They say if you’re good at something, never give it away for free; but what if I told you that free apps aren’t free?

You’re not giving away an app out of the goodness of your heart (unless you’d like to). Instead, by building an app for free, you’re creating an opportunity for new revenue streams and clients. Never give away an app without knowing exactly what you’re getting back in return. Monthly recurring revenue, sponsorship, referrals and lead generation are all acceptable forms of return. Let’s run through what to expect from your giveaway.

Foot In The Door

Whether it’s referrals or lead generation, the benefits are worth the cost of the app. But it’s good to remember that the bigger you are, the higher your app’s perceived value. For instance, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to give an app away in exchange for referrals. The client may be wary of the fact that it’s free, but you need to assure them that the app holds plenty of value—you simply want to spread the word since you’re just starting out. They’ll be much more willing to help when you’re honest upfront.

Lead generation is much bigger when you’re more established. Chris Yano of RYNO Solutions understood this, and it inspired him to donate an app to a local charity golf tournament auction. He traded the app for a booth, where he networked with attendees and leveraged those relationships into 4-6 more deals.


Some of our most successful partners see incredible success by giving their apps away to local schools. Ken George gives his apps away to entire school districts, then reaches out to local businesses to sell in-app sponsorships. George and his team promote the benefits of the apps and their appeal to the schools. Using this method, he can sell the value of the sponsorships to the businesses. He’s made thousands of dollars per app and has substantially diversified his business.

Just do it

There’s nothing preventing you from offering a free app. Remember: it’s about the value of the app to the client and your business. One app can easily become 4-6 in a short amount of time. It’s all about hitting your long-term goals, even if that means sacrificing short-term revenue.

A friendly reminder: there’s no right or wrong way to do this. You can give the app away entirely or just build it for free but continue to charge a recurring fee. The most important thing is getting a return on your investment.

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