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How to Make Money From Your Free App

Friday 31 May 2019

9 minute read

By Sarah Burns

Making the decision to even opt for an app is a huge decision for SMEs - making that leap from traditional marketing to the latest in mobile technology.

However, it’s also daunting to think about how it will work to generate money for your organisation.

Of course, if your app is designed to directly sell products, ie. you’re a retailer, then there is an obvious way the app will recoup its costs.

But what if it’s not a direct sales tool? How can you attribute profit to investing in an app and how can you ensure it’s a worthwhile, valuable asset for your business?

Consider these three ways that an app adds value without necessarily generating a physical income for your SME:

  • Improved customer experience 
  • Additional communication channel
  • Increased brand awareness and interactivity

We recommend the following ways for making money from your free app:


Paid marketing is a fast-growing marketing activity for businesses of all shapes and sizes and the app marketplace is growing at a rate that means advertising is quickly becoming a key area of income for apps.

As the modern day smartphone user becomes increasingly accustomed to carrying out their daily life via their phone, using apps for virtually any aspect of their life - organisation, creativity, gaming, dating, househunting, etc…. - it’s obvious that this is a huge pool of potential for advertisers. Make money from this by providing advertising space in your app.

In-app purchases

Rather than making your app strictly purchase-only, consider making it free and providing in-app purchases.

These help you to provide a premium feel with add-ons, without ‘giving it away for free’ if the user wants the higher access they can purchase it. At this stage, they’re already somewhat committed to you as they chose you in the App Store/Google Play Store. It allows you to only develop one app, as opposed to a premium and free model of the same app - ultimately saving costs as well as creating a revenue stream.

Subscription model

If your app is offering exclusive access, or a premium service it may be worth offering a subscription model for users to access the app, or perhaps ‘premium’ parts of your app.

This is especially recommended for content-based mobile apps and we recommend providing a variety of subscription methods to prevent putting people off, i.e. monthly, yearly, consider discounts and incentives.

A subscription model allows for a consistent revenue channel, as well as higher engagement - if a user makes the purchase decision they’re more likely to stay active on the app.

Subscription models are also being incentivised by Google Play and the Apple App Store as they both have cut their revenue from subscriptions to encourage this as a viable option for SMEs and developers alike.

Our in-house developers are experienced app and software builders, with the ability to support you on an ongoing development project or to build from scratch a mobile, desktop or custom app solution. Speak to our team today to learn more about your proven track record.

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