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  • Writer's pictureLeo J Barnett

How to Build an App for FREE in 2024

Creating an app is hard and certainly costs money to do well and right. Users expect near perfection these days in design and function so you almost HAVE to spend some money in the right place with the right team at some stage. BUT Perhaps you're just starting out and don't want to spend a penny or want to test the water. You've got to beg, steal or borrow, or spend some TIME making it happen for free. Your options to build an app for free: #1 Learn how #2 Use an online Low code builder #3 App Takeover #4 Find Students #1 Learn How to make an app yourself Of course, the #1 way to do this is by learning how and doing it yourself. You either become a sh*t hot designer or a developer, or you're a rare outlier that does both! Take your pick. At least if you're one of these you can find a co-founder to work with. You might also fall in love with the process and find yourself a new career. What we need to build an app: 1. Design Software & Tools: Design & development go hand in hand. Users won't touch anything that doesn't look and feel beautifully modern. First impressions count for a lot so you need a pro design programme to knock up your vision before it goes to development. You'll also be designing app screens, wireframes, App Store screenshots, marketing materials and brand identity. Free: Figma for App design & Canva for social media and marketing Paid: Sketch (for everything) Learn Figma with free design tutorials on Youtube: Envato Tuts - Big tutorial playlist Rino De Beor - LivingwithPixels - Figma expert
Figma Design tutorial - Build app for free
Free AI logo Design: Midjourney - Enter very specific prompts for the style you desire. Logo AI - Easy prompts for a range of quick generic logos.
LogoAI Interface - get a free logo
2. Appstore Developer Accounts Ok so these are costs you can't avoid. This is where apps are uploaded and managed. You DON'T need to pay this to build your app but do to make it publicly available. iOS Connect Account - £79 per year. Android Play Console - $25 one time payment. 3. Development Software Assuming you have a laptop you'll need some specific software to code your app. If you don't, try visiting a local library or university to use their resources for free. React Native - Learn this and you can build one code base and reply to both Apple and Android
 Learn React Native with free tutorials Code Academy - Free interactive and engaging way to learn coding Programming with Mosh - Learn to build for iOS & Android rom Youtube
React Native Tutorial
Finding free support from open source resources will speed up the process as well as using Chat GPT of course: Stack Overflow - Find resources and API's (plug in technology) to build your app. Github - "The world leading AI powered developer platform" It can take most successful designers and developers years to master their craft. We only work with the best. Enjoy the journey and think 5 years ahead! Alternatively work with people that have been on that journey to make an app and more with #2 Use a No Code Platform "I haven't got time to learn to code!" Ok no problem, there's no code platforms available. You can build an app with these but cannot fully customise them. You'll be very limited to what you produce but maybe that's good enough to validate the full concept you want to build in the future. That full concept will likely be custom built outside of a no code platform. Just drag and drop components and features into your screens. Free to start with but will likely charge a monthly fee later on. These are the big no code players: Bubble - Simple and powerful visual web editor Glide - For super simple apps Appypie - The fastest option for releasing an app
Glide Build an app for free tutorial
Although somewhat free and simple which is brilliant to start! Negatives here are that you don't own the code to your app and these companies can pull the plug at any moment. When you build your own app or have an agency make it with you, you will always own 100% of the code and app.
#3 Takeover an old or existing App Thinking outside the box here... What if you took ownership or control of an existing app instead of making one? Perhaps one that that failed to execute on marketing or where the timing wasn't quite right. Can you contact the previous owners and pitch a takeover to promise updating it and marketing it in exchange for a revenue share? The old owner might be delighted to have someone showing interest with a new found promise to revive the project they worked so hard on. Once you start making money you can spend this on further development and marketing. Where can I find dead apps? Sensortower - View update history, estimate downloads and revenue and if an app is inactive.
Sensortower interface - Inactive app

Contact the owners and make your pitch! "Hey, I'm John! I'd love to take over your app {enter app name} if you're not taking it anywhere? I love it and truly believe I could breathe some new life into it with my experience in {area you're a master in). Let's not put this to waste! Let me know if you'd be open to a chat soon?
This could be a truly interesting avenue and opportunity. Risks might be jumping into bed too quickly with someone or a company that don't really know you. You'll be risking a lot without having control of the code and app again. However, that all takes time to develop. No risk, no reward! But then again you might find the co-founder of your dreams? I truly believe thousands of apps go to waste every year simply because they weren't executed properly and unable to shine like they should. Could you put them to use?
#4 Work with Students So who's likely to build an app for free? Students!
students working
Why? They're building a portfolio for themselves and need that sweet sweet experience to enter the job market and get the hottest jobs in town. You've got your idea. You've validated it. The market is ready! Now you just need some fresh and eager talent to join the journey. How can I contact students? 1. Reach out to society representatives at universities (Preferably local) to pitch your app idea and see if any designers and developers would be interested in helping out. Of course they need a stake in the app business. I'd always advise equal division so everyone is in the same boat with no one feeling hard done by. Identify your role and tasks as clearly as possible. 2. Contact the Professors of the Design & Software Engineering departments Ask to take them for a coffee and discuss your project to see if they can identify the best students to get involved. You can usually find these email addresses on the university website. My first startup project started this way after a conversation with the professor of software engineering and lead to 2 of the best masters students and PHD student bringing my vision to life. However, I had secured a government startup loan to fund and pay a minimum wage. This was a heavy project though. With a much more lightweight mobile app it may be easier to persuade students to join the journey and build an app for free. 3. Search for them on Linkedin 4. Visit the university and ask for directions to the right department Be bold and remind yourself how much you really want this. When you're getting something for free you need to take unconventional steps.

Disadvantages of working with students is they can be highly highly unreliable. They also have their studies going on which will always be a priority over your app. So be conscious of the fact they will not always be available! The ideal situation would be to have them prepared at the start of summer to put in a big shift an have something ready to launch by the end of summer before they go back to study.


Ultimately, you need to build some skills on your own to make it happen or find your team and sell you vision. The more you validate something the easier it will be to find your team to build an app for free. If you are firmly validated then what's stopping you raising money and building it with an expert mobile app creator like Some apps include Reelshot, Photosweep, UK Zero. You'll ensure every step you take is perfect and won't cost you more money down the line. Our goals are to make you more money than you ever spend with us.

You need to spend money to make money right. It's an investment and a journey you will love! To build an app for free might be one of the best learning experiences you can have but might can you end up paying more in the future. Best of luck out there and always here to help! Leo ************* Contact **********

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How to build an app for free in 2024:

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Low cost marketing techniues for app founders:

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