Ways to make money online through mobile apps

The easiest and most common revenue stream for app developers is in-app advertising which is more often used in free apps. You can choose from displaying commercials to advertising affiliate products and getting paid for every click, view, and install from the ads. Ads are the easiest and most common ways free apps make money. If you’ve downloaded any free application, chances are you’ve encountered all kinds of ads. In this app monetization model, you get paid every time a user views the ad, clicks on it, or installs a program directly from the advertisement.

How to Earn Money on Your Phone

If you’re looking for ways to earn cash in your spare time, your smartphone can help you make some extra income. Whether you only have a few minutes or a couple of hours, there are lots of opportunities to earn quick cash or earn gift cards and other types of prizes through many apps, including gig apps on your phone.

If you have a brilliant idea for building a mobile app but are new to the market, one of your first questions would likely be – “Can I make money from an app?” We could have started this article by saying how prevalent and trendy mobile apps have become. But you already know that. From talking to friends to finding jobs, making reservations, or finding love- it’s all there in the apps. Let us look into some facts and do the math. A study shows that an average adult American checks their phone every 12 minutes.

We use our phones everywhere!

You might be reading this article from a mobile device right now. What is everyone doing on their phones? Well, 90% of the total time spent on mobile is actually spent on apps. This is encouraging enough for anyone who owns a mobile app or wants to develop one. In 2020, global revenue from mobile apps surged to over 318 bn US dollars. This was an increase of over 60 bn US dollars compared to 2019. The strongest segment that year was the mobile games segment with a revenue of over 200 billion US dollars.

The Statista Digital Market Outlook estimates that revenue across most segments will increase over the next few years and overall will stretch out around 613 billion US dollars by 2025. Do we still need to address “How much money can you make from an app?” 49℅ people open an app more than 11 times a day. We know for a fact that people are using mobile apps more than ever now. But that’s not enough information to develop an app. It’s like opening a restaurant just because you come to know that people love to eat. And, then we’re in a constant juggle of whether to build a mobile website or a mobile app. Let’s see the comparison of mobile apps and mobile websites and mobile apps.

Best Ways to Make Money from Your Phone

Sell Your Old Stuff

Do you have some old clothing, furniture, or books you could do without? (Or anything, for that matter!). There are plenty of mobile apps you can use to sell them and pocket some extra cash. Let’s look at a few.

Use this app to sell tech and media like cell phones, games, DVDs, CDs, and books. It offers free shipping on all orders and speedy next-day payments for the items you sell. A cool feature is the ability to scan an item’s barcode and get an instant estimate of its value.

List your items for sale and Poshmark will pay the postage. You can even host a party where you and your friends list similar items together. Keep in mind that listing is free, but you’ll need to pay a fee when you make a sale. For items less than $15, you’ll be charged $2.95. For items above $15, you’ll be charged 20%.

Trade-in Your Old Stuff on Amazon

Here’s another option for making money from your phone that involves selling belongings that you don’t need anymore. This option doesn’t earn you cash, but it can earn you gift cards. Amazon has a great trade-in program that lets you send in tech items like Amazon Devices, video games, phones, accessories, and more.

If your item is eligible, you’ll receive an immediate offer for an Amazon gift card or a promotional credit toward the purchase of a new device. There are no fees, and Amazon will cover the shipping costs and send you a free shipping label.

Use an Investment App

While you might be looking for some extra money right now, one of the best decisions you can make is to set yourself up for the future, too. There are some awesome investment apps out there that can help you with making money from your phone today, while also growing your value as you get older.

Built for people who want to take control of their finances, Betterment is a mix of investments and savings. You can use the app to set goals, then create a customized investment plan that will help you to reach those goals. If investments give you a headache, you can set up an automatic monthly deposit and forget about it.

This app is a great way to start investing without ever noticing the difference. It does this by automatically rounding your purchases up to the next dollar and depositing that amount into your investment account. You can also earn extra cash toward your account by shopping with Acorns’s select partners.

Robinhood has gotten a lot of media attention lately. This app is often used for more complex investments, like trading stocks and funds. You’ll get access to “fractional shares,” which means you can invest for as little as $1, as opposed to buying a full share of what you’d like to invest in.

Sell Your Data

For some people, the thought of installing an app on your phone and “selling” your data is a bit of an invasion of personal privacy. But if you don’t think so, this is one of the ideal ways to make money from your phone without having to do any extra work.

For example, Nielsen is one of the biggest market research firms in the world. That’s why they’d love to see what you do on your phone — and they’re willing to pay you for it. With Nielsen’s Computer & Mobile Panel, all you need to do is download a secure mobile app. That’s it! The app will track and record how you use your phone, giving the company the valuable market research data they need.

When you sign up, you’ll earn up to $50 in points for gift cards.

Be a User Testing Participant

Brands want to know what people think about their products and services. And some of them will pay you to tell them your thoughts. UserTesting is a company that helps brands get this valuable feedback so they can continue to make their offerings better.

According to the website, participants can earn $4 USD for a 5-minute user test and $10 for a 20-minute user test. For live interviews, you can earn anywhere from $30 to $120. To sign up, you’ll need to answer some screening questions so that UserTesting can match you up with relevant products and services to test out. uTest is another company to look into if you’re interested in user testing.

Fill Out Surveys

You’ve probably heard about surveys before. While they may not be the absolute best use of your time, they might be a good idea if you’re stuck in the house, on your daily commute, or waiting in line at the DMV.

Let’s look at a couple of popular survey apps.

This app rewards you for taking surveys, as well as other activities like watching videos, playing video games, and reading emails. In addition to getting paid cash, members also receive perks in the form of coupons and cashback for online shopping.

In addition to answering survey questions, you can earn rewards by sharing your web browsing data. Whenever you fill out a survey or provide data, you’ll earn points that you can redeem for gift cards or cash.

Sell Your Photos

Love snapping photos with your selfie stick? Maybe you fancy yourself a bit of an amateur photographer with your new iPhone. Taking a few attractive pictures could be all it takes to earn some extra money through apps like FOAP. FOAP is completely free to use, and you can sell and resell the same photo as often as you like. 

Photos sell for $10, and you keep half the sale ($5). You can create your own portfolio of potential stock photos for companies or submit your snaps to “missions.”  A mission is a task set by a bigger company in search of specific images. If you win the attention of the mission poster with your content, you can earn a decent amount of cash. 

Run a Shopify Store From Your Phone

Did you know you can manage an ecommerce store from the palm of your hand? That’s right — Shopify offers a mobile app that lets you access everything required to manage your store from your phone. You can use the Shopify app to add products, manage inventory, fulfill orders, compare sales channels, talk with customers, and even keep revenue levels in check.

Although you may need to set up your store on a desktop initially, once you’ve got your store up and running, you can use the Shopify mobile app to run your day-to-day store operations when you’re on the go.

Earn Rewards for Playing Games

There are thousands of games available on today’s smartphone app market. While most will just give you a way to spend your time, there are some apps out there to help you earn money while having fun too. Mistplay, for instance, is an app that lets you earn rewards for playing games on your phone.

In Mistplay, you play and level up in games to earn Units (MistPlay’s in-app currency). Then you redeem Units for gift cards to companies like iTunes, Amazon, and Best Buy. There’s a variety of genres on offer, including survival, card, puzzle, adventure, and strategy games. 

Get Paid for Walking

Most of us walk a lot already – whether it’s taking a stroll with our dog or just commuting to the office. Sweatcoin is a handy app capable of converting each step you take into “sweat coins.” While you can’t withdraw the coins to your bank account, you can save and convert them into goods and services. Rewards range from audiobooks and athletic wear to headphones and technology. There are more than 300 brands connected to Sweatcoin right now, with new partners joining all the time. It’s a great way to save some cash while getting fit.

Earn While Protecting the Environment

Why not make your wallet and the world a little greener at the same time? Cleanspace is a fantastic app that offers freebies and discounts to people who protect themselves and the environment.  The app works with the Cleanspace tag, a tool that links to your phone via Bluetooth and monitors the levels of carbon monoxide around you.

For every mile you run, cycle, walk (or avoid adding to pollution in any way), the app offers freebies and discounts. The app can intelligently figure out how you’re getting around just by checking the immediate environment around you. Neat stuff, right?

How Do App Owners Make Money?

Trust us; there isn’t a definite answer to how much money you can make from an app. A lot? Maybe more. Hence, we’ve decided to help you get your idea off the ground and show you how exactly you can make money with apps.

1. In-App Advertisements

Statista shows that more than $186 million would be spent on mobile ads this year. Needless to say, mobile ads drive the market. With in-app ads, you can advertise affiliate products inside your app, and you get paid if users interact with those ads.

The most common campaigns used in affiliate marketing are cost per click, cost per view, and cost per install. If you want to make money from apps through ads, there are networks like AdMob and Flurry to work with. You can use several ways to display your ads- banners, native ads, videos, interstitial ads, or rich media ads that include audio, video, text, and more.

2. In-App Purchases

IAPs are directly made from within the free mobile apps. They’re typically used to allow exclusive content or additional features to users. In simple words, they provide the ability to sell a variety of virtual items directly from the app. The best free gaming apps like Clash of Clans and PUBG have enhanced their user experience by providing their users with IAPs.

According to Forbes, this strategy generates the highest revenue for publishers. Generally, this model is used in gaming apps, mostly because of the digital money. For the most part, this is an exciting model to convert free users into paying users without being too intrusive.

But don’t forget that you have to keep your users engaged in your app so that they keep paying. With this strategy, there is a great chance to create an app and make money from a low-monetization method.

3. Freemium Upsell

A freemium upsell model enables you to offer your app for free but would have paid or premium features. The magic of the freemium business model is that it will grow your business rapidly through advocacy. After experiencing the value of your app first-hand, users can enthusiastically spread the word about your app. Take Spotify, for example. Spotify isn’t necessarily a professional tool, but if you’ve ever used it, you know that everyone loves it. You can use Spotify and almost all of its features for free, but you have to listen to the ads on desktop or mobile.

While users get to experience the benefits of your product without actually giving or losing anything in the process, you get their foot in the door. From here, you can convince customers to pay or just let the greatness of your product do it for you. Overall, if you can make a user love and depend on your product in a Freemium model, they won’t mind paying to get more of it. The best part? You don’t need to spend a dime as the users themselves will spread the word about your app.

4. Sponsorship

Finding a sponsor is a real breadwinning monetization model. It works like this: You create a mobile app with a large number of users, after which you find a sponsor company and offer them to update and use your app to match their brand.

The sponsorship deals can be of two types; either you can split the revenue with your sponsor or ask for a monthly sponsorship fee. But, finding a sponsor is a tough nut to crack. Your mobile app has to be good enough to catch the interest of potential funders.

5. Subscription

Even though the paid subscription business model is the most common app monetization strategy, subscription-based mobile apps, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Dropbox, have gained massive popularity in recent times.

It is similar to in-app purchases except that instead of giving users the option to buy whenever they want, this model introduces ‘subscription periods.’ When a user has an active subscription period, they can use the app’s premium aspects, after which they can no longer use them unless they renew their subscription.

It is quickly becoming one of the top monetizing options because users get to try the application for free for a fixed period and then choose if they want to continue with paid subscriptions. This brings in steady recurring revenue. Moreover, app owners pay less transactional fees to Apple and Google for long term subscriptions.

Do we need to mention that subscribers are usually loyal app users? The key to achieving success with the subscription model is to provide a constant stream of fresh and valuable content and services. Users will keep subscribing as long as they will get value from the app.

6. Crowdfunding

When we say crowdfunding for your app, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be looking for money you think you need to develop your app. You might need funds for a particular part of your mobile app development or test a specific feature of your app.

You can post your app on one of the crowdfunding platforms mentioned below to gauge interest for your product and back it up with all the money you might require. Pitch your project the best way possible, and if you get zero funding, then you should reconsider your product. But if people enthusiastically back up your idea, you’re probably onto something!

You might also get ideas during the process of app development, and by the time your app is launched, they’ll be the ambassadors of your app and will talk about it.

  1. Kickstarter
  2. Indiegogo
  3. CrowdFunder
  4. AppsFunder

7. One-time Payment

For different purposes, many users cannot cope with the services of free mobile apps. Sometimes, they need more than what they are offered for free. Again, for different occasions, users need some extra services that only some paid apps can provide.

They are only likely to pay for companies they trust. One way to let users know the value of their apps is to create a lite version of it and offer it to the users to test. If they find your product worth spending money on, they’ll purchase the premium app. But make sure your app is not just another app they could have used for free. Remember, users, walk away sooner than they walk in.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make money through mobile apps?

There are several ways to make money through mobile apps. You can develop and sell your own app, create and monetize content within existing apps, participate in app-based gig economy platforms, engage in affiliate marketing through apps, or provide services or products directly through mobile apps.

How do I develop and sell my own app to make money?

To develop and sell your own app, you need to identify a problem or need that your app can solve or fulfill. Research your target audience, create a detailed plan, design and develop the app, and publish it on app marketplaces like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Monetization options can include selling the app as a one-time purchase, offering in-app purchases, or utilizing ads or subscriptions.

What are in-app purchases, and how can they generate income?

In-app purchases are additional features, content, or virtual items that users can buy within a mobile app. By offering compelling and valuable in-app purchases, you can generate income. Examples include unlocking premium content, providing exclusive features, selling virtual currency or items, or offering subscriptions for additional benefits.

Can I make money by creating and monetizing content within existing apps?

Yes, many apps allow users to create and monetize content. For example, you can create and share videos on platforms like TikTok or YouTube, monetize your blog or articles through blogging apps, or sell digital products or services within specific marketplace apps. By attracting a large audience and leveraging advertising, sponsorships, or direct sales, you can generate income.

What are some app-based gig economy platforms, and how can I earn money through them?

App-based gig economy platforms connect individuals with tasks or services, allowing you to earn money on a flexible basis. Examples include ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, food delivery apps like DoorDash or Uber Eats, or freelance job platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. You can sign up as a driver, delivery partner, or freelancer to provide services and earn income.


Your smartphone offers a lot more than just opportunities to take photos and check in on friends. With the right strategy and apps, you can make extra income with your phone doing a bunch of easy tasks. Most of these tasks are things you’re already doing in your daily routine. So, it’s easy to start making money and getting paid consistently.

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