5 Ways To Monetize Your Free App

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort on your app, and while there’s a certain amount of intrinsic satisfaction in the endeavor, what you really want is to have it pay off. Below are five basic ways to monetize an app you are offering for free. Offering a free app is a good strategy because there is the appearance of a risk free experience for the user and it is possibly more likely to get downloaded before a competing app with a price tag attached.


By putting mobile ads in your app, you can receive income as users click on the ads. If the ads are targeted well, the chances increase that a user will click an ad. There are different ways of implementing ads into your mobile app, so consider each carefully. You could have banner ads that are always present within the interface somewhere, or you could have popup ads that appear after various actions are accomplished, such as at the end of a turn in a game. You could also have people watch a video in order to move forward in the app. Each of these methods is designed to earn some money while being able to offer an app for free. However the ads are also designed to get the user to purchase the app outright in order to remove the ads. Be careful though, if you have too many ads it will feel pushy and the user is likely to just delete the app out of frustration rather than purchase the full version.

Pay For Upgrade

As a follow up to the advertising monetization model, most apps that use advertising in their free version will offer the option to purchase a version that either does not have ads, or is an upgrade to a version of the app which offers more features or enhanced functionality. Another aspect of this model would be to offer a full version of the app for free, but only for a trial period after which time the user can choose to purchase the app if they wish to continue using it. This is often a good strategy since the user will get the opportunity to evaluate the usefulness of your app to them before they spend any money.


Another way to implement a paid upgrade to your mobile app is to offer a monthly or annual subscription. This allows you to monetize your app over and over again as long as the user is satisfied and stays subscribed. This is often appealing to a user because they can basically pay a smaller amount for your app upfront, and instead pay over time. This model works well with content that updates on a recurring basis, among others.

In App Purchases

Currently a popular monetization model in many games these days, in app purchases can be a successful monetization strategy for your mobile app. In games, you often have the option to buy tokens, jewels, or play money that can be used to speed up turns, buy enhanced capability, or gamble in higher stakes games.


If the above well worn techniques don’t suit you, another possibility for earning money from your app is to partner with one or more other businesses. Try to find another business with either a similar customer base as yours, or a related business to which you could drive paid referrals. For instance, if you are developing a fitness app, you could partner with gyms or personal trainers and offer users of your app a gateway to get a personalized routine or a discount on a gym membership. Those businesses would then pay you for the referral. Another example could be a city guide app where users click on attractions, restaurants, shops and other events which have partnered with you and agreed to pay a referral fee.

As the mobile app market continues to grow and users integrate apps more and more into their daily lives, the more creative app developers will have to be when it comes to earning money from free apps. You’ll have to carefully analyze your target audience and demographic and integrate a monetization model that will entice them to buy, and not delete your app because they are frustrated.