Updated: Oct 11
So you’ve developed a killer app for the Android phone. You’ve spent months on Android Studio, writing code day and night. You understand your target audience, you have engineered a beautiful, intuitive user experience, and users love it. Now comes the question-how are you going to make money?
Here are some ways that we’ve seen succeed in selling Android apps. And don't forget to check our article on how to sell an iOS app too!
97% of developers release their apps for free and make money through in-app purchases. Common in-app purchases include consumable and non-consumable products, skipping wait times, VIP systems, and subscriptions.
A popular method is releasing two versions of an app: a free version and a paid version. The paid version might remove ads or unlock previously unavailable features.
Some developers release apps that users pay to download. This works well for educational apps and tools, and games with large amounts of content.
How much do Android apps sell for
The revenue generated by your app depends on its popularity and the effectiveness of your monetization strategy. The drop-off is steep—Google Play’s top 200 apps earn $82,500 a day, while apps at the tail end of the top 800 make $3,500 a day.
If you don't want to make the numbers on your own, use Bluethrone’s free app valuation tool to estimate a fair value for your app, but if you want to make the numbers, it’s important to look not only at daily and monthly revenue, but also measurements that will help you improve.
Two important measurements are Retention and ARPDAU (Average Revenue per Daily Active User).
Retention is the number of users still using your app after a set time. Your users need to stick around for your app to sell. App stores and investors are attracted to apps with high retention rates. Take a look at how many users come back after D1 (1 day) and D7 (1 week). A healthy D1 retention rate is 35-60%, and after D7, you want half that or more.
To calculate ARPDAU, divide revenue by the number of active users in a 24-hour period.
ARPDAU is important for analyzing the effectiveness of monetization. If in a given month, more users download your app without lowering ARPDAU, your monetization is likely effective. If ARPDAU goes down, then you might need to evaluate why newer users are not paying.
For perspective, the industry considers an ARPDAU of $0.05 to be healthy, while Pokemon Go, which broke records in monetization, has an ARPDAU of $0.25.
If you develop or market your app to a healthy Retention and ARPDAU number, your app will be set up for success.
Sell to investors (Can I sell my app to Google?)
Incubators such as Betaworks, Y Combinator, and even well-known companies such as Google often purchase innovative apps. Once your app has an existing user base and revenue, consider pitching it to a company working on similar technology!
Sell in Google Play Store
Google Play is the premier place to publish your Android app and start making money. You’ll first need to purchase a Google developer account for $25.
Can I sell my apps on Google Play for Free?
Currently, there is no way to publish on Google Play without paying, but many other Android app markets will publish for free!
Once you have a developer account, you’ll be able to publish your app through the Google Play Developer Console. This is a multi-step process, but the most important steps are:
Prepare Marketing Materials.
Take the time to prepare screenshots, videos, celebrity promotions, and anything to help your app stand out from the rest.
You’ll also need a description for your app. At minimum, the description says what your app does. Ideally, it also says why it’s better / more fun / less buggy than others. Keep this simple and to the point.
Prepare the Release APK of your application
The APK file is your app packaged, and downloadable by the public. Double-check it for bugs and minimize performance issues.
You can upload another APK in the future, but like in other things, a good first impression is important.
Configure the Developer Console
The developer console contains settings that potential users will be looking at when deciding whether they want to download your app. Pay attention to category, content rating, and target audience. You don’t want your silly Alphabet Letters app rated Mature.
Other places to sell Android Apps
Google Play controls over 95% of the Android app market. However, there are many other app stores. Most of these stores publish apps for free, and their niche user base can help your app gain traction with less competition.
Amazon App Store
A direct alternative to Google Play is Amazon App Store. Amazon often cross-promotes its products, which include apps.
Samsung Galaxy Store
Samsung devices account for 20% of the global smartphone market share, and this app store comes pre-installed on Samsung devices.
Foreign App Markets
China has 953 million smartphone users, with 80% on Android, making China a lucrative, although difficult market to crack. Winning over Chinese users involves more than simply translating your app, but publishing to a Chinese app store is not nearly as difficult.
Publishing on your own website is another option if you would like to avoid relying on a third party. You’ll have full autonomy for billing, which can be a blessing and a curse. You’ll need to find a way to bill users to download your app. Consider using an open-source payment system such as Stripe.
Tips to get the most out of your Android App Sell
Develop a high-quality app
You can upload to every app store, but that won’t make up for an unappealing app. Make sure you understand your target audience, and that you’re providing something they need. Check out competing apps, and find the magic in yours that makes it stand out.
Your app needs to be seen. If your app is unknown, don’t be shy about spreading the word.
One way to gain attention is to submit to app competitions. Competitions such as Google Play Indie Games Festival are great for visibility. Often winning apps are featured on app stores!
Getting featured on an app store, especially Google Play, can be game-changing. Overnight, your app can jump from a few hundred users to a few hundred thousand users.
Research Your Monetization Strategy
Take the time to understand your users, where they might want to pay, and research a monetization strategy that would appeal to them.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Selling an Android App - The Verdict
Balance development and marketing
Some apps fail because of poor development. Many fail because of insufficient marketing. Make sure to have a plan to balance both before your app hits the store.
Be Careful with Paid Apps
3% of apps on Google Play are paid apps, for good reason—users often shy away from apps that are not free. However, many users are willing to pay for premium quality. Avoid additional monetization, as this may decrease trust—they already paid to download your app!
Research is an excellent tool for selling your app. It can lead to simple changes that might be the difference between failure and success.