How to Find an iPhone Developer

Several times a month, and sometimes per week, I seem to get approached from out of the blue by someone looking for an iPhone developer to work on their project. It may be an individual with an idea, a business, or some other organization. Often these are referrals from friends or acquaintances that I know or have worked with in the past. I’m always honored and humbled to be asked to work on a project but invariably I have to turn them down.

The primary focus of Blue Lightning Labs is the development of our own products. Currently we are in the enviable position of not needing to seek outside work in order to keep the doors open. Now, this is not to say that if the right opportunity came along it wouldn’t be considered. It would. But, primarily the focus is inward on developing products in-house. Contracting out to work on a project for someone else is a tough and noble cause. Many developers prefer it to the all-in highly risky make-or-break business of developing your own products. So, my intent here is to provide ideas and resources for those folks looking for the very best iPhone developers to work on their projects.

  • Start Early

After college I worked for a few years as a Physics Engineer at a large corporation. One of the managing engineers had a great sign on his desk. It read, “A lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”. Don’t wait until the last minute to find a developer. Start early and take your time to find the right person or firm. Otherwise it will cost you. Figuratively and literally.

  • Get Involved

The iPhone developer community is great and it is flourishing. Many devs get together locally once a month as part of a Meetup group or other local development group. Seek out those groups. Attend meetings, ask questions, learn something about product development. Get to know people one-on-one. This can lead you down the path of finding the right guy or gal to work on a project with you.

  • Don’t be a Douche

Nothing turns off developers quicker than some new media social networking ninja guru trying to get you excited about the next great trend in fart apps. The stereotype of an anti-social developer may be true in some instances but let me tell you, we can all smell social media ninja’s a mile off and instinctively avoid them. Be genuine.

  • Attend Conferences

There are some great iPhone and Mac related conferences out there these days. Some of them are 360iDev, Voices That Matter, NSConference, and of course WWDC. New and experienced developers alike attend en masse. Just remember that devs attending these conferences are there to learn and have a good time. You’ll get a lot further approaching a developer after hours by buying them a beer than you will giving the hard sell in-between conference sessions.

  • Be open

We’ve all signed NDA’s. They have their place and I think most developers respect that. But, don’t expect to get very far with a good developer without letting loose a few details to give them an idea of project scope. When you’re talking about your project most developers will be mentally tallying it’s feasibility, pain points, cool technical aspects and the like. And don’t worry so much about someone stealing your idea. It’s the execution of the idea that as value. An honest developer will respect your idea not to mention the fact that most developers have a stack of their own ideas that they already don’t have time to implement.

  • Development is hard work

A good and experienced developer is going to command a premium. If you find someone willing to work for the same wages as a fast food employee then you might as well donate the funds to a worthy cause. Software development requires an odd mix of attention to detail, creativity and tenacity. It is mentally challenging and an experienced developer is worth paying an honest rate. You might be able to negotiate a reduction in rate in exchange for a percentage of all proceeds from an app. But, these days most devs know that only the lucky hit the AppStore lottery. So don’t expect someone to work for free in exchange for a piece of the pie unless you have a one in a million idea and even then I wouldn’t count on it.

  • Referrals

I started this post mentioning all of the inquiries I get for development work. This is, in fact, still one of the best ways to find a developer. If you have absolutely no contacts in the iPhone space then start developing some by trying some of the approaches mentioned above. The first, second or even tenth dev you approach may not be interested or have time. But, they may have a friend who is. Keep trying.

  • Hired Guns

All of this work and massaging in order to cultivate a relationship with an individual may not be to your liking. If that’s the case then check out the site They Make Apps. There you’ll find a lot of developer with different skills and experiences.

So, there you have it. A few tips on how to approach and find an iPhone developer for your project. In short, be genuine, be persistent, and get involved.

This post is a part of the iDevBlogADay group of Indie development blogs. Thanks to @mysterycoconut for managing such a great site.