Secrets of Developing A Best Selling Kids App

We recently had a chance to chat with Jennifer McCabe of Tenlin Studios about how her company develops popular apps like Licking Letters. Check out the interview for insights about how a successful children’s apps come to life, and how marketing can be a key piece of successful app development:

iKidApps: You have amazing apps, I am particularly a fan of Licking Letters. Can you please tell us how and why did you decide to become an app developer?

Jennifer: When I first got my iPhone, I wanted to use it as a phone but also as an entertainment device for my family. Some of the first apps I purchased were educational games for my daughter, who was just learning to read. After many purchases, I realized that there weren’t a ton of them that met my criteria of being super fun and educational at the same time. This was when I first started thinking of becoming a developer. Could I create a game that would make learning fun for my daughter? I had always wanted to be a game designer/developer, and this seemed like a great opportunity for me to make that “perfect” game. By becoming the designer, I could control all of the content and know exactly what my daughter would see and hear. When I first came up with the idea for Licking Letters, I tried my best to keep the game simple and enjoyable, but still educational. After the first month of development, my daughter fell in love with the game, and I knew I had created something special. I then made it my number one priority to complete the development of Licking Letters because I knew there were more parents like me, searching for that perfect educational game.

iKidApps: Please tell us about your operations for all the people who has great app ideas. Did you have the design and development sources already or did you hire people to make your idea come true?

Jennifer: Tenlin Studios is made up of a team of only 2 people – one programmer and one artist. I am the programmer/designer, and I hired a contractor to complete the art.

iKidApps: Are you satisfied with the number of sales so far that you achieved with the apps you published?

Jennifer: Sales have been steady since we released Licking Letters, including being in the top 50 paid educational games for over 3 months. We are also very proud that our game is used by many educational institutions as a learning tool for their students. The app store can sometimes be a roller coaster ride, with sales going up and down as new apps are added, but we are extremely satisfied with our sales thus far.

iKidApps: What kind of iPhone app marketing techniques did you utilize and what were the most effective?

Jennifer: What most people may not realize is that marketing your app is just as important as developing it. Not only do you need to create something fun and different, you also need to make sure your audience knows your game exists. Although some of the standard methods of marketing (web banners, press releases, etc) work fine, we found that getting reviewed by reputable children’s websites was the most helpful in getting our name out there. These websites provide people with a fast & easy way to determine the best apps in the store, which is a great help for busy parents who don’t want to waste time & money trying the apps out themselves. Also, we take all feedback and suggestions seriously and are always working to improve our products. We’ve taken many suggestions from customers and have implemented them directly into updates for the game. For example, one parent had 3 kids that all wanted to save their progress of Licking Letters on one device. We included a multi-player function in our very next update. We know that people appreciate that what they say has a direct impact on our products.

iKidApps: Do you have any Android apps, are you considering developing for Android platform? If yes why; if not, why not?

Jennifer: Currently we do not, but we plan on bringing Licking Letters to Android soon. We realize that the Android platform is a growing market and we plan on exploring it as soon as we possibly can.

iKidApps: Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Jennifer: Although we do have another game currently in development, it is too early to share details about it at this time. However, we can talk about our 4th game that we just released in the app store called Adventures of Gilbert the Ghost. In Adventures of Gilbert the Ghost, you fly through the sky as Gilbert the Ghost collecting candy that was stolen by the mean boss Dracula. There are 3 areas that you will need to conquer in order to reach your goal: The Forbidden Forest, the Ghoulish Graveyard, and Dracula’s Haunted Mansion. There are witches, bats, zombies and more that will try to stop you along the way. Even though Gilbert is cute, he is still a ghost, and that allows him to ‘BOO’ his enemies away in a non-violent manner. Three Mega-Boss Monsters add even more enjoyment to the game.

We thank Tenlin Studios for taking the time to share insights about their road to success. For more information about upcoming app releases from Tenlin Studios, follow their Facebook page.