How To Make Money From Your Free App?

By Snigdha | December 4, 2017 11:56 am

App Builder Appy Pie, December 4: Not so long ago we talked about Making Money With Your App, and it was quite a popular post! To delve deeper and help you make money from your free app here’s our newest one!

So you have your app ready to be launched and we can’t be more excited for you! But your job is far from over as you have a crucial decision to make before you set out to launch it on the App Store or Play Store!

Would you be charging the users for downloading your app? Before you make that decision, however, let’s look into some facts and figures that would give us an idea about the kind of money that an app developer might make doing what he loves doing!

  • The number of app developers to hit the $1 million mark in revenues is just shy of 2,000 and this was achieved through a balanced combination of app purchases and in-app purchases in the past year
  • Around 80% of these developers turned millionaires earned their revenue from games, which makes the gaming category the highest money spinner.
  • 57% of the total revenue in 2016 came from the apps that were not even in the Top 100 busting the myth that only top players can achieve success in this industry.
  • In 2016, approximately 37,000 app developers have reaped in a revenue of more than $100,000.

These facts confirm the popular belief that the app economy is booming and is expected to keep growing for years to follow.

You have invested enough time and money in the development of your app and it is only natural to be tempted to put a tag on your hard work. But is it really the best way to earn money through your app?

Global statistics have indicated that mobile phone users are not really in the habit of spending on their apps and there is not much score that may be put on making money by charging the users for downloading your app.

In the year 2017, free mobile apps were downloaded for over 250 billion times globally. The paid apps however the number stopped at 15 billion.


Before making the final decision there are quite a few considerations that might need your attention including:

Users’ profile and its understanding

To understand a user is prime, and it is wise to take the time and conduct research about the kind of people who would be using your app. Once you know your target market or user, delve deeper into their thought process and behavior.

Which store do you want to launch your app on?

While it is a good idea to launch your app across all stores and not make the tough choice of building an Android App, a Windows App, an iPhone App, a Progressive Web App or Making an App With Your Site! But not all apps might make sense on all stores. Research this arena extensively before the launch and ensure that they smoothly transition on to each store and device if you decide in favor of a multi-platform app.

Competitors and their strategy

One of the most basic tactics that is oft overlooked or underestimated is an in-depth competitor analysis. The first step should be to identify the competitors and then begin analyzing their components for their operation. While doing so find answers to the following questions.

  • Are the competitors doing better at something similar? What? Why?
  • Are they doing worse at something similar? What? Why?

There is a lot to be learnt from both the scenarios. There is no shame in acknowledging that someone else is doing better and it can help you learn and adapt what works to your app. It is cheaper to learn from someone else’s mistakes as it is them who are paying for your learning costs.

Ways to monetize a free app

Explore and research on the ways that you can earn money from your app with or without charging your users for the download. It is important to be aware of all the options at hand before making the final decision.


As an app developer it is important that you understand the ways in which you can monetize their free apps and bring in some enviable revenues. Appy Pie has compiled for you some of the most effective ways to make money with your free apps and it can be your go to menu while deciding how to monetize your free app!

1. In-App Advertising

This bit is quite obvious, isn’t it? One of the most popular ways to monetize your app is to go for advertising. When you advertise on your app, you get paid based on impressions or clicks, and the type of ads that you are offering on the app.

While a video ad may bring in more money than a banner, but it is important to consider the consumers and their patience for a video ad every time they use your app.  It is important to decide the type of ads, duration of the video ads, and their frequency while going for advertising as a revenue model.

Another way to earn through advertising is actually by not showing the ads, it is an effective tool too! You can charge the users to upgrade their app so that wouldn’t see the ads.

2. Email Marketing

One of the more obscure, but powerful methods is using email marketing. This begins with acquiring the users’ email address by either asking them to login with their email, or social media like Facebook or Google login. This database of email addresses collected through the app can be really valuable later especially when they haven’t used it in a while. It is a good idea to reach them through emails to let them know of the latest offers, updates, or new features to generate curiosity and interest.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting a third party product or service to optimize revenue opportunities. On the mobile apps, this network marketing strategy is designed to work by promoting other apps for a sizeable share of the revenue generated, on the basis of the number of clicks or installs.

4. Subscriptions

A highly effective strategy that is a fair deal for both the user and the developer is the subscription strategy. Here a limited amount of content is available on the app for the users without any charges. It is when they are interested and are looking for more that they need to buy a subscription which would give them unlimited or staggered access. A similar model is where the users are given a free trial period, where they can enjoy the app and its content for a limited period of time and to go beyond that would have to buy the subscription.

5. Sponsorships

A strategy that works beautifully when a developer finds a sponsor who has a similar or the same target market, can white label the app and can adapt the design of their app to match the sponsor’s brand. The developer would have to build a niche app for tailored users and then launch the app on behalf of the Sponsor Company or brand.

There are two ways in which the deal can be worked out, one where there is an agreed revenue split or a monthly sponsorship fee. This strategy is especially lucrative because the developer gets the benefit of the existing web traffic and brand loyalty from the Sponsor Company in promoting the app and expanding its user base.

6. In-App Purchases

In-app purchase is a feature from the user’s point of view where they may be able to unlock extra features or levels by buying an upgrade. Through an In-App Purchase, an app may offer extra bonuses, premium content, game currency, or unlock some extra levels.

The in-app purchase may be of consumables like virtual currencies, or non-consumables like new game levels or maps or other virtual merchandise. Of the leading apps, more than 50% use in-app purchases as a way to bring in revenues and in the times to come, more are expected to follow. This feature or strategy is more common among the game developers where they offer multiple virtual currencies including coins, gems, or gold which can be bought from within the app.

About The Author

The Content Manager at Appy Pie, Snigdha has had a passion for writing since she can remember and feels lucky for making it her career. With a total experience of 11 years, she has dedicated the last 6 years to hard-core content writing and management. She actively writes about all things related to Social Media & more. In her spare time, she would either love to read curled up on the couch or take a bag of necessities (including a good book) and drive off into the sunset.

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