Cash Rules Everything Around Me: Making Money as a Developer

monetizing apps

Method Man was onto something when he rapped that classic hook. Sound greedy? Maybe, but for app developers this rings true. No, I’m not saying app developers are greedy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Like me, part-time developers are just looking to make a few extra bucks doing something they love!

There are a lot of ways developers can make money, such as through ads, subscriptions and upselling, but a lot has changed recently. Previously, if you built a solid app and charged a few dollars for it, you could make some serious cash without ever giving a thought about monetization strategies. I was lucky enough to bring in a full second income for quite a while based on this “premium app” strategy. But whether you like it or not, times are changing.

Now, users want and expect free apps. Some customers have even given my apps bad reviews because of  the 99 cents fee. So how can you give people what they want and still make a living?

Actually, it’s pretty easy. By adjusting how you look at monetization, you can make money and keep your customers happy.

My teammate Garrett wrote a great post, “Payment Service: Price Check,” in which he takes a much closer look at the Payment Service itself. It’s worth checking out if you’re thinking about getting into in-app purchases.

Here are a couple strategies I’ve used in the past year using the BlackBerry Payment SDK for WebWorks and Cascades:


When I originally released Filtermama, the app was free, but with limited functionality. If the user wanted to fully unlock the app and use all of its features, they would have to pay. This alienated a lot of users; some were okay with paying to unlock the app, but most felt it was a bait-and-switch.


With the launch of Filtermama 2 in December, I wanted try something new. Inspired by one of my favorite apps, I took the “upsell” approach. This way, users could have a fully functional app and purchase additional Filter Packs if and when they chose to.

app development_screenshot 2

What happened next was a bit of a shock to me. Not only did users leave better reviews, Filtermama generated a ton of in-app purchases. In fact, as of a couple weeks ago, sales have increased over 200%!

Take a look at the download trends…

app development_downloads

…and the revenue.

app development_revenue

In the end, how you choose to make money from your apps is up to you, but the key lesson here is that if you want to generate more revenue, don’t force your customers to pay, make them want to pay.


BlackBerry Payment SDK – Native

BlackBerry Payment SDK – WebWorks

If you find this post useful, have questions or comments, or just want to keep up-to-date on the world of BlackBerry Development, follow me on Twitter at @chadtatro.

Chad Tetreault

About Chad Tetreault

A developer at heart, I’ve been coding in some shape or form since the age of 13. Nowadays I focus on building awesome cross-platform (Android, iOS, BlackBerry) mobile web applications powered by Cordova, JavaScript, and AngularJS.