Deciding on a profitable, scalable online business model from the outset can be one the smartest tasks any new entrepreneur can undertake.
Sadly, far too few take the time to get better informed about the different (profitable) online business models available to them, before diving in blind with no idea of what it takes to be successful or the potential pitfalls.
In today’s post we’re going to look at three types of online business model- blogging, Ecommerce, and affiliate marketing, and we’ll also look at how you monetize all three.
First we’ll spend some time assessing what makes each of these online business models different, what you need to do in order to be successful within them, and the pros and cons of each approach.
Then, we’ll have a look at a hybrid version of all these models.
An online business model which my clients and I are finding to be far more lucrative in the long term, but more on that later.
So what type of online business model is right for you?
The blogging online business model
What is a blog?
A blog is an online asset where you or others commit to writing and creating content around a particular topic or series of topics.
By regularly creating and sharing high quality content that you have optimised for search engines (and humans) you’ll naturally attract organic traffic to your website, allowing you to build an audience. At least that’s the goal.
The more traffic your blog gets and the longer those visitors stay on-site and engage with your blog, the more of a powerful (and profitable) your asset will become.
What will it take to make your blog successful?
The key to creating an uber successful blog is based on your ability to create and distribute content to as many of your ideal readers as possible.
But in order for you to create a successful blog you need first need to choose a niche, get a clear understanding of who your ideal customer avatar is, then commit to sharing fantastic content with them on a regular basis.
And you have to be prepared to accept that in most cases it takes a while to build up your audience.
This is one particular online business model that requires you to have a long term vision for your business from the outset.
How will your blog make money?
Your blog can be monetized in any number of ways – selling services, digital products, physical products are the most common ways. And you’ll likely already be thinking of selling one of these products if you’re reading this post.
Again, it pays to decide on a monetization strategy right at the beginning.
That’s why I encourage you to read till the end, as you’ll discover a business model which will allow you to profit from all three.
What are the pros of starting a blog?
- If you love to write and have a particular passion or interest in your topic, you’ll be one of the the lucky ones who are never short of ideas for content.
- Happy to create most of the content yourself? Great, you can do this with minimal financial outlay, but it will cost you time.
- Short on cash but want to get started? Your blog can be live to the world for less than $100. In fact, you can start now and get your hosting and Wordpress Blog set up for less than $10.
- Needing only your computer and wifi, the ability to write articles from anywhere in the world gives you an incredible amount of freedom.
Want to find an incredible theme for your blog, or need some done for you graphics you can use to create your standout brand?
I highly recommend StudioPress for their wide collection of well coded themes, which focus on user experience and conversion, and their amazing customer support.
If you’re a bit weak when it comes to graphics (like I am) you’ll also love creative market.
This fantastic platform allows you to find beautiful fonts and graphic elements you can use to customise your blog without having to do the creative work yourself.
I’m also a massive fan of the free tool Canva.com and make many of my graphics there.
What are the cons of starting a blog?
- The success of your blog depends on your ability to create compelling SEO optimised content that people love to read and share.
- If you don’t want or have time to spend creating and promoting content there’s no point in starting.
- While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, blogs that are focused on becoming an authority resource on one or two things do better than those which run too broad. It pays to niche down.
- There are a few tech hurdles to overcome. If you’ve never set up a WordPress blog, installed a theme or connected your email service provider before, then it’s likely you’ll hit a few walls.
Want to dive deeper? Bookmark and read these three articles.
The ecommerce store online business model
What is an online store?
I kinda feel silly explaining this, but in keeping with the format I’ve laid this article out in, here goes.
An online store is a digital platform that allows you to share your product offerings and online checkout option for people to purchase them.
And, if you haven’t already noticed, this particular online business model is one the biggest growing industries in the world.
With such a low barrier to entry it seems like everyone and their mama is opening an online boutique.
But there’s a catch. A caveat. And it’s kind of alarming
Statistically, only 19% of online boutiques go on to be successful. Now the reasons why they fail are far too many to try and cover here.
But my post how to start a successful online boutique has been shared over 1.5k times so you might want to check it out.
Interested in hearing about the top rookie mistakes I see new store owners making all the time (so you can avoid them)? you should check out the video below.
I think you’ll find it quite eye opening, and it could end up saving you a ton of money.
What will it take to make your online store successful?
This is a tough question to answer as there are a few ways you can go about creating a successful online boutique.
One approach is from the perspective of building a credible brand built to last.
While the other is from the approach of simply finding a profitable product and making sales through mastery of paid traffic.
Both can be equally rewarding.
But for the sake of clarity you should know I primarily focus on working with entrepreneurs building brands.
Yes, they may source some products from Ali-express and white label others, but their focus is on building a business not on trying to make a quick buck.
How will your online store make money?
This will be dependent on 3 key things, all of which are critical to your brands success.
- A great product
- An effective marketing (i.e traffic generation) strategy
- A credible website that’s makes it easy to take payment
- Great customer service (that should be a given)
If you’re struggling to find vendors to work with you should check out my fashion wholesale suppliers directory .
What are the pros of an online store?
- Depending on your supply chain and business model, costs to get started can be very affordable.
- Your ability to drive traffic to your online store will decide whether it thrives or dies.
- You don’t need a vast amount of products to get started, in fact, I’d advise you to have less stock rather than too much
- With your own online store you’re able to build a customer base and benefit from repeat customers and word of mouth marketing.
Want to dive deeper? Bookmark and read these three posts.
- How to start an online boutique
- How to select product for your online store
- How to find fashion wholesalers and dropshippers
The affiliate site online business model
What is an affiliate site?
The affiliate website online business model is the most risky of the three.
Not all affiliate sites are created equal, and many have disappeared over the years as Google has adapted its algorithms to clean the web of those sites cluttering it with low value content.
So with that being said, let’s look at what makes a good affiliate site.
A strong affiliate site is one that acts as an authority resource in a certain niche/topic, creating content designed to educate and inform, while building an active readership.
Within these helpful posts products are mentioned and or linked to. And when these links are clicked and the clicker makes a purchase (or leaves an email), the owner of the site where the link originated makes a commission.
I wrote a post which shares 50 ecommerce content marketing examples which lots of my readers have told me they found super helpful.
Many of these bloggers featured in this post are active affiliates and when you see the amount of social shares these posts get, it’s easy to see how and why they’re making bank.
What makes an affiliate website successful:
At this point I think you probably already know the answer, but if you don’t, let’s go for it again. Traffic, traffic, traffic.
Without a nice amount of traffic, page views and a low bounce rate, affiliates won’t get the time spent on site to make those offsite clicks.
No offsite clicks. No cash. It’s simple.
Your primarily goal as an affiliate marketer is to become highly skilled at generating traffic through both free and paid models.
Want to get better at targeting your Facebook ads? This premium in-depth training and free worksheet will be a real money saving eye opener.
That being said, the most profitable affiliate marketers don’t just focus on driving traffic to other people’s websites.
Instead, they focus on how they can build their own mailing list of subscribers, implementing automated email sales funnels to make income from these email subscribers.
How will your affiliate site make money:
You need to find a topic or niche that you feel confident and enthused to write about.
Commit to writing consistently high quality content, and make sure that you’re getting involved with the right affiliate networks.
And truthfully, it can be a little tricky when you’re just starting out, but it’s not impossible. I’ve included some links about the best affiliate networks below.
What are the pros of affiliate marketing?
- You don’t have to ship any products nor are you responsible for customer returns – which is why many new store owners love this online business model (at least to get started).
- Very little costs are involved in setting up an affiliate site. Your biggest expense to start off with will be investing in a quality theme you can grow with, your blog hosting and your email service provider – look for one that also has built in landing pages.
What are the cons of affiliate marketing?
- Competition is fierce, and while it can be tempting to ignore the guidance to go for a topic you’re passionate about, in favour of choosing an obscure topic you can rank for and make money with – don’t waste your time.
- Remember, unless you hire out you’ll need to keep your site flowing with content.
Affiliate marketing takes time to start reaping it’s financial rewards.
- Unless your affiliate site establishes its own your own customer base, once a referral is made that’s it. For repeat purchases, the customer you referred will usually go directly to the primary vendor.
- You’re very much at the mercy of your affiliate programme, and it’s not unheard of for affiliates to spend time and money driving traffic to campaigns which don’t pay out or get shut down.
Want to dive deeper?
- High paying affiliate programmes
- Can you make money with affiliate marketing – if so how?
- Turning my online store into an Amazon affiliate site
- Making sense of affiliate marketing
Okay, so now we’ve looked at what a blog is, what an online store is, and what an affiliate website is. We’ve looked briefly at the pros and cons on each, that’s why I think it’s high time we start thinking outside the box.
What if there was another way?
An online business model which meshed the most profitable aspects of all three to create a powerful hybrid?
What is authority ecommerce?
After 7 years in the online marketing space I’ve watched lots of trends come and go, but here’s what else has become apparent: none of these online business models need to operate exclusively.
In fact, when they’re combined they help you to create an authoritative, highly trafficked digital asset that makes sales with ease.
Part blog, part affiliate website, part online store, it’s possible to construct your business in a way that takes full advantage of all these business models, ensuring you have a varied and steady stream of income.
I talk a bit more about the authority ecommerce online business model here.
But to be honest, I realise this method of thinking and managing your business is not for everyone, so I save my most in depth content and strategies for those who are seriously interested in doing business the authority ecommerce way.
If that’s you, join my mailing list where I send more in-depth content, tips, strategies about running an authority ecommerce business that you will find helpful.
But just in case you were wondering how you could get started with the authority ecommerce method quickly, here are the initial 4 steps.
- Choose your online business name
- Get signed up with your hosting and selected the cheapest options (for now)
- Choose your theme and get it installed on your WordPress site
- Validate your business idea using a simple landing page and paid traffic
- Go to Shopify and get signed up, using same name as your blog.
If you got value from this post and learned something that helped you in your entrepreneurial journey I’d love it if you shared this post in your social media communities (I love those Pinterest repins).
And don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments on the best online business model for you in the comments.