How to build mobile apps for passive income.

26th Nov 2018

Mobile apps,  are applications which can be installed on smart devices. In 2017 more than 430 million were sold and over 350 million of them using Android. App Annie, have a suite of analytics for both Android and Apple apps. In 2015, apps revenues were at 69 billion and this is set to increase to 188 Billion by 2020.

App development if done right can be the key to escape the 9 to 5 rat race and get you closer to your financial freedom. There are the key advantages:

  • It can scale, it can reach a wide audience.
  • It requires relatively low maintenance after it has passed the honeymoon period.
  • It is hard to do, so not a lot of people will do it. There are more bloggers then app developers because it is easier to blog. So this means that there will be less competition for your app.
  • There is a demand for great apps.

What is the easiest way to develop a mobile app for passive income?

The easiest way is to turn your passion into an App. Whatever your passion be it video games, cooking, dogs, cats or train spotting this can be turned into some kind of app. Any passion can be made more enjoyable by the use of an app. Apps can help in organizing information better, sharing with others who have similar interests or gamification of the hobby.

Turning a hobby into an App improves your chances of success because you are more likely to persist in the completion of this project. You will need persistence because there are many things to learn before you will see your app in the app store.

Step 1: Research other apps

The most successful apps have probably done something right. Research them. Consider how you can combine some of their functionalities into your app idea. (but taking note of copyright issues) Research apps in your topic area and see where is the gap, which functionality are they missing, what is the user experience and what is the monetization model. What can you provide better value?

Step 2: Start with a small idea.

The more complex an app is the more difficult it is to design, develop and test. Your first app should be simple. Consider this a learning experience.

Example of simple apps

  • Showcasing images and rating them
  • Keeping track of information and categorizing it
  • Keeping count of certain images or events
  • A simple step by step explainer on how to: make 100 pushups, draw flowers, drink more water

Generating Passive income from a mobile app.

The first consideration is choosing an idea that is easy to turn into a passive income app. The second is choosing an app design which requires little maintenance. Some apps such as workout trackers need little updates, other apps for example traffic monitoring have a lot of moving parts and require much more maintenance.


  • Number of updates needed and how frequent
  • Payment gateways and connections with other services.
  • Data feeds which might break down
  • Structured feedback from users to developers
  • Level of testing needed
  • Amount of active monitoring for spam or abuse.

App monetization is about turning eyeballs or users into cash paying customers. Keep in mind there are more than just passive financial income. Think about ways on how to create multiple passive income streams from one app. Design this from the get-go, implementing them later might be costly and increases the risk of breaking something.

These are potential channels of passive income:

  • Advertising
  • Selling Data
  • In-App Purchases
  • Subscriptions
  • Donation / Patreon
  • Marketing of your own products (eBooks)
  • Marketing your other affiliate channels (YouTube Channels, Facebook Marketing)
  • Marketing third-party products.
  • Marketing yourself as a speaker, writer, App designer or developer

See also: How to create passive income from mobile apps

Laws and Regulations

Laws and regulations such as GDPR, copyright and KYC/AML are an important part of your design process. Investing in a lawyer can save a lot of money and trouble down the line.

Start your design

Draw the screens of your app, on paper first. Brainstorm. It does not need to be a work of art. Be prepared to draw it over and over again. It should include buttons, actions and events that the users will see and interact with.

In the end, your A4 needs to look like a storyboard with the app in the centre and action description all around it.

Apps are interactive. The flow of the application will create the stickiness and follow throw needed to generate your passive income. Identify the paths that you want the users to take, with passive income being the end result.

Before moving to development, it is good to create user stories. These are simply walkthroughs of the user’s actions in the app. For Example, as soon as he enters the screen he sees, then he can ____ and if he has ___ he may continue if not a popup will show asking him for ______ etc.

Your design should include a reason why your app will be chosen. A unique selling proposition or competitive advantages in your app can be:

  • Impressive graphics, smooth transitions  and friendly colour palette
  • Well tested and robust
  • Gratifying user experience, in-app rewards, in-app encouragement messages
  • Attention to battery power, privacy and storage space.

A plan for the plan

To build software you need a plan. The plan will include the resources you will need, the tasks that need doing, and the people who will do these tasks. Some tasks will depend on the outcome of other tasks; other can be done independently of others. For example, it does not make sense to market the site before it is ready i

Project management tools you can structure project management:

Programming the App yourself, Using App Builders or hiring a programmer?

Programming is an interesting skill and having an app in mind is a great excuse to learn to code. However, learning how to programme is time-consuming, not easy and intense. If you have the time and the energy then go for it. Coding the application gives more options and versatility than app builders.

Instead of building the application using code, you can use an app builder. This is easier because it is less technical and the learning curve is faster. App Builders will help you design and develop a mobile application without having to write a line of code. This could be a good option for version 1 of your mobile App.

Hiring a developer is expensive, and the final price is unknown. You will introduce changes along the way which will increase the price of development. Testing should be done separately. Tip: a fixed price project is the way to go.

A list of mobile app application builders

App Developer Tools

App UX Design

Version Management

  • GitHub Open Source repository of software
  • Bitbucket Private Source Code repository

Mobile App Testing

This is a crucial part of the development process, without good testing, your mobile app is more of a liability than an asset. Test yourself, have friends and family test. Secure testing can be done by experts. Consider hiring one. Testing will provide

Testing will find functional and security bugs.

When the bugs are ironed, the app can be tested for its user experience. Testers will have suggestions for improvement beyond just bugs. They can provide feedback on the user experience (UX). This will allow you to explore ways in which to make the app can be made better. In the end you want to find out how the app can generate a bigger stream of passive income/s.

A list of app testing tools.

Marketing your app.

Without marketing, no one will know about your mobile app. Marketing is about informing your target market that you have a solution to their problem. There are three aspects of marketing an app.

  • Viral effect: Marketing from inside the app; making it easy for your users to share the app with their friends. Give them and their friends an incentive to do so.
  • App store marketing: Having good eye-catching designs in the app store an informative app description. Clear and catchy name that explains what the app is about.
  • General Marketing: Advertising the app on websites, blogs, Google and Facebook ads.


Mobile apps have the potential to be a great passive income asset. If well designed they are low maintenance and can produce a nice constant stream of passive income. It may take a few times to find a winner but if you do the efforts will be well worth it!


Not investment advice. Not financial advice. Consult your financial advisor. Not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold. The staff of this site may own these digital asset/s mentioned on this page. Investing is risky and you may lose all your capital. See full disclaimer.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Author: Jim Reynolds
Jim Reynolds. Is passionate about finance, passive income and cryptocurrencies. He writes about his passions on He has worked in the tech and financial industry for a few decades. He holds a masters in business admin and a bachelors in IT. All his writings are not investment advice.

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