The mobile world is not only young, but it is changing and evolving at a very rapid rate. As a tech community, we are all still trying to figure out how to make the most of it with our unique businesses.
In this article, I will do my best to help you understand what I learned about making money from content-only and text-mostly mobile apps and how you should think about making money with your publication.
I realize that there is quite a bit of excitement about apps, but the simplest first step to monetize your content is to make sure your blog layout is responsive to mobile screen sizes when people are viewing your blog from their mobile devices. Since most blogs make money from ads, in a single-column mobile layout, ads within the content column make all the money so if your goal is to make money, consider adding at least one in-content ad in the main column.
Now lets discuss apps. Contrary to what various app development consultancies my quote you, it should be pretty cheap and simple to create a content-only or a content-mostly app. In fact, you probably need to study how to make mobile apps for about a month or two before you can release your own app that you made on your own.
Once you have an app, the common reader devices are the iPad, Amazon Kindle, all general Android tablets, and the NOOK tablet from Barnes and Noble. The NOOK and the Kindle both run on Android but sell their apps in their own app stores, so to be able to have your app on iOS and Android devices, you need to build your app on a framework which will allow you to create Android and iOS apps simultaneously. Additionally, since even the phone screens are getting bigger, the difference between phone and tablet readership is also becoming less substantial. So while not everyone has a reader device, nearly everyone who is on the web, has a smart phone. So you would be opening yourself up to a very big market.
Monetizing On Mobile Devices
Once the app is built, you have two choices: give the app away for free and monetize with affiliate links, in-app purchases, or ads, or just charge for the apps upfront. Monetizing the apps with affiliate links or ads is brutally difficult on mobile and I would recommend you to stay away from those strategies. One strategy which may work for you is to capture the many free users on mobile and try to drive them to your website which can monetize better. But that is a bit of a cumbersome strategy. The most common strategy is to get the people who read your content frequently, to pay for an in-app subscription.
The next best option is charging for the app. Keep in mind that if you charge even as little as $0.99 for your app, only about 1-5% of people who would ordinarily have tried your app for free, would now pay for it. So for every 100 free users, expect two or three paid downloads.
Whatever the difficulties in the various strategies may be, because your blog publishes content regularly, you can create a loyal audience that will come back to your app on a regular basis. On mobile platforms, that is extremely important because loyal app use is an important SEO ranking factor on both the Google Play and Apple’s App Store search. And that will give you a competitive advantage over other apps which may not have that sort of a loyalty factor.
For our business apps for Android, iPhone and iPad the strategy that worked was to charge for the apps upfront since upselling anything within the app proved to be a great challenge. Our users got what they needed from the free version and were able to avoid getting the premium version. Plus, we did not have enough new content to try offering a subscription service. Instead, we wanted to focus on building a great experience for the few people who paid for the apps.