The Future of Phone Farming, Lockscreen Apps, & Other Passive Income Freebies

Finding unique ways to generate passive income has always be one of my interests with This Online World, and it’s also the entire reason I started blogging in the first place.

For the past year or so, I’ve also been a proponent of a few different types of ‘easy’ passive income streams:

  1. Data collection apps.
  2. Phone farming.
  3. Lockscreen apps for Android phones.

Phone farming has been a particularly great source of extra income for me, and in terms of return, nothing has really come close…my humble farm of phone (which I spent under $150 on) have managed to make around $500 over the last 16 months, which is a pretty great ROI.


Lockscreen apps and data collection apps have also been a nifty way to earn some simple passive income in the past, but it is time I write a quick update to address the current state of affairs.

Recent Changes to Phone Farming & Lockscreen Apps:

Phone farming and lockscreen apps have a similar premise in that users can earn money by viewing advertisements on their phones. However, the relationship between advertisers (the people paying for all of the ad impressions) and these app companies has always been tenuous at best, and I now believe things have taken a turn for the worse.

Recently, Google has actually been cracking down on fraud within their Playstore after a massive scam that was earning millions of dollars from spoofing human-like traffic was uncovered last October.

Coincidentally, just as Google has started cracking down on fraud, many of the most popular Lockscreen apps like Fronto or SurveyCow have been removed from the Google Playstore entirely. Simultaneously, the phone farming community is also seeing lower payout rates, companies folding completely, or apps lacking enough ad inventory to adequately fill the day.

GPT websites are also showing signs of slowing down in my experience, and this entire industry of passive income is definitely at a low point.

What does this all mean?

Well, I think if you’re already involved in phone farming or other similar sources of passive income, let things run their course and until you aren’t profitable anymore.

If you aren’t currently phone farming, I would suggest you avoid buying phones to getting into this side hustle right now until things change.

What About Data Collection Apps?

embee meter cx phone farming app

Moving forwards, I believe data collection is only going to become more prevalent and more granular. Additionally, I firmly believe market researchers, companies, and policy makers will continue to show a willingness to pay for this data.

However, I also think that while the companies aggregating data sets from millions of users can strike it rich by selling this sort of information, the average user will continue to only get a small slice of the pie.

This might be offset by the fact that more forms of data collection are continuing to develop (there are fitness data collection apps, survey apps, location tracking apps, internet usage tracking apps, etc.) but the point remains that the future will be more about the value behind data and less about raw video views or impressions.

Whether or not this amount of data collection concerns you will be a personal decision.

What I Suggest + My Passive Income Plans:

I plan on gradually winding down my phone farm over the next few weeks or months as I find it hard to maintain the phones due to app crashes, having to cycle to new apps, and various other problems. However, I will still leave some of the phones active with data collection apps like Embee Meter, Panel App, or MobileXpression as these still pay decently.

Additionally, I’m still going to use various data collection apps like Carrot Rewards, as well as cash back programs that automatically save money when shopping.

However, I am definitely going to funnel more of my efforts into growing this blog and audience, and future online money making endeavors outside the world of blogging will probably be closer to my dropshipping experiments or Etsy trial shop than gimmicky sources of free passive income.

I highly suggest that other people heavily involved in phone farming, GPT websites, lockscreen apps, or other similar side hustles consider branching out into new forms of passive income or side hustling to diversify their income streams in the event these other sources go bust.

I’ve written a post that covers 21 passive income stream ideas that can be a good starting place to start if you are looking for some ideas, but I think it is important to pick one project and to not spread yourself too thin.

It doesn’t matter if you decide to start your own blog, sell POD products, or some other idea; develop an action plan, stick to it, and I am sure you can surpass $50/month of additional income in just a few months of work.

Admittedly these sorts of projects require a lot of upfront work and aren’t purely passive, but I think this is the direction things are moving towards anyway. Freebies like phone farming are always nice to find, but it is unlikely that passive income sources like that can ever be the backbone of someone’s income.

So, that’s really it for this post! I just wanted to give a quick update on the current state of affairs for some of my passive income projects and the industry as a whole.

I still plan to stay on the alert for any freebie passive income opportunities that may arise because I don’t want to miss the next phone farming idea, so hopefully something exciting comes out in the near future.

Catch you guys in the next post!


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Hi Tom,
I read your article, but just wondering about your thoughts on “Perk” specifically? Since it’s one of the longest-running apps and most stable, do you think it’s a good idea for those who are in phone farming to stick with the Perk apps on 3-5 phones instead of getting out of it completely?