How to Monetize an App

Author: Evelin Ríos

Year after year, the market for mobile applications does not stop creating. Contrary to what you might think about its saturation, opportunities to earn money with mobile apps are more current than ever. However, the question that is asked most frequently on the topic is precisely how we can monetize an app, and even be able to make a living from them.

Currently, although it is true that it is necessary to resort to different promotional methods to publicize our mobile apps and that they have some relevance in the application stores, once this issue is resolved we can find dozens of ways to generate income with them.

Next, we will introduce you to the most profitable ways and methods that exist to be able to monetize an app.


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One of the main sources of income for mobile app developers comes from in-app (in-app) advertising. The vast majority of free applications depend on this source of income to stay afloat in the market.

There are three types of ad revenue:

  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
  • Cost per click (CPC).
  • Cost per action (CPA).

CPM is preferred by developers because it does not require the user to click on the ad to earn money. The payment is less, but it is less intrusive in the user experience.

These are some ad networks that you can consider: AdColony, Unity Ads, StartApp, Epom Ad Server, Facebook Audience Network and, the most popular of all, AdMob, about which we have an interesting article that we recommend you read.

In-app purchases

The applications that put this strategy into practice commonly called “freemium” apps (a compound term of “free” + “premium”), where users do not pay an initial cost to download it, but pay for additional functions or improvements within the app.

In-app purchases (within the application) are the main source of income in the mobile app industry. In fact, they represent around 47% of the total revenue generated by apps worldwide. If you plan to create a free app, including purchase options within it is one of the best things you can do to increase your income.

Although any type of app can make use of in-app purchases, mobile games are the ones that have mainly been able to successfully exploit this service. For example, in multiplayer applications like Clash of Clans, users are always willing to buy items within the app to gain an advantage over their opponents.

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If you have a company that sells physical products, you can choose to give users the possibility of buying your products directly from the application, and you would only be responsible for shipping them. Or, if you have a company that offers services, users can choose to pay for any of them within the application. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Although in-app purchases is a very lucrative monetization option for developers, great care must be taken and a fair balance maintained between the functions of the free version and those of the paid version, since if your competition offers more functionalities in its free version you could suffer a massive loss of users.


This method of monetization has been growing a lot for some years, being currently one of the most implemented and profitable for developers.

If you regularly update the content of your app, it can be very beneficial for you to implement a subscription service. This way, all your users have to do is sign up for a monthly or quarterly billing plan, and they’ll receive all that new content without having to remember to buy it.

When you use the subscription service, try to differentiate or create levels of access to your content.

For example. The Economist used this strategy by allowing its users to opt for a web-only subscription, a print-only subscription, or both.

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Many users found it helpful to spend that extra amount for the added value that access to print and web subscriptions brings. So, when you are monetizing your app, consider offering separate options and including a package that combines all subscription services as a premium package. In this way your app could be much more profitable.

Free and Premium Version

This monetization method is about creating a completely separate version of your free app, with additional features that create a more complete experience.

Having a free version allows users to get an idea of what your application can do for them.

Think of it as a sneak-peek. After users try the free version of your app and find that it plays an important role in their lives or that it is of great use to them, many will want a better experience or the complete compendium of functionalities, and they may be willing to pay for the premium version.

Keep in mind that if users purchase the premium version of your app, it is your responsibility as a developer to make it worthwhile for them. In this way, they will leave positive reviews and recommend the premium version to their friends.

Another strategy that many developers use and that you can do with your apps is to offer users a similar version of the app, but without ads.

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This works very well because most users don’t like seeing ads in apps, and if they like an app they will be more than willing to remove them.

Sponsorships and associations

When your app reaches a considerable user base, it is a good time to look for partners or sponsorships from brands related to the theme of your app.

For example, If your app is about Pets, you can contact and offer your services to pet food companies, veterinary offices, pet care sites, among others. You can even collaborate with other related applications.

While you can try to find collaborations early on when your app doesn’t yet have a sizeable user base, it’s much easier to get sponsorships or partnerships when your app already has an established audience.

It is very important that these sponsorships or associations end with your app, your principles and do not harm the user experience, both within your app and that provided by one of your partners. That is, if you have an audience that trusts your app and your recommendations, but they turn out to be misleading or dishonest, you will lose your credibility with them and they will abandon your app.


As we have just seen, there are different ways to monetize an app, all of them very valid and profitable, and we only have to validate which of these is the most convenient for our apps.

It is very important to know that the experience we provide to our users is vital, and the monetization method we choose should affect their comfort as little as possible.

Analyze each form of monetization very well and how you can implement it in such a way that it is beneficial for you and your users.