As an app developer, you probably spend the vast majority of your time thinking about the technical aspects of your work.
You write lines of code, run tests, and make edits. If you’re working at a larger company — or, in some cases, even at a startup — that may be all you have to worry about. Your job begins and ends with development.
If you’re trying to launch your own fledgling app, though, things are different. You can’t afford to take a back seat, cross your fingers, and hope that your app begins generating revenue after it launches. Instead, you need a clearly defined monetization strategy that covers all of the bases.
So, here you are, reading this blog post. You’re wondering how to make money from an app. Can it be done? Are there some strategies that are better than others?
Here’s the deal: apps hold the potential to be extremely profitable, or but they can also be complete failures.
On the one hand, more than 1 in 4 apps are earning their developers at least $5,000 (and in some cases far, far more than that). On the other, only a fraction of a percentage of apps ever become a huge success. What’s the difference between the successful apps and the duds? It’s not just the quality of the app itself, or how helpful or fun it is for users. It’s also a question of the monetization strategy that an app employs.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of 4 solid ways to make money from an app: in-app purchases, freemium subscriptions, offerwalls, and rewarded surveys. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. When each of them is combined into a comprehensive monetization strategy, making money from an app is easier than you’d think.
Of all the potential ways to make money from an app, in-app purchases are one of the most common — and most lucrative. There are a few different kinds of in-app purchases that you can offer your users, including:
- One-time purchases: These types of in-app purchases occur once and are immediately “used up.”
- Lifetime purchases: When a user makes a lifetime in-app purchase, they’re generally unlocking a feature of the app which they gain access to for the life of the app itself.
- Subscription purchases: A subscription-based in-app purchase is a combination of the above two. A user makes a purchase which entitles them to a feature for a predetermined length of time, after which they’ll need to make the purchase again in order to continue using that feature.
Subscription-based in-app purchases are particularly powerful when it comes to making money with your app. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Freemium Subscription Apps
Simply put, freemium apps account for about 98% of total revenue generated by apps in the Android store. It’s clear that there’s a lot of potential for effective app monetization with a freemium subscription model.
One of the best thing about a subscription monetization model is the predictability it offers for developers. Once enough users are subscribing to a particular feature, it’s easier to estimate your future app revenue from month to month.
This approach isn’t perfect, though. While it’s certainly possible to make money from an app using a freemium monetization strategy, only about 5% of app users end up making in-app purchases. This means that you’ll likely need a large user base in order to generate a significant amount of revenue from in-app purchases, and building that base will take time. Fortunately, there are other ways to make money from your app in the meantime.
Have you ever been using an app when you’re suddenly presented with an offer? If you complete the offer, you receive some kind of in-app reward. This can include things like in-app currency, new gaming levels, or added features. Sound familiar? What we’re describing actually has a name: it’s called an offerwall.
Offerwalls can be an effective way of monetizing your app, largely because they’re received more positively by users than something like an overt advertisement. Some users report that they enjoy being provided with offers in-app.
Not all users are fans, though. And since offerwalls frequently involve a user leaving an app (at least temporarily) in order to complete the offer, there’s a chance that you’ll lose their attention and won’t get the back.
One of the least known (but at the same time most effective) monetization strategies is the rewarded survey. Here’s how they work:
- An app developer partners with a researcher, usually with the help of a third-party company like TheoremReach.
- App users are presented with the opportunity to take a survey in exchange for some kind of in-app reward (currency, features, etc).
- When the user takes the survey, their data is submitted to the researcher. They then receive their reward.
- Once the researcher receives the user’s data, they pay out a fixed amount to the app developer.
You can see what a great arrangement this is for everyone involved: the developer gets paid, the user gets rewarded, and the researcher gets the data they need.
Rewarded surveys are a great way to make money from your app, and they’re easy to implement.