How You Can Make Your App Pay For Itself

There are many different app revenue models available for anyone involved in ePublishing and are looking to receive the best monetary return on their digital investment. Below are a few common examples that you can take into account during the consideration and planning stages of your app.

Free with advertising

With this option, an app would be free to download, and all content, features, and services remain open and accessible to all. Instead of relying on subscription revenue, the success of this model is dependent upon a smart in-app advertising strategy. Usually, customers are inclined to download a free app with ads so long as the ads do not detract from the end-user experience, so keep this in mind during the design and planning stage.

When you publish your app with Realview you can integrate your ads into the app design. Since you can brand the background image on the home screen of your app, why not offer this prime space up for advertising and increase your profit margins. Benefits of advertising on the app background include forefront visibility; as soon as your app is opened the reader will see the advertising. It is also quick and easy to change this background image, and with no delays or app update, approval times required it makes it easy for you to manage multiple advertisers ongoing.

Ads within your content can be hyperlinked, encouraging more inbound leads to your advertisers’ websites. Make sure to track your click-through stats so that you can determine which ads work, and where. There are many different performance-based advertising models, such as cost-per-click, cost-per-mille, cost-per-lead, etc. Reference your tracking statistics and decide which model works best for your product.

Free apps tend to be downloaded more frequently simply for the fact that they don’t cost the user anything. There are also more opportunities to make money from advertising compared to a paid app. While a paid app will attract an initial, once-off fee, an app that uses advertising will be profitable ongoing, as each time a reader opens the app they will see the ads, encouraging further impressions or click through rates. With this said there is a limit to the amount of advertising you should add to your app, it is important to not overwhelm your app with advertising as this may encourage reader drop off rates.

In-app purchases

A popular revenue model, in-app purchases offer an easy and secure method for readers to purchase additional content and services within a downloaded app. Offering in-app purchases within a free-to-download app is a great way of encouraging sales as it allows you to garner reader interest. Readers can preview your app, and then after consideration purchase specific content that suits their needs. They will not need to navigate away from the app in order to make payment, and with only a three-click process your readers will be able to gain access to content within your app instantly.

In app purchases are an excellent feature if you want to open certain content up to your readers for free while locking down other paid-for content. Since the app does not need to be purchased before it can be downloaded, users can gain a limited look into what your app has to offer.


Subscriptions offer users access to content or services within an app for a specified period of time, whether it be for a week, month, year, etc. This is an effective revenue strategy for publication-based apps as readers would already be familiar with the traditional print subscription model. With this option, customers are required to make an upfront payment for their subscription and will receive access to all content published within the period of their subscription.

In order to encourage subscription sales, users will want to know that they are receiving value for their money. Maintaining regular publishing updates and offering fresh new content will encourage customer retention and increase the chances that readers will renew their subscriptions for further cycles. You can boost sales by offering subscription options at a reduced price of the overall cost of the single issues.

Auto-renewing in-app subscriptions are a great feature for encouraging sales since it relies on the principle that instead of opting in to renew, users have to opt-out pre-emptively to cancel their renewal.

The subscription model offers the benefit of publishers receiving upfront payments for a set period of time instead of sporadic once-off purchases.

Paid app

Sometimes thought to be the more difficult method of selling app content, the paid app strategy requires that you thoroughly promote your product in order to reap the highest fiscal benefits. Unlike the in-app purchase model where customers can download your app for free and then after consideration purchase content, features, or services, a paid app requires upfront payment before it can even be downloaded from the store. Users may find it discouraging to commit to a purchase without being able to preview the app first, which is why this method works well if you have an established brand or a large, loyal customer base as the brand will sell itself. Further encouraging interest with a smart app promotion strategy can help boost app discoverability and sales.

The best way to encourage new potential customers to purchase and download your app is by creating a high-quality, informative app listing page. With a plethora of content at their fingertips, users want to know if downloading your app will be worth their time and money. List all important information pertaining to the app (such as the content users will receive, update frequency, purchase amount, bonus features, etc) and choose screenshots and supporting graphics that present the full experience of your app.

A benefit of creating a paid app is that you are more likely to retain long term users, as people are often more likely to make the most of content they had to pay outright for. Disadvantages include deterring potential customers who would prefer not to commit to an app that they may not be entirely sold on yet.

So those are the ways on how you can make your app pay for itself. If you opt for either the subscription, in-app purchase, or paid app options, keep in mind that since you are using Apple and Google’s platform and payment system, be prepared to hand over 30% of your profits for subscriptions. Click here to find out how you can bypass these charges.

Try Realview for digital publishing and start building your free mobile app today. Create customisable apps that are ready to be published in your choice of app store!