How Do Free Apps Make Money in 2024?

How Do Free Apps Make Money

Are you curious about how free apps can generate revenue? In a world where mobile applications have become integral to our daily lives, it’s fascinating to see how these seemingly “free” apps can make money. If you’re looking for answers, then look no further! In this blog post, we’ll explore 11 proven strategies to let you know how to make money from free apps that will use in 2024 to earn their keep. From advertising and in-app purchases to data monetization and subscriptions, dive deep into the lucrative world of free app monetization. So let’s get started and learn How Do Free Apps Make Money!

Freemium Apps VS. Paid Apps Market

Here are some key points to consider when comparing the freemium and paid apps market:

Freemium Apps:

  • Freemium apps have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in the mobile gaming and productivity app categories.
  • According to Sensor Tower, global consumer spending on in-app purchases across all app stores reached $138 billion in 2020.
  • The same report found that mobile games accounted for 56% of total in-app spending. Other categories, such as entertainment and social networking, also saw significant growth in in-app purchases.

Paid Apps:

  • Paid apps have been around since the early days of app stores, but they have become less popular in recent years due to the rise of freemium apps.
  • According to Statista, global revenue from paid app downloads was estimated at around $29 billion in 2020.
  • However, some categories, such as education and productivity apps, may still see significant revenue from paid downloads due to the value they provide to users.

Difference Between Free Apps and Paid Apps

Free and paid apps are two different Revenue Models of app distribution. While both offer access to mobile apps, they differ in terms of how they generate revenue and the features they offer. Free apps are apps that can be downloaded and used for free. These apps generate revenue through advertising, in-app purchases, or other monetization strategies. Free apps are popular because they allow users to try an app before purchasing. They are also a great way for developers to build a user base and generate revenue through advertising or other means.

On the other hand, paid apps require users to pay a one-time fee before downloading and using the app. Paid apps typically offer more features than free apps and are often considered higher quality. This is because developers have invested more resources into developing the app and rely on sales revenue to recoup their costs.

There are several key differences between free and paid apps:

  • Cost: Free apps are free to download and use, while paid apps require a one-time payment.
  • Features: Paid apps often offer more features and functionality than free apps, as developers have invested more resources into developing the app.
  • Quality: Paid apps are often considered higher quality than free apps because they have been developed with more time and resources.
  • Revenue Generation: Free apps generate revenue through advertising, in-app purchases, or other monetization strategies, while paid apps generate revenue through the sale of the app itself.
  • User Base: Free apps often have a larger user base than paid apps, as users are likelier to try out a free app before committing to a purchase.

11 Proven Strategies: How Do Free Apps Make Money?

1. In-App Purchases

In-app purchases are among the most popular and effective strategies for making money from free apps.

With in-app purchases, app developers can offer their users additional content, features, or functionality within their app for a price. This can be anything from extra levels in a game to premium membership features in a social media or dating app.

In-app purchases typically use real-world currency, such as dollars, pounds, or euros. However, some apps also allow users to make in-app purchases using virtual currency that can be earned through gameplay or other activities within the app.

While some people may be reluctant to pay for an app upfront, many are happy to make small payments for additional content or features once they’re already using and enjoying an app. This makes in-app purchases an ideal way to monetize free apps.

If you’re thinking of adding in-app purchases to your app, there are a few things to keep in mind:

First and foremost, your app must provide users value without requiring payment. In other words, your app should be fun and useful even if someone never spends a dime on it. You start introducing paid content or features only once you’ve built a loyal user base.

Also, ensure that any paid content or features you offer are truly valuable and worth the price. No one wants to feel like they’ve been tricked into spending money.

Finally, thoroughly test your in-app purchase setup before launching it to ensure everything works properly. This will help you avoid potential user experience issues, ultimately leading to lost sales.

2. Subscriptions and Membership Models

Subscriptions and membership models are among the most popular ways for free apps to make money. This is because they provide a recurring revenue stream that can be very reliable.

There are two main Types of Subscriptions and Memberships: paid and free. Paid subscriptions and memberships usually offer more features or benefits than free ones. For example, a paid subscription might give users exclusive content, while a free membership might only give them access to basic features.

To choose the right subscription or membership model for your app, you’ll need to consider your app’s unique value proposition and what users are willing to pay for. Once you’ve decided on a price point, you can start marketing your app to users.

One way to market your app is to offer a free trial period. This will let users experience all the features and benefit your app offers before deciding whether or not to subscribe. You can also offer discounts or other incentives to encourage users to sign up for a paid subscription.

No matter what subscription or membership model you choose, it’s important to ensure that users understand what they’re getting before committing to anything. Be sure to clearly explain the terms and conditions of your app’s subscription or membership so that there are no surprises down the road.

3. Advertising Revenue

Advertising is one of the most popular ways for free apps to make money. In-app advertising allows app developers to place ads within their app and earn money each time a user clicks on or views the ad. This can be a great way to generate revenue, especially if your app has many active users.

There are a few different types of in-app advertising, including banner ads, interstitial ads, and video ads. Banner ads are typically small rectangular ads that appear at the top or bottom of the screen, while interstitial ads are full-screen ads between content sections. Video ads are short clips that play automatically when a user opens an app or completes a task.

App developers can also choose to display ads from specific advertisers or use an ad network to place ads from multiple advertisers. Ad networks typically offer higher CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) than working with individual advertisers, but they may not have as many high-quality ad options.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another way that free apps can make money. With this model, app developers partner with other businesses or organizations and promote their products or services within the app. When a user purchases the app, the app developer earns a commission from the business or organization they’re affiliated with.

This can be a great way to generate revenue if the app has a large enough user base to generate significant sales. App developers must also ensure that the products or services they promote are relevant and interesting to their users.

5. Branded Content and Sponsorships

As smartphone usage continues to grow worldwide, more and more people are using apps as their primary way of interacting with the digital world. This has led to a boom in the app economy, with businesses of all sizes developing and releasing apps to cash in on this new trend.

However, given the vast number of apps available in app stores, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and make money from your app. This article will explore the most effective ways to make money from free apps in 2020.

Branded content and sponsorships are one way to make money from free apps. By partnering with brands and companies, you can include their products or services within your app in an unobtrusive and relevant way to your users. For example, you could include sponsored products within a shopping list app or feature sponsored locations within a map-based app.

Another way to generate revenue from free apps is through advertising. This can take many forms, such as banner ads, interstitial ads, or video ads. However, it’s important to balance providing a good user experience and generating enough revenue from advertising to make your app sustainable in the long term.

Finally, you can generate income from free apps by charging for premium features or functionality. This could include offering ad-free versions of your app or providing access to exclusive content that paying users can only unlock.

6. Freemium Upgrades

As the App Store economy has matured, we’ve seen the rise of the freemium model—apps that are free to download but offer premium features for a price. If you’re looking to make money from a free app in 2021, here are some strategies you can use:

In-app Purchases: You can offer in-app purchases to unlock additional features or content within your app. This is a popular game strategy where players can purchase items to help them progress through the game.

Subscriptions: You can also offer subscriptions to monetize your app. A weekly or monthly subscription could give users access to premium content or features.

Affiliate Marketing: You can also make money by promoting products or services from other companies in your app.

7. Data Monetization

There are several ways to monetize data. This can be done through banners, interstitials, or video ads. Other ways to monetize data include selling access to your data to third-party developers or aggregators or using your data to create new products or services.

Data monetization can be a great way to generate revenue from your app or website. However, it is important to consider the user experience when implementing any of these strategies. If you sell access to your data, you need to ensure that the third-party developers are using it to benefit the users of your app or website.

Also Read: How Much does it Cost to Build an App?

8. Crowdfunding and Donations:

One way that free apps make money is through crowdfunding and donations. This can be a great option for developers with a loyal fan base or community willing to support their work. A few platforms offer crowdfunding services specifically for Mobile App Development such as AppBackr and Kickstarter. To successfully raise funds through crowdfunding, creating a compelling campaign that clearly explains what the app will be used for and how it will benefit the supporters is important.

Donations can be accepted directly through an app’s website or popular donation platforms like PayPal. This can be a great option for apps that provide valuable content or services people are willing to pay for, even if they don’t need to purchase within the app. It’s important to make it easy for users to donate and to provide clear information about how the donation will be used.

In addition to crowdfunding and donations, free apps may make money through advertising or sponsorships. This can be a great option for apps that have a large user base and can provide valuable data to potential advertisers.

9. Sponsorship:

Sponsorship is a popular strategy for free apps to generate revenue through brand partnerships. In this model, the app developer partners with a brand or sponsor to promote their products or services. This can be sponsored content, such as banner ads, videos, or social media posts. The sponsor pays the app developer a fee for this promotion, and the app developer can use this revenue to monetize their app.

Sponsorship is an effective way for free apps to generate revenue while providing value to their users. Sponsored content can be targeted to the app’s audience, ensuring that users see relevant and useful promotions. This can also be a win-win situation for the app developer and sponsor, as the app developer can generate revenue, and the sponsor can reach a new audience.

10. Referral Programs:

Referral programs are another popular strategy for free apps to generate revenue. In this model, the app developer incentivizes users who refer their friends or family to the app. For example, the app developer may offer a reward, such as in-app credits or discounts, to both the referring user and the new user who downloads and uses the app.

Referral programs are effective because they rely on word-of-mouth marketing, often more effective than traditional advertising. Users are more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend or family member and are more likely to download and use an app if they are incentivized to do so. This can help the app developer to build a loyal user base and generate revenue through in-app purchases or other monetization strategies.

11. App Merchandising:

App merchandising is another strategy for free apps to generate revenue. In this model, the app developer offers merchandise or physical products related to the app, such as t-shirts, hats, or stickers. These products can be sold within the app or through a separate e-commerce platform.

App merchandising can be an effective way for app developers to generate revenue and build brand awareness. Merchandise can serve as a way for users to show their support for the app and help build a community of loyal users. Additionally, app merchandising can be a way to diversify revenue streams and reduce reliance on advertising or other monetization strategies.

Steps to Define the Best App Monetization Model

  • Define your App’s Target Audience: Knowing your app’s target audience is crucial in determining the most effective monetization model. Consider factors such as age range, income level, and interests to determine what type of monetization will appeal most to your users.
  • Research your Competition: Look at other apps in your category and see their monetization models. Identify their strengths and weaknesses to determine what will work best for your app.
  • Consider the Type of App: The type of app you have will greatly influence the best monetization model. For example, a game app may be best suited for in-app purchases, while a productivity app may benefit more from a subscription model.
  • Analyze user Behavior: Analyzing user behavior can help determine what type of monetization will work best for your app. For example, if your users spend a lot of time in your app, they may be more likely to make in-app purchases.
  • Test Different Models: Experiment with different monetization models to determine which works best for your app. A/B testing can be a useful tool to measure the effectiveness of different models.
  • Stay Flexible: The app market is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay flexible and be willing to adapt your monetization model as needed. Monitor user behavior and feedback to make informed decisions about future changes.

How Much Do Free Apps Earn?

The amount of money that free apps earn can vary widely, depending on factors such as the app’s category, target audience, monetization strategy, user engagement, and geographical location. Free apps generate revenue through advertisements, in-app purchases, and subscription fees.

According to various industry reports, the average revenue per user (ARPU) for free apps is around $0.20 to $0.50 per month, which can vary depending on the app’s category and region. However, popular free apps, such as social networking apps like Facebook and Instagram, generate much higher revenues due to their large user base and extensive advertising reach.

Benefits of Creating a Mobile App

  • Increased Visibility and Accessibility: Mobile apps can help businesses and developers reach a wider audience, as they can be easily downloaded and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Improved Customer Engagement: Mobile apps can offer users a more personalized and interactive experience, which can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • Additional Revenue Streams: Mobile apps can generate additional revenue streams for businesses and developers through monetization strategies such as in-app purchases, subscriptions, and advertising.
  • Competitive Advantage: A mobile app can provide a competitive advantage over other businesses or developers in your industry who may not have an app.
  • Improved Brand Recognition: Mobile apps can help improve brand recognition and awareness by increasing visibility and providing users with a more interactive and engaging experience.
  • Valuable Data Insights: Mobile apps can provide valuable data insights into user behavior, preferences, and demographics, which can help inform future business or development decisions.
  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty: A well-designed and functional mobile app can help improve customer loyalty and retention by offering users a more convenient and enjoyable experience.


In conclusion, there are many ways for free apps to make money in 2024. Developers should choose a monetization strategy that aligns with their app’s goals and audience and approach monetization in a transparent and ethical way. With the right strategy and approach, free apps can generate significant revenue and provide value to users.

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