Realistic Ways to Make Money from an App

make money from apps tips guidesDo you know just how much time people spend on their mobile devices each day? You may be surprised by the answer. According to data cited by Buildfire blogger Ian Blair, today’s user spends more than 2 hours and 50 minutes on their mobile device each day.

That’s obviously a huge amount of time. The time spent on a mobile device is what makes mobile apps so valuable, and there’s a lot of apps that have made a tremendous amount of money. Despite the proof, a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses with app ideas aren’t sure if they’ll be able to monetize it to the point that they’ll see a return on their investment.

This can be especially concerning with free apps. Even people with great app ideas struggle to see how they take a free app and turn it into something profitable.

The following are some key things to know about making money from apps, realistically and some different approaches you might be able to take to monetize a mobile platform.

In-App Purchases

If you have a free app, you can make money in different ways. One option is to include in-app purchases. This is fairly common—an app is free to download initially and then the user can make purchases once they’re in the app.

The types of purchases can include further in-app downloads, physical or digital products, or they can pay for additional access to some other part of the app or some type of premium content.

The concept of in-app purchases is one that’s utilized quite a bit in gaming apps, but of course, it’s not limited to that.

There’s something called “freemium”, that has elements of in-app purchases as well. What this means is that a person can use many parts of an app for free, but then they pay for premium content. This is something that’s again popular with gaming apps, but it can work in fitness and nutrition apps as well.

An example would be a food app that helps people track calories. They could have access to calorie-tracking calculators and tools for free, but then if they want personalized recommendations from a nutritionist, they could pay for that aspect of the app.

Subscription Apps

A subscription app is one that maybe you let users download for free, but then if they want access to everything or even just get premium access, they then sign up for a monthly or yearly subscriptions. In some ways, this can be similar to in-app purchases because you have someone download an app for free and then decide to make a purchase.

Subscription purchases can be even better than traditional in-app purchasing options because they’re recurring, however. Recurring purchases are among the most coveted among retailers and other platforms.

Bumble and Tinder are two examples of very popular subscription-based apps. These dating apps allow users to download the app for free and even use certain parts of it without a subscription, but if they want more from the matching platforms, they have to join and pay a monthly fee.


In the digital world ads are a fairly simple, straightforward way to earn revenue. This isn’t just reserved for mobile apps. Most websites earn revenue through ads as well.

Banner ads are the standard, but people don’t necessarily love their format of them.

There is also something called interstitial ads. These are interactive, and when they’re displayed, they take up the user’s entire screen. They often launch during pivotal moments of the navigation process, so that the audience is definitely seeing them. They can feel pretty intrusive though.

Video ads can occur throughout navigation as well, and some app developers have set it up so that their audience receives a reward for watching the full video.


Finally there’s a concept that’s probably a little less utilized than let’s say advertising or subscription-based apps, but represents a way to monetize an app. It’s called sponsorship.

With this concept, someone develops an app that fits into a specific niche typically. It should be designed with a certain audience in mind, and then you can give that app to a brand or company and you can split revenue or they can pay you a sponsorship fee, usually monthly.

The developer, or whoever was in charge of development, gets the web traffic and brand loyalty that the sponsor can bring to the equation. It’s a great way to promote the app without spending a huge amount of money on marketing.

By Micheal

Owner and creator of He lives in Boston and love to work on Website Designs, Logo Designs, Graphic Designs and Icon Designs.