Free Apps Make Money – Here’s How

So, in the last installment of this series we talked about ways to make money with a free app. There’s lots and lots of ways, but I cited 3 in total:

  • Updated Functionality or Content
  • Relevant Products or Services
  • Targeted Advertising

Now, for the sake of an example, let’s come up with a simple application for a mobile device. This application will allow a person to find a clean restroom nearby – note, this has already been done in the silly-but-practical Sit or Squat. It may have been done before, but how could this app make money while being free to the user, without the sponsorship by Charmin?

Avenue 1: Membership

Ok, the most obvious here is having a membership option for the site. Allow people to use the app for a short time for free, and then charge them a small amount per month to continue using the service. The value proposition is clear: if you don’t like it, don’t pay – but if you do, keep it. Users could receive access to the social aspect of the application (like updates on restroom cleanliness or ratings, etc) as well as other informatio

Avenue 2: Parallel Products

So, this kind of monetization, a fancy way of saying relevant products or services, centers around having something that isn’t directly a part of your application that users may want or need. Charmin is a start, but for the purposes of a toilet-finder application we need to come up with something a bit more interesting. Possibilities include: sponsorship by a hand sanitizer/soap company, phone pin opt-in for a coupon list with a free travel toiletries kit on sign-up, etc. The key is to find something useful that is even slightly relevant to the situation the user is in when they use the application.

Targeted Advertising

This is somewhat harder with recent restrictions by Apple on the use of location data – it cannot be used just for ads – but it is very valid. This is literally the simplest way to earn money and often for new apps is the best, as it requires an AdMob account and that is it.

What does it all mean?

Put simply, there’s several ways to make money on your application. The three I’ve outlined are about the easiest, but there are several more avenues and even some new ways of making the app have built-in micro transactions. Next up, we’ll take a look into what the future may hold!