You’ve heard about different ways to make money online, and you’re looking for the best online business models that are the highest paying and beginner-friendly.

There are many types of business models, but not all are profitable, easy to start, or have high profit margins without significant upfront investments.

I’ve spent the last 5 years being an entrepreneur and tried several until I discovered the online business that allowed me to quit my well-paid 9-5.

From personal experience and networking with high-value entrepreneurs, the most profitable and successful business models are:

Blogging

Blogging has become a dynamic way to share your expertise and passions through the written content medium, perfect as a side hustle for introverted entrepreneurs.

The basics of blogging are to create articles around topics people search for online, which generates traffic to your website. You then monetize that attention through affiliate marketing, display ads, sponsorship deals, digital products, and other business opportunities.

Pros of Blogging

Cons of Blogging

Difficulty Level

I put blogging on the medium scale of difficulty unless you’re a principled individual with a keen eye and attention to detail.

It becomes much easier once you’ve set up SOPs and processes for the blogging-based business. Blogging requires consistency, patience, and dedication to the business model for months and even years.

Due to the general impatience of most people in today’s attention economy, you become your worst enemy for blogging success. I’ve seen this repeatedly as a coach in Blog Growth Engine, helping over 3300+ students start their blogs.

Starting a Blog involves several key steps:

  1. Choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise.
  2. Select a blogging platform suited to your technical skills and audience. WordPress is the most common but most demanding on a technical level.
  3. Develop a content plan that addresses your readers’ needs and preferences using keyword research tools like Ahrefs. Put a broad keyword or topic in the keyword research section, click matching terms, and sort on KD below 5 to start.
  4. SEO optimize your content using SurferSEO or Frase to increase visibility and attract traffic.
  5. Monetize your blog through affiliate links and ads once you get traction and rank between pages 1 and 2 on Google.

Best Blogging Courses

There are fantastic courses you can buy to learn blogging step-by-step, and I’ve bought several, including:

As for profitability, success varies widely, but dedicated bloggers have reported earnings from a few hundred to several tens of thousands of dollars per month. Your actual income will depend on factors like niche choice, audience engagement, and monetization strategies. With the right approach, blogging can become a lucrative business for you.

Freelancing

Freelancing is a viable online business model where you offer your specialized services to clients, usually on a per-project basis. It leverages your skills allowing you to work independently and on your own terms.

Pros:

Cons:

How to Start:

  1. Identify Your Skill: Focus on what service you will offer.
  2. Build a Portfolio: Showcase your work to attract clients.
  3. Set Your Rates: Research market rates for your services.
  4. Find Clients: Use platforms like Upwork or LinkedIn.

Profitability in freelancing hinges on the value of the services offered. A freelance web developer, for instance, has the potential to earn an average of $75,000 per year given the right mix of skill and client base. Your earnings increase with your expertise and client network.

Examples:

In essence, your potential in freelancing is shaped by the effort you invest, the quality of service you provide, and the ability to manage your business efficiently. It satisfies the need for flexibility while opening avenues for income.

Note: Earnings are variable and influenced by multiple factors such as industry demand, client relationships, and work quality.

Best Freelancing Courses

The best freelancing course I’ve found and the one I’m learning right now is inside the education platform The Real World. I believe you want to learn the ropes from people that make their money from said business model, not some generic business course.

Coaching/Consulting

Coaching and consulting have emerged as highly influential sectors in the realm of online business. These models capitalize on personal expertise to guide clients towards achieving their goals, whether in life, health, or business strategy.

Income Sources:

Within this spectrum, you encounter diverse approaches like one-on-one coaching, which is intimate and offers personalized guidance, and group coaching, reaching more clients simultaneously and fostering community learning. Unlike physical products, these services have minimal overhead, meaning a higher profit margin is achievable.

Pros:

Cons:

When launching your coaching or consulting business, your foremost asset is your unique expertise. Delineate a profitable niche and cultivate an authoritative online presence through content marketing and social media. Your success hinges on the value and transformations you facilitate for your clients.

Profitability: With effective marketing and a strong client base, coaching can be lucrative. For example, some coaches charge hundreds of dollars per hour, culminating in a six-figure revenue stream when strategically scaled.

How to Start:

  1. Identify your niche and target market.
  2. Develop your service offerings and pricing model.
  3. Create a compelling online platform.
  4. Build a marketing strategy to attract clients.
  5. Continuously develop your skills and knowledge base.

With the right strategy, coaching and consulting not only offer a pathway to significant earnings but also allow you to make a meaningful impact on others’ professional trajectories.

Ecommerce

Launching a successful online business hinges on selecting the right ecommerce business model. Your choice affects everything from your potential profit margins to the type of products you’ll sell. The ecommerce landscape offers various profitable models that cater to different types of products, investment levels, and expertise in the digital marketplace.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a streamlined ecommerce business model where your online store sells products without maintaining physical inventory. Instead, when a customer purchases from your store, the order is passed on to the supplier who then ships the product directly to the customer. This model is characterized by relatively low startup costs since you don’t purchase inventory upfront. However, profit margins tend to be lower compared to other models, because you relinquish control over the supply chain and contend with supplier-set costs.

To start a dropshipping business, you need to establish a partnership with suppliers, set up an ecommerce platform, and invest in marketing your store. Realistically, a dropshipping business can generate considerable revenue, but this often requires dedicated marketing efforts and a selection of high-demand, low-competition products.

Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) represents an opportunistic ecommerce business model for selling physical products. You store your product inventory in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and Amazon takes care of storage, shipping, customer service, and returns for you. The significant advantage of this model is the access to Amazon’s vast customer base and their established logistics network.

The initial startup costs for an Amazon FBA business can be higher due to the necessary investment in inventory and Amazon’s fulfillment fees. Nevertheless, the potential for high profit margins exists if you select the right products and manage your operations efficiently. Sellers on Amazon FBA have reported profits in six to seven figures annually by optimizing their product offerings and scaling their operations effectively. To begin, conduct market research, source your products, and familiarize yourself with Amazon’s operational guidelines and fee structure.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing venture between a website owner and an online merchant. The website owner places advertisements on their site to either help sell the merchant’s products or to send potential customers to the merchant’s website. This is done in exchange for a share of the profits.

This is great as you don’t have to ideate, plan, build, create, or launch a product. By using referral links to products, you earn a commission for each sale or action taken through your unique affiliate link, which is tracked by both parties.

Affiliate marketing is especially powerful in combination with other online business models such as blogging, YouTube, and general online content creation.

How It Works:

Pros:

Cons:

Starting Out:

  1. Choose a niche.
  2. Build a website or blog.
  3. Select affiliate products that match your niche.
  4. Generate quality content to attract an audience.
  5. Employ SEO strategies to increase visibility.
  6. Promote your affiliate products.

When done right, affiliate marketing has the potential to generate substantial revenue. Some successful marketers earn thousands of dollars per month. For example, if you drive sales for a product that offers a $50 commission per sale and you make 100 sales a month, that’s $5000 per month.

Key Tips:

Best Affiliate Marketing Courses

Since affiliate marketing ties in heavily and is dependent on other online business models, the best online courses I can recommend are:

Lead Generation

Lead generation is a foundational online business model where your primary focus is on attracting and nurturing potential clients for other businesses.

Pros of Lead Generation:

Cons of Lead Generation:

How to Start:

  1. Develop your business plan detailing your niche, target market, and strategies.
  2. Set up your marketing infrastructure using websites, social media, and SEO.
  3. Choose a monetization model: pay-per-lead or partnership agreements.

Profitability: Executed well, lead generation businesses are profitable. For example, a successful lead generation site in a lucrative niche might earn thousands per month through partnerships.

Your Marketing Role: You’ll need to be adept in crafting targeted outreach campaigns that address the unique needs of your chosen industry. Aligning your marketing efforts with businesses’ sales funnels increases your value and potential earnings.

Remember to focus on building trust through your online presence – your reliability translates to higher conversion rates for your clients and, in turn, higher revenue for your lead generation business.

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has transformed into a lucrative online business model for content creators striving to gain control over their work and profits. The digital era grants you direct access to your audience, offering a swift pathway to disseminate your literary creations.

Why Self-Publish: Self-publishing empowers you to retain your rights, set your prices, and earn higher royalties compared to traditional publishing routes. You become the decision-maker for the design, format, and marketing strategy of your work.

Pros:

Cons:

How to Start:

  1. Write a Manuscript: Begin with a clear topic or story.
  2. Edit Rigorously: Employ professional editing services for a polished product.
  3. Design a Cover: Create a compelling cover or hire a designer.
  4. Format Your Book: Ensure it meets digital publishing requirements.
  5. Publish: Choose a platform like ALLi to distribute your book.
  6. Market: Engage your audience through social media, email marketing, and other channels.

Profitability: Success hinges on your promotional efforts and audience engagement. Some authors have achieved revenues in the six to seven-figure range when executed with strategic precision.

When you embark on self-publishing, you step into a role that encompasses authorship and entrepreneurship, providing a direct path to monetize your passion for writing.

Print-On-Demand

Print-on-demand (POD) is a lucrative ecommerce business model that allows you to offer custom products without holding inventory. This model reduces startup costs significantly, since you only pay for the product after it has been sold.

How Print-On-Demand Works:

Pros:

Cons:

To begin, partner with a reliable POD company that aligns with your business vision. Your storefront can be set up using platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.

Profitability Example: If your custom t-shirt sells for $30 and the production cost is $15, your profit is $15 per shirt. Selling 100 shirts a month would give you a revenue of $3,000, and assuming other costs take up $500, you would net $1,500.

By focusing on unique designs and targeting niche markets, print-on-demand can be a sustainable source of revenue. Systematic marketing efforts and high-quality products are imperative to stand out in the ecommerce sphere.

SMMA

Social Media Marketing Agencies (SMMAs) leverage the power of social media platforms to promote products and services for other businesses. Your agency’s primary focus is to create, implement, and manage marketing campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, tailor-made for your clients’ target audiences.

Getting Started

Pros and Cons

Pros:

Cons:

Profitability Potential

Proficient SMMAs have the potential to earn substantial income. For instance, charging $1,000 per month per client for basic services and managing 10 clients could result in $10,000 monthly revenue. However, this only holds true if your business delivers consistent and measurable results to your clients. Starting an SMMA necessitates a thorough understanding of social media marketing, investment in the right tools, and a dedication to staying ahead in a dynamically changing field.

Online Courses

Online courses have emerged as one of the best online business models for beginners looking to generate passive income. This business model leverages your expertise on a topic, allowing you to educate others while earning money. Online education offers scalability and accessibility, which are two significant advantages for both course creators and students.

Pros of Online Courses:

Cons:

To start your online course business, you must:

  1. Identify a niche you are knowledgeable in and that has demand.
  2. Develop a comprehensive curriculum that provides real value.
  3. Choose a reliable platform for hosting your course
  4. Market your course effectively to reach your target audience.

In terms of profitability, a well-executed online course can be lucrative. For instance, if you sell your course at $200 and enroll 500 students annually, that equates to $100,000 in revenue.

Remember, the quality of your content and the effectiveness of your marketing strategy greatly influence your success in this arena. With dedication and smart marketing, it is possible for you to build a sustainable source of income through online courses.

Online Community

An online community presents a dynamic business model, fostering robust engagement as users rally around shared interests or goals. This model thrives on the unique value proposition of connection and content tailored to members’ needs.

Memberships

In a membership-based community, companies offer exclusive content, services, or products to users for a recurring fee. The success of this business model is contingent upon the continual delivery of value that aligns with the interests of your community. Pros of this model include predictable revenue streams and deepening customer loyalty. However, it requires a relentless commitment to content generation and community management.

Getting started with an online community business model involves identifying your niche and understanding the needs and preferences of your target audience. Profitability largely depends on keeping members engaged and subscribed. Consider an example where a membership fee is $10 per month; with 1,000 members, a company generates $10,000 monthly. If the business model is executed superbly, the potential earnings can be substantial.

Content Creator

When looking into profitable online business models, developing a career as a content creator on social media platforms represents a contemporary and dynamic opportunity.

What Is a Content Creator? A content creator produces and publishes information to audiences on digital media platforms. Your content could range from blogs and videos to podcasts and social media posts. Your role is to engage with your audience through the content you create and share.

Pros of Being a Content Creator

Cons of Being a Content Creator

Starting as a Content Creator

To start, you must identify your niche and understand what your target audience enjoys. Invest in basic equipment to produce high-quality content and commit to a consistent content schedule to grow your following.

Profitability and Earnings Potential

The profitability of a content creator hinges on audience size, engagement rates, and monetization strategies. For example, collaborations with brands could earn you from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per campaign. Successful content creators like YouTubers or Instagram influencers often leverage multiple income streams, including sponsored content, product sales, affiliate marketing, and subscriber-based platforms like Patreon.

Your success as a content creator is contingent upon dedication, consistency, and a strategic approach to audience growth and monetization. With commitment, your content creation business could not only be profitable but can also grant you a significant degree of personal and professional freedom.

SaaS

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a pervasive business model that has taken the successful online business models to a new height. In this model, companies deliver software applications over the internet, charging customers a subscription fee for access.

What it is: SaaS is hosted centrally, so your business does not bear the cost of hardware acquisition, provisioning, and maintenance. Instead, the SaaS provider manages the infrastructure, ensuring that the software is accessible anytime from any device with an internet connection.

Pros:

Cons:

How to Start:

Profitability: This model is financially attractive as it involves recurring revenue. Successful SaaS products, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems or project management tools, have proven highly profitable. For example, a SaaS business with a strong value proposition and market fit may charge $100 per month per user, and with 1000 users, your monthly revenue hits $100,000.

Your mastery of SaaS can help you build one of the best internet business models with lasting revenue streams.

Apps

When you enter the realm of online business models, creating an app positions you prominently in the marketplace. Your app serves as a tangible product that fulfills a specific need or solves a problem, which is at the heart of a successful software-based business.

Getting Started:

  1. Identify a gap in the market or an unmet need.
  2. Develop a clear, user-friendly design and user interface.
  3. Enable JavaScript and other programming languages for robust app functionality.
  4. Construct a business model: paid downloads, in-app purchases, or advertisements.

Pros:

Cons:

Your app can evolve into an ecommerce business model offering products or services directly within the app, prompting a seamless user experience from discovery to purchase. For instance, a successful e-commerce app like Shopify empowers merchants to manage their online stores from mobile devices, illustrating the potential of combining apps with e-commerce.

In summary, by leveraging app development, you create a platform for continuous innovation and customer engagement. Given the right execution, apps can secure a stronghold in the digital market with substantial financial returns.

Fancy Business Model

A Fancy Business Model is synonymous with exclusivity and offers a premium, often tailored, consumer experience. Such models thrive on uniqueness and are typically rooted in industries where personalization and high-end services are sought after.

Key Features:

Popular Types:

  1. Boutique Agencies
  2. Concierge Services
  3. Limited Edition Product Lines

Pros:

Cons:

Your fancy business model must adapt to distinctive market needs, setting you apart in the list of business models. It is a model that commands attention and is reflective of in-depth knowledge in a specialized market. In constructing this model, you create a space that is not only lucrative but also resonates with an elite clientele seeking out a lavish and bespoke experience.

is online business worth it?

Starting an online business can be highly rewarding, but it also comes with challenges. Here are some considerations:

Pros:

  1. Flexibility: Most online businesses offer the flexibility to work from anywhere and set your own schedule.
  2. Lower Overhead Costs: Many online business models require minimal upfront investment compared to traditional businesses.
  3. Scalability: Online businesses can be scaled up more easily as they’re not limited by physical location or capacity.
  4. Access to Global Market: The internet provides access to a vast global audience, opening up more opportunities for sales and growth.

Cons:

  1. High Competition: The ease of starting an online business means more competition in nearly every niche.
  2. Constant Evolution: The online landscape changes rapidly, requiring continuous learning and adaptability.
  3. Self-Discipline and Motivation: Working online requires a high degree of self-motivation and discipline, especially in the absence of a structured environment.
  4. SEO and Digital Marketing Necessity: Success often hinges on your ability to market online, involving skills in SEO, social media, and other digital marketing strategies.

Online business is worth it if you’re prepared to invest the necessary time and effort to build and grow your venture. It’s essential to enter with a well-researched plan, an understanding of the digital landscape, and a readiness to adapt to new trends and changes.

How Do You Learn an Online Business Model Successfully?

Investing in an online course is a smart way to learn an online business model successfully. It allows you to learn from a professional in a structured way and saves time compared to piecing together information independently.

Some key benefits of online courses for learning business models include:

Online courses allow you to learn from experts efficiently, systematically build knowledge, work on your own schedule, and potentially save money versus other options. This makes them a no-brainer for successfully learning a new online business model.