If you’re a developer, you probably know that offering your app for free on an app store, whether Apple’s own App Store or Google’s Play Store, is the best option for the most visibility and potential downloads. It’s true — that’ll give you app the most attention, but how do you make money using this free to download model?
Well, here’s the good news. Statistics and studies show that you actually make more money when your app is free to download. The paywall that many developers put on their apps is actually a discouragement to buying. People are more willing to give you money if they can try your app out first and see what it has to offer. So how do you make money with your free app? There’s actually a lot of options open to you. Follow along below!
The first and most obvious way that you can make money with free applications is through advertising. Yes, there are all sorts of advertising methods that you can use in your free mobile applications. You can choose to place banner ads in your app, sidebar ads, an ad that hangs along the bottom of the screen, and you can even place video ads in your apps. There are a lot of options for this, and similar to advertising on other platforms, like with YouTube and Twitch, ads in apps also use a CPM model, the cost per 1000 impression method. Pricing depends on what advertisers your partnered with, but generally, you can expect $10 CPM at the very least.
Probably the best and most profitable way to supplement offering your mobile application for free is in-app purchases. You don’t have to have a thriving store full of options — you could simply offer a store option for getting rid of ads for $2.99. If they like your app and decide that it’s worth using regularly, that $2.99 is usually a no brainer. But, to increase profits, you can offer other types of digital goods that’ll make your app experience even better. Maybe you published a game, and could offer 1,000 coins to the player for $1.99, just enough to make the game a little easier, and cheap enough to keep the player coming back for more. There’s a lot you can do with in-app purchases that can make your free application very profitable.
Depending on the type of application you published, you might want to consider offering a subscription fee. Sure, give the user basic use of the app, but open up exclusive content to him or her with a subscription plan. Maybe your app is all about trucks, cars, and motors — offer a subscription that gives them weekly curated content on the latest news in the auto industry. Show them sweet, exclusive pictures of different vehicles, keep them updated on their favorite trim models (Raptor, AT4, etc). That’s just an example, but value like that makes users want to subscribe to these things.
You might want to consider trying to accumulate emails from your app for the purposes of email marketing. Email marketing is a very valuable tool that can make a lot of money. To get emails, possibly offer something for free in exchange for an email (maybe a free 1-month subscription or a free 100 coins). You can then use that email to market the user other products, ideally something related to the app that the user would be interested in, thus making them more likely to invest in your new products. Email marketing is an industry you don’t want to skimp on — PR Newswire says it’ll be an over $22 billion dollar industry by 2024.
One of the last options you have is sponsorship. Sponsorship in this case will work similar to advertising, but generally, there’s more money upfront involved. Depending on the amount of regular users you have, you could be looking at a few thousand to twenty thousand dollars (or more) in sponsorship money. Generally, the company reaching out to you will ask for some traffic statistics, and then give you an offer based off of that. They’ll usually ask you to play a video ad in your app, or advertise their produce somewhere within your app for a certain period of time.
As you can see, you have a lot of options for making money with a free app. Even though you’re app is free to download, that doesn’t mean you aren’t making any revenue. You actually have more options available to you for making money otherwise!