Choosing the Right Internet Business Model for You

Choosing the Right Internet Business Model for You

choosing an internet business modelIf you’re new to the world of internet business, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I remember when I was first getting started – one week, I’d try a new business model, only to be distracted by something new and shiny the next week.

So today, I want to cover a few of the different business model options that are available online, as well as the skill sets and personalities that are best suited to each. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out my free Guide to Internet Business Models for more info on this subject. Let’s get started!

Consider each of the following scenarios, determine which one best suits you and get to work!

Scenario: Sarah, I don’t want to deal with running a business and doing things like customer support, registering a legal business name or paying taxes. What I really want is to make a little extra money each month for pizza and beer without a bunch of hassle.

Solution: Consider taking paid online surveys or mystery shopping. Both are low-investment options (in terms of time and money) that’ll put some extra cash in your pocket. As an added bonus, you get to share your opinion about new and existing product lines. For more tips on how to get started with either of these options, check out:

List of Paid Survey Providers
Mystery Shopping Providers Association

Scenario: Sarah, I’m not looking to build a company, but I do want to escape my horrible, horrible day job. I have a skill set or career that could be done online, but I don’t know how to make the transition to working for myself.

Solution: Sounds like you should be working as a freelancer! Global freelancing opportunities abound in different industries, from writing to web design to computer programming, and even non-technical fields like accounting and engineering. To get started, determine what types of clients you want to work for, put together a portfolio of your work and start drumming up business!

Scenario: Sarah, I *love* to talk about myself! I have opinions, and I want to share them with the world! (Oh, and by the way, I’d like to make some money while I’m doing it…)

Solution: Whoa there, Tiger – sounds like you need to get into blogging! Now, let me say up front that blogging is no easy path to internet riches. It takes an incredible amount of work to develop your voice, build up an audience and actually start earning money. But if you’re bursting with ideas to share, it can be very rewarding to build a business around a personality or authority blog.

To get started as a blogger, determine what you want to write on (it’s best to focus on a single niche instead of writing about anything and everything that comes to your mind), study the authority bloggers writing in your chosen industry, then register a domain name, install WordPress and get to writing!

Scenario: Sarah, I’ve got a knack for selling. I’m always the first one in my group of friends to pick up on new trends, and I’m great at uncovering people hidden motivations to get them to buy. I guess you could call me a wheeling, dealing son of a gun (assuming, of course, that this was the Wild West…), and I want an internet business model that reflects these strengths.

Solution: Have you ever considered ecommerce? As an online retailer, you find products to sell (whether from your attic, from a dropship supplier or direct from worldwide manufacturers) and then you sell them through a number of different venues – including eBay and other auction sites, classified ads or your own ecommerce website.

Scenario: Sarah, I like the idea of selling products and I’d love to have a business that puts money in my pocket each month, but all this stuff about sourcing products and selling directly makes me nervous. Is there a way I can make sales without ever having to handle products?

Solution: Why yes, there is! I’d recommend looking into affiliate marketing. As an affiliate, you direct people to other merchants’ websites and earn a commission on any sale you help generate. It’s a good way to get your feet wet as an internet retailer without having to worry about stocking your own products or investing in inventory.

If you want to get started with affiliate marketing, read through the weekly updates posted here as part of Case Study #2 – The Community Marketing Challenge, or check out the complete study course that was created as a result of this project.

Scenario: Sarah, I don’t want to sell products, but I know a lot about this one particular subject and I think a lot of people would be interested in what I have to say. Is there a way I could sell information instead of products?

Solution: Absolutely! What you’re describing is info product sales, and it’s a great way to start making money online. There are a number of different resources out there that can help you choose a subject for your info product, develop your materials and set up a website on which to sell them. I recommend checking out Pandecta’s free Guide to Information Products to get started!


In all seriousness, there are tons of different ways to make money online (and the list scenarios described above should by no means be considered comprehensive). The most important thing to do if you’re just getting started is to take a good, hard look at your own strengths and weaknesses.

Love writing? There’s work for you online as a freelance writer or content marketer. But if you hate the thought of writing article after article, you’ll want to avoid business models that involve extensive writing. Remember – you can always learn new skills, but if the thought of learning the skills you’ll need to succeed with a given business model turns you off, it’s best to start looking for another business idea to pursue!

Are you still struggling to find the internet business model that’s right for you? Share your particular strengths and/or weaknesses in the comments section and I’ll offer whatever recommendations I can 🙂

15 Responses to Choosing the Right Internet Business Model for You

  1. Chas says:

    Thanks for the well-thought-out article. It can be overwhelming at times. I have come to the conclusion that with 174 million + blogs & counting, the world doesn’t really need another blogger. Affiliate marketing isn’t easy. I have decided to no longer focus on making money from the internet- now, I am not going to disconnect my computer and go live in a cabin in the woods(at least not for an extended time period). The next web site I launch isn’t going to be focused on monetization(I am not going to outright ban ads, but, they will have to have a direct correlation with the subject-matter of the web site). Sometimes you have to re-assess things and move in a different direction.

    • Sarah says:

      Chas – Very well said 🙂 One of the absolute best things I’ve learned about running an internet business is simply to find a need and help people fill it. Focus on helping first, and a lot of the time, the money will follow.

      And really, the worst thing you can do is to try the same thing over and over again if you haven’t had any luck with it in the first place. Good for you for reassessing and moving forward in a different direction!

  2. Rispa Frances says:

    I stumbled across your site today via a tweet from Jon Winokur

    I have spent hours soaking up the pages of your site. For a very long time (as in a few years) I’ve been toying with earning passive income and generating income via a non-geographically bound source.

    Thank you for your honest and open sharing of a wealth of meaningful information. Today you have opened a new world for me, you totally inspired me and have given me fine dining food for thought!

    I will be back. Often.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Rispa – Thanks for stopping by! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the content here 🙂

      The number one piece of advice I could give you is to get started now. Stop thinking about earning passive income online and start moving forward. You’ll probably make some mistakes as you go, but the only sure-fire way to fail is to never get started in the first place 🙂

      Best of luck to you, and please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with!

  3. Ben says:

    Super important post!

    So many people get caught up in blogging or affiliates or whatever because they think that’s what they got to do to avoid whatever pain they are trying to avoid (present job, oppressive debt, etc.).

    So people choose a business model based upon what they think the need to do to avoid pain instead of building an online presence based upon what they are good at and where their interest lies.

    • Sarah says:

      Ben – Absolutely 🙂 It’s tough to put in the effort to identify the right business model for your unique needs when so many people are advertising different programs as the “sure fire” way to get rich online.

      But 100% of the time, it’s best to focus on what you have to bring to the table and how you can help others online than to make hasty decisions based on discomfort in your current life.

  4. Chas says:

    Here,here, Ben. The conclusion I have come to and the point I was trying to make. You put it more eloquently, however.

  5. I went with the “recurring revenue” model with a paid subscription. Plan on adding a few more things moving forward, but so far, so good.

    • Sarah says:

      Ricardo – That’s great! Paid subscriptions are fun because you know there’s going to be money coming in every month. Best of luck with your business 🙂

  6. Sara,

    I love how you did the scenarios! I think they hit home and made choosing a model much more easy. I think anyone who wants to try their hand at online business should try their best at matching their talents or passions with the correct way to to business.

    I love to help people. I knew some stuff about blogging. I also love to talk to new people. So I thought I would go into blogging. I have been blogging for almost a year and then found out I hate sales!!! Eeek! But I want to earn a living. I decided to bite the bullet and try to sell stuff that I am passionate for and/or have helped me. At least I can do that. I am hoping to outsource sales when I make some money. FIngers crossed.

    I am also going to read more of your blog. I think that will help me find my way a bit better.

    Thank you for the great post and the guidance.


    • Sarah says:

      Allie – Thanks so much! I thought the scenarios got a little cheesy, but then again, I *love* cheesy, so there’s that… 🙂

      And I think you’ll definitely have better luck selling products that you truly believe in. When you’re pitching something you love, there’s a natural kind of excitement that comes across in your copy that you just don’t get if you’re simply reciting bullet points.

      Hope everything works out for you!!!

  7. Julz says:

    Sarah, I LOVE CHEESE TOO! I’m so cheesy it’s unreal 🙂 The scenerios are great, and I think when you get into one method of making money online then once you get it going it is possible to do others too!

    I have an online ecommerce shop, been doing that for 2 years now, and have lauched a 7 day online video coaching programme. I have a good lifestyle from this, I have never had as much money as I have now and I ave never worked as little hours as I do now!

    Im now making the move into blogging and more information products. So I hope it goes well!

    Julz x

    • Sarah says:

      Julz – That’s awesome! I think it’s a lot easier to succeed with a new method of making money online once you have a background in another technique, so I’m sure your experiences with ecommerce and video coaching will come in handy as you start blogging.

      Let me know if there’s anything I can help with 🙂

  8. […] and applying how to make money with a blog. Or how about read ways on how to make money online by choosing the right business model for you.Wealth starts with ideas. Ideas come from being open minded. The ability to experiment and test out […]

  9. kan says:

    What about industries that seem to have insecure business models? Where sharing your love and passion and delivering value isn’t sufficient? I’m thinking of the music industry mostly… What are some solutions for that?

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