List of Online Businesses

There are ten(10) distinct types of online businesses to start that work effectively in today’s marketplace.  They each present their own challenges, but each has a benefit associated with it.  Here is a list of the business types that can be started:  Three of the business types border on activities that are either jobs or simply activities that can be done online to attempt to make money, but are not necessarily businesses.

  1. Affiliate Marketing – Referral Business
  2. Creating and selling digital products
  3. Selling physical products online (ecommerce store)
  4. Coaching, consulting, and training
  5. Creating a brand or becoming an influencer
  6. Creating and selling online or offline services
  7. Buy, Build, Sell, or Rent businesses
  8. Working in a remote job or as an online freelancer offering your skills or services.
  9. The outlier businesses that rely on talent, skill, and a little luck.
  10. Online activities that can make you money.

We are focusing on what businesses can be created online rather than offline. So for #6 “Creating and selling online or offline services”, we will concentrate on the online services.
This list of business types gives a broad overview of most business types that exist on the internet today, but there are always exceptions.

Types of online businesses to start

Before starting to build a business online using models 1 thru 7, you need to have completed the following:

  • Chosen a specific marketplace or niche that you are going to build your business within.
  • Researched the niche and know your audience.
  • Have a good understanding of your audience. Their desires and pressing problems.
  • Understand where to find solutions for your audience.
  • Know what social media sites or forums your audience is actively participating in.


A brief explanation of each business type is given below, along with a difficulty rating based on my own experiences:

1 – Affiliate Marketing – Referral Business

  • Selling others’ products or services thru referrals
    This is typically done thru reviews and giving helpful insights into the product or service.
    • Difficulty Levels 3 to 6 = Easy to Difficult
    • Affiliate marketing requires the following:
      • Find products to sell.
      • Find an affiliate program for the product.
      • signup for the affiliate program.
      • Once approved, you will be given an affiliate link for the product or service.
      • Start promoting the product.
      • Make sales and receive commissions.
      • Difficulty is building trust with your audience so they will buy from you.
Pros and Cons of affiliate marketing

Franklin is a successful marketer who has a large YouTube channel. Franklin started online with drop shipping and later added affiliate marketing to his business. Franklin is one of those guys that shows you exactly what he is doing, and it is obvious that he has done very well with affiliate marketing. In my opinion, and that of many other marketers, affiliate marketing is a great business model to start building a business online.

2 – Creating and Selling Digital Products

  • Ebooks
  • Online courses
  • Software & Apps
    • Difficulty Levels 6 to 9 = Difficult to Very Difficult
    • It requires all of the following:
      • Deciding on a product your audience will want or need
      • Creating the product
        • Creating the product yourself, or
        • Hire others to build the product for you.
      • Once the product is created, you must promote it yourself or attract affiliates.
      • Support for the product must be handled by you.
      • Complaints and refunds must be handled quickly and appropriately.
      • Upkeep, modifications, and corrections are your responsibility.
      • Watch the competition and improve your product.
      • Market and sell your product by yourself, or find affiliates.
create and sell digital products

3 – Selling Physical Products Online (ecommerce store)

  • Dropshipping, using sourced products.
  • Or you fulfill orders by keeping inventory and shipping products.
  • Or use a fulfillment center like Shopify. It is used to fulfill orders from your inventory that is in stock.
  • Can use fulfillment by Amazon with certain products.
    • Difficulty Levels 5 to 8 = Difficult to Very Difficult – depending on the market
    • Building an online store requires
      • Understand your market and what they will buy.
      • Source your products with enough margin for profit.
      • Keep up with demand by keeping enough products in stock.
      • Deal with complaints, refunds, and support of the products.
      • Building your store and deciding on what platform to build your online store on.
      • Attract visitors to come to your online store.
      • Watching competition and sales. 
      • Complex with many moving parts to the business.

4 – Coaching, Consulting, and Training

  • Selling your knowledge and time to people
    • Difficulty Levels of 5 to 9 = Difficult to Extremely Difficult
    • Being a coach or trainer requires:
      • Possess skills that others are willing to pay to learn.
      • Create training videos and outlines for coaching sessions.
      • Individualize the training.
      • Time for the coaching or consulting sessions
      • Market to your audience.
      • Become an authority for your audience.
      • Takes time and effort to achieve.

5 – Creating a Brand or Becoming an Influencer

  • Done by building authoritative groups, memberships, or social media channels.
  • Advertisers pay you to allow them to advertize to your audience.
    • An example would be having a YouTube channel with a large number of subscribers.
    • Another example is building an authority site with significant online traffic.
    • Difficulty Level of 6 to 10 = Difficult to Extremely Difficult
    • Building a brand or becoming an influencer requires:
      • Public speaking and often being the face of your business
      • Selecting a social media platform to produce content on
      • Constantly creating quality content for your audience to follow.
      • It takes time and effort to build your brand and authority.
      • Takes skill and effort to produce content your audience is willing to read or watch. 
      • Can build a membership site to build an audience.
      • Another method is by building a significant email list.
      • No matter the method of implementation, it all takes time and significant effort.

6 – Creating and selling Online Services.

  • An example would be offering services to local businesses.
    • Managing Facebook ads for local businesses.
    • Managing their online reputation.
    • Help businesses do proper SEO to get more traffic.
    • …. long list of potential services
  • Another would be creating content for a business blog or Facebook page and posting it for the business.
    • Difficulty Level of 6 to 10 = Difficult to Extremely Difficult
    • This requires the following:
      • Creating and developing the services or outsourcing the services.
      • Selling the services to potential clients
      • Fulfillment of services in a timely manner
      • Keeping clients happy with your services
      • Constantly looking for more clients.
      • Giving support and correcting any errors.
      • Can be expensive to set up and maintain these services.

7 – Buy, Build, Sell, or Rent Businesses.

  • Buy websites, improve them, then sell them for a large profit.
  • Build a niche website that is getting traffic, for the purpose of renting out the site.
  • Build a website for the purpose of getting leads for businesses, then selling the leads.
  • Build a website that is getting traffic, then rent out pages on the site to businesses.
  • Finding valuable domains and reselling them for large profits.
    • Difficulty Level of 7 to 10 = Difficult to Extremely Difficult
    • This requires the following:
      • Specialized skills in spotting opportunities in buying websites, or domains.
      • Good SEO skills and the ability to improve websites.
      • Having detailed information on the target businesses.
      • Ability to buy and sell
      • Knowing the marketplace
      • Skill in flipping websites or domains
      • Finding buyers for leads or ad space.

8 – Working in a Remote Job or
as An Online Freelancer
Offering Your Skills or Services

  • I included this only because it is working online.
  • This is closest to a job where you are exchanging time for money
  • It can be modified to be a package of services that you sell at a set price.
    • An example would be developing websites at a fixed price (a product), instead of being hired as a web designer at an hourly rate.
    • Difficulty Level of 2 to 5 = Very Easy to Mildly Difficult.
    • The requirements are simple:
      • Find a skill that others will hire you to do online.
      • Acquiring the needed skills can take time.
      • Finding a remote job that you are suited for can be difficult.
      • As a freelancer it can be difficult to maintain a steady income.

9 – The Outlier Businesses That Rely on Talent, Skill, and A Little Luck

  • Online investing
  • Online trading
  • Online gambling
  • Online betting
  • Online gaming
  • Online contests
    • Difficulty Level 2 = Easy to do but Very Difficult (9) to make consistent money.
      • These activities usually require some type of capital investment that is risked in order to potentially make a profit.
      • There is no required work to be involved in these activities.
      • They are based more on a persons skill and ability.

10 – Online Activities That Make Money

  • Sites that pay you for doing some simple activity or service.
  • Examples are:
    • Online surveys
    • Participate in research studies
    •  Difficulty Level = 1 = Very Easy and again Very Difficult to make money

What business type are you going to build as we move forward in the year ahead?
We have just given an overview of the most common types of business models that can be used to start your online business.

There are four very important points to remember:

  1. No matter what type of business you start, it is going to take TIME & EFFORT.
  2. You MUST take action on your business, consistently each and every day.
  3. Some capital investment is needed to make most business models work.
  4. Start with simple steps and work your way to bigger tasks and goals.

Online businesses are often a mixture of different business types, depending on the circumstances and the skills developed by the entrepreneurs. For example an online business is started with the Affiliate Marketing model, but over time they create their own products and also add coaching to their business. As you can see the business you develop can be as unique and as specialized as you want it to be. It all takes some time and effort, but can can be very rewarding.

Niall Doherty has created a great video on his thoughts on building a business online. I agree with most of what he says. He has walked the walk of taking the risks and taking action to make his dreams come true. Starting with an online job, is a great way to start out, but I believe affiliate marketing is a great business model to start building a business online. If you are interested in either, click the buttons below this video.

Categories: Training


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