5 Online Business Models For a Great Place to Start

So you decided to start an online business. You did research for days to pick out just the right niche. Then you grabbed a domain name and got your website hosting lined up. Maybe you spent days picking a WordPress theme and tweaking it to get just the right look.


Now you need to figure out what business model you want to use to earn money from your efforts.

There are many business models you can choose, but you may want to start with one of the five most common ones –

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Info product development
  • Service provider
  • Self-publishing
  • Online coaching

You should know, your business will be an evolving organism. You will probably use more than one of these ways to earn – maybe all of them.

But you need to start somewhere and focus on that.

Affiliate Marketing for Earning Without a Product

Affiliate marketing is where most people start when they try to make money online.

Being an affiliate for someone else’s products is one of the best business models for newcomers to the world of online marketing. With affiliate marketing, you don’t even have to have your own site necessarily (depending on the program).

You can make money promoting to your list or on social networking sites if you don’t have your own blog to review and promote products from. It also takes a lot less effort to review products than it does to create them.

With affiliate marketing, you can recommend products from a variety of platforms, depending on your niche. Be sure to check out both physical and digital marketplaces to see what all is available to recommend to your subscribers and blog readers.

There are many places to find products such as:

  • ClickBank
  • JVZoo
  • Warrior Plus
  • Amazon
  • Share-a-Sale
  • Commission Junction
  • Direct programs, run by the individual merchant

One thing you can do is type in the niche or type of product that you want to promote in a search engine and add the words affiliate program to see what comes up. There are many companies who run their own programs that aren’t listed on the above platforms.

So for instance, if you were in the survival niche, you could go to ClickBank to find an info product to review. Then you might go to JVZoo and Warrior Plus to find content or courses to promote.

For tangibles, you could go to Amazon and see what all they have, but what if you wanted to promote some different MREs (meals ready to eat)? You could type this phrase into search engines and find more programs: survival food affiliate program.

As an affiliate, make sure you’re getting the proper commission (varies, but typically 50% for digital products) and take notice of how long the customer is cookied with your link to make sure that if they buy later, you get credit for the sale.

Create Info Products

Creating your own info products is a natural next step for affiliate marketers.

Maybe you’ve been blogging about food and cooking. You’ve been getting affiliate payments for various cooking gadgets you’ve promoted through Amazon.

So now you might create your own cook books. Maybe you can make an online course teaching your methods of planning and hosting a big holiday get-together without going crazy.

If you want to have an army of affiliates out there working for you, sending you tons of sales and subscribers, too – then consider creating your own info product and releasing it with an affiliate program.

Some new marketers get nervous about launching or doing it with affiliates, but this is the best way to brand yourself and build a quick following. It requires you to network with others and see if they will promote your product.

Decide what topic you want to create a product about. Don’t worry about competition or whether or not a subject has been covered before. Just pick something you feel people need help with in your niche.

Then figure out which method of disseminating the information would be best based on what your audience wants and what skills you possess to get the job done. Sometimes the two may not match, and that’s okay.

You might have an audience who devours video, but it’s not your forte – and in that case you can either outsource the videos, improve your skills, or simply use text and see if they’re accepting of a different media format.

If the information is good, they usually won’t care. Text and video are the two most common methods of creating courses, but a few have been done using audio podcast formats, too.

When you create your product, make sure you price it competitively. You want it to earn enough to make it worth it for the affiliate promoting and reviewing it. But you don’t want to price your audience out of their opportunity to buy it, either.

Do some spy work to see what others are charging in your niche and strategize from there. Make sure you also develop a hearty affiliate program that boosts sales and helps you build a list quickly.

Create a JV (joint venture) page that details the dates and times of the launch, how the funnel is laid out and with what price points, specifics about the course, and any other elements such as prize money or swipe files that help them promote for you.

Decide which platform you want to launch from – ClickBank, JVZoo, Warrior Plus, Udemy, Teachable, or your own system like Amember, perhaps. It’s up to you, but make sure that your affiliates are well taken care of and paid on time for both commissions and prize money, if you offer it.

As you build a list of buyers from your first launch, be working on the second in your line of info products. You can find out from your current buyers what else they’d like to see by polling them – or simply continue serving them what they need based on your initial research.

Become a Service Provider

Another path to online income is to provide a service to another business. This business model provides one of the fastest ways to get money in the bank.

If you are in a real cash crunch, and need a fast income, you should take a strong look at being a service provider.

You can outsource just about any task in your business. You may decide to outsource just one or two tasks, or you may decide to outsource everything. It all depends on your needs and your budget.

What services can you offer? Check out these ideas:

  • Content creation (blog articles, social media posts, newsletters, etc.).
  • Product creation.
  • Video marketing.
  • Copywriting (sales letters, ads, press releases, etc.).
  • Customer service.
  • Branding strategy.
  • Overall marketing strategy.
  • Research (e.g., product research, overall market research, keyword research).
  • Search engine optimization.
  • Paid advertising management (e.g., Facebook ads).
  • Email marketing.
  • Affiliate program recruitment and management.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, as the tasks you offer will depend on your unique business. That’s why you’ll want to set time aside to compile a list of possible tasks that you’d consider freelancing.

Offering a service is also a path an established online marketer will add to their income streams.

You’ll find bloggers teaching their audience how to start a blog, often using affiliate links for things such as domain name providers, web hosting and website themes. Some of these bloggers also offer to do website setup as a service.

You’ll also find vendors of private label rights products offer to do site setup as an upsell.

You can find more info about offering services on this freelancing post.

Following the Self-Publishing Route

Self-publishing is another business model that you may want to adopt for your business. With this approach, you can become a bestselling author in either the non-fiction or fiction arena, depending on where your skills lie.

Amazon and other platforms have made it easy for the average man or woman to write their own manuscript, upload it and sell it to people on a global scale. You’re paid 60 days after the sale of your books, and you get money even if they buy a digital version they can read on their gadgets!

Although you can do most of this on your own, regardless of whether you’re pursing fiction or non-fiction, there are two areas you may want to invest in. That includes having an editor to go over it and hiring someone to create a professional cover for your book.

You’ll also find the rapidly growing world of “low content” books in the self-publishing world.

These include items such as coloring books (for kids and adults), puzzle and game books, journals of all sorts and planners.

Be an Online Coach

Coaching is often at the high end of the profit ladder for many online businesses. Coaching and consulting are at the high priced end of the customer funnel, and these programs are ultimately where they want to get their clients to land.

Many of these coaching programs are business related, but there are many niches where online coaching is a viable option as a business model for those who want to work for themselves at home. People hire coaches all the time to help them overcome personal obstacles and achieve success in something they’re passionate about.

For instance, did you know there is such a thing as a life coach? They seek to help people get through tough times, set goals and work toward them until they see them to fruition. You can use free tools like Skype to meet with customers where you can see and chat with one another on a regular weekly basis.

To make money with this, you can have individual sessions that you sell, or you can have package deals, such as buy 4 and get the 5th one free. Take a look at others who offer this type of arrangement with clients and see how it can fit into your business on the ‘net.

There are many niches where all of these elements can earn money for your business. For example, let’s take the diet niche. You can promote weight loss tangibles and digital items as an affiliate, create your own info products, publish books on the matter, ghostwrite for others, and even coach people to succeed!

There are many other business models, such as dropshipping, domaining and more – so just take your time and investigate to see what appeals to you most before committing to one of more of the approaches.