Top 8 Different Online Business Models: My Experience

This post is going to be a real eye opener for some of you.  What I want to do today is talk about my experience with different online business models.

I should start out 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 rich, but we make enough money to pay our bills every month and live comfortably.  And that’s good enough for me.

That being said, it has 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 never did.

Since 2009, I have tried MANY different business models online.  I’ve always wanted to find the “one business model” that was a good fit for me.  Some have been complete failures.  Some were good for a brief moment in time and other online business models have been really good to us.  We 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 determine which business model is the best fit for you.

# 1 Blogging

Building a successful blog is the hardest thing and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.  I have worked day and night since 2009 to build successful websites.  I ventured into the blogging world around 2011.  I’ve worked day and night 7 days a week, made tons of mistakes and did a few things right along the way.  Now, my blogs grow on auto-pilot and provide a very nice monthly income, month after month.

The idea of blogging sounds sexy to most people.  That’s why so many people try it.  What you will quickly discover is that close to 95% of all bloggers don’t make even ONE PENNY from their blog. And nearly 19 in 20 blogs are abandoned and haven’t been updated for months or years. This means the blogger started out excited, blogged for a few months, but gave up pretty quickly.

Your odds of building a high traffic, money making blog are stacked against you.  Yes, it can be done, but it’s really, really hard for the average person to do.  From my personal experience, I would suggest that this business model should only be done by someone who enjoys writing and is willing to work consistently, day in and day out, for three or more years before they see any type of significant results.

# 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 a decade.

I started selling on eBay back in 2003.  I have taken it very seriously since about 2005.  For the first couple 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, 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.

# 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.

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

# 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 that 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.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Buy Cheap Ezine Ads to Promote Your Business Online
  2. How To Deal With Negative Online Reviews
  3. Herculist Review: The Best Online Safelist
  4. Top 25 Ways to Avoid Scams Online

# 5 Amazon FBA

I have just recently started using Fulfillment by Amazon.  This is when you mail items directly to Amazon and have Amazon sell it for you.  As of now, I am just selling my own information products with Amazon.  I see a lot of potential with this online business model, but don’t have too much experience or data to share with you at the present time.  Some of my friends introduced me to this concept and they do very, very well for themselves with Amazon FBA.

The major upside is that Amazon handles the marketing, customer service, delivery, warehousing, and payment processing for you.  They simply pay you a couple times per month via direct deposit. All you have to do is source inventory and mail it to them.

The major downside is that you need significant MONEY that you are willing to tie up with your inventory.  This keeps most people from getting involved.

I’ll keep you updated as to how this online business model works out for me in the months to come.

# 6 Kindle Books

Initially, I was a big fan of selling my books on Kindle.  At one point, I had about 10 of my own books on Kindle.  I liked that I could write a short book, put it on Kindle, and then set it and forget it.  However, due to low profit margins per sale, I have since decided that this online business model wasn’t worth my time.

It’s hard to make a lot of money when you are selling a Kindle book for $.99 to $2.99.  You have to sell a TON of books to make any kind of substantial profit.  Plus, most people are not writers and do not have the patience or discipline to write a book.  If you’re not a writer, this probably isn’t a good option for you.

However, if you love to write, or are willing to outsource it, this could be a good option.

# 7 Freelance Projects

I have been a freelance writer on many occasions.  Basically, other entrepreneurs hire me to write content for their blog, a book, or a special report.  I charge by the word, by the project, or by the hour.  It varies from project to project.

If you enjoy writing this is a good option.  Also, if you have a technical skill, such as computer programming, proofreading, editing, making videos, editing audios or videos, or a variety of other things this is a great way to make some extra money.  It also allows you to make immediate income.

For most people, the biggest challenge is finding work.  I suggest using websites like,, or to get started.

I see this more of a part-time job than a part-time business, but it’s a good fit for some folks.

# 8 Network Marketing

I have been involved with network marketing since 2002 and it is my # 1 passion in life.  I absolutely love the industry.  Sure, we also have our share of critics, but that doesn’t affect me.

I’ve been on a mission to build my network marketing business online since 2009.  It’s been just over six years now.  Prior to that, I built my business the traditional way and did pretty well with it.

However, I got tired of the meetings, chasing people down, bugging friends and family and driving all over town to meet with people.  I really wanted the leverage what the internet offered.

I have literally tried EVERY technique you can think of to build my MLM Business online.  I have done article marketing, video marketing, Facebook, YouTube, Pay per Click, solo ads, and more. After spending tens of thousands of dollars on courses and training, I picked my niche: blogging.

I’m not saying blogging is the best way or only way to build your MLM Business online, but it was a good fit for me.  I’m now a top recruiter and only recruit people who ask me to sponsor them.  I also have multiple streams of income in my MLM Business by promoting leads, training, systems and tools to other network marketers. This allows me to make money even when people don’t join my team.

If you want to build your MLM Business Online, check out this article that I wrote about it.  The process is actually quite easy to follow.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  The key lesson from this blog post is that no online business model is fast, free or easy.  Regardless of which business model you pick you will need to go through a learning curve, pay your dues, figure out what you are doing and invest some time and money.  There is no such thing as get rich quick or easy money.

You should also realize that success is never a straight line.  The key is to get started, learn as you go, make adjustments along the way, and never quit. The odds of your first online business model being the one that you stick with for the long haul is actually quite slim.  And that is okay.

As of today, I use EVERY business model on this list in some capacity. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s just how things worked out.  I enjoy being diversified and having multiple streams of income.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I wish you all the best in searching for the online business model that is right for you.

What do you think?  What is your favorite online business model?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional & Blogger

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8 thoughts on “Top 8 Different Online Business Models: My Experience”

  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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