Windows Phone: From Amateur to Professional in a Fun Way

This is a guest post by Alan Mendelevich from AdDuplex, a cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows Store applications. Read more from Alan on Windows Phone & Windows development, app marketing and monetization at http://devblog.ailon.org, http://blog.adduplex.com and @ailon.

Professionals rule the world. They run corporations, they work on the design of your next phone, they build houses and they crush their amateurish and even professional competitors every single day.

How do you become a professional?

There’s a classic route to becoming high level professional in any area. You go to college, you join some company in some field as an intern, you move up to a junior position, move up the ladder either in the same company or by switching employers and at some point you’ve arrived. Everyone regards you as a professional, an expert in your field. And you go on crushing the competition with your expertise or maybe start a new company in the field and rule that part of the world.

I’m pretty sure this path seems appealing to quite a big part of the world’s population, but I’m willing to bet that it looks totally boring to the majority of indie app and game developers. None of your “idols” got to the top the “classic” (aka boring) way. There’s no fun in that and it’s not how you want to spend your life.

“But I’m already a professional!” you say. “What are you talking about? Indie doesn’t mean amateur!” Yes, you are right. Quite possibly you are a professional app developer or game designer, but most likely you are an amateur businessman at best. And the game you are trying to play isn’t called “app/game business” for nothing.

When amateurs enter markets populated by professionals they get crushed. The iOS and Android app market is in the crosshairs of numerous professionals all over the world and while you can always point to some amateur breakthroughs they are the exceptions, not the rule.

So what do you do? How do you go from amateur to professional in a fun way without being crushed by the professional competition?

You just enter the markets before professionals put them on their map and use that time to become a professional before the cavalry arrives. They may still crush you later on, but it’s still easier to defend your position in a pro vs. pro fight than reliving the Rocky story in a real life setting.

Window of opportunity

I was a professional software developer when I’ve launched AdDuplex. I was an amateur entrepreneur. At best. I knew as little about advertising as any other amateur app entrepreneur. At best. My knowledge about user acquisition for apps and games was at the amateur level. At best.

Yet I’ve started a company focused on user acquisition and in-app advertising for mobile apps and games and it’s been fairly successful for the past [almost] 4 years. So how did I do it?

I’ve launched it in the Windows Phone market and I had at least 4 years to become a professional in the areas I was amateur in. And the ride has been a ton of fun so far. I got to meet hundreds (thousands?) of awesome people and learn from them. I got help from Microsoft and other great companies. I got to learn from my own mistakes. I got to learn from the mistakes of our would-be-competitors in the parallel universe of iOS and Android. These mistakes could’ve been fatal in an unforgiving professional fight, but when the pros look the other way they can’t take advantage of you when you put your guard down for a split second.

Can the “big boys” come and crush us anyway? Absolutely. But they will have to do it in a pro vs. pro fight now.

As an indie developer you can choose to go to a big well established market and try to fight your way up against the skilled deep-pocketed competition. Or you can choose an up-and-coming market and get your app entrepreneur degree there.

And there are way more people willing to help for free (as in beer) in this market. AppCampus will fund the development of your product and help with your go-to-market strategy and execution. Microsoft will help you with the development, user acquisition and other goodies via the Dev Center Benefits program. Fortumo will improve your monetization and maybe even help you get more users. And we at AdDuplex will help you with user acquisition and getting the most of the in-app advertising space in your apps and games. And most importantly a friendly #wpdev community will help you in all aspects of your app business. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But isn’t it a bit too late to take advantage of being early on the platform? Yes, there’s some truth to that. You can find apps and games from top publishers like Gameloft, EA, Disney or Game Insight (to name a few) in the Windows Phone store, but the majority of the professionals still don’t pay close attention to the platform (they have bigger fights to fight). So, while the window of opportunity is closing it is still open and you have the perfect opportunity to catch this train before it leaves once and for all.

Quite likely this is the last opportunity to make it from zero to hero in the mobile app space and you are perfectly positioned to seize it. Yes, there will be opportunities in other spaces but, if apps is what you want to do, you should act now.