When I first started out in internet marketing I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of different ways to make money online. I was bombarded with courses with names like "Google Sniper", "Rich Jerk", "Lazy Affiliate Loophole Method" and "Google Destroyer"; everyone had a different method guaranteed to make me a millionaire virtually overnight.
Of course it didn't work out that way, I wasted a great deal of time, money and effort on methods that were doomed from the get-go. It actually took almost a year before I made my first $37.00 online.
My goal with this post is to save you all that time and frustration by giving you a list of legitimate business models that actually work. All of the business models listed below can bring you a full time income, some can make you a multi-millionaire, it's just a matter of how much time and energy you want to commit to your online business.
When choosing the business models for this list I only considered methods that either I or one of my close friends is using to make REAL money online. What you will NOT find on this list are questionable methods like envelope stuffing or taking online surveys (please don't do those!)
Here are the 12 business models that can help you make a full time living online:
A professional blogger is somebody who makes a full-time living from their online publishing efforts, which is in direct comparison to a "hobbyist" blogger who simply publishes for fun.
The most successful pro bloggers will write and publish content in one specific niche, such as travel, parenting tips, cooking, or technology, for example. Your income can come from a number of sources such as promoting the products and services of other companies, selling display advertising space, or even creating and selling your own digital products.
The really neat part about being a professional blogger is that there's very little investment required to get started - you need a computer, an Internet connection, a website (free or paid) and the ability to write in a way that engages people. You can also run this type of business from anywhere in the world, which is exactly what many "digital nomads" do.
Your earning potential as a blogger is almost unlimited, but it does take time to build your audience and your income. With that being said, the most prolific professional bloggers earn anywhere from US$10,000 to US$100,000 per month.
Of all my friends who make their living online, the ones who make the most money do it by selling their own information products. No other online business model has such a high profit margin - mainly because you can continue to earn money from a product you create for years to come without incurring any new expenses.
If you have a special ability or burning passion of some type then this is a great business model to pursue as you can leverage your expertise to build trust and credibility in your chosen market.
Setting a product up to sell on a platform like Clickbank does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it the technology takes over and sells your product day and night raking in profits while you hang out with your kids, play golf or travel the world.
Are you somebody who has all your friends hanging on every word you say? Or, are you always the most opinionated person in the room, and want to share your thoughts with the world, but can’t figure out how you might make money doing that? Well, the YouTube Partner Program means you can record videos, upload them to YouTube and then get paid when people watch them.
Even better is that all you need is a smart phone, or laptop and web cam to get started. You can start making money almost instantly, and you’ll never have to worry about how to set up a web page, build a customer list, or anything else other than just being you. YouTube pays their top video creators millions of dollars each year, so surely you’d like a slice of that pie?
How would it feel to have the same loyal customers paying you money every single month without you having to do anything more than providing them with access to your exclusive membership site? Sure, there’s lots of free information available online, but there’s a good reason for that – most of it is crap.
Instead, your membership site offers real value for money, and gives your customers access to information or products they won’t find anywhere else. The beauty of a the membership site business model is that people love joining exclusive clubs, and once they’re a fully paid up member it’s not likely they’ll leave any time soon. You can choose to have as many members as you like, or as few – it all depends on how much recurring income you want to earn every month.
If you’ve always dreamed of having a business featuring your own range of products, but you haven’t won the Lottery just yet, then the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business model might just be a perfect fit for you. With FBA you get to run your very own business selling physical products from an online store, but without any of the headaches of setting up an ecommerce site, shipping anything to anyone (ever), or even dealing with customer returns or complaints – Amazon takes care of all of that for you.
Sounds like you need to be rich to get started? Nope – you can start an FBA business with as little as $100, and build a business worth tens of millions of dollars in far less time than it takes to finish your average college degree in something you probably won’t do for a living afterwards anyway.
Do you think that bigger is always better? If so then building an authority website might be the perfect business for you. Building an authority website means providing a complete online reference resource for visitors on one specific topic.
But don’t expect to make a bundle of money right away, it takes time to become an authority online. The income from an authority site will increase over time as the site grows in size and stature. If you can create a site in a big niche like Fitness or Beauty your authority site can make you very wealthy!
So, if you love sharing ideas and information with others, now you can do that but make yourself thousands of extra dollars each month. And if you ever get bored with running a profitable website like this you can sell it for 10 to 50 times what you make from it each month. Yes. Really.
Want to piggyback off the selling power of Amazon, but without having to find your own products to sell to people? No problem! Instead you can set up a small website which provides information on a specific range of products featured on Amazon, like coffee grinders, for example. Then you refer customers to the world’s biggest online store, and then pocket a commission for doing nothing more than sending people to Amazon who are already happy to spend money there.
You can create an Amazon affiliate site in a long weekend, and receive payment for your hard work within 90 days. Plus, if you can’t be bothered building a website you can hire somebody else to do that for you. So, if you’ve ever found a product on Amazon and thought “That’s pretty damned cool”, then why not introduce other people to it, and bank some cash for being nice enough to do that?
Not everyone can walk around boasting about how Google pays them thousands of dollars each month for doing so little work it’s almost criminal, but you can if you start building your AdSense publishing business today. In fact, you could see your first payment from Google in as little as 30 days with your new online publishing empire.
Google allows you to place their AdSense adverts on your website (No guns, porn, or other nasty topics allowed) and they can pay you up to $121 every time someone clicks on one of the ads if you choose the right topic for your AdSense site. Here are some examples:
- Mesothelioma Law Firm ($121)
- How to Donate A Car in California ($75)
- Sell Annuity Payment ($72)
- Donate Your Car for Kids ($72)
- Asbestos Lawyers ($71)
Okay, those are not your average clicks, you will probably get more like $1.00-$3.00 per click, but that can add up pretty quick if your site gets alot of traffic. So, how much do AdSense Publishers make each month? The people who take it seriously are making between $20,000 and $100,000 per month from a handful of websites.
Need to make money fast? Then Kindle Publishing is the business model for you. You can have a Kindle book written and up on Amazon in less than a week and be making your first dollar online shortly thereafter.
Something like 81% of people have the desire to write a book, but most of them let fear rule their lives, because they think they’ll never be able to get a publishing deal, or that nobody would want to read anything they write. With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) you can put your book together in any word processing application in a few days, upload it to Kindle and start seeing sales rolling in from the Amazon Kindle Store almost immediately.
Do you need to be an amazing writer to profit from publishing books on Kindle? Nope – you just need a great idea for a book, and enough coffee to keep you typing until the writing is done.
The bset thing about this business model is that you don’t need a website, hosting, or any special technical skills to make this happen – just the burning desire to make your book a reality. Amazon takes care of almost everything else for you.
What would having US$1.2 billion mean to you? If you’re wondering why we’re asking that then maybe you should check out the story of Tony Hsieh – the founder of Zappos – about how he built it from a small drop-shipping business selling trainers online, to being sold to Amazon for US$1.2 billion just 10 years later.
With a drop-shipping business you set up a website that promotes products, but you never have any inventory to worry about. Instead, when an order arrives you let your wholesaler know, and they ship the product directly to your customer. You have all the perks of running a business selling physical products, but without 99% of the headaches that can come from running that type of business by yourself.
Lead Gen involves promoting products or services where you get paid when people complete a form, sign up for a service, order a trial run of a product, or even just when they express interest in something. CPA offers cover pretty much every type of product you can think of, but the most profitable ones are in the dating, health and financial services niches.
The beauty of being a CPA Affiliate is that you don’t need to set up an entire website like with many of the other business models mentioned here, usually all you need is a single landing page to sell the product.
All you need to be a CPA Affiliate is a keen eye for offers you know in your gut are going to be popular online. Each CPA affiliate sale you make can be worth upwards of $100. How many CPA sales would it take to make your life a whole lot more comfortable? The biggest CPA marketers make sickening amounts of money, I’ve met guys making $10,000-$20,000 per day (Yes – per DAY) without owning their own product or website.
This is one of the most straightforward online business models you could wish for. You find a product or service you really like/that will sell like hotcakes, build a website to promote it, and then get paid a commission when people buy something through your site. You never have to ship products, or handle subscription requests, or deal with refunds – the supplier takes care of all that for you leaving you to concentrate on generating sales.
Affiliate marketing is like Amazon affiliate marketing except you can choose from tens of thousands of different companies from all over the world, and not just products sold on Amazon. You can start earning money by promoting affiliate offers in as little as two weeks, plus a profitable affiliate marketing business can generate tens of thousands of dollars each month.
Amazing Online Business Model Quiz
Here is something that most people won't tell you - some personalities are more suited to a certain business model than others. I tried making money with CPA offers but found the income instability just didn’t suit my personality. One of my friends is a VERY successful eBook seller on Clickbank, but when he tried the Authority Site business model he failed miserably because he just doesn't have the necessary attention span.
Because of this I created a quiz that will match your personality and expectations with an online business model that I think would be right for you.