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Subscription Models VS. Pay-Per-Session - Revenue Strategies to Cover App Development Costs

    The world of app development is constantly changing. There are new technologies, systems and ways to attract clients. That is why it has become a real challenge to find the right business model, especially when it comes to online learning. There are endless platforms that teach you languages, sciences and even arts, so you need to find a way to stand out while being conscious about how much you spend on development. For that, A2 Design has an article on the cost of building your own tutor app. Make sure to check it out.

    In this post, we’ll discuss what to do after your app is created and ready to help students gain knowledge - you do want to cover the costs of making and maintaining your online learning platform after all, as well as earning a lot of money off of it.

    App Development

    There are two popular strategies that developers often contemplate: subscription models and pay-per-session options. So let’s explore these approaches, understand their pros and cons, and even consider blending them to make the best choice for your app.

    Subscription Models: A Steady Flow of Income

    Subscription models are this reliable and ever-flowing stream that helps you through the unpredictable nature of app development costs. Here's why they might be the right choice for your app:

    1. Consistent Income: Subscriptions offer a dependable source of income and make it easier to manage the ongoing costs of app development and maintenance. Users pay a regular fee, typically monthly or annually, which provides a stable financial foundation for your business.

    2. User Engagement Amplified: Subscribers tend to be more engaged with your app. After all, they've invested their hard-earned money in it, and that financial commitment often leads to increased user satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

    3. Room for Growth: Subscription models often give you an opportunity to offer tiered plans. Thanks to that, you can upsell users to more premium features. This can really boost your revenue as users upgrade to access advanced functionalities.

    4. Predictable Growth: With subscription models, you can more accurately predict your growth trajectory and adjust your development efforts accordingly. It’s always great to know your monthly recurring revenue (MRR), especially if you plan on developing your app further.

    Of course, like any journey, there are obstacles along the way:

    1. User Acquisition Hurdles: It can be challenging to convince users to commit to a subscription, because ‌a one-time purchase seems less complex and less of a commitment. Offering a free trial period can help with attracting users and demonstrating all of the great features your app has.

    2. Customer Churn: Subscribers might cancel their subscriptions if they feel they're not getting enough value. You have to constantly show your app’s users that innovation and growth are not just words for you. Regular updates are essential to keep your clients satisfied and avoid canceled subscriptions.

    3. Competition: There are quite a lot of online learning apps out there. That’s why users might be hesitant to subscribe, especially if they are already subscribed to another platform. Pay attention to their needs and budgets to make sure your app is the most beneficial one.

    Pay-Per-Session: A User-Centric Adventure

    Pay-per-session, or pay-as-you-go, models are all about users paying only for what they use. Here's why this approach can be a good choice:

    1. User-Centricity: Pay-per-session models give users full control and allow them to pay for the app's features or services only when they need them. This flexibility can attract users who value choice and customization, as well as the ones who have a tighter budget.

    2. Low Entry Barriers: Users can explore your app without committing to a subscription. Fear of commitment is a common thing - it makes people feel obligated to something they might not be ready for. This model makes it easier for users to start learning a new subject without having all the unnecessary pressure.

    3. Catering to Light Users: Pay-per-session can be a great option for users who only need your app occasionally. This will also help you capture value from a diverse audience.

    But, as always, there are some challenges to be faced with this model:

    1. Revenue Variability: It might be more difficult to predict your income and consequently to budget for development and maintenance costs. This uncertainty can be a significant challenge for some businesses, as a lot of people like to plan far ahead.

    2. Loyalty Quest: It can be harder to build long-term customer loyalty and maintain consistent user engagement with a subscription, because most people will not feel obligated to visit it regularly.

    3. Higher Customer Acquisition Costs: It will certainly require a lot of marketing efforts, meaning it will be more expensive for you, to convince users to make extra in-app purchases.

    Finding the Right Balance. Is It a Good Idea to Use a Hybrid Approach?

    As with everything in life, balance is key. In many cases, both of the models do not work well separately, but when combined give excellent results. For instance, you can offer your users a subscription for group sessions, which will be less expensive than paying for each group class separately, and a pay-per-session option for occasional one-on-one lessons when you need some extra time and clarity on a subject.

    You have to remember that no matter what path you are going to take, it is essential to constantly monitor user feedback and performance metrics to better your platform. Regularly update your app to provide value to your users and their opinions. All of this will help you justify the chosen monetization approach and, of course, earn more money.


    The choice between subscription models and pay-per-session strategies depends on your app's target audience, its features and your overall business goals. Ultimately, the key to success lies in understanding your users' needs, providing value and adapting your revenue strategy accordingly.

    Whether you opt for a subscription, a pay-per-session model or a combination of both, the goal remains the same, which is covering your app development costs while delivering a fantastic user experience and making more money. It's always worth experimenting, measuring results and staying flexible to make sure your app thrives in this highly competitive online learning world.

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