21 Different Types of Online Businesses

How many different business models can be done online? Any one or more of the following can be grown into a large business.

When you are planning on creating a business, it is helpful to look at your model for monetizing it. After all the game of business is to bring in money. That is how the online business models listed here are broken up, in methods and ways of bringing in money.

Another useful thing to do would be to look at models for gaining traffic, but that will have to be covered another time. Without traffic you can’t monetize, but also there are lots of places that get tons of traffic without pulling in money. Both are important.

If you’re not looking at starting a business this list can still be helpful to you. How? You might find something that could be added to your current business that could increase revenues.

1 – Info-products

This is my personal favorite and where I make the most of my money online. What you do is package any form of how-to information and then sell that package. This can be in many forms the two main branches are below.

2 – Digital goods

Digital goods are all online. The great part about this is that there is no hassles with shipping or returned goods. Also many people want instant gratification which immediate downloads give them.

3 – Hard copy goods

Info-products can also be sold as hard goods. While everyone seems to be moving away from this, there are still many people that prefer hard goods over digital, especially when it comes to books (although the kindle and related readers are now swaying that another direction too). One advantage here is that they can often be sold for more then digital goods.

4 – Selling on Amazon

Amazon has basically become the largest retailer of just about everything online. If you’re doing info-products you’d be wise to have them here at least in some form. I have a whole Amazon publishing course for books in hard copy and on the Kindle available here.

5 – Selling on eBay

eBay is another huge sales channel. There have been many six figure businesses built through eBay alone. It is a place where buyers are looking to buy.

6 – Buying and Reselling Wholesale Goods

Select your niche then find a company to buy wholesale goods from. Create a website or use some of the big sales channels online to sell these products. Your profit will be the sales price minus what you paid for the item and any expenses you had.

7 – Dropshipping products

Dropshipping involves you selling someone else’s goods. But instead of having to stock and ship things yourself, you’ll simply send them the order information and they take care of it. Since selling is the most important aspect of a business, a lot of money can be made here. Although the profits are less then buying wholesale most of the time, not having to deal with shipping and stocking is often worth it.

8 – Affiliate Sales

Wholesale is really hands on. Dropshipping is less so. Affiliate sales are even easier then that. You don’t need to process orders yourself, just direct the traffic. They’ll take orders, do customer service, deliver the products and everything. You gain a commission just for sending the customer over.

9 – CPA

Affiliate sales are one type of CPA offer, which stands for cost-per-action. That is you get a commission when someone buys. But that’s not the only way you can earn. Often times with bigger companies, especially when you join a CPA network, you can find offers where you’ll be paid for newsletter signups, or even something as simple as a zip code and a click of a button.

10 – Evergreen Sales

The common way to sell is to have your products always available. The advantage of this is that you will continually make money as new sales come in regularly.

11 – Product Launch Method

The Product Launch Formula as created by Jeff Walker has certainly changed the landscape of internet sales, especially info-products. Instead of just releasing a product, you turn the whole launch into an event. And often times the product is only available for a limited time. The scarcity plays in your favor for the time, and can result in huge paydays in a short amount of time.

12 – Membership

What is better than selling a product? Selling it once and getting paid over and over and over again for it. Although not as easy to setup and run and some people make them sound, any version of a membership where you get paid over and over for the life of the customer until they cancel is very attractive. This is often done with info-products but many hard goods as well.

13 – Coaching/Consulting

High end coaching is often added on top of many of the other business models. If people like your information then what is better then getting help from you one on one (or if you’re super popular from your trained coaches). A related area is creating Mastermind groups where you coach a group of people and they also get the benefits of help from the whole network. Similar to coaching, in certain fields a business may bring you in as a consultant. I have my own coaching offer here on the website and it’s by far the best value thing I offer.

14 – Advertising

There are websites that don’t sell a thing, but make their money off of advertising. Even popular youtube videos can make money this way. You bring traffic to a place, especially traffic that keeps returning, and you either work on getting them to click your ads, or just hope that they do. A common form of this you’ll see on websites is Google’s Adsense. With different forms of advertising you can make money from the clicks or just impressions.

15 – Service Business

If you offer any type of service then you can get all your traffic and leads from online sources. It’s like selling a product except that then the work comes after you’ve done so.

16 – Software

Software is different then info-products or hard goods. Usually it is something that will help someone to do something or at least entertain them. There are all sorts of models for this, the most popular being a limited trail or freeware version, that then tries to sell them on buying the whole thing. It can also include the services that people will need to run their own online business like hosting or a shopping cart.

17 – Apps

If software and games are old-school, then apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android and related tablets and smart phones are new. Lots can be made if your app becomes popular. You can also work on selling apps to other people and businesses.

18 – Building to Sell

I wouldn’t recommend going this route. It will be a long time before you see money, if it ever happens. Sure you can hope to be bought out for millions of dollars. The social networks that do that tend to be big and cost a lot of investor money from the beginning. While building something to sell it later on is good, I would find some method of monetizing it, and making it profitable in the meantime. After all, at the very least that would make it more attractive to would-be buyers.

19 – Capturing Leads to Sell

If you’re great at generating traffic and converting them into leads those leads by themselves can be sold. This is usually done with businesses that can make a lot of money off of each lead, like real estate or insurance for example.

20 – Flipping Websites

Create a website using any of the before establish business models then sell it on a website like Flippa. Or buy a site that is already started, make some tweaks to it to make it even better, and then re-sell it at a higher price. Websites and online business are like real estate. And if you’re an expert or even halfway decent online a lot of money can be made this way.

21 – Online Leads to Offline Sales

Just because we’ve focused online here doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, only selling online may just be leaving money on the table. It will depend on your business, but driving traffic from online into a brick and mortar store may be exactly what you’re looking to do.

While this is a large list, it is by no means complete. Feel free to add ideas in the comments below.

In my next article I’m going to go deeper on two different structures your business can follow, that would apply to almost everything we‘ve covered here.

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