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Wondering how you can contribute to the growing industry of remote online work by developing apps for self-employed people?
Developing an app that can facilitate this online work promises huge financial returns.
Today’s workers are increasingly turning to self-employment as a way to boost their income and give themselves more freedom over their lives.
However, this journey isn’t easy.
In order to accomplish this, workers need appropriate platforms that cater to their expertise and specialization.
At DevTeam.Space, we noticed the value of such specialized platforms during our experience helping to develop the dental platform DentaMatch.
DentaMatch is an app that matches dental professionals to specific dental practices based on their skill set and availability. The platform represents the exact kind of specialized platform that can help businesses find the right talent. Other industries are crying out for similar platforms.
Entrepreneurs are, as we speak, redesigning the future of employment to make self-employed work easier with specialized industry-specific platforms.
How do you develop such a platform for self-employed people? Well, you have come to the right place as I will now explain exactly that in this guide.
DentaMatch: An example of a specialized platform for self-employed work
DentaMatch, a specialized platform for self-employed work is an example of what businesses and knowledge workers need. This platform connects dental practices and job seekers, and it offers the following features:
- Dental practices can create their profiles and post jobs.
- Job-seekers can build their profile on DentaMatch.
- Dental professionals can also create their schedules and indicate their availability.
- The app matches skills with jobs and connects professionals with dental practices.
- DentaMatch is available as a web app, moreover, it has an Android app and an iOS app.
- The app has an in-app messaging feature.
Building a platform like DentaMatch App for self-employed people
Building apps for self-employed people involves the following steps:
1. Defining the project scope
Hire a project manager (PM), an IT architect, and a team of business analysts. This team needs to discuss with the business stakeholders and collect the requirements. I recommend that you define the following scope for this project:
- Build a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app with features like DentaMatch.
- To start with, support geographies where the business language is English.
2. Choose an appropriate project management methodology
Web, Android, and iOS apps are “Systems of Engagement” (SoEs) that undergo multiple revisions as businesses add new features. Businesses first launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), subsequently, they enhance the app based on market feedback.
Agile is the appropriate methodology for such projects since it supports iterative development. Read more about why you should choose Agile in “Waterfall vs Agile: which methodology is right for your project”.
3. Plan for success: Formulate an effective development approach
You ought to formulate an approach that helps you to succeed, therefore, I recommend the following:
- Design and develop in a way that makes supporting other languages easy in the future. You need to conform to app internationalization guidelines for this, e.g., keeping code separate from content. Read more about app internationalization in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
- Use managed cloud services platforms like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) so that you don‘t need to manage IT infrastructure.
- Develop native mobile apps since they deliver the best user experience and performance.
- Implement the key features using software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs).
- Plan to test the app against a wide range of browser/device combinations.
This approach improves your chances of success as I have explained earlier in “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?”.
4. Form a competent team to develop apps for self-employed workers
You now need to form the complete project team, therefore, staff the following roles:
- UI designers;
- Web developers with Node.js skills;
- Android developers with Java expertise;
- iOS developers with experience in Objective-C;
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) programmers;
- DevOps engineers.
Building an effective platform for self-employed work involves considerable designing, coding, and testing effort, therefore, hire a field expert development team.
Such a team improves your chances of success, as I have explained in “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams”.
5. Use an effective PM tool for project planning and tracking
You should use the “Scrum” technique in this project since it helps to manage Agile projects. Your PM needs to perform the role of a “Scrum master” and build “Scrum teams”.
These are cross-function teams where developers and testers work together on “Sprints”, i.e., iterations, as I have explained in “How to build a Scrum development team?”.
A scrum team follows certain processes, e.g.:
- “Sprint planning meetings” to plan requirements in iterations;
- “Daily stand-up meetings” to track the project status;
- “Sprint review meeting” to demonstrate the app to the business stakeholders;
- “Sprint retrospective meetings” to learn lessons from completed iterations.
You need a robust PM tool to manage these, therefore, I recommend that you use Jira.
6. Find a PaaS platform for web app development
I recommend that you use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, the PaaS offering from AWS. You can get the following advantages:
- Elastic Beanstalk manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system (OS), middleware, and runtime environment. You bring your code and data!
- AWS has robust DevOps tools, and you can utilize them when using Elastic Beanstalk.
- You can use the AWS auto-scaling solution to scale your web app.
- Elastic Beanstalk enables you to integrate databases and 3rd party APIs with your app.
7. Sign-up for an MBaaS platform for mobile app development
Use the same AWS account and sign-up for AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS platform offered by AWS. It makes mobile app development easier in the following ways:
- Amplify handles the cloud infrastructure, persistent storage, etc., therefore, you don‘t need to build and manage the mobile backend. You can concentrate on business logic and the front-end.
- You can easily incorporate security features in your app, moreover, Amplify makes it easy to implement user management and push notifications.
- Amplify makes it easier to integrate 3rd party APIs, moreover, you can scale your app easily with it.
8. Procure a CRM API solution
You will need to connect businesses with job-seekers, therefore, you will need to establish the relevant business relationships. Such a system needs a CRM solution, therefore, I recommend that you sign-up with Zoho.
Zoho CRM has all the relevant features, e.g.:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI);
- Pipeline management;
You can read about its features on the “Features” page of the Zoho CRM website. Your team can use the Zoho CRM REST API, and you can integrate it with 3rd party applications. It has extensive documentation, which you can access on its website.
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9. Get an AI-powered talent solution
You need to match skills to jobs so that the businesses using your platform find the right self-employed professionals. An AI-powered solution can help, therefore, I recommend that you use the Cloud Talent Solution from Google.
This AI-powered solution helps businesses to find the right talent faster. Organizations can improve the quality of their hires. Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are important components in this solution, which helps to decrease the time to hire.
The Cloud Talent Solution from Google can help you to improve the matching of jobs to skills over time. Read “Cloud Talent Solution features” to understand it better, moreover, you can view its “Resources” page for its extensive documentation.
10. Use an AI-powered chatbot solution in your apps for self-employed professionals
Businesses, as well as job seekers using your proposed app, will need automated customer support to get answers to preliminary questions. AI-powered chatbot solutions can help you to implement this, therefore, I recommend that you use ChatBot.
ChatBot enables you to easily incorporate AI-powered chatbots in your app. It offers integration with tools you already have, e.g., Slack. Read “Build your bot using ChatBot API” to access the ChatBot APIs and their documentation.
ChatBot offers extensive documentation about its API covering many aspects, e.g.:
- Basic API usage;
- Error handling;
- Data format;
- Training the chatbot;
- User management.
Visit the ChatBot pricing page before you sign-up.
11. Sign-up for a bulk SMS solution to implement the “push notifications” feature
The mobile apps you are building need the “push notifications” feature, and you need a bulk SMS solution to manage it. I suggest that you sign-up with Twilio.
You can use “Programmable SMS”, i.e., the bulk SMS solution from Twilio. Read “Messaging services and Copilot” to learn how to use it, and view the Twilio pricing page before you buy.
12. Find a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud for testing apps for the self-employed workforce
Your mobile apps for self-employed people need to work with all devices, and it‘s hard to test them against so many devices. A mobile device and browser lab on the cloud are important for this, and I suggest you sign-up with Experitest.
This company has a “Mobile device & browser lab” on the cloud that offers thousands of browser/device combinations for you to test. Its comprehensive test automation solutions also include “SeeTest Reporter”, which provides excellent test reports and analytics.
13. Designing the UI
You need to design user-friendly user interfaces (UIs) for your web and mobile apps, therefore, consult the following guidelines:
- “User interface design guidelines: 10 rules of thumb”, for designing the UI for the web app;
- The “Material design” guidelines website for Android app UI design;
- “Human Interface Guidelines”, for designing the UI for the iOS app.
14. Developing the web app
You need to take the following steps to develop the web app:
- Code the app using Node.js, an open-source runtime environment that facilitates coding performant and scalable web apps.
- Read “Adding a database to your Elastic Beanstalk environment” to learn how you can use database resources on Elastic Beanstalk.
- Integrate the APIs I have mentioned above.
- Test and deploy the app by following the instructions in “Deploying Node.js applications to AWS Elastic Beanstalk”.
15. Code, test, and publish the Android app
It‘s time to work on the Android app, therefore, take the following steps:
- Code the app using Java, on Android Studio, the popular IDE.
- Integrate the APIs from ChatBot, Twilio, Google Cloud Talent Solution, and Zoho CRM.
- Use Espresso and the Experitest mobile device lab to test the app.
- Read “Publish the app”, and follow the instructions there to publish it to Google Play.
16. Developing the iOS app
Use Swift to code the iOS app, which involves the following:
- Code the app using Xcode, the IDE that Apple champions.
- Integrate the various APIs with your code.
- Test the app using XCTest and the Experitest mobile device lab.
- Publish the app to the Apple App Store, by using the instructions available in “Submit your apps to the App Store”.
Congratulations on successfully developing your MVP!
Pros and cons for Self-Employed People
Self-employment offers many rewards to knowledge workers, e.g.:
- They can set their working hours as they are their boss!
- Knowledge workers can use their talent more effectively when they are self-employed.
- They can potentially earn higher than what full-time regular employment offers with minimum business expenses.
- Self-employment allows knowledge workers to work in alignment with their value system.
Read more about this in “Self-employment: Rewards and challenges”.
Having said that, self-employment can be challenging! A key challenge is to find clients since the knowledge workers may not have access to an effective talent marketplace.
Consider the case of freelancing platforms like Upwork, which are generic. They don‘t cater to specific industries and talents.
Knowledge workers with specialized skills have their work cut out since it‘s hard to find work that suits their talent on such platforms.
You have to consider the above pros and cons of self-employment while developing app features for self-employed users. You would want to deliver features that make work easier for them such as managing business finances, helping in figuring out tax deductions, expense tracking, etc.
Have plans to launch apps for self-employed people?
Knowledge workers are looking for working opportunities they love, and they are keen to derive greater satisfaction from their work. This translates into several aspects, e.g., better pay, greater risks, and more flexibility.
Freelancing is a key avenue for them, therefore, the freelancing market is growing. Nearly 57 million Americans consider themselves freelancers, and the freelancing market is bigger than the economy of Switzerland.
Read more about this in “Just how big is the freelancing market? You may be surprised”.
While self-employment will certainly figure heavily in the future of employment thus increasing the importance of specialized apps for self-employed people, developing them isn‘t easy!
A project management app, accounting app, and mobile tax app to manage project stages, business receipts, track expenses, etc. are all types of mobile apps to help small business owners and self-employed people.
Engage reputed software development companies for such projects, however, read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you select one.
DevTeam.Space is a reliable software development agency with a community of field-expert software developers that you can outsource for your project. All these software developers are vetted for their skills in the latest technologies and managed by the company to deliver optimum results.
You can easily partner with these app developers by sending us your initial product specifications via this quick form. One of our account managers will get back to you for further discussion on how we can help you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Online work is very similar to normal work. However, you need to be disciplined, honest, and reliable. If you have these skills then hit the freelancer platforms or job boards and start applying.
Work is work, however, working online has a number of benefits including avoiding rush hour travel, being in a comfortable space, and the chance to better manage your hours.