Top 7 Online Business Models to Consider

In today’s post, I’d like to share what I consider to be the top 7 online business models. In other words, these are eight different legitimate ways to make money online!

I should begin by telling you that I am fascinated by the internet, and always have been. I’ve always wanted to make money online, work from home in my pajamas, and live the laptop lifestyle. It’s been a long journey for me, but my wife and I are both very blessed that we can work from home and live a comfortable life. No, we aren’t millionaires yet, but we make enough money to pay our bills every month and live comfortably. And that’s good enough for me.

It’s been a LONG journey with tons of mistakes, setbacks, and hardships. Like any successful entrepreneur, I had to pay the price, develop my skill-set, and persevere through the tough times until I eventually succeeded. I’ve felt like giving up and quitting many times. Fortunately, I stayed the course and achieved my goals.

Since 2009, I have tried MANY different online business models. I’ve always wanted to find the “one business model” that was a good fit for me. Some were complete failures. Some were good for a brief moment in time and other online business models have worked great. My wife and I currently use ALL of the business models listed below to generate our income.

I want to share my experience with each business model, so you can learn from my mistakes and victories to determine which business model is the best fit for you.

The Top 7 Online Business Models

Keep in mind these are listed in random order. Ultimately, you must find the online business model that works best for you.

# 1: Blogging

Blogging is a long-term strategy, not a quick way to make money online. A blog is simply a website that gets updated frequently. This website you are on right now is a blog.

Building a successful blog takes YEARS, normally three to five years minimum. Sadly, most people don’t realize that when they get their “great idea” to start a blog. Most bloggers give up after a few months. That’s why you see so many abandoned blogs online. These are blogs that haven’t been updated in months, sometimes YEARS.

I would only suggest blogging if you enjoy writing and have a topic or niche you are 100% passionate about. Why? Because writing is a chore for most people. And you must pump out a ton of articles, several hundred minimum, to start receiving decent traffic from the search engines.

Knowing what I know now, if I had to start over again, I would not start a blog. It just takes too much work. However, if you are one of the few people who actually succeeds with blogging, the sky is the limit.

Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers. As a blogger, everything you do flows from understanding your audience and seeking to help them. ~ Brian Clark

currency of blogging

# 2: eBay

Of all the different online business models I have done over the past decade, eBay has hands down been the most profitable. I’m not saying it was easy (it wasn’t), but it has produced a consistent, solid income for me and my wife for more than 15-YEARS.

I started selling on eBay back in 2003. I have taken it very seriously since 2005. For the first few years I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t make much money during that time. After putting in a bunch of time, learning by trial and error, and reading several books about how to be successful on eBay, I figured things out. I now make a rock solid income from eBay every month.

This is the easiest online business model on this list to make IMMEDIATE income, but it’s still not easy. It requires tons of hard work. It’s also the most labor intensive business model on this list. It takes tons of work to source inventory, take pictures, create listings, answer questions, ship items, and handle customer service.

You will quickly discover that most people who START selling on eBay don’t stick with it very long because of the amount of work involved. eBay isn’t for everyone, but I do believe it’s a great first online business.

How do you make money on eBay? Buy low, sell high, repeat. The formula is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! ~ Side Hustle Nation

# 3: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when you promote someone else’s product or service and you earn a commission for doing so. They handle the product fulfillment, inventory, delivery, payment processing, and customer service issues while you focus 100% of your efforts on driving traffic and making sales.

At least 90% of all affiliate marketers don’t make a penny, and I bet that total is closer to 95%. I’ve been an affiliate manager for some of my own products and I can easily validate this.

Affiliate marketing sounds sexy because there is little capital investment involved and all you have to do is learn one skill: traffic. Despite this, there is a HUGE failure rate. This is one of my favorite online business models because you don’t have any of the headaches of creating your own product, dealing with customers, or dealing with refunds and returns. You just focus on MARKETING.

I will tell you a secret though. If you start with this business model and learn how to get traffic, you can succeed with any online business model. Generating targeted traffic is the # 1 skill of online business owners.

Like any other type of home business, success in affiliate marketing depends on investing the time and effort to grow your business and build relationships with your customers and partner brands. If you decide to pursue affiliate marketing, understand that it’s not a fast or automatic business model. But it is possible to earn a reliable and legal income as an affiliate marketer. ~ The Balances MB

affiliate marketing

# 4: Information Marketing

Information marketing is when you create your own eBooks, CDs, DVDs, white papers, reports, and courses and sell them for a profit. Basically, you pick a niche you are familiar with, you become an expert in that niche, and you create information products to sell.

The profit margins in this online business model are very high. But making sales isn’t easy to do. There are a lot of variables. Creating a great product is just the first step. Without good marketing you won’t make any money.

I’ve also found that this process overwhelms most people. Most folks don’t consider themselves an expert, nor do they have the patience or skill-set to create their own information products. Most people have no idea where to start or what to do.

It definitely takes some specialized knowledge to succeed with this online business model, but it probably has the greatest potential of everything on this list, if you can crack the code and figure things out.

Whatever it is that you are very familiar with and confident in your ability, you can create start an information marketing business.

For example, I desperately needed to learn to tie some specific knots with rope. I would gladly have paid for an info product to learn how to do it. It was a knot tying emergency! Fortunately I found some free information products and learned how to tie two knots from a couple of experts to whom I am so grateful!

But, it’s not just about what you know! As you analyze your knowledge and its money making potential, take into consideration the demand for such knowledge. If the demand is low, or the market is saturated, you have a lower profit margin. Be sure to access your money making potential as you go through your information marketing ideas. ~ Wealth Mission Possible

# 5: YouTube

Do you ever watch YouTube videos? I bet you do. I personally love YouTube.

Millions of people make money with YouTube. They publish videos and promote affiliate products or make money from Adsense income.

If you enjoy being on camera and know how to educate or entertain people, you should definitely consider starting your own YouTube channel. No, it won’t be fast or easy. It will require a lot of work, just like any other business model, but YouTube opens the door to endless possibilities.

Who knows where it will lead you?

If you love to explain topics, interview people in person, or just enjoy being on camera, you might want to consider starting your own YouTube channel. YouTube can be a great way to make money. It’s not fast, and it’s definitely not as easy as it seems. If you need to make money in a week, there are better options. But if you’re a creative person with a message to share and an interest in video, you can learn how to make money on YouTube. ~

# 6: Freelancing

Freelancing is a great online business model. Basically, you are an independent contractor for hire. You sell your services to small and big businesses.

This could include working as a virtual assistant, article editing, coding, writing, video editing, programming, image creation, and hundreds of other things.

There are several websites online you can use such as Fiverr and Upwork. You can post your services and apply for open projects. If you have a unique, marketable skillset, this can be a great way to make money online.

If you have a desire to work on your own or if you are seeking a way to become more independent in the work you do, becoming a freelancer is one option that provides virtually endless opportunities and possibilities. ~


# 7: Network Marketing

Everyone is a salesperson and network marketer, but most people don’t get paid for it. We all recommend products and services to others on a daily basis. Network marketing allows you to get paid for doing that.

With the invention of the internet, there is no longer a need to do network marketing the traditional way. Thank goodness. You don’t have to bug friends and family, have meetings, prospect face-to-face, etc.

I’ve built a team of approximately 160,000 people in three years 100% online. I just leverage the internet, email, and social media to work smart.

Network marketing is my favorite online business model because of the leverage. With most other “business ideas” on this list you are stuck trading time for money. Everything depends on you. Not so with network marketing. In this industry, you can earn a small percentage off everyone’s work. This lets you work smart.

If you’re one of the countless people who have preconceived notions about network marketing, I think you should take a closer look and see how we do it in the modern world! It might be the perfect fit for you.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are the top online business models, as I see it.

None of these business models are fast, free, or easy. They all require time, money, hard work, and patience, just like building a traditional business.

What’s important is you pick an online business model that works for you, you get started, and you stick with it. Don’t have the mindset you will try something for a few months and see how it goes. Instead, make a MINIMUM two-year commitment and go ALL IN. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

That is what it takes to build a successful business of any kind, whether online or offline. You must do what most other people are not willing to do. You must pay your dues and put in the sweat and work.

What are your thoughts? What do you think about my list of top online business models? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

Suggested Reading
  1. My favorite book about affiliate marketing.
  2. Learn how to start a YouTube channel.
  3. 37 ways to make money online.
  4. Learn more about my network marketing company.
  5. Learn more about blogging.

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Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (21+ years)
Top Recruiter & Top Rep

8 thoughts on “Top 7 Online Business Models to Consider”

  1. I wanted to expand on this a little more. You had mentioned blogging, but a new idea has taken the internet by storm…Vlogging. This essentially is video blogging. So many people like television and movies, that Vlogging has become a great way to attract many people. What is great about this is you can also do affiliate marketing right along with it.

    You have also talked about podcasts too. And like Vlogging, this is another great way to market.

    Great list of online business opportunities. Thanks.

  2. My favorite business model is affiliate marketing. All you have to do is provide value to others by figuring out what problems people have, then suggest products that will help them solve their problems.

    My second favorite is blogging. Actually, for me, blogging and affiliate marketing overlap. Because you do affiliate marketing through blogging. By writing content about what you know, then promoting relevant offers to your readers.

  3. Good summary and explanation of all of these models. They all require a real investment of time and energy in order to reach a place of success and comfortable living. Unfortunately, people enter into many of these areas with unrealistic expectations and then find themselves jumping around from area to area because they thought they could get more for less.

  4. You developed a highly accurate list here Charles. Since I have, or still use many of them, I have a few words to say.

    As for blogging, I agree. It is similar to network marketing. Many quit early on.

    Ebay was very good to me when I dealt in collector coins and ballcards, but due to a major loss of inventory in a house fire, I stopped.

    I also am an affiliate marketer on my website. The pay isn’t great, but I make some.

    I need to build more on information marketing. It seems like a great model.

    I had just recently heard of Amazon FBA and I am highly considering it.

    As you know, I am an author with over 50 books published. Yes, they are on Kindle, but they are also in print. By having both, they offset each other. I have also raised some of my Kindle book prices, because I believe if a person really is interested, they will see the value.

    As you know, I am a freelancer and that is my primary income source. I am also involved in Network Marketing and it helps too.

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