How do I get paid for all my Apps?I am pretty sure the title of this blog post is what most developers end up asking themselves after the euphoria of publishing your first App wears off. You know the feeling, you worked hours and hours, you went to several presentations to soak up the warm fuzzy feelings of all the other developers and you have whipped out your phone to show all your friends and family YOUR app.
So... how can you make money from your brilliance? First, know that it is not easy. It's not impossible, but it's not easy. That's not to say that there are not many options available that are easy, but you have to do something to make bucks. If you build it, they will not necessarily come. Ok, so now that the disclaimer of work required has been stated, lets look at some of your options.
Sell Your AppThe first and easiest (not necessarily the best) is when publishing your app in the Windows Phone Store, simply set a price. Your app is being published in probably over 190 countries (the default) and all you have to do is pick a price for your own country and that price will roll out to all the other countries in their currency. You CAN set individual prices in different countries if you want but we'll leave that for another time. So you have put a price on your app. Everybody KNOWS how awesome your app is and based on your description and a few screenshots they will buy your app... right? Well, that might work but the truth is that the percentage of blind purchases is not all that high. What one used to do is release two apps. One was a free edition and one paid. The free was crippled in some way. The challenge with this is getting them to buy the paid one, the upgrade was not all that simple and any data would likely not transfer. One of the beautiful and great things about the Windows Phone Store is that it allows you to "Try Before You Buy" with a Trial Mode. It does take a bit of code, but Microsoft has kindly written all of it for you and provided it at the following location.
Now all you need to do is decide what are the differences between your trial and paid versions. You have several options.
- Have a time expiry. - this wasn't as effective with Windows Phone 7 as the user could, if they wanted, simply uninstall and reinstall the trial and they were back in business. If your app created data, it was better, as uninstalling an app removes all the data.
- Only offer some features in Trial. - You need to pick and choose which features are disabled. Make sure you give the user enough to leave them wanting more, but not so much that they don't need what you are selling
- Advertise - Just display ads in your App. If they have purchased the app, don't display any ads.
Total AdvertisingThere are more than a few options out there for advertising. I use Microsoft's Pubcenter. I've found that there are peaks and valleys but generally it does keep getting better.
All you need to do is install the Microsoft Advertising SDK and then drop the control on your XAML page. Keep an eye on how things are doing at the pubcenter. You can see what kind of money your app is earning as well as the all important fulfillment. Fulfillment is a very important statistic. This means what percentage of requests for ads are actually being fulfilled. That means that some of the time (sometimes much of the time) you don't have anything from the Advertising Pubcenter to display. What do you do? You have a couple of options here.
- You can display your own ads. You can cross promote other fantastic apps you have written. If a customer really likes your App they are much more likely to try other apps you have created. Why not tell them about it?
- You can display prompts asking (begging?) for reviews. Lots of great reviews means more downloads and a better chance of being featured in the store. Ask people to review your app and sometimes they will.
- Use some other advertising provider and swap between them. There are companies out there that provide Ad rotators already created which will keep swapping out other providers when fulfillment is low from a particular provider.
- Use cross promotion with other app developers with something like AdDuplex. AdDuplex displays other developer's adds for their apps in your app and displays ads for your app in their Apps. This is a great chance to cross promote your app to people who wouldn't normally have heard of you.
In-App PurchaseThis option is only available with Windows Phone 8. WP7 didn't support in-app purchase. Depending on the app and the market sometimes people don't want a paid app when they think they can get a free alternative. In this case you could offer a free version that is functional and does something well but maybe has advertising. You can offer for an in-app purchase an option to remove the advertising. Or perhaps there is some advanced features that, while not completely necessary, they are desired. Maybe push notifications to Live Tiles are wanted by customers, so you offer that feature for a fee as an in-app purchase.
I have an app that is entirely advertising supported. If I did live tile updates, I wouldn't get much in-app advertising. So I can now offer, for a fee, that feature and I have added another revenue stream from the same app! Yeah!