Making Money From Your Free App
So you had a great idea for an app and knew exactly how it would look like. You did your research, the groundwork, worked hard on its development, done and dusted with the testing and have decided it is time to get the app out there and running. But then the obvious pops up- How do I earn from my free app?
Paid downloads and advertising hit your mind? Of course they did. While they’re not a bad idea, they are certainly not the only ways to earn from your app. Here’s a list of ways you can generate revenue and pick the one/s best suited to your app.
If you can find a brand or even a local company that addresses a target audience similar to yours, then you can partner with them to sponsor your app. Here, you ‘white-label’ your app in exchange for the sponsorship money. The kind of money you make depends on the kind of deal you make with the brand/company and they might even help with marketing the app. Bonus points if the sponsor is a big name- it will add credibility to your app.
2. In-App purchases
In App purchase is the most preferred option as it allows you to ‘sell’ your app for free. Once the user gets used to your app – you can ask for a small fee to unlock certain features of the app. That way, you’re not blocking the users from trying your app first before they commit to pay upfront. This is by far the most successful way of generating revenue and at the same time, getting quick traction with free downloads. Think games charging for new weapons, coins, upgrades, etc
Subscriptions are a popular option with apps that have a regular flow of updated content like e-magazines, news apps, etc. If you’ve made an app that has fresh content and a loyal following, this is your stop. You can charge the user with a monthly or yearly fee to access full or exclusive content of the app, or give them a free trial period and then charge them after.
4. Affiliate income
Affiliate linking has been around for a long time. Here, you promote or sell someone else’s product or service for a percentage of the revenue made by them through your app. You get paid every time a user clicks or installs through the ad on your app. The key is to find an affiliate that targets a similar audience as your app- whose product your users are more likely to be interested in.
5. Physical Purchase
If you think your app is unique or are associated with a company/ brand, then merchandising can be a great way to make money. Coasters, keychain, pen drives, the options are huge! Sell your own or collaborated merchandise. Not only will this get the money rolling but also indirectly market the app. Get creative and make that extra buck.
6. Amazon ‘Underground’
If your app is the kind that keeps users hooked or has a high average session length, then this is a great option. ‘Underground’ is a shopping app where developers can list their apps or games at Amazon’s App Store for free and are paid 0.02$ per minute of use, per user. However, the developers must waive off any download fees or in app purchase costs aimed at the users.
7. The ‘Freemium Upsell’
You’ve probably come across this one before. Here the user downloads your app for free and gets to experience it before he makes any purchase. If the user is happy, he can then pay to get an appropriate upgrade or unlock advanced features of the app. E.g LinkedIn premium.
This one is exactly what it says- Ads. You can have ad banners or pop ups in your app with the help of networks like AdMob or iAds offered by Google and Apple respectively. This works well if you have high traffic and download numbers.
Each method listed above has its own set of pros and cons. You have to find the right fit or combo of the above to make most of your app depending on the kind of app you have made and your target audience. Like with everything else, monetising from your app will take time and work along with aggressive marketing. A little research and looking what other successful developers are doing will probably get you a clearer idea in which method to go with.