Over the summer I wrote about my podcast gear and setup. While I was happy with what I had, there were a few optimizations I wanted to make. I had a lot of long wires, which compromised the audio. I had lots of things plugged in, and with the purchase of my iMac Pro, I took the opportunity to simplify things.
Podcast Setup: Gear
First, let’s start with the fun part of the podcast setup – the gear. I’ll write everything here in the order in which the audio (my voice) hits the device, starting with the mic.
Microphone: Shure SM7B
My mic is theShure SM7B, which I’ve wanted ever since I heard about it. I thought I could get away with the cheaper Rode Procaster, but in the end, the SM7B is better for my voice – it sounds more natural, less muddy (or muffled/deep). This mic is also known by many as the “podcaster’s mic,” though it’s used by all sorts of professional vocalists, from Michael Jackson to the Pentatonix. This article breaks down why wonderfully.
That goes into aCloudlifter CL-1. The SM7B is a power hungry monster. Because of that, it needs extra gain (or power) to get good volume from the mic. Even with my interface (which I’ll talk about next), it could still use some clean, extra power. The Cloudlifter provides that.
Other Mic-Related Gear
Wind Screen: The foam piece on the front of my mic protects it from hard breath sounds, wind, and plosives (hard P-sounds), improving the audio a bit. The SM7B comes with one specifically for podcasting / close talking.
Boom Arm: This is what my mic is attached to. It keeps the mic off my desk, and gives me a lot of flexibility on placement, allowing me to improve my mic technique.
Preamp / Interface: UA Arrow
The last link in the chain before my computer is theUA Arrow, an incredibly powerful preamp, equalizer, and interface. To be honest, at the time of this writing, I just got it, and I’m still learning the ropes. But I love it because it reduced my setup from 4 machines, many plugs, and many cables, to a single device with 1 Thunderbolt cable, and 1 XLR cable.
It also emulates in software dozens of real-life machines through UAD Plugins. These plugins physicallychange the hardware, so it’s doing more than just fixing the raw audio in software. It’s literally changing the device, so I can pick any setup I can imagine to make my voice sound exactly the way I want. SO far I love it – I’ve got it dialed in the way I’d like for now, but that may change in the future (and probably will. It also helps that my friend Shawn helped me set it up).
I’m also still using my Audio-Technica ATH-M50sfor listening / monitoring / hearing myself sing along with whatever I’m listening to.
I switched back to Mac for my production machine – an iMac Pro to be exact. I’ll do a separate write up on that. Other than that, my production process is still pretty much the same.
I’ll get guests 2 ways: 1) they reach out to me, I look into them, and I decide if they’d be a good fit for the show. Or 2) I reach out to them.
Once I’m ready to book a guest, I will use Calendly so they can pick a time that works for them. I have specific blocks throughout the week where I record interviews and do meetings. When they pick a time, they’ll get a calendar invite with a set of instructions, a Zoom link, and a page for recording notes. Calendly automatically redirects to that page once they’re done signing up too.
It has the usual questions, how to record their side of the audio, and some tips for a smooth recording. I’ll also ask what their title is, and their company, so I don’t mess that up in the recording.
I have a Zapier automation setup so that when someone books with Calendly, several things happen:
A new note is added in Evernote. It will have my show notes template, the info they filled out, and some prompts for me. This note is also automatically shared with my transcriber so she doesn’t need to spend a ton of time researching terms and looking up spellings
An entry is added to Airtable. This is where I work out the schedule of episodes and where I add the sponsors.
Speaking of, on the day of recording, I’ll get that gist and relevant links. We’ll speak on Zoom (I like to see my guests, even if we don’t use the video). I’ll record my audio using Garageband, and I’ll use the built-in Zoom Call Recorder as a backup.
After a sound check, I make sure I know how to pronounce my guest’s name, and that we’re both recording our audio. Then we get to it. At the end of the recording, we wrap up, and they send me their audio.
Post-Production has been greatly simplified since the summer thanks to automation and Dropbox. I collect all of the audio files: my audio, my guest’s audio, the intro and outro bumpers, and sponsor spots. All of this is done in Garageband because it’s free, on my Mac, and I like their noise gate plugin best for filtering out clicks and breaths.
I put them all in a Dropbox folder I share with my editor. He’ll take it from there with a few instructions from me. Once he’s done, he’ll put it in a separate Dropbox folder called “Needs Transcribing.” My transcriber will get a notification, and she’ll take care of it from there.
The only manual process I want to automate here is uploading to Libsyn. I know I can with a combination of a few tools – I just need to set aside some time to do it. But once I move everything to Dropbox, it’s pretty hands off for me as far as the audio goes.
With the audio set, there’s a couple more things I do before launch:
Create images with Canva. I make an episode image and a quote image to share on social media.
Put together a simple description and show notes (which my transcriber will do as soon as I get a few weeks ahead of schedule).
Upload the transcript. My transcriber gives me a Google Doc, so I copy and paste it into WordPress, with the help of a simple filter I created.
Then I schedule the episode. Ideally, I do this for 4-5 episodes at a time; this highly depends on what sponsors I have and when I get their assets.
Controlling Environment Sounds
Aside from improved recording gear for my podcast setup, I added three things to my office to diminish outside sounds. I’m in the basement of my house, and while this is a big improvement over when I was renting, it’s not perfect…yet.
Book Shelves: My book shelves, right behind me, diffuse any sound bouncing off the wall and back into my mic, so there is no chance of an echo.
Auralex DeskMax Sound Panels: These bad boys provide a little extra soundproofing/dampening. I’ve put them on stands so I can move them right behind me on recording day.
To the Process
At this point, the only improvements I want to make are streamlining the publish process a bit, and continuing to play with my UA Arrow. There’s just so much to play with, I know I can get my audio perfect (to me). I know 99% of people won’t notice the changes, but it will make post-production and editing a lot easier.
For publishing, I’d like to automatically upload the episode to Libsyn and publish it. Bonus points if I can grab the URL post upload. With my transcriber taking over most of the content responsibilities, it would just be up to me to push the publish button. I also want to streamline the social media aspect of things. I think using Social Web Suite will help with that.
To the Office
I have some home improvement projects I have lined up that will improve sound dampening. Namely:
A door to the basement. There currently is not one.
Sound Proofing boards. I bought about 48 square feet of these sound proof panels. I plan on putting them on pegboard I can hang on my wall in strategic places, as well as replace the panels I currently have on stands with wider ones. This will create more of a booth for me.
Finally, I have a single window in the office. I want to make a sound proof block to put in that window for when I’m recording, so outside sounds are completely killed.
That’s About It!
So that’s my whole podcast setup – gear and software. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
The world today is a very different place from the one your parents experienced in their youth. For generations, a career defined who you were…
Yet today, a standard career isn’t only harder to attain, but also a lot less attractive.
It’s estimated that 27 million Americans will leave the traditional workplace in favor of full-time self-employment in 2020 (tripling the overall number to over 40 million people).
Many of these people will head online to start a new business. After all, the barriers are low: low cost, low risk, low time investment, with potentially lucrative returns. If you’re reading an article like this one, you may be one of these aspiring entrepreneurs looking for the perfect online business model.
Or maybe you’ve already made the leap but are still finding your feet…
If so, you know how overwhelming it is. There’s so much choice. There are so many niches and potential business model ideas, and each one comes with hour after hour of content and at least a few “experts” who say their way is the best way.
I imagine you’ve already spent a lot of hours researching. Maybe you’re wondering if it’s time well spent, or if you’re wasting it and should go back and settle for that 9 to 5 job.
Everyone is different.
A 9 to 5 career is ideal for some. In today’s connected world it’s possible to build an online career without starting your own business. Yet an online business of your own offers freedom unlike any other business venture.
The potential is high.
The problem is…the overwhelm is higher.
After all, you only have so much time and money. If you choose the wrong option or follow the wrong advice, it could have a huge impact on your life. That’s where the real pain lies…FEAR.
The Role That FEAR Plays When Choosing The Right Online Business Models
It’s fear that stops many people from leaving the traditional workplace and going out on their own. It’s this fear that’s always stopped people: the fear of failing, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of making the wrong decision.
Yet what about that other fear? The fear of not trying, living the rest of your life wondering…what if?
This article isn’t about whether you should start an online business. Maybe you should. Maybe not. Only you can decide that. What I can promise you is that you are not alone and that everyone who starts a business goes through this.
The questioning of yourself
The worry and anxiety
The fear of failing
The FEAR, full-stop!
What’s important to remember is that mistakes and failure are rarely final. Whatever you choose to do with your first business isn’t final, either. You’re not locked into doing it forever. Most entrepreneurs pivot and change. It’s a journey, and success rarely happens overnight — despite what the myth says.
Airbnb launched in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2011 that it made its one-millionth booking.
Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) created 51 games before finally striking it rich with one of the most popular mobile games ever.
It took Starbucks 16 years to expand beyond Seattle.
It’s also important to remember that the fear you feel today isn’t as real as it once was. In the past, you had to take huge risks to start a new business: bank loans, remortgaging your house, hiring a workforce from day one, uprooting your family and moving across the country…
This isn’t the case today. Starting a business doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You rarely need to hire a large team (at least, not to begin with). You can often keep your 9 to 5 job for a while and work on your business in the evenings or weekends.
There’s an online business model for every situation.
So although the fear is real…it’s not as real as it once was.
That’s what this article is about: to help you cut through the overwhelm, look past your fear, and focus on the online business models that best suit your situation. It’s for the person starting out, exploring new ideas, and who has the drive to CREATE something in order to:
Make more money and not worry about the bills each month.
Have more freedom to live the life you’ve always dreamed about.
Spend more time at home and around those you love.
Leave a lasting impact on your customers, employees, family, and friends.
No matter what your situation, budget, or level of experience, there’s an online business model for you. In this article, we’ll cut through the noise and focus on the best online business models for you.
We’ll begin by reviewing the different types of internet business models, and then delve into the pros and cons of each, and the levels of investment necessary so you can choose the best online business model for you.
Only you can decide that. We can help you to work through the overwhelm and give you the best advice possible. Yet this only works with active learning, so be sure to read this article and:
Take notes throughout
Bookmark the examples we share (to read later)
Download or bookmark the additional reading we provide
Constantly think about what applies to YOU!
Let’s dive in, starting with one of the most popular types of internet business models: Service-Based.
The Service-Based Online Business Model
EXPERIENCE NEEDED: High
STARTUP COSTS: Low (<$500)
MAINTAINING COSTS: Low
TIME INVESTMENT: High
PROFITABILITY: High (although not passive)
Having a service-based online business model is one of the most popular approaches today. No matter what your industry, niche or skill set, there’s always an opportunity to set up a service-based business.
They fall under three categories:
Coaching: this provides hands-on help, guidance, and accountability. As a coach, you act as a guide who listens and helps your client figure out what their next steps should be.
Consulting: this focuses on high-level, practical expertise. As a consultant, you not only guide your clients but break down the actual steps they should follow.
Done For You (DFY): this places the focus on you, as you do the actual work for your client.
Becoming a consultant requires the most experience. Your clients need to know that you have gone through the process many times before. As such, it’s a popular service-based business model for someone who has a lot of experience in the traditional workplace and is looking to work for themselves.
Coaching requires less experience, but it’s certainly more hands-on and time-intensive because you need to guide your clients along the right path. Whereas the Done For You model is the most time-intensive of all as you actually do the work for them (this often leads you to create an agency model).
Successful Examples of a Service-Based Business Model in Action
While growing her successful podcast, ‘The Eventual Millionaire’, Jaime Masters naturally transitioned into coaching as she built a vault of knowledge based on hundreds of interviews. Jaime works with her clients to guide them, keep them accountable, and remain focused on the goals they set.
Whereas the work Tayo Rockson does at UYD Management is a good example of Consulting. Tayo helps individuals and organizations leverage their cultures and build strategies on the back of these. He has a lot of experience in this sector and provides his clients with a literal roadmap of what to do and when.
After years of working as a content strategist, Tyler Basu started his own agency, Influencer Studio. With this Done For You model, Tyler and his team create and promote your content, as well as building a strategy to fulfill certain objectives.
In addition to this, Tyler also offers a consultancy service, showing that in time you can incorporate more than one of these service-based types.
The main benefit of a service-based business model is that there are fewer startup costs. It’s a business you can begin straight away without having to worry about equipment, staff or anything else. It’s all about you providing a service. As such, the barriers to enter this market are low.
Potential income is high, too. People value intimate, one-on-one work. If you can save your clients (time or money) or help them make more (money, lead generation, momentum), you can gradually increase your rates and make a lot of money per hour.
The downside of a service-based business model is that it doesn’t generate passive income and does require A LOT of your time. Whether you Coach, Consult, or commit to a Done For You model, your clients pay for your time.
This limits your ability to scale and limits how much freedom you have from your business. Another downside to a service-based business is the competition you face. Because the barrier to entry is so low, you’ll face a lot of competition to stand out no matter what industry you’re in.
It’s one of the most popular online business models for a reason, after all…
How To Get Started
Here are some people, businesses, and resources that will help you learn more about service-based businesses and get you started. To save time and to reduce your risk, read and/or bookmark these.
Successful Examples of a Membership/Mastermind Business Model in Action
One of the best membership examples comes from Desislava Dobreva and her Badass Brand Squad. Although Des and her team offer a lot of expertise, content, and guidance, most of her testimonials center around the “community”. It’s a unique brand with an even more unique style, and it serves her audience on a deep level.
Whereas a great example of a Mastermind Group comes from Katya Varbanova and her 20K Nation. In many ways, 20K Nation is similar to the Badass Brand Squad, although Katya limits the number of people she can serve at any given time. A more hands-on approach requires more time. This is the biggest difference between a membership site and a mastermind group.
The main benefit of a Mastermind and/or Membership business model is that you reach more people than a standard service-based approach. This allows you to get more out of your time, and in turn, create scalable products like courses and programs (that comes next).
Costs remain low, although you need to place more focus into marketing, branding, and your sales page. This creates both startup and maintenance costs but is still low compared to some other business model examples.
This can also become one of the most profitable internet business models. Although it isn’t a fully passive venture you can, in time, automate part of your offer and serve your community at a high level without sacrificing all your time.
However… The biggest downside remains TIME.
Although you can automate part of the process, you’ll always have to dedicate a lot of yours or someone else on your team’s time. Less so with a Membership Site, but a Mastermind Group is all about the personal touch.
This limits your ability to scale and pursue other opportunities further down the line.
How To Get Started
Here are some people, businesses and resources that will help you learn more about Mastermind/Membership businesses. To save time and reduce your risk, read and/or bookmark these.
Online Courses (this approach empowers the student to do all the work on their own)
Online Programs (this approach provides the student with greater guidance and help)
Overall, an Online Course centers around the content you provide. You create the course content and provide the students with everything they need to do the work. Whereas an Online Program provides further guidance with coaching calls, mastermind sessions, and possibly a membership site/community.
As you may notice, some of these internet business models do overlap and align with one another. You may begin with an Online Course, which in time develops into an Online Program, which evolves into a Membership Site and/or Mastermind Group.
Successful Examples of an Online Course / Program Business Model in Action
We’re lucky to have worked with a lot of successful course creators over the years. A few that stand out:
Dorie Clark, who made $23,500 in just 45 minutes when she first launched her online course. After years of writing books, speaking, and consulting, Dorie built a wealth of expertise. Yet she struggled to share this with the masses in a way that would provide real, practical help. Her online course fixed this and opened up several new income streams.
Then there’s Charles Byrd, a productivity coach who discovered a passion and skill for using Evernote. He’d shared this with his clients for years but wanted to help more people use this tool effectively. His online course helped him achieve this, and it’s led him to create many more courses and programs since.
As for a good example of a Program Business Model, that comes from Austin Netzley and his 2X Accelerator Program. Austin and his team work with their clients to double their income in a short space of time. There’s a series of learning modules to work through (an online course), but also regular strategy sessions, accountability, and in-person events staged throughout the year. It’s a great program that not only teaches but creates a literal roadmap to follow step-by-step.
There are several benefits to building an Online Course or Program, but the main one has to be the potential of passive income. This is less applicable with an Online Program as that does require ongoing help and guidance. Yet with an Online Course, once you’ve created the course material you can deliver it to an infinite number of students.
All your work comes ahead of time. Thereafter, it doesn’t matter if you have ten students or ten thousand, your workload remains the same.
There are also the benefits of not needing a lot of experience. So long as you provide a course that delivers what your student needs, you don’t need to have years and years of experience and social proof. It’s a great starting point for many budding entrepreneurs.
Whether you choose to run an Online Course or Online Program, the biggest issue is the upfront cost (both in terms of money and time). You can navigate this through pre-sales and validating your idea, but a good course needs YOU to put in a lot of time upfront.
Finally, you may want to register for our Free Course Builder Bootcamp, which shows you how to create, sell, and profit from your online course or program (click here to learn more).
The Affiliate Online Business Model
EXPERIENCE NEEDED: Low
STARTUP COSTS: Low (<$500)
MAINTAINING COSTS: Low
TIME INVESTMENT: Medium
PROFITABILITY: Medium (largely passive)
This is always an attractive option, especially for those starting out. It doesn’t require you to create a product or service. Instead, you promote other peoples’ and get a share of their revenue.
The main affiliate routes include:
Joint Ventures (JVs): this involves promoting a launch/campaign, often through a series of emails, online ads, and live events such as webinars.
Amazon Affiliate: as the world’s largest online platform, it’s possible to make a good living simply by promoting products on Amazon.
Blogging / Vlogging / Reviews: this involves creating content, building an audience, and getting a share of the revenue when your audience purchases.
The popularity of affiliate businesses seems to be waning, largely because there’s so much competition. However, it remains a popular business model simply because it requires no experience and has minimal startup and maintenance costs.
It is difficult to make a lot of money through Affiliates these days. But if you produce great content (blog, podcast, YouTube Channel, etc…), it’s possible to make a good income (at the least, a good side-income).
The same applies to Joint Ventures (JVs). If you build an engaged community there will always be people looking to promote their products, services, or new launches. The emphasis here is on YOU creating an engaged community. If you become an authority figure, an affiliate business can be lucrative.
Successful Examples of an Affiliate Business Model in Action
Two standout examples of an Affiliate Business Model done well comes from Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas. Both Pat and John built popular podcasts, and Pat in particular leveraged high-quality articles that created an engaged and loyal audience.
(In fact, much of Pat’s content focuses on how to create passive income through affiliate businesses).
In both cases, Pat and John have built expertise in their industries and produced a large body of valuable content. Through joint ventures, referrals, promotions, and reviews, these two men have made millions through their affiliate business models.
The main benefit of an affiliate business model is that you don’t have to create a product. This is a great option for someone who excels at marketing and is good at attracting people through their personality.
There is a time commitment because affiliate marketing done correctly requires you to create great content (through videos, emails, social media, articles, and more). Yet compared to many other online business models, it has a low investment of money and time.
It’s hard to stand out. Ten years ago, more people made more money through affiliate marketing. Yet in today’s world of content overload, it’s hard to make a new blog, podcast, or YouTube channel stand out.
Success depends on the community and following that you build. If you don’t build this, the chances of having a successful affiliate business remain low.
How To Get Started
Here are some people, businesses and resources that will help you learn more about Affiliate businesses. To save time and reduce your risk, read and/or bookmark these.
Matt McWilliams is a thought leader in the affiliate space, specializing in Joint Ventures and product launches (this guide, in particular, offers everything you need to know to get started).
Tom Morkes is another thought leader in this space, who has lots of great resources on joint ventures and product launches.
Saas stands for ‘Software as a Service’. It’s a popular online business model in today’s hyper-connected society. This popularity is set to rise as more people come to rely on the internet in more ways.
There are A LOT of products that fit under this umbrella. Some of the more popular include:
Project Management Software
Email Marketing Software
Web Hosting and eCommerce
Payment Processing Software
The potential to make money with a SaaS business model is high. Many of them are subscription-based (email marketing options like Mailchimp and ConvertKit) or take a percentage of each transaction (payment processing options like PayPal or TransferWise).
This led him to create ConvertKit in 2014; initially as a side hustle and a passion to improve email marketing for “creators” like himself. Fast-forward a few years and ConvertKit now has 20,000+ users, $15+ million in annual recurring revenue, a team of 39 people, and annual profits of over $2 million.
What Nathan has achieved in five years is remarkable, and demonstrates the powerful impact a valuable SaaS product can have. Despite competing against much larger businesses, he creates an online business model that provided a specific audience with exactly what they need.
(It’s the service this writer users and adores).
Simply put… money.
Some of the largest companies in the world began life as a SaaS business: Uber, Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Netflix to name a few…
A Saas Business Model is scalable and investible, and although it does require a high level of expertise, it doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders. With the right business partners, you can build a great product that works and grow from there.
Nathan Barry is a good example of this: a person lacking the technical expertise to build the product himself, but one with the vision and marketing ability to disrupt the industry.
Once more… money.
Although you can bootstrap your SaaS business, it still requires significant investment and a lot of time. This investment of time and money only increases as you find more success. It can provide a passive income in the long term, but will often always require high upkeep costs and a dedicated team to maintain and improve the service.
The returns are potentially huge, yet you cannot overlook the risk.
How To Get Started
Here are some people, businesses, and resources that will help you learn more about SaaS businesses. To save time and reduce your risk, read and/or bookmark these.
Dan Martell is a master of scaling Saas businesses, and in this masterclass, he explains how to scale yours to $10,000+ per month.
This article written by Ryan Shank (for Neil Patel) offers a great insight into what it takes to start a new SaaS business.
The E-Commerce Online Business Model
EXPERIENCE NEEDED: Medium
STARTUP COSTS: Medium ($1,500+)
MAINTAINING COSTS: Medium
TIME INVESTMENT: Medium
PROFITABILITY: Medium (possibly passive)
E-commerce is expected to reach $2.5 trillion in sales by 2022. Ever since the internet came of age in the ’90s, the ability to buy and sell online has disrupted the entire retail sector.
(And it’s continuing to grow year-on-year).
It’s easy to see then, why e-commerce is an attractive online business model to pursue.
This often falls under three categories:
Physical Products: this focuses on selling physical products online, such as clothes, shoes, books, electrical equipment, and anything else you can hold in your hands…
Digital Products: this focuses on non-physical products such as software, eBooks, digital music, digital education, and training…
Dropshipping: this usually involves selling physical products, but with this approach, you never hold the stock or have to fulfill the order…
Dropshipping is an increasingly popular form of e-commerce. Although like affiliate marketing, it’s getting harder to find success due to high-competition and market saturation. But it’s clear to see why it remains a popular option… the startup costs (both money and time) are low compared to the other two options.
Because you don’t hold the stock yourself, there’s less risk and ongoing costs.
Your profits decrease because of this (due to more businesses being part of the process), yet with popular platforms like Amazon, Shopify, and eBay, it’s possible to reach millions of customers.
Successful Examples of an E-Commerce Business Model in Action
Pat Flynn once again provides a good example of what happens when you build authority online. Despite building an online career, Pat expanded into the physical world by producing the SwitchPod: a minimal, handheld tripod for content creators, bloggers, and vloggers.
When it launched via Kickstarter, more than 4,000 customers pre-ordered the product and it raised nearly $500,000 in 30 days.
Finally, there are many examples of dropshipping companies making $1,000,000+ per year, simply by building a Shopify store like Mooshe Sock has.
One of the main benefits of an E-Commerce Business Model is that it’s scalable, profitable, and can become a good form of passive income.
You don’t need to have a high level of experience or even create the product yourself. With an approach like Dropshipping, if you find the right niche you can make a lot of money by being in the right place.
One of the biggest downfalls of e-commerce today is the high competition you face. Regardless of your niche, industry, or platform, you face an uphill battle to stand out.
You do need to invest time upfront, and depending on your product your profit margins may remain low — meaning you need to sell a lot of products to make it a worthwhile venture. It’s easy to make money with e-commerce, but enough of it to start a new business…that’s much harder.
How To Get Started
Here are some people, businesses, and resources that will help you learn more about e-commerce businesses. To save time and reduce your risk, read and/or bookmark these.
There’s also this guide from Hubspot, which offers an in-depth overview of e-commerce businesses.
How To Decide Which Internet Business Models Are Best For You
These are the six best online business models you can pursue to set up on your own. Each one offers a unique path with differing levels of investment, necessary experience, and potential growth.
There is no perfect solution.
Each online business model has its own pros and cons.
But is there a perfect business model for you? Well, that’s for you to decide.
What kind of lifestyle do you want?
What kind of impact do you want to make?
What are you passionate about?
How much money do you need?
How much money do you want?
Once you get clear on your intentions you can get clear on the best online business models for you. Starting a SaaS business, for instance, doesn’t provide the greatest freedom upfront (and is also high risk). Yet it arguably offers the greatest freedom over the long term.
Whereas an approach like Affiliate Marketing or Dropshipping doesn’t require much investment or risk, but its long term potential is arguably not as high.
There’s no perfect solution.
There is no right or wrong.
It’s about you finding the best online business models for YOU.
What’s clear is, the opportunity to build a business is high for you and anyone else with a great idea. Unlike any other generation before us, we have access to the world and its ever-growing population.
Each year, more people get access to the internet.
Each year, giants like Google and Amazon create new “must-have” products.
Each year, technology advances and our need to use them increases.
And each time this happens, new opportunities arise for you.
Mobile phones need cases (dropshipping and affiliate marketing).
New tools need education (videos, courses, and programs).
Innovative technologies need implementing (done for you and consulting).
New entrepreneurs need help and accountability (coaching, mastermind, and membership sites).
These six best online business models have you covered. What you decide to do next is up to you. Think about your situation, what you want to achieve and what you bring to the table. This article doesn’t provide you with all the answers you need.
But it does cut through the noise and give you clear examples of what to do next.
And if you would like further help, our Business Ignition Bootcamp may be what you need. This is a short, intensive program that will enable you to see your business in a whole new light. When it comes to building a business model that suits you best, this bootcamp lays out what you need in a way that makes sense. Learn more about our Business Ignition Bootcamp Here and join the waiting list. We’ll notify you ahead of our next event.
These three industries could make you rich when you start your next business online.
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Entrepreneur, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com
13 min read
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If you’re at all interested in starting your own online business, there’s no time like the present. We live in a golden age of wealth. As much as the media tries to glorify the perils of our society, we actually live in a time that’s ripe with opportunity and the potential for monumental business growth at a scale never before experienced. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, the amount of commerce being conducted online has experienced explosive growth.
If you’re at all scarcity-minded, it’s important to understand how much abundance exists today. Considering that virtually every brick-and-mortar store has made the transition to an online business, there’s certainly no shortage of competition. But there’s also plenty of so-called blue ocean. While most might make it out to seem like Amazon is the only company reaping the benefits of the ecommerce boom here, the growth is widespread and across every single sector in business.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), it’s been estimated that retail business will stay on par with a 3.7 percent to 4.2 percent growth rate. However, the NRF expects non-store sales to be anywhere from three to four times that rate of growth. However, even though brick-and-mortar sales still comprise the majority of consumer’s spending, it’s only expected to grow at roughly 2.8%. Clearly, what’s driving much of our present ecommerce growth is the smartphone market.
However, this only further illuminates the exponential rise of online business today. Considering that the internet is still largely in its infancy, as the modern conveniences give way to near-instant delivery of products via drones, 3D printing and other means, and as virtual and augmented reality help to improve the online shopping experience, nearly all our commerce will eventually be conducted through online channels rather than offline channels.
Starting an online business takes some legwork. There are legal and financial hoops that you’ll need to jump through. It’s important that you consult with an attorney or your accountant before taking the plunge. But, once you’re ready, starting a business online, even with little money, is not only a possibility, it’s a stark reality.
The beauty of the internet is that you can quite literally launch a business and make money online with very little to no capital. If you understand the mechanics of online marketing, or if you’re great at social media, you’ll clearly find it easier. But you don’t need to be a pro to start your business online.
Like anything else in this world, you’ll either need a lot of time or a lot of money. If you have both, then clearly, you’re ahead of the game. But most people have more of the former rather than the latter. But considering that time is finite and we only have a certain amount of it, using your time wisely and managing your time properly is crucial to ensure your success.
The rise of the chatbot has been extraordinary to witness. Thanks to the ubiquity afforded to us by chat on platforms like Facebook, we’ve grown quite used to chatting with friends and family across all our social media networks. That’s why AI-powered chatbots present a new digital frontier for businesses looking to automate and relinquish much of the man-power it takes to have a chat with its customers.
This is abundantly clear when it comes to customer service. However, it’s potent value in commerce has become quite obvious as well, and businesses across all spectrums are now taking advantage of this. Platforms like Manychat, ChattyPeople and several others have sprung up to take much of the confusion and complexities out of building a chatbot.
There’s a proverbial gold rush happening today, of people trying to launch chatbots for their businesses to help automate some of their sales and marketing efforts that are needed to properly grow and scale in today’s market. However, similar to California’s Gold Rush, those that will likely get rich are the ones that sell the picks and shovels. For that reason, why not launch your own chatbot business? Sure, there’s some effort involved here, but this is definitely worth the steep learning curve.
The box subscription business has exploded. While it’s nothing new, and it’s been around for ages now, the overwhelming rise of the internet has breathed newfound life into this online business idea. What is a box subscription exactly? If you think back for a moment to one of the most viral box subscriptions businesses, you’ll clearly recall the Dollar Shave Club.
Founded by Michael Dubin in 2011, the concept was ingenious in its use of a video that quickly went viral. The company was sold for a billion dollars, and when you look at it from a sales funnel perspective, what Dubin did was brilliant. Like other box subscription businesses, there’s a basic level of items that you can order.
When you place your order, you’re directed into a sales funnel with numerous upsells in the form of add-ons. Dubin’s understanding of the market forces and his ability to have fun and create a business that was properly poised for explosive growth have made him an icon.
However, you don’t need to go viral to enjoy the growth in box subscription businesses. You’ll even discover websites like CrateJoy, which was created primarily to help connect potential subscribers with box subscription businesses, giving you a platform where you can get the proverbial word out about your business.
Companies like Graze, Blue Apron, FabFitFun, LeTote and many others are on the rise. In 2016, it was estimated by Shorr Packaging that there were 21.3 million box subscription websites, up from just 700,000 in 2013, a roughly 3,000 percent increase. What’s most interesting here are the consumer demographics. The typical visitor to a box subscription websites makes roughly $78,436 a year and is in their early forties.
In today’s hotly-competitive marketplace, if you don’t understand how to drive paid traffic and optimize your conversions, you need to turn to a company that does. The truth is that paid ads can get incredibly complex. Things like re-targeting and custom audience definitions, along with understanding the ebb and flow of everything with a sales funnel, is complex and confusing to most.
However, if you do understand the mechanics of paid advertising, then you could easily launch an ad management business. Considering that ads are fueling the growth of tech giants like Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube, with loads of others coming into the mix, understanding and navigating the murky waters of paid advertising could poise you to reap massive riches.
Why? Let’s take a look at the numbers for a moment. Consider this: according to a report by eMarketer, digital ad spending in the U.S. will exceed traditional ad spending for the first time this year. By 2023, digital will surpass two-thirds of total media spending. Total digital ad spending in the U.S. will grow 19% to $129.34 billion this year — 54.2% of estimated total U.S. ad spending.
The sheer facts point to continued explosive growth of online ads. And we’re still in the infancy of the internet. The earlier you capitalize on this industry, the quicker you can build it into a formidable online business. Study and learn all the intricacies of advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google. Find courses, or use the free material available from a multitude of platforms to become a seasoned pro.
Search engine optimization is a topic that I’ve been writing about for years now. The truth is that, while paid ads are growing at an astounding rate, the ability to appear organically and relevantly on search engines like Google is not only becoming more competitive, but also more lucrative.
When it comes to organic search keywords, there is sheer value at the top. Considering that roughly 40 percent of people click on the first search results and that the first page accounts for some 91 percent of the search share, appear organically at the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is something that is lusted and longed for by the world’s foremost online marketers.
As the internet grows and expands, not only is SEO going to get more competitive, but it’s also going to grow more lucrative. You could quite easily capitalize on this industry if you know what you’re doing. This doesn’t just go for doing work for clients, but also for yourself. You could launch any number of online businesses, niche websites, and blogs with the right amount of SEO skills.
The vacation rental business is booming. While the mere mention of it might make you think about billion-dollar titans like AirBnB or HomeAway, there are niche businesses like Michael Joseph’s InvitedHome and Joe Poulin’s Luxury Retreats and many others being carved out across a variety of markets. When it comes to vacation rental homes and vacation rental management, companies are earning anywhere between 10 percent and 40 percent on the gross rental rate depending on the location and the management level.
Launching and building a vacation rental business might require some sweat equity along with the right turnkey software solution to help you keep things organized as bookings ramp up, but if you have an acute attention to detail, then this is by far one of the best businesses you can start online. Of course, this does operate in the real world, but your web presence and marketing skills are really what define this business and helps it to succeed.
If you’re at all interested in the hospitality industry, and you live in a tourist destination, this is a terrific business that can make money fast. Companies like Lodgix, Lodgify and 365 Villas offer terrific turnkey solutions for quickly building and managing your very own vacation rental management business.
I know what you’re thinking. How do you start a webinar business? Well, webinars are quite possibly one of the best ways that you can sell anything online. The best part? You don’t even need your own product. Webinar guru, Jason Fladlien, co-founder of Rapid Crush, has grossed well north of $100 million in sales via webinars, which goes to show you the sheer power of this medium for selling.
Webinar offer an engaged audience that are ready and willing to purchase whatever it is that you’re offering. As a fervent student of this medium, I’ve found explosive results await within a properly structured webinar. People like Liz Benny, Neil Patel and Russ Ruffino have been absolutely crushing it with webinars.
The best way you can launch a webinar business is to find a product you can promote and get behind. Then, build an excellent webinar. The Perfect Webinar is a formula originally developed by Fladlien but later brought to the mass market by Russell Brunson. Brunson also created a software with Jim Edwards called Funnell Scripts, which is an incredible piece of software that helps you to build your entire webinar including copy for ads and swipes.
Either way you approach it — whether you have an existing business or just want to sell as an affiliate — some of the best webinar platforms that you could use in the world are GoToWebinar and Andy Jenkins’ WebinarJam.
Business coaching is a lucrative online business that can tap into the massive market of entrepreneurs and business owners trying to find their way in the world of commerce. If you’re an expert in business or have a deep understanding of the market forces of what drive purchases, then becoming a business coach could mean financial freedom.
People like Frank Kern and Anthony Robbins absolutely dominate the business coaching world, while several others are leading the charge as well. The best approach you can take in this industry is to offer an incredible amount of value upfront, and then have people pay you for execution.
Oliver Talamayan, another very successful business coach, uses this approach as his primary strategy for gaining clients and customers. First, you analyze the business and understand where it is today, then discover where they want to be down the road, and then figure out an approach to get them there.
The understanding and successful execution of an effective strategy is key here. You want to instill confidence in yourself, and to do that, you often need a good deal of social proof. For that reason, if you do want to launch a successful business coaching business, first, grab some customers and help them succeed. Then, get their powerful testimonials, and only then can you actually position yourself to charge high-ticket rates.
Brunson also talks about doing this before he started his Inner Circle. He helped Drew Canole successful launch Organifi into a global powerhouse by helping to consult, coach and deploy powerful strategies that helped Canole’s company draw in tens of millions of dollars from one single funnel. After that, he was easily able to charge the big bucks.
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:
Learning Curve: Low
Time to Profit: 6 Months
Earning Potential: $10,000+/year
Startup Costs: $100+
Time Requirement: Low
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 smartphone or laptop and webcam 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 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.
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 a lot 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 best 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 dropshipping 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.