How to Make Money by Selling Free Apps

Apps floating around a phone

artpartner-images / Getty Images

All the major app stores in the mobile market today are filled to the brim with both free apps and paid apps. With the sharp rise in smartphone users over the last couple of years or so, there is also an increase in the demand for mobile apps for different mobile systems. Mobile app developers and content publishers alike have seen the immense potential of earning by way of these mobile apps. While it is easy to make money by selling paid apps, how can a mobile app developer earn by way of free apps?

Here's How to Make Money With Free Apps

  1. Using mobile ad networks like InMobi and AdMob is probably one of the best ways to earn by way of in-app advertising. These networks offer easy integration with apps, thereby helping you start earning your revenue almost immediately.
    The only disadvantage here is that CPM rates are very low. This can initially put a lot of strain, especially if you are an amateur developer. But this will improve as your app’s popularity catches on with users.
  2. Employing rich media ad networks such as Greystripe helps catch and sustain the interest of your viewers, sometimes even making them return to you more often. Because these ads are appealing to the eye, they automatically attract more viewership and higher CPMs.
    The downside here is that they also can put a strain on your resources, both in terms of server space and finances.
  3. Signing up for ad exchanges can be of immense help to you since it lets you integrate with several ad networks at one and the same time. This offers you much higher fill rates too, as compared to a single ad network.
    The disadvantage with this is that you, as the developer, would have to spend more time and resources to optimize content for several types of ad networks. This may lower your net returns.
  4. Getting sponsorship for a mobile app is the best way of getting assured high returns from it. Also, creating an app for the advertiser assures smoother and better integration of the app with the sponsoring brand.
    The downside with this form of earning from an app is that the app has to be a perfect fit for the brand. Besides, this being an expensive affair, only the biggest publishers can hope to sustain a long-lasting relationship with the sponsoring brand. Hence, this is definitely not for amateur developers.

Tips for Making Money on Free Apps

  • Offering both free and paid versions of the same app will help you maintain the free version without having to worry about its returns. Running a single ad network on the free version would mean easy integration without draining off your resources.
  • You would do well to offer your potential customer a usable app or even better, take advantage of smartphone-specific features, such as accelerometer or voice calling while creating high-quality content. This will hook users on to your app.
  • If you are receiving sponsorship for your app, you could try and make the best use of both rich content as well as mobile device-specific features, so as to offer the ultimate media experience to users.
  • It would pay to list your options and understand the pros and cons of each one of them before actually putting one of them into practice. This would cut a lot of extra effort for you and also bring in higher returns in the near future.