Fat Stacks quote from Breaking Bad by Jesse Pinkman

2 Ways to Make Money Developing Free Apps

In 2015 I got into creating apps for my sites big time. Read how I make money developing free apps of my niche websites and for local businesses.

App development

My latest software toy in 2015 is GoodBarber.  GoodBarber is a cloud-based app building software platform.  You don’t need to be a coder to build apps with it.

My latest big push with my online business is creating app versions of my niche websites and apps for local business clients with GoodBarber.

Since returning to work a few weeks ago, I’ve set a goal of turning one of my niche sites into an app.  Fortunately with GoodBarber it only takes 1 to 2 hours.  See my GoodBarber tutorial and review here.

This post isn’t about selling apps.  I take a different approach with app development that will grow my business, including the bottom line.

Here are 2 ways to incorporate app development into your online niche/local marketing business:

1.  Create an app version of your niche websites

This is so simple to do.  Whether you monetize with display ads, sell products or promote products as an affiliate, an app is another way to get more eyeballs on your content.

While I agree the $48 per month GoodBarber charges may not be worth it, check out other app platforms.  There are less expensive options to get started. AppyPie is one such platform (I nearly went with AppyPie, but opted for GoodBarber because it’s a little more robust).

Once your niche website app is in the app stores, be sure to at the very least offer app store download buttons on your website to get people to download your app.

You can further promote your app with Facebook ads, email marketing… the usual marketing methods.

BUT the REALLY Exciting Potential with Niche Website Apps Is…

The really exciting aspect of niche website apps right now is that there are far fewer apps than websites.

Yet, millions of people type in every conceivable keyword in the app store search fields looking for apps to download in their search for information, services, games, tools, software, etc.  This means it’s easier to rank in the stores (especially if you can kickstart some downloads) and get more eyeballs on your content simply due to much lower supply than web-based search engines.

I’m sure there are some black hat methods to really improve an app’s placement in the app stores, but I’ve not looked into it and haven’t deployed any.  For now I get the apps in the app stores, ensure the app descriptions include relevant keywords and include links to the app stores on my site.  Whether you go black hat is up to you.

Think about this… app store search is like Google circa 2005.  It’s new.  Very few niche website publishers create app versions of their sites.  If you do, you’ll have a headstart.

How do you make money with niche apps?

The same way you do with websites.  You can collect email addresses, use display ads and promote products as an affiliate (although avoid blatant affiliate apps… I believe these can be rejected by iTunes and Google Play).

Should you use app ads or simply link to your site (mobile version)?

That’s up to you.  For now, my B2C site apps display a mobile version of my sites which displays the web ads.  I may switch to app ads down the road.

2.  Calling All Local Marketers

This method can actually be a huge stand-alone business with incredible recurring revenue.

I’m actually super excited about incorporating apps as part of my marketing offerings for local business clients.

I haven’t blogged much about local marketing on Fat Stacks, but I probably will start because I’m doing really well with it.  It’s a steady and relatively passive income stream.  It diversifies my online business.

In fact, apps reignited my excitement about local marketing in 2015.  Right now, most local businesses don’t have apps.  This means you can do the following:

a.  Do your existing clients a huge favor by creating apps for them. You can charge recurring fees for this service.  Or, if you operate like I do (I earn fees when I generate leads/sales for clients), I use the apps as a way to generate new business for my clients which generates more revenue for me.

b.  Offer a low cost app creation service as a way to get more local clients.  You can go so far as to create a demo for them and use that as a sales pitch.  I haven’t gone this route (yet) because I’m still working on creating apps for current clients.  If they like your app services, they may very well hire you for other online marketing services.

An easy way to sell this service is the “search” opportunity now.  People search for local businesses in the app stores.  Since very few local businesses have apps, your service can simply fill the void.  Getting downloads and customers for your clients wouldn’t be that hard.

What technology can you use to start a vibrant app development business for local businesses?

Many app development platforms like GoodBarber and AppyPie offer reseller/white label options. You pay a higher monthly fee, but that includes unlimited app creation for clients as well as a white label dashboard.

I have a reseller GoodBarber account and it makes it possible me to place the entire backend on my own domain with my logo.  I can have full control. It’s amazing.

A few comments about a local marketing app business

a.  It’s a lot of work.  You’re offering a service.  While I can make an app in 1 hour, when working for clients, they’ll want revisions which will increase your time requirement significantly.  Don’t think about the short term.  Marketing services that include recurring revenue take time to build up.

Keep in mind, once an app is created for a client, there isn’t much you need to do going forward, yet you can charge recurring fees for that app.

Why don’t businesses build their own with AppyPie or GoodBarber or any of the other app creation software options?

Many do.  But many business owners don’t wish to take the time to do it.  Moreover, remember, in order to submit an app in the app stores, you need to pay $99 to Apple and $25 to Google.  If you can offer a service using your developer access which means those small businesses don’t need to pay those fees, you’re already offering value.

Moreover, the app creation software platforms do cost money for each app.  You could easily charge the amount they charge without the developer fees plus build the app resulting in a very good value for your clients.

b.  Think recurring:  Apps got my attention for 2 reasons.  First, the potential for downloads in many niches right now is awesome.  Second, the potential for creating a recurring revenue business building apps for businesses is excellent.

While I’m not devoting my entire business to app development, I’m certainly investing in app development as part of my online business.

I see it as a terrific opportunity right now.

And just because I didn’t include selling apps such as games in this post doesn’t mean it’s not a viable model.  It is.  You can build a great business creating apps for sale.  It’s just not something I’ve done or plan on doing in the near future.


6 thoughts on “2 Ways to Make Money Developing Free Apps”

  1. Hey Jon, two words of advice. I wanted to know more about you like your name and what this blog is about which was missing. Social media buttons to share is on the image that is very difficult to see. It should be somewhere easily accessible.


  2. Hey Raj, I agree social sharing buttons shouldn’t be on these images. I use it on other sites where it makes more sense. I’ve removed image sharer. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Hey, Its a great post for the ones who are looking for the mobile app builders.
    Here is a one more suggestion for a company. Magento Mobile Shop, Every Magento e-commerce entrepreneur must give a try because Magento mobile shop provides the mobile apps for free. They have developed an extension which is free and enables the stores to create mobile apps within few hours. You can find them at http://www.magentomobileshop.com


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