Blog / Business, StartUp App Ideas / App Development

How To Make A Profitable App

  • Rating — 5 (3 voices)
  • by Ivanna Denys
  • Updated on November 23, 2018
  • Read —
    7-8 minutes
making money on application

What most people dreaming about developing their own apps have in common? If your answer is “All of them want to make money”, you’re right.  Because let’s be honest: whether you nurture the idea of new Facebook, want to become a rival of Uber or have something unique in mind, your success will be ultimately defined by an income generated by an application you developed.

But is app making always profitable? What is actually the best and the most profitable way to build an app? And how to know if your app idea will pay off in the end or it will just burn a huge hole in your pocket? Well, there is, unfortunately, no magic formula with detailed instructions on how to make an app profitable that guarantees you tons of golden coins. Yet, there are some best practices you may apply that significantly increase your chances to make money on your application.  In this article, we’ll discuss some tips you definitely should consider if you want to create a truly successful app. So let’s dive right into them.

Find a compelling idea

How to build a profitable app you ask? A compelling idea is the first and the foremost step in your app development journey. Because what’s the point of creating an application that no one really needs? So before you even start the development process, you should answer the following questions:

  • What will my app actually do?
  • Why may users need to download it?
  • Does it solve some of their problems/satisfy needs?
  • Do any alternatives exist on the market already?
  • Are they good? Why people like/don’t like them?
  • How will my app differ from the applications developed by competitors?

And if you think that’s the easy task, then you have not conducted a really thorough market research yet. There are more than 2.2 million apps available on App Store plus 600,000 apps available on Google Play Store. It’s essential to make your application unique at least in terms of some key features and functionality to stand out from the crowd.


Best and most profitable non-games app ideas in 2018:

  • matching apps
  • booking apps
  • health apps
  • trading apps (including cryptocurrency)
  • tutoring apps
  • sports and fitness
  • social network apps
  • restaurant reservation apps

For example, Tinder, the most profitable mobile dating app (and the most profitable Android app in 2017 in general), managed to make over 1 billion dollars for Match Group in 2017.

If after all the work you’ve done, you still have doubts (and it’s absolutely normal), share your idea with your friends and family and ask them for a honest feedback. It’s a long long road and you don’t have to go alone.

Rely on professionals

The idea is important, but so is the execution. According to Statista, a number of smartphone users in 2017 hit 2.32 billion. All of them have different needs and interests so there is indeed a lot of space for new ideas. But no one will use an app that doesn’t work or performs poorly. You should understand that no matter how talented you are, a truly successful application is the result gained by the work of a whole team of professional software engineers.

Look, for instance, at this list of top profitable apps in 2017. If you have ever used one of those (and we bet you have), you’ve probably noticed that, in most cases, their functionality is just impeccable. We may even dare to say that these applications made it to the top not because of a brilliant idea, but because of a high level on which such idea was implemented in practice.

most profitable applications

Source: SensorTower

Fortunately, when it comes to choosing the development team, there is a variety of options to consider depending on your budget and specific needs. If you need more information on where to find developers for your project, read our article dedicated to this topic.

Don’t underestimate design

Building a profitable app is not just about functionality, the appearance of your application matters too. It doesn’t have to be just beautiful, it must be user-friendly. In today’s high-paced world, people just physically do not have an opportunity to spend much time figuring out how an application works. And, well, look at the most profitable app categories above. All of them are aimed at making the users’ life easier, not even more complicated. You should always bear this in mind–whether you plan to create the next most profitable driver app or a sports app or a music streaming app or whatever.

Hence, do not skimp on UI/UX design. Make the interface of your app as intuitive as possible,  since not all users who will download your app will be tech-savvies. This is especially applicable to the complex systems with many features and components. In such instances, on-demand functionality that allows for hiding irrelevant elements is a must. Basically, user experience always depends on how little effort such users put into achieving the desired result.

Here are a few UX trends for 2018:

  • Progressive disclosure (making certain information visible only when a user needs it)
  • Biometric authentication
  • Contrasting colors for the improved visual hierarchy
  • Focus on a voice-based interaction with a user (Voice Assistants)
  • Face recognition and focus on the user’s opportunity to express emotions (e.g. Animoji)


Incorporate innovations

Nowadays new (often indeed revolutionary) technologies emerge almost on a daily basis and it’s no wonder that smartphone users want to enjoy all the benefits they bring. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the internet of things are not just fleeting trends. As you might have already guessed, the competition on the market is quite tough and, if you want to win the race, you just cannot ignore tech advancement appearing on the horizon. After all, there is a good chance that they may become your secret weapon helping you leave all the rivals far behind.

If you want to know how big brands have already taken advantage of cutting-edge technologies, read our article on this topic.

Choose the right monetization strategy

monetization strategy

How many users make an app profitable? Well, it depends because a monetization strategy is another aspect you should think thoroughly about. There are actually only two models to choose from: direct sales and indirect sales. In a direct sale model, an app only becomes available for download when a user pays for it, while indirect sale strategy allows for a free download but involves some purchases hidden inside an app (e.g. advertising, freemium upsell, affiliate links or sponsorship).

Both have their advantages and downsides. For example, it’s much easier to convince users to download a free application. Yet, most of them will still buy nothing and you’ll have to wait some time before you start receiving any income.

In case you opt for a direct sale model, you must think twice whether users have sufficient reasons to buy it without trying. Put yourself in the user’s shoes: if someone offers your application to you at this price and under these conditions, would you buy it?

Your application might be great, but making people buy it is a separate story. So it’s not enough just to find out how to create a profitable app, you must also work on the sale and marketing strategy. And if your next question is How long does it take for a mobile app to be profitable, then there is also no single answer. If you’re very lucky (or ready to invest a fortune in promotion), it could be an overnight success. Otherwise, be prepared to wait from several months to several years.

Pick the correct platform

Basically, it’s either Android or iOS. So which app store is more profitable: App Store or Google Play? Well, again, it depends. If your app is indeed in demand, it will eventually appear on both platforms. But for the start, you should realize that creating an application for iOS will probably cost you more since it has higher cost-per-metrics. Yet, iOS development in most cases has a potential to bring you more money than building an application for Android.

To make the most of your app we recommend you to analyze your target audience and then look at the number of factors such as education (iPhone users are more likely to have a graduate degree compared to Android users who are more likely to have only a high school certificate), gender and age (Android users are more likely to be young men, while iPhone users are more likely to be older women).


So how hard is it to make a profitable app? Well, extremely, hard! But please don’t freak out. We are not here to discourage you. There is never any easy way to success and the road is always full of rocks and holes. Find a compelling idea, hire professional developers, invest in design, incorporate newest technologies, choose the right monetization strategy and platform and your chances to hit the top of the app market will skyrocket!

Already have a brilliant idea and now looking for reliable and experienced software engineers? We are ready to help!

Ivanna is a Content Marketing Manager of GBKSOFT passionate about tech advancements, marketing, and startups. Her dream is to make the virtual world a better place with the help of a written word.

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