Possible Sources of Online Revenue
These are NOT business ideas, but rather TYPES of revenue your online business could generate. For most cases, these income types would be generated by activity on your website and social media pages. There are however, online business owners who create cash flow without owning or managing a web property; such as participating in affiliate marketing via driving traffic to offers using only ads. The best strategy will vary depending on your type of business but often involves a combination of several sources of revenue, some of which are easier to implement than others. Browse the many places clicks turn into dollars below to give yourself a good idea of the opportunities that exist.
Our page on Types of Online Business Models shows the different ways that these revenue sources are typically generated.
All of these revenue sources can be generated from business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies. Don’t miss the opportunity to expand your thinking about potential customer bases for each type of possible revenue.
Sale of a Product
Selling a product online is probably the most common form of online revenue, but it’s not easy. You will be competing with Amazon, Ebay, and a host of other sellers unless you have exclusive access, or create the product yourself. If you have that advantage, you will then need to focus on outranking similar offerings in search results, and on marketplaces so people actually see your offering. The types of businesses that sell products are typically e-commerce stores, service companies with a few price set standard offerings, and information product sellers.
Productized Service – a price set service done for your customer, or given to your customer as a package instead of interaction with you
Physical Product – home made, manufactured, private label, or drop shipped physical product you ship to customers
Downloadable Information Product – printable document, audio, video, ebook, template, cheat sheet, list, course, software, or app
Tip Consider bundling a product with other components to offer an all-in-one solution, buying something in bulk and breaking it down into more marketable sizes, or providing a series of information products for an extremely specific audience.
SmileDirectClub takes what used to be a visit to the orthodontist and turned it into a do it yourself braces fitting kit
Nature’s Hangout is one of the top sellers on Amazon for bird feeders, and sources their high quality window feeder from China.
Best-selling Kindle book author Honoree Corder took her speaking engagement scripts and turned them into a book. 800,000 copies later, she’s still at it.
Listing Ads – sold via your outreach
Display Ad Networks – sold via AdSense or other network populated ads
Advertorials – ad with product as benefit, sold when company wants to reach your audience
Sponsored or Guest Content – another influencer or company posts long form content without ads but with author link
Performance Marketing (affiliate / partner / referral)
Affiliate marketers, also known as performance marketers or partners, earn money by sending some of their traffic to another website to complete a desired action. There are desktop and mobile strategies. The marketers are rewarded each time they successfully get one of their visitors to do what the business at the other end of that website wants them to do, whether buy a product, fill out a form, pick up the phone, or any other action that creates value for the end company. In most cases the relationship is managed by an affiliate network that offers lots of “offers” that marketers can browse through to find good matches for their particular user audience. Companies sometimes avoid the middleman of a network and manage their own affiliate programs.
Referral Commissions – affiliate links to share products, services, and website content
Call to Action Bounties – convert clicks to phone calls, form fills, survey completion, applying for service, or downloading something
Tip Use affiliate networks and relationships with individual companies to add referrals to things that your core clients need like software, tools, and services, or that they won’t be able to resist checking out like offers, unusual surveys, or lifestyle improvement opportunities.
UberFacts uses Twitter to share paid advertiser and affiliate relationship content mixed with obscure observations.
CNet generates loads affiliate and advertising dollars from visitors who trust their in-depth reviews, rankings, and safe software downloads.
Oozled took the concept of generating affiliate income via a resources page to new lengths and set up their entire site as curated lists of resources for professional creatives, many of which are actually affiliate links.
Interest Income – peer to peer lending or capital infusion to small businesses
Recurring Fees (membership / subscription / listing / licensing)
For recurring fee income you will need a platform and content. It can be large or small, broad or niche, but repeat business will be your bread and butter. For most recurring fee income you will need to work just as hard on renewals, maybe harder, than you did for your new business.
Special Access – high quality private content for a target audience via forum, group, or membership area
Ongoing Use – software as a service, product licenses
Ongoing Product – scheduled recurring delivery of goods or services
Ongoing Outreach – classified ads, advertising network, sharing
Tip To increase customer interaction, create community, and improve renewal rates, consider adding a forum to your website.
American Association of Independent Investors (AAII) charges an annual fee for access to it’s excellent investor insights and handpicked portfolios.
The all natural do it yourself hair color company Madison Reed takes poisons out of the hair coloring process, and puts convenience in with automatic re-delivery on a schedule of your choosing. New customers get lots of freebies.
Scout for Pets offers dog walkers and pet sitters access to a scheduling tool, payment portal and other great features for a monthly fee.
Attendance and Registration Event Fees
Expert Roundups – telesummits, conferences
Saved one of the best ways to earn for last. If you have a large audience, and you deliver original content, there is a chance your audience will help you stay afloat so they can get more of what you’re sharing. There are lots of examples including donations to keep a newsletter going, donations to keep a space ad free, or as a thank you for use of a product or service.
Subscriber Contributions – any content with a pay what you want approach
Here are a few other pages related to Ways to Earn Money Online
Internet Business Model Types Explained
Best Online Business Ideas
Best Small Business Ideas
Buying a Business – What We Look For and How We Do It
Your Best Retirement Business – Here’s How to Figure it Out