Developing mobile apps can be a fun and exciting way to use your technical and development skills, but at some point, you’re probably going to want to bring in a few bucks for your effort.  You could merely develop pay apps, but with so many free alternatives, this is an almost sure way to get people to pass on yours without a second (or even first) thought.

Let’s look at some better ways to get people on board and giving you their money that won’t require them to spend anything up front.

Selling in-app advertising.

This is one of the most natural and most common ways to make money through your app.  By selling advertising space to third parties, you can gain money from every step of the sales funnel, from views to clicks, and through to conversions.  In-app advertising can come in the form of banner ads, interstitials, or even native advertising within the app itself.

Develop a freemium version of your app.

A freemium approach involves creating two versions of your app: a free version that includes basic functionality and a core set of features, and a full version that contains all the features not supported in the free version.  The idea is to give people a taste with the free app, and if they enjoy it enough, they’ll be willing to pay for the full version to get the really cool or useful features not included in the free version.

Include in-app purchases.

This is how most of the really insanely successful mobile games like Candy Crush Saga make their bank.  Make the app generally free to use, but offer additional features at a small cost that can be accepted within the app itself.  For example, mobile games that have been successful in this regard provide different costumes or items for your character, extra lives, or access to new levels not available in the base app. 

Produce white-label apps.

Instead of marketing and selling your own apps, another route many developers take is to produce “white-label” frameworks that provide functionality that others can pay for the rights to, and customize in their own image.  For example, you could create a music player that you sell to others who can develop their own proprietary features on top of your basic framework. They can even just skin it with their own color scheme and logo if what you developed already suits their needs.

Create a subscription model.

If your app is mainly focused on delivering some kind of content like news, videos, or other continuous information, a subscription model may be the way to go.  This is similar to the freemium model, except instead of having separate apps, you can leave teasers for the premium content in the free app, but only grant access once someone has paid for access that content.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to make money from apps without charging any up-front fees.  You can make your prank apps free to use but include advertising, drive interest for your premium content with subscriptions, or use any of the other tips outlined above to get a monetary return on the time and effort you put into the awesome apps you created.