33 Online Business Ideas
It seems that there’s no shortage of great online business ideas. According to hostingfacts.com, there are 966 million websites in the world today and WordPress alone is responsible for over 76.5 million blogs.
Although there’s no one accurate figure, some studies suggest that over 100 million freelancers around the world are successfully running small online companies from their homes.
So if you’re quietly contemplating the idea of starting something of your own, here’s a list of the most popular online business ideas that are within the reach of almost anyone who’s willing to take the plunge.
If you wish create a website that you plan to monetize, you can use this step-by-step guides to create your own self-hosted website at cheapest cost.
10 Most Common Ways to Make Money with Your Website
Making money from your website isn’t easy. These ten tips are probably your best bet to get started.
1. Affiliate Marketing (.. and affiliate links)
- Commission junction – offers reliable products with on-time payments.
- ShareASale – mostly clothes, accessories, and other offline goods.
- Clickbank – high percentage payouts, but there’s a lack of GOOD products to promote.
2. “Pay Per Click” advertising (Google Adsense)AdWords are the advertisements that show up on the top of Google search result pages. AdSense is the reverse, allowing publishers to tap into Google’s immense advertising network so that other advertisers can run ads on their website. The best part about this system is how simple everything is. Once you sign up, Google will place a simple code on your website that will identify the content of your site and start displaying relevant advertisements. For example, if your site is about pets (dogs & cats), Google AdSense will start showing your visitors ads for cat food, dog training, and more. You get paid each time someone clicks on the ad. (Yes, it’s really that easy!) Your cut might be anywhere from $0.50 to $5 per click. When your site has enough traffic, you can make hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) each month. How to apply for Google Adsense?
3. Sell ad space
Incorporating Google’s AdSense on your website is just one way to make money from online advertisements.
Another is to simply sell your own ad space directly to companies looking to sponsor different blogs. You can come up with a price for each space, for example: “Sidebar banner ads will cost $xxx per month”.
You can get paid depending on how many visitors you get. Typically it’s quoted as a dollar amount per one thousand impressions (or CPM). You might see it as $5 CPM. If the website gets 100,000 visits a month, that ad price translates into $500 bucks.
The good thing about this approach is that if your site gets a ton of traffic from different sources, your simple banner ad pricing can go up to as high as $5000 per month! The obvious downside is that if your site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you can’t expect to earn much either.
The other common method when selling ad space directly from your website is a simple direct price. You simply name a price (based on what you think it’s worth, relative to what the competition might be charging), and get paid upfront at the beginning of each month. This pricing is also generally a simple flat fee, not tied to a Cost Per Click like AdSense.
Where can I let others know that my website is selling ad space?
- BuySellAds – The most popular environment to let everybody know you’re selling ad space.
4. Sell your own digital product (Ebook for example)
You have the potential to make the most money on a per-sale basis when you can sell your own directly.
That’s because there’s no middle-man or person in between you and the buyer that’s taking a ‘cut’ from the money earned.
This approach seems fairly straightforward because you can simply sell these products directly through your website and get paid immediately. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple in reality.
Creating good products that are well made and polished requires a ton of time and additional resources (like design, content, etc.). There’s a lot of ‘hidden costs’ in both time spent and the contractors to collaborate with. Selling your own products on your site also brings up problematic issues like payment gateways, shipping, and taxes.
If it doesn’t sound like enough work already, you’ll also need a well designed, persuasive landing page to make sure your product has a strong conversion rate.
How to set up a PayPal “Buy Now” button on WordPress
5. Accept donations from visitors
If you don’t have a ton of monthly visits, but you do have a strong, engaged community? Simply ask your readers to donate!
Accepting one-off donations isn’t a fast road to wealth, but it can help you cover expenses in the short-term if people like what you have to say and want to support your journey.
For example, PayPal offers little donation buttons that only take about ten minutes to add to your website. These buttons offer you a quick way to recoup what you might want to be spending on a good web hosting, new product creation, research, and all of the other costs to maintain a healthy, active blog.h
For example, web.archive.org makes a lot of money from donations (most likely due to their millions of visitors per month).
How to set up donation buttons?
6. Sell sponsored posts (…but use nofollow tag)
One of the common ways to make more money from your website means getting those visitor numbers UP.
Once you’ve done the hard work of building steady traffic to your site with an engaged community, there are a few different ways to monetize your hard work.
For example, many companies go out of their way to look for blogs that will feature their sponsored content. ‘Native advertising‘ like this works well because it lines up with your site’s primary content and it comes across as relevant and transparent.
You can also review the products from a company in an ‘advertorial’ that’s part content, part advertisement. For example, if your website is all about the latest iOS games for iPhones and iPads, the creator of one of those ads would LOVE to have you review and feature their app to your fans.
When done right, this can create a win/win scenario. However – done poorly, with irrelevant or inauthentic site content, it can erode all of the reader’s goodwill you’ve worked so hard to create in the first place.
For further reading:
7. Generate ‘leads’ for other companies
Businesses thrive on new leads coming in their doors to inquire about their products or services.
It’s no surprise that they’re always on the lookout, searching for creative ways to find new sources of leads to help them grow.
Let’s say you have a website about teaching math skills. Your reader’s information (like their email address or phone number) would be of great value to different online schools who’re looking to sell their courses to eager, proactive students.
Basically, you’re connecting the dots; playing the matchmaker by introducing two parties who can benefit one another. While it’s similar to how affiliate marketing works, in this case, it doesn’t actually matter if your reader ends up purchasing their product or not. They’re just looking for an introduction at this point.
Where can I find such offers?
8. Build an ‘Email List’
Spend any amount of time reading blog growth tips, and you’re sure to come across people saying “the money’s in the list“.
They’re referring to your email list, which comprises your most loyal readers. The objective is to convert as many strangers who visit your site for the first time into passionate followers who want to stay up-to-date on your latest work or content.
Admittedly this is a long term strategy (and you definitely won’t get rich overnight). But it’s one of the best, long-term methods to profitably growing your blog into a full-fledged, money-making enterprise.
Never lose sight of creating relationships with your followers. Offering great information or free help is a perfect way to start. Spamming people with unsolicited offers is one of the fastest ways to abuse the reader’s trust and sabotage your long-term goals.
How does it EXACTLY work?
9. Set up an eCommerce site (hard work is required)
Websites don’t just have to be about content. They can be centered around tools or products on an online store.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of eCommerce websites or online stores. Make sure that yours is filling a unique niche, with a detailed strategy and the latest marketing techniques to stand out from the crowd.
How do I create a successful online store/shop?
10. Flip your websites (Create -> Sell -> Reinvest)
Believe it or not, there’s almost always a market out there for your website.
That means if you’ve built up a following (or possibly even sold a few products or included advertising on your site), you might be able to sell it to someone else and make a quick buck.
To be honest, we typically don’t suggest people plan on flipping their website or blog (we’re a bigger fan of creating something for the long term).
You can’t deny how lucrative it can be. For example, if your website is making $500 per/month through selling ad space, you might be able to sell the site for $5,000 – $10,000 (which is about 12x – 22x monthly income).
Another interesting option is to sell ready-made sites, These are MUCH cheaper, but there’s still some money to be made.
Where can I sell my site?
- Flippa – The most popular website market.
- We Buy Websites – Another popular marketplace.
- FEinternational – Mostly for high-end websites.
By now we have counted down some of the most popular ways to earn money from your website.
Yet, we’re still only just scratching the surface.
Below are another 23 ways to make money with your website.
(Keep in mind that some of them are slightly connected with the ones above yet they are little ‘out of the box’.)
Another 23 ways to monetize your website
11. Sell text-link ads (NOT RECOMMENDED) – There’s still a demand for text-links ads (believe it or not). But please keep in mind that these violate Google’s Terms of Service (which means you run the risk of getting penalized).
To avoid it, simply keep the ‘nofollow‘.
12. Set up “infolinks” – Infolinks are a great alternative to AdSense advertisements, that are very easy to setup. The downside is that they aren’t high in converting, and the payouts (on a per-click basis) are also quite small.
13. Use monetization widgets – These are also very similar to Google Adsense, so they’re worth trying out as an alternative.
14. Set up RSS feed ads. – Exactly what they sound like. Ad space for sale in-line with content from an RSS feed.
15. Give away premium content for extra $ – If you are producing mind-blowing, awesome content that visitors can’t get enough of… you can always try asking them to pay for some of it! (Crazy concept, huh?!) I’m personally fine with paying for premium content. Bear in mind – don’t ask people to pay right away. Instead, stay focused on growing an audience and visitors first.
16. Start a private forum or coaching class(es) – Most of us have unique skills that others can benefit from. Setting up a simple forum or classes is an easy way to help others and generate recurring income at the same time.
17. Create a job board – Setting up a job board on your website is another simple, easy way to collect additional money when people are accepting different job offers from various companies or individuals.
18. Offer consulting – Offering consulting gigs and providing services can help you bring in decent sums of money while other forms of ‘passive’ revenue take a little time to build up. You can offer these services via email, forum or even Skype.
19. Add the “hire me” page on your website – Your new website or blog is also a perfect place to feature your freelancing services. Showcasing samples or evidence of past work will help greatly increase your chances of getting hired.
20. Sell or rent internal pages – These aren’t very common, but you might be surprised at what people would be willing to rent or spend money on!
21. Display pop-ups advertisements – Pop-ups can be extremely annoying. However, they’re also another easy way to make some quick money.
22. Use content lockers – ‘Content locking’ is similar to hiding or protecting pieces of content until a visitor takes some action to redeem it. For example, maybe you want them to pay a small amount, or perhaps click on an advertisement.
23. Display audio ads – These are relatively new and are becoming increasingly more common. Personally, I haven’t tried it. But I have read some articles and it definitely looks promising.
24. Sell an e-book – This one is a no-brainer. Many people sell e-books through their site. Some examples: If you have a website about recipes and cooking, you can easily create and sell your own recipe book. The same applies to almost every niche.
25. Create a conference around your website – Lots of work but a huge potential payoff as well.
26. Set up a teaching program – Kinda like a cross between selling your own content and offering consulting or services.
27. Host paid webinars – Similar to the last tip, which is largely a mix of consulting through content and a teaching program.
28. Create a membership site – Yet another tier on the ‘info-business’ model that has the added benefit of bringing in recurring revenue.
29. Offer coupons (with affiliate links) – People are eagerly looking for discount & promo codes for everything from clothes to travel vacations. If you can (find and) offer a valid one, you can also get a cut of that revenue too.
30. Host polls on your website – Hard to believe, but easy to do!
31. Offer writing gigs – You can easily make $20 – $30 per 500-word article writing for other companies or individuals. There’s also a huge potential for fluent speakers of different languages, as many companies want their websites translated by those who speak the native language.
32. Create a paid directory/business page – You charge people for listing or subscribing to the page.
33. Just copy what others are doing – Our personal favorite! 😉