Here How Free App Owners Are Making Money from Their Mobile Application?

Free apps are popular, and they are more popular than paid ones. In confirmation of this popularity, the market for free apps always has outpaced the market of paid ones, both in respect of revenue and downloads. But this is why most people are curious about the ways free apps make money and survive as a business.

Free apps need to consider many aspects to stay profitable. To keep your app development cost lower, you can hire developers in India and opt for the befitting monetization model that works with the target audience.

Here we are going to explain the most effective ways a free app can make money.

In-App Advertising

This is unarguably the most popular way free apps can make money. This is nothing but showing some ads on the app, and the advertiser pays the app owner based on the number of clicks or impressions these ads receive.

The more your app becomes popular, the more high-value ads you get and earn more from the number of impressions or clicks on ads. Different types of ads can be displayed, ranging from banner ads, video ads, etc.

You can also create a separate ad-free app version and offer users this version against a certain price. This is one way to monetize this strategy.


Free apps can also use a subscription-based revenue model. The free apps can offer free content for a limited period through their apps and charge a subscription fee for further access.

The technique of offering a free trial for a limited period at the end-users need to pay for any subscription plans is the most common way to use a free app for monetization. Even streaming services like Netflix uses this model. 

In-App Purchases

In-app purchases refer to the purchases made directly from within a free app. Such purchases carried out by the users offer a great scope of earning for the app owner. The in-app purchases can be the special app content, advanced features, game levels, powerups for game characters, etc.

Through in-app purchases, a free app can sell a wide range of virtual products right from within the app and make money. Game apps widely use this monetization model for revenue.

Referral Marketing

Referral marketing is very close to the in-app advertisement model. In contrast to the in-app ads, mostly virtual content and solutions are promoted against some rewards as the payout.

When an app markets another app right within the app, it just provides the second app’s link down under the app home page. As per clicks or impressions on this, the app earns revenues. This method can also be used to promote various services and products across the niches.


A free app can get a sponsorship that turns into consistent revenue through the app. This is particularly popular as a monetization model among the developed and branded apps. Sponsors of free apps generally choose apps from their related niche to ensure more traction and visibility of their respective brands.

The free app sponsors can share the revenue of the app or may need to pay a monthly sponsorship fee. This is a popular model across many app niches.

Affiliate Program

A free mobile app can also work for an affiliate network bringing together mobile advertisers and affiliates on the same page. The affiliates carry out advertising based on performance.

A free app by joining an affiliate program can advertise relevant apps, services, or products and can earn money through them. The revenue can be earned based on cost per click or app installs, or actual purchases.

Merchandise Sales

A time-tested and popular way free apps can make money is by selling merchandise. This becomes specifically appropriate for all e-commerce stores with free apps. The mobile e-commerce apps can sell their products and make revenues.

The merchandising can involve physical or virtual products and also various on-demand services that can be directly sold to the buyers through the free app.


Crowdfunding has emerged as a new and effective way to monetize and market a free app. The free app can run crowdfunding campaigns through popular platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, AppsFunder, or others and can earn to raise development costs.

This model is mostly popular for innovative apps that offer something very unique so that buyers can be interested in pledging their money. This is also a monetization model that suits new app projects involving a higher cost of development and a lot of effort.   

Email Marketing

Email marketing, like its role in many other industries, also plays a great role in-app marketing and revenue generation. The method is particularly helpful for retargeting users who stopped visiting the app and catching buyers’ attention with new lucrative offers.

Email marketing is also a great method to turn inactive users into regular audiences by sharing the value proposition. It is a marketing tool allowing the great scope of monetization.

Sales and Collection of Data

Finally, a free app can also earn money by collecting user data and selling them. Since every app deal with users’ data, those user data can be sold to the marketers and researchers to use them for marketing strategies and decision making.

Conclusion Free mobile apps have a broader range of options to make money than paid apps. But choosing the right monetization model is also important as not every model is suitable for all apps.

Pooja sharma

Pooja is a digital nomad and founder of HotMail Log. She travels the world while freelancing & blogging. She has over 5 years of experience in the field with multiple awards. She enjoys pie, as should all right-thinking people.

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