rise to the top.

Having this long term perspective (instead of expecting to achieve success very quickly) will separate the truly successful web apps from the rest.