build a photo sharing app

How to Build a Photo-Sharing App Like Instagram?

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Interested in knowing how to build a photo-sharing app like Instagram?

That’s a great market with many opportunities to be explored.

Instagram is having a major moment right now, and it’s no wonder — everyone likes sharing photos with their friends! The service is so hot it was sold to Facebook (who pretty much slay the Internet) for $1 billion. Do you want $1 billion? I sure do!

Thankfully, photo-sharing apps like Instagram are a huge market anyone can tap into — whether you’re a small business owner, a large corporation looking to branch out, or a regular individual with no tech experience and just an idea.

The best part is that the market is continuously growing, and according to Statista, 2.08 billion users already use a smartphone. What does every smartphone have? A camera! That’s 2.08 billion people just waiting for access to an app like yours.

Learning how to build a photo-sharing app like Instagram can be kind of overwhelming, but I’m here to help. Here are some tips on how to make an app like Instagram.


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How to build a photo-sharing app?

Consider the Cost

The cost to build an iPhone app like Instagram isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to be overly expensive either. This is an investment, and I’ll give you some other tips on how to start getting an ROI later.

Before you find a developer, you need to work out an estimate of the budget needed to make a photo-sharing app like Instagram. Here are some things to consider:

  • Each OS your app is available on raises the price of development.
  • Developers charge between $50-$150 per hour (and sometimes even more).
  • Each photo-sharing app requires 198-352 hours right off the bat.
  • Add between 256 and 448 to develop for iOS.
  • Add between 256 and 392 to develop for Android.

If you’re trying to cut down your initial investment, it may be wise to make an Instagram-like Android app or make an iPhone like Instagram, but not both. If your app starts to gain traction you can always create a version for another OS later.

Once you’ve got your budget squared away, you need to consider what features you want to include.

Features Every Photo Sharing App Should Have

Every photo-sharing app needs a minimum number of features in order to hold up to the competition. Yes, nowhere do the rules of app making say you have to include filters or social pushes, but your app probably wouldn’t be successful without such things.

Here are the basic features required in an app for sharing photos:

  • Authorization (creating a new account and signing into an account via existing social networks);
  • Editing User Profiles (adding/editing/removing personal data);
  • Post Creation (uploading photos taken in the app or preexisting images from your camera roll as well as allowing users to mention people and add tags);
  • Feeds (subscribing, liking, commenting and seeing posts of those you follow);
  • Social Features (share photos on another social media app, inviting friends from other networks, etc.);
  • Image Editing (Cropping, rotating, filters, etc.);
  • Geolocation Features (determining the location of the image, determining the current location of the user to add to post);
  • Messaging (text/photo messaging);
  • Notifications;
  • Search (Searching by username, full name, tags and post description).

Without these features, your app doesn’t stand a chance to gain traction. You need to compete with all the other photo apps out there but that shouldn’t deter you from the project at all.

There are 2.08 billion users out there, after all. There’s plenty of room for lots of photo apps, but if they don’t have a good user experience, they won’t become a user’s go-to. It’s a good idea to build a minimum viable product (MVP) as it’s a crucial part of an app development process.

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Build a photo sharing app with Your Unique Spin

You want to build a photo-sharing app like Instagram, but you don’t want an Instagram clone. Users already have Instagram and your idea should have something new to bring to the table. After you’ve got the basic features down, you need to think of your spin.

Will this be a private image sharing app like SnapChat? Are you looking to focus primarily on photo editing for sharing across various platforms? Do you want your app to focus on gifs or moving images? What makes your app unique? Once you develop your unique spin, you’re ready to create your app.

Evaluate Your App’s Performance, and Develop Plans To Keep Your Performance Up

build a photo sharing app

You can’t build a successful app without knowing if your app is falling short. Building an app is trial and error, sometimes things won’t work with your target audience and you’ll need to go back to the drawing board for certain features.

Every photo-sharing app has performance indicators. You need to evaluate these while it’s still in Beta or after you have released your app on app stores like Google Play Store or Apple Store.

  • Users: Pay attention to the number of active users. To nab users, use social media marketing and rewarding users with referral programs (notice how Uber gives you free money if you get a friend to join?). You may even want to invite social influencers to join (and give them an incentive to make sure they try it out). Start doing this a year and a half before you launch to get the most impact.
  • Engagement: You can have millions of users signed up for your app, but if no one’s actually using your app, there’s a huge problem. Calculate how much users are sharing, the average time they’re spending in the app and the frequency of logins. This predicts retention and how likely users are to recommend your app to a friend.
  • Retention: Make sure you keep your users around. Send push notifications to remind them to open your app. You should be able to study your audience and send notifications when they are most likely to pay attention to them like when a user they love posts something new, when they haven’t been on the app in a while after using it every day for a couple of weeks, etc.

The most important thing is originality! You need to market your unique features to people to increase your user base, engagement, and retention. If you keep those three things in check, you’ll be well on your way to being the next photo-sharing app Facebook buys for an insane amount of money.

Monetize Your App

One of the most important parts of photo-sharing mobile app development is monetization. If you don’t monetize your app, you won’t see an ROI (and let’s be honest, you’re definitely reading through this article to see if an ROI is possible for a new photo-sharing app).

I’m here to tell you it is! Here are some widely used tricks to monetize your photo-sharing services:

  • Sponsorships and advertising (businesses create profiles and pay you to show their posts to users)
  • In-app purchases (think: custom filter packs, fun stickers, more editing tools, and increased user experience)
  • Special deals for the most active users (the more you share, the more discounts you get on in-app purchases which encourage users to use and spend!)

Monetization isn’t hard if you play your cards right, but unless you’re currently sitting in a giant pool of investor money, it’s a thought you should have now rather than later. You’ve got this!

Planning to build a photo sharing app?

Building a photo-sharing app like Instagram requires some thought, but a little thought can be worth a huge ROI. With your amazing ideas and a quality developer, it’s very possible that your app could be the next Instagram, SnapChat or VSCO!

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Also, building a successful app requires having an effective and well-managed Agile development team.

Hope this guide helps you to create a photo-sharing app that is the next big thing!

If you feel you are lacking the required skills and expertise of developing a market-competitve mobile app, let DevTeam.Space help you with its field-expert software developers community.

Write to us your initial photo sharing app design specifications via this form and one of our account managers will get back to you to discuss how we can help.

Frequently Asked Questionsblog-banner-download-project-specs-2

What is a photo sharing app?

It is an application that allows a user to share their photos with anyone they choose. The advantage of such a application over social media platforms is that the full uncompressed photo is shared, something which allows high quality images to be view or printed.

What is an example of a photo sharing app?

The most comprehensive example among photo sharing platforms is Google Photos. This photo sharing application allows you to upload photos and share them with friends through the app.

What are the most popular photo sharing apps?

Google Photos, Dropbox, and Flickr are some of the most well-known photo sharing apps.


Alexey Semeney

Founder of DevTeam.Space

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