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: Creating and sharing online content, monetizing through ads or affiliates; offers creative freedom but requires time and consistent content for slow-growing income.
- Freelancing: Offering specialized services online; provides flexibility and diverse opportunities but faces inconsistent work and self-marketing challenges.
- Coaching/Consulting: Providing expertise or advice online; high earning potential but requires building credibility and client reliance.
- Ecommerce (Dropshipping/Amazon FBA): Selling products online without stocking inventory (Dropshipping) or using Amazon’s platform (FBA); scalable, with a broad market, but highly competitive with complex logistics.
- Affiliate Marketing: Earning commissions by promoting products; low startup costs and flexible, but highly dependent on generating traffic in a competitive market.
- Lead Generation: Collecting and selling customer information; lucrative in certain niches, yet requires marketing skills and faces privacy concerns.
- Self-Publishing: Independently publishing and selling books/ebooks; offers higher royalties and creative control, but comes with the responsibility of marketing and variable sales.
- Print-On-Demand: Selling custom-printed products; minimal inventory risk, but with high competition and reliance on design quality.
- SMMA (Social Media Marketing Agency): Managing social media for businesses; profitable with digital marketing skills, but involves constant client acquisition and results delivery.
- Online Courses: Creating and selling educational content; potential for high profits, but requires expertise and effort in content creation and audience engagement.
- Online Community (Memberships): Building and monetizing a niche community with membership fees; offers dedicated audience engagement but challenging to grow and maintain.
- Content Creator: Producing digital content (videos, blogs, etc.); allows creative expression and diverse revenue streams, but income can be inconsistent and audience building is challenging.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): Offering subscription-based software services; highly scalable with recurring revenue but requires significant upfront development and competitive market navigation.
- Apps: Developing and monetizing mobile/web applications; high potential earnings but faces challenges in development, user acquisition, and market saturation.
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
- Flexibility: Blogging allows you to create and control content on various platforms.
- Income Potential: Successful blogs can earn well over $10k monthly, depending on niche selection and monetization strategies.
Cons of Blogging
- Time Consumption: Developing quality content regularly takes significant time.
- Market Saturation: Standing out in a crowded market requires unique marketing angles.
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:
- Choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise.
- Select a blogging platform suited to your technical skills and audience. WordPress is the most common but most demanding on a technical level.
- 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.
- SEO optimize your content using SurferSEO or Frase to increase visibility and attract traffic.
- 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:
- Blog Growth Engine by Adam Enfroy
- Affiliate Lab by Matt Diggity
- Authority Site System by Authority Hacker
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 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.
- Flexibility: You dictate your hours and choose projects.
- Control: Choose who to work with and set your rates.
- Low Start-Up Costs: Primarily requires a skill set and an internet connection.
- Inconsistent Income: Your earnings are tied to the number of projects you secure.
- Self-Motivation Required: Success depends on your drive and discipline.
How to Start:
- Identify Your Skill: Focus on what service you will offer.
- Build a Portfolio: Showcase your work to attract clients.
- Set Your Rates: Research market rates for your services.
- 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.
- Web Development: Build websites for businesses.
- Graphic Design: Create logos and marketing materials.
- Content Writing: Produce written content for websites and marketing campaigns.
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 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.
- One-on-one sessions
- Group seminars
- Online courses
- Tailored program packages
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.
- High demand for expert advice
- Scalable with digital products
- Potential for passive income
- Requires established authority
- Time-consuming client acquisition
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:
- Identify your niche and target market.
- Develop your service offerings and pricing model.
- Create a compelling online platform.
- Build a marketing strategy to attract clients.
- 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.
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 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 (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 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:
- You promote products/services on your platform.
- Visitors click on your affiliate links.
- Purchases made through your links earn you a commission.
- Passive Income: Once you have established traffic, earning potential persists with minimal effort.
- Flexibility: Work with products you know and believe in.
- Low Start-Up Costs: Compared to other business models, start-up costs are usually lower.
- Competition: The market is competitive, you’ll need a solid strategy.
- No Control Over Offers: You don’t control the product or the offer.
- Variable Income: Earnings are not guaranteed and can fluctuate.
- Choose a niche.
- Build a website or blog.
- Select affiliate products that match your niche.
- Generate quality content to attract an audience.
- Employ SEO strategies to increase visibility.
- 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.
- Select a niche you’re passionate about.
- Build relationships with your audience.
- Stay current on industry trends.
- Track the performance of your affiliate campaigns for optimization.
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:
- The Real World (social media marketing with affiliate links)
- Blog Growth Engine (blogging with affiliate links)
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:
- High Demand: Companies always need new leads to grow.
- Scalability: Digital tools allow for large-scale operations.
- Diverse Niches: Opportunities across various industries.
Cons of Lead Generation:
- Competition: It’s a highly competitive field.
- Skill-Intensive: Requires knowledge in marketing, SEO, and data analysis.
How to Start:
- Develop your business plan detailing your niche, target market, and strategies.
- Set up your marketing infrastructure using websites, social media, and SEO.
- 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 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.
- Higher Royalties: Earn up to 70% in royalties on platforms like Amazon KDP.
- Creative Freedom: Maintain complete creative control over your book’s content and cover.
- Speed to Market: Publish work faster without traditional publishing gatekeepers.
- Marketing Onus: You shoulder the responsibility for promoting and selling your book.
- Upfront Costs: Initial expenses for editing, cover design, and formatting are yours to cover.
- Quality Control: Without the support of a publishing house, ensuring high-quality output rests on your shoulders.
How to Start:
- Write a Manuscript: Begin with a clear topic or story.
- Edit Rigorously: Employ professional editing services for a polished product.
- Design a Cover: Create a compelling cover or hire a designer.
- Format Your Book: Ensure it meets digital publishing requirements.
- Publish: Choose a platform like ALLi to distribute your book.
- 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 (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:
- You create and upload your custom designs onto products like t-shirts, books, or mugs.
- A customer places an order in your online shop.
- The order is sent to a print-on-demand provider.
- The product is printed, packaged, and shipped directly to the customer.
- Low Startup Costs: You don’t need to invest in a large inventory.
- Flexibility: You can offer a wide range of products without extra costs.
- Automation: The process is mostly automated by the POD service.
- Lower Margins: Profit margins may be thinner compared to bulk buying.
- Limited Control: You rely on the POD provider’s service and quality.
- Competition: The market has become more competitive.
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.
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.
- Define Your Niche: Focus on industries or specific audiences you have expertise in.
- Establish Your Brand: Develop a strong online presence that reflects your marketing capabilities.
- Build Your Offer: Package your services in a way that provides value and clarity for your clients.
Pros and Cons
- High Demand: Businesses are consistently looking for ways to improve their online presence.
- Scalability: It’s possible to expand your client base without significant increases in overhead.
- Flexibility: SMMAs can typically operate remotely, offering a flexible work environment.
- Competition: The market is saturated, making it challenging to stand out.
- Constant Change: Social media algorithms are always evolving, requiring continuous learning.
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 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:
- Scalable: You create your course once and sell it to many customers without additional costs.
- Passive Income: After initial development, courses can earn you money with little ongoing maintenance.
- Flexible: You have the freedom to work from anywhere at any time.
- High Competition: Many topics are saturated with courses, so finding a niche is crucial.
- Initial Time Investment: Creating a high-quality course involves considerable effort initially.
To start your online course business, you must:
- Identify a niche you are knowledgeable in and that has demand.
- Develop a comprehensive curriculum that provides real value.
- Choose a reliable platform for hosting your course
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- Flexible schedule – You manage your own time
- Creative freedom – You decide what to create
- Potential for high earnings – Popular creators make substantial incomes
Cons of Being a Content Creator
- Inconsistent income – Earnings fluctuate based on engagement
- Pressure to stay relevant – You need to continuously innovate to retain your audience
- Time-intensive – Successful content creation often requires significant time investment
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.
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.
- Scalability: With SaaS, you scale your usage easily without the need to purchase additional hardware or software.
- Cost-Effectiveness: You pay for what you use, usually on a monthly or annual basis, which means lower upfront costs.
- Automatic Updates: Providers continuously upgrade the service without you needing to install or manage updates.
- Dependence on Vendor: Your operations are tied to the availability of your SaaS provider.
- Data Security: While SaaS providers generally offer strong security measures, storing sensitive data off-premises may raise concerns.
- Limited Customization: SaaS applications might not offer the same level of customization as on-premise solutions.
How to Start:
- Identify a gap in the market or a specific business need.
- Develop a SaaS application focusing on user experience and value.
- Implement a multi-tenant architecture.
- Set up a subscription-based pricing model.
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.
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.
- Profitability: App development can be highly lucrative. Top apps on platforms like the App Store or Google Play can generate anywhere from a few thousand to millions of dollars in revenue, depending on the app’s popularity and monetization strategy.
- Identify a gap in the market or an unmet need.
- Develop a clear, user-friendly design and user interface.
- Construct a business model: paid downloads, in-app purchases, or advertisements.
- Higher Engagement: Apps tend to engage users more effectively than traditional websites.
- Direct Marketing Channel: Apps function as a direct line to your customer, allowing for personalized marketing.
- Revenue: Multiple revenue streams are possible, including ad revenue, in-app purchases, and subscription models.
- Maintenance and updates are ongoing requirements.
- Initial development can be costly and time-consuming.
- Saturation in some app markets may present a competitive challenge.
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.
- Exclusivity: These models offer products or services that are not widely available, adding to their allure.
- Premium Pricing: The scarcity and unique value proposition allow for higher pricing.
- Tailored Experience: Emphasis on personalization to meet the specific tastes and preferences of clients.
- Boutique Agencies
- Concierge Services
- Limited Edition Product Lines
- Loyal Customers: Clients often display brand loyalty due to the personalized attention.
- Higher Profit Margins: Exclusive products or services warrant premium pricing.
- Niche Market: Limited audience due to the distinctive nature of the offerings.
- Sensitivity to Trends: Must continuously evolve to maintain exclusivity.
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:
- Flexibility: Most online businesses offer the flexibility to work from anywhere and set your own schedule.
- Lower Overhead Costs: Many online business models require minimal upfront investment compared to traditional businesses.
- Scalability: Online businesses can be scaled up more easily as they’re not limited by physical location or capacity.
- Access to Global Market: The internet provides access to a vast global audience, opening up more opportunities for sales and growth.
- High Competition: The ease of starting an online business means more competition in nearly every niche.
- Constant Evolution: The online landscape changes rapidly, requiring continuous learning and adaptability.
- Self-Discipline and Motivation: Working online requires a high degree of self-motivation and discipline, especially in the absence of a structured environment.
- 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:
- Learning from experts who have already validated the business model and can teach what works based on experience. This saves trial and error.
- The course content is organized and sequential, building your knowledge step-by-step instead of having to piece together potentially contradictory information from various sources.
- You can learn at your own pace and on your schedule, which is more efficient than traditional classroom learning.
- Cost savings compared to hiring a consultant or taking time away from your business.
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.