How to Create an App and Make Money ( in 2021)

The latest trends in App commercialisation for 2021 and beyond.

Cameron Barrie Posted 6th September 2021
Articles, Knowledge

If you are reading this, then you have most likely heard of the app craze that has taken over in recent years. A record 218 billion apps were downloaded last year while consumer spending leaped 20% to hit  $143 billion, for the first time ever. The need to create and make money with these apps is constantly growing as well. If you want to join in on the fun, then this blog post will teach you how to create an app and generate revenue from it by 2021.

Here is a story about Chad Mureta that’ll interest you:

One night in 2009, at about 10:30 PM he was driving home on the interstate when the events that would go on to shape his future unfolded.

A deer ran in front of him our of the blue; he hit the deer and his truck swerved back and forth, smashed into a tree and flipped over four times.

“Everything changed for me in that moment, everything.”

The accident left him in a mangled mess – his ‘clothes cut in a million pieces.’ Excruciating pains and $100,000 in debt. All hope seemingly lost – he admitted: “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

After 12 months combined stay in hospital and a rehabilitation center later, with a dominant arm less, Chad, with “no real computer experience” not only made a full recovery but went on to make millions of dollars in the span of just over two years.

The ‘aha’ moment?

“When I was in hospital with my clothes cut in a million pieces, there was my iPhone next to me with 12 percent battery life. And then my friend visited me in hospital and showed me an article about this new gold rush – apps.”

Yes, apps.

According to Wikipedia: “Mureta has led the development, marketing and monetization of more than 115 apps including the first “Emoji” iOS app that has been downloaded worldwide more than 155 million times.”

Inspired by  his amazing life changing story, we’ve set out on a mission to help you turn your app idea into reality. We’re  bringing you a special blog post that’ll teach you exactly how to go from zero knowledge of coding or App development, to having your money making app on the market.

Now, let’s get into it:

Why Mobile Apps?

Let’s not beat about the bush: the numbers are in and it’s record breaking across the board.

  • The average time spent worldwide by consumers in apps for  Q1 of 2021 is 4.2 hours a day, a 30% increase from Q1 2019. In some countries it is as much as 80% (App Annie).
  • Mobile Apps are a multi-billion dollar industry “projected to reach $407.31 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 18.4% from 2019 to 2026.” (Allied Market Research).
  • Worldwide, people are spending more in-app than ever. According to Sensor Tower, “Consumer spending in mobile apps reached 64.9 billion U.S. dollars across the App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2021” which was 24.8% more than what both stores generated in the same period last year. And this is “set to reach almost 270 billion U.S. dollars by 2025 (Statista).
  • Mobile apps revenue was over 365 billion U.S. dollars in 2018; by 2023, “mobile apps are projected to generate more than 935 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via paid downloads and in-app advertising” according to Statista.
  • Funding remained strong: 73 billion U.S. dollars was invested in mobile companies up by 27% from 2019

Beyond the numbers:

The increasing use of smartphones and tablets has meant that there’s a huge market for mobile apps. Hence, the potential audience and earnings for any app you make is enormous.

Also, people are now more likely to spend money on apps than they are to spend it online.

Our verdict: Apps have become a big part of our daily lives, and that means app development is a great investment opportunity.

Challenges

Well, we have to be honest with you and say that there is no such thing as an easy way.

But we do know of some challenges, especially when it comes to getting your app in front of potential users – also known as marketing.

Cost

It costs money to market an app, and so if you’re not willing to invest some of your own funds, then it’s possible that your app will never be seen.

From the results of more than 4 surveys, in a recent Formotus blog, “the price range for developing an enterprise mobile app is most often from $100,000 to $500,000.”

So how do you lower your app development cost?

By working with us, you’ll benefit from an Agile  development process, ensuring that you get the right features and functionality from day one. This would help reduce the cost of app development and maintenance

App Uninstalls

If you want to create an app and make good money from it, you must be ready to deal with  the reality of app uninstalls.

A study has revealed that users will go on to uninstall 1 in every 2 apps they download.

One of the big reasons why people delete apps from their phones is because they’re not performing well.  This usually happens when an app has problems that need to be fixed, but it can also happen if there’s just a lot of competition in your niche and your app doesn’t stand out.

Overcoming this challenge is a matter of making your app stand out – build features into the app that are so good and unique that users will want to keep it on their phone, even if there’s competition for the same type of service. At Bilue we can help you with this, by providing a range of different features that will set your app apart from the one’s in its niche.

Also, the quality of your app should be top-notch right off the bat – people should be able to see that you took the time and care to make it. It’s also worth noting that there is no point in marketing a mediocre app – it’s unlikely to generate any revenue.

As one of the leading app development companies in Australia, we understand that quality is key and  we’re happy to help you design and build a top-quality app. And with over 100 solutions built and over 6 million app downloads, this is a testament to our  high standards. If you want to check out how we can help your app stand out, get in touch with us now!

One more thing: Now that there’s a lot of free apps, people aren’t willing to pay for them anymore. People also don’t want to watch ads.  (No one wants a bunch of annoying ads popping up when they’re trying to do something).

This is a really big problem for developers.  They need to figure out how they can make money from their apps without annoying people or using any sneaky tactics.

So the jury is in: You can make money from an app – but it’s not going to be easy. Having a team of  experts to consult with on your app idea, and then work with you throughout the process can make all the difference.

Get started: Create your app

Let the fun begin.

First, you need to come up with your app idea. One of the fastest approaches is to base it on something that already exists.

If you want to increase the chances of success, try to think about a niche market that isn’t already saturated.

Once you have your idea, start to think about what features you want the app to have. You can also find inspiration by looking at your favorite apps and seeing what features they have.

Once you’ve finalised the idea for your app, it’s time to take the next step and turn this idea into a real-life product.

DIY Vs. Hiring an Individual App developer Vs. A Team of App Developers?

What are your options when it comes to  building an app? It’s important to make the right decision upfront.

Do it yourself

DIY can be a good option if you have the skills to develop a mobile app or  if you have the time to dedicate.

Hire an app developer

If you don’t have the skills or knowledge to build an app yourself. You will just need to find someone who is willing, capable and with a good reputation.

Hire a team of app developers

This is your best option if you want to have the best chance of success. You’ll need an app development team that has a good reputation and the skills you need in order for them to make an app that can compete with other apps in the market.

The benefits of hiring a app development team include:

App development is a complex process, with so many moving parts, from initial idea to public launch, that it’s hard for an individual to keep on top of everything without risking mistakes.

For example, the number of frameworks that are available to developers and the amount of different devices that apps need to meet the expectations of is overwhelming. Hiring a team of app developers will reduce your risk and will give you the best chance at success in 2021.

  • You’ll be able to get information from more than one expert in the field and still have a team to work with.
  • The team will be able to provide you with a full range of services, from design and development to QA, Testing, marketing and post-launch support.
  • Hiring multiple professionals to handle the various phases of app development and eventual monetization can be stressful and expensive. Not so with a team of proven experts by your side.

The key steps in the app building process

Step One: Define the app’s purpose

The starting point for creating an app is defining its primary function. The app’s purpose will dictate all other aspects of its design and development, including the types of technologies that are needed to create it.

From lessons we’ve learnt over the years,  we’ve found that getting it wrong at this stage can be the difference between a runaway success and an abandoned project. So, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get this right.

We recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • What will it do?
  • How will it do that?

There’s more to these of course, but  they will get the ball rolling.

Step Two: Market Research

Imagine investing huge sums and efforts in creating an app, only for it to fail because the app was simply a bad idea.

The good news is market research can help you gauge the chances of success before you get too deep into your project.

So, you should find answers to questions like:

  • What is the app’s target demographic?
  • Who will be your competition in this market space?
  • How is your idea different from those competitors?
  • What price point should you aim for?
  • How can you monetize the app (with ads, in-app purchases, etc)?

Market research would also help you discover the mistakes competitors are making  and how to avoid them.

For example, if your research shows that people are leaving a social app because it’s too difficult to find friends or people with similar interests, you might opt to include a search bar on the app’s main screen.

Also, you want to get a feel for demand.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your app idea is a good one simply because it sounds like an awesome idea. Be realistic about how many people will need or want this app.

If the app you’re developing is a new kind of game, for instance, then your research should cover what games are popular now and what kind of games are getting the most downloads.

You don’t want to be too far ahead or behind in terms of what’s popular, and that’s where research helps you figure out what direction to go.

In order to find out this information, you will need to do some research. But it’s not just about asking friends and family what they think of your idea, you also need to look at the market and study what other similar apps are doing.

The first thing to do is to make a list of similar apps that are out there now. If you’re unsure, use your favorite app store and search for the type of app you want to create.

Next, download and test out each one of those apps. This will give you a sense for what features are common in similar apps in the market.

The more you research, the better sense you’ll have of what features are common and which ones might be unique or innovative enough to help your app stand out.

Step Three: Outline the features you want for your app

The next step is to document your app’s features and how they should work, as well as the reasons for those decisions.

Try to be complete here:  it’s much easier to change things later on than to try and add them in after you’ve built the whole thing.

In the case of a social app, for example, there are different categories of features that you will need in order to create an engaging experience: profile creation and management; messaging with other users; photo sharing capabilities (perhaps including filters); etc.

Tip: For someone trying to create an app that’ll be monetized,  it’s important to think about what features this app will offer that its competitors don’t have.

Step Four: App Design and Mockup

 

Design is a very important part of your app, and it’s also where you’ll spend the most time – so make sure that what you create feels modern, slick and intuitive to use.

Designing an app involves more than just picking a color scheme and deciding on the layout for your screens. In order to create a successful app, it’s important to consider all the different features that are needed and how they should work together.

A good starting point for designing an app are some sketches, wireframes and mock-ups. You can  create sketches by hand using pencil and paper, or use design programs Adobe XD (PC), Sketch (Mac), Axure RP etc.

Action: Sketch out your idea on paper. It doesn’t have to be fancy (we’ll understand – you’re not Picasso after all) and you don’t need to invest in a tool either.

Not everyone can complete this step by themselves, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a development team on your side that can create them for you, then this step will be much easier.

Step Five: App development

The next step is to build the app and get it ready for launch. This requires knowledge of  the different programming languages that are used to create apps for each platform such as Objective-C, Kotlin, and Swift.

Remember outsourcing your app development to an app development company is one of the best ways to ensure the quality of your app. It’s one hack, smart businesses have realized, that can save time and money.

You should also consider things like which operating systems (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows) your app will work on, as these are all important considerations in terms of the technical capabilities required to develop it successfully.

Developing its core functionality, writing the code that will make it work and producing beta versions to test the app are some of the crucial tasks that need to be completed at the end of this stage.

Permit us to digress (it might be crucial to your success):

App Monetization: Deciding between iOS or Android

On this note, here is a bit of money making insight: Sensor Tower’s latest report shows that Apple’s App Store (iOS) generated 41.5 billion U.S. dollars compared to Google Play’s (Android) 23.4 billion U.S. dollars in revenue globally in the first half of 2021. This buttresses the general sentiment that iOS consumers spend more compared to Android users.

However, keep this in mind :

Android devices are more popular in some parts of the world like India and China. In fact it is the most popular  mobile operating system in the world – close to 73% of  the total global mobile OS market share. This means that, if you’re thinking of marketing your app in these regions Android might be a better option.

If you’re striving for maximum revenue and are willing to reach out beyond the borders of North America, Europe and Australia then it’s a good idea to build your app to run on both Android and iOS (Cross-platform app development) if you want the best chance of success because both constitute over 99% of the entire mobile OS market.

Step Six: Test the app

There are many different ways to test an app, including user testing sessions where participants use the app in a controlled environment. The goal is to identify any usability issues, bugs in the code and other problems which may make it difficult for users to successfully navigate your app. Then, fix them.

Step Seven: Launch the app in an appropriate store

Once you’ve created and tested a working prototype, the next step is to submit it for approval in an appropriate app store.

In today’s highly competitive marketplaces, your app needs to be optimized for specific stores to have a chance of getting any downloads. And since your aim is to make money from your app, you don’t want to take chances.

The app store’s algorithm tends to promote apps with the most downloads – so you want your app to rank well in the store. As part of our App Store Optimization process, we  create app promo videos, write compelling keyword optimized descriptions and thoughtfully curate screenshots so your app has the best chance of ranking well.

Step Eight: Support and Updates

Once the app is launched, it’s vital to maintain and support it with new features. This includes updating the app when necessary in response to user feedback.

Step Nine: Market your app

The final, but most important, step is to market your app. This includes promoting it in the appropriate store itself and using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

App monetization models working in 2021 – how you can make money with your app

You’ve got an incredibly stunning app built. Check!

Now,  what’s next?

Once you’ve released your app and the download numbers are steadily rising, it’s time to turn on the money-making machine.

Let’s dive into the main app monetization models.

Paid apps

Paid apps are the traditional way of making money with your app and by far the most straightforward. You upload your app to a store, set the price and that’s it. It can be expensive upfront but is easy in the long term.

How it works: People have to pay a fee upfront in order to download and use it.

Why monetization via paid apps works:

Paid apps are successful because they create a sense of exclusivity and prestige – they are “positioned as premium experiences” according to Apple. Just like a nice car or a couture dress, people want to be able to say that they have it.

Things to consider:

If you are thinking of releasing a paid app, there are always going to be competitors in the market. One way to stay ahead of the competition is to offer more features and content for less money.

Secondly, when considering how much you’ll charge for your app, you need to consider the market you’re targeting. For example, an app that costs $200 in one economy can be considered expensive for another if your target market is poorer.

Lastly, this quote below  from App Annie says a lot about earning with paid apps:

“Paid apps now represent a small part of the overall market, likely because they create an initial barrier for entry for users at a time when there’s an increasing number of high-quality free and freemium options.”

Reading the tea leaves: Free apps monetized with other options is the future.

Real life examples of paid app:

According to Simillarweb, the top 3 paid apps on Google Play in Australia are: Minecraft, $7.49 (Games/Arcade); TripView, $4.49 (Travel and Local); and Bloons TD 6, $4.99 (Games/Strategy). On the Apple App Store, they are: My Child Lebensborn, $2.99 (Games); Minecraft (games), $6.99; and WikiCamps Australia, $4.99 (Travel).

Subscription services are all the rage

Think about it: Netflix, Spotify or even The Wall Street Journal. These apps allow you to access content for a period of time at a set recurring fee. It’s a great value proposition for people who have busy schedules, and it makes life much easier (and cheaper) for many.

How it works: After downloading an app for free, the consumer subscribes to the service for a set number of days, they are paying for that set amount.

Why are subscription based apps successful:

It’s a great way to offer customers the best value for their money. Some consumers would rather pay a set monthly fee than have to pay for things a la carte.

Things to consider:

Consumers are willing to spend on subscriptions. According to analytics firm Sensor Tower, revenues earned by subscription-based in non-game apps alone grew 34% year-on-year from 9.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 to 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 – and this trend is set to continue. Additionally, according to the same report, consumers spend more on subscription-based apps in the App Store (iOS) than in Google Play Store (Android).

If you provide cloud services, audio and video content and/ or  and digital news , then the subscription model is a great way to monetize your app.

You also need to consider making your subscription renewable. This is crucial because it will help you retain your customer once they’ve already subscribed.

Real life examples : HBO, Tinder, The Wall Street Journal.

In-app purchases

In-app purchases are one of the best app monetization strategies in 2021. In this model, a user pays for items in the app by making a purchase.

In-app purchases are a good strategy for apps that require additional content, such as games or apps that have additional features. They are also a good strategy for app developers who want to monetize their app without relying on ads.

How it works: Users are allowed to download the app for free(freemium), but they are prompted to make a purchase after downloading the app. What can be sold in-app varies. For example, a user might be able to purchase an add-on for an app or pay for extra levels in the game.

Some strategies for making money with an app via in-app purchases:

  • In-app purchases of “consumables.” such as ‘extra’ lives or gems in a game.
  • Offering a free trial with limited features, then prompting the user to purchase a full version of the app for access to all features.
  • Offering in-app purchases that provide other benefits, such as the ability to get discounts on future purchases or removing pesky ads.
  • The user might be able to buy a subscription.

Users can buy in-app purchases with their credit card or through a mobile carrier billing system if they subscribe to the app. The app developer may also provide in-app purchases that can be bought with real money or currency earned within the game itself, such as buying gems with gold coins. All these transactions are mostly managed by the app store and the owner gets a commission from every trade.

Why is monetizing an app with in-app purchases successful:

The freemium model has proven to be a successful app monetization model because it offers users access to the app and a suite of features without cost, but encourages them to make purchases for greater value.

Things to consider:

In-app purchases revenues from both iOS and Android apps was projected to “almost double the amount generated in 2019” in 2020 which is keeping with the trend of increased consumer spend and a booming mobile app economy.

Gaming apps are typically a good fit for this model because they often require the purchase of additional features and content.

To position get the best of this monetization strategy:

  • Make sure your offer is very tempting that users would find irresistible.
  • Include a range of in-app purchase prices and features to meet the needs for all types of customers, from novices to experts.
  • Payment should be made easy for users. You can take advantage of the tools provided by app stores in order to manage transactions or create a custom solution to avoid app store commission charges which can be up to 30%.

However, note that to succeed with this model, your app needs to be a top performer with lots of users.

Real life examples:

Apps like Candy Crush and Pokémon Go are popular games that offer in-app purchases.

In-app Advertising

In 2021, this is the most successful method for making money with apps – with more than 62% of all app revenue. So, there is a lot of money on the table and there is no better time to start learning how to monetize your app with advertising.

How in-app advertising works:

The gist: The app owner gets paid based on how many times the ad is seen by users (per impression) and how many times the ad is clicked on by users (per click) or when the user completes a task, like filling out a form(per action) or downloading the app(per install).

The various ads formats include:

  • Banner ads use banners as the ad format – they appear on a small part of the screen – could be the top, bottom or side.
  • Native ads integrate into the mobile app experience so they feel like part of the content, rather than an interruption.
  • interstitial ads are full-screen ads that interrupt the user experience and appear before they can continue using the app.
  • Video ads are stand-alone or in-stream video ads that play before the user watches their favorite content on a publisher’s page or app.
  • Text ads like the name implies are ads in text format.

Why is app advertising model of monetization successful:

The app is free – users are more likely to download  it, and the app is not limited to those who can afford a high-end phone. Hence, they provide an opportunity to reach large numbers of users.

Things to consider:

The amount of money app publishers make from advertising ranges greatly, depending on what type of ads they choose to show and the number of app users.  In order to make a substantial amount of money with this method, it is necessary to have a large number of users, so this may not be suitable for newly created apps.

App users are finding ads increasingly intrusive which is one reason they are leaving for other platforms. So, to help overcome this challenge, don’t go overboard with ads and make the app worth a download – and it will be more likely that users will not mind seeing ads.

Real life examples:

Some of the most popular apps that use in-app advertising as a monetization model are Candy Crush, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook and Pandora. Chances are because this is by far the most  popular monetization model you’re already using some of these apps and are even seeing the ads as you read this.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing can be defined as the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products or services. This is a very popular method of making money online which also applies to mobile apps.

How app monetization with affiliate marketing works:

Find a good offer to promote – this can be a product like an app, e-book, software or a service.  Find a way to promote your product in the app – this could be by adding an affiliate link, a banner, video,  or a text link; then  drive traffic to it. You’ll get paid anytime users make a purchase or complete an action by following your affiliate link.

Why making money with affiliate marketing using apps works:

This type of app monetization is successful because it has a low barrier of entry and provides the potential for high returns with relatively low risk. And because the apps are free, users  are not spending any money to download it. This is great because the user will be more likely to click on the links and make a purchase, or complete other actions.

Things to consider:

Just like with advertising,  your app needs to be popular with lots of users to make affiliate marketing work. The return rates will be low if your app does not get any traffic or installs, even with a good product to promote.

Real life examples:

Most comparison and hotel/flight etc. booking apps are monetized this way. Skyscanner is one of the most successful affiliate marketing programs on mobile devices. Others include Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com apps.

Commerce/Transactional

Now and in the future, we predict a rise of cashless transactions. Gone will be the days of lugging around wallets and purses, instead consumers can just carry their phone with them to make all transactions cashless.

This is where your app comes in handy: it offers a way for you as an individual or company to reach out and sell goods within minutes without having to put much effort into advertising.

The process is straightforward. You register your app with a payment service like Stripe for example, then you use the API to integrate it into your site or app. Once set up, all of your customers have to do is scan their credit card and the transaction will be complete in seconds! Pretty soon people won’t even bother carrying money

Examples of apps like this include Amazon, Google Pay and Airbnb, Starbucks.

Sponsorship

Another app monetization strategy albeit relatively less popular compared to the aforementioned ones, is sponsorship. You can solicit brands and companies to  make an investment into your app and in return, they will have branding included in the content. For example,  Nike might sponsor a running app where they have their logo on the start-up screen.

Combination or one or more models

Some apps use a single monetization model, but many of the most successful apps employ more than one.

For example, Minecraft, which is a pay-before-download app, offers in-app purchases and subscription as well.

Looking to create an app that can make you money? We can Help!

Building a money making mobile app needs the right expertise at your command. You need to know how to design, write code, and how to promote your app.

Or you can be disappointed with zero downloads… But that doesn’t have to happen with Bilue in your corner.

Our engineers craft delightfully snazzy software and mobile apps that utilize bleeding-edge technology as well as expertly navigate the non-techy side of things so we can further develop your biz potential.

Our fast-to-implement and effective app-creation process will help you:

  • Increase customer engagement
  • Gain exposure
  • Increase your revenue

You can leave all the hard work to us so you can focus on “smiling to the bank.”


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