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.

Von Says…

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.


smile direct braces online  SmileDirectClub takes what used to be a visit to the orthodontist and turned it into a do it yourself braces fitting kit

window bird feeder
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 authorBest-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.


There is a real opportunity for supplemental income from advertising for others on your website. You can reach out to specific businesses you think would benefit from being on your site, or participate in auto-generated ads from a display network. In most cases your site’s perceived credibility, content, and the quantity and niche of visitors will be super important, and the top things people will look at before pulling the trigger and advertising with you.
Display Ads – sold via your outreach
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.


Earning fees through transactions isn’t particularly difficult but you have to be willing to invest time either building a place people or businesses want to do buy and sell goods with each other, or assume some risk being a lender. Transactions typically include service fees and commissions based on the sale of someone’s goods to someone else.
Marketplace Commission – sales of clients’ goods or services
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.


aaii membership example American Association of Independent Investors (AAII) charges an annual fee for access to it’s excellent investor insights and handpicked portfolios.

madison reed free hair color delivery 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

You’ve probably watched a webinar, or maybe even attended an online conference before. Running online conferences, webinars, and other registration required events, can be big source of income for people who sell courses, work as an authority in a field, or like to bring together experts to share information. You are in essence selling tickets to an event to an audience willing to pay to have access for a limited time to insider information on a particular topic, a panel of experts, or training they can’t get elsewhere.
Information Sharing – webinars, masterminds
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