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6 Business Models for Online Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship-10.22.14Doing a business online may be easy or highly challenging, depending on the model you choose. Here is the ultimate list of the 6 core ways you can make money on the Internet, though you can of course combine these in any way you like.


1. Information


– a website dealing with news of highly horizontal nature (CNN) or a specialised area (EU issues, competition law etc.), making money from ads or if it moves towards specialist information (The Economist article archive, Financial Times stock analysis), it can also charge membership or premium fees


– a site or blog “selling an idea” (political, religious, educational such as TED) where no direct commerce is involved and financing comes from offline sources or donations, or a university, training institute or consultancy showcasing its offerings to attract new students and clients


– a website that gathers information for a tribe, such as the fans of a special hobby or interest, organic food or autonomous drones, and collects a group of people who share a common goal, situation or purpose (tech gadgets, skiing, healthy eating, Bucharest law students) and gathers a targeted audience to whom it markets its own or 3rd party ads or services (products, trips, events, courses)


2. Commerce

– the online version of an offline store (shoe stores, baby clothing, food supplements) or an online-only store of physical goods and entertainment (Amazon), making money by the savings of sales margins, efficient online operation, economy of scale and global audience for its goods


– online store selling digital products (softwares, Itunes music, iPhone or Android Apps) or intellectual property (photos, ebooks, research papers)


3. Services

– website offering access to an online software in the “cloud” (Zoho, Basecamp, project management softwares, e-mail marketing software, Google docs and Online EU Training 🙂 working with ads or offering their services for subscription fees based on usage or time


– personally offered consultancy, education, training online to a select audience (teaching langauges via Skype to a global audience, career advice, CV writing, webinars on a specialised topic) using the low technical barrier to entry, flexible online platforms and offering added value by high personal knowledge


– traditional consultancy firm, web programming company, accountant or dentist who market their services online to reach a larger audience and greater exposure, making money essentially offline


4. Networking (critical mass required)

– creation of a large user database of people with similar interests, and helping them meet, network or work together (dating websites, LinkedIn) on a central website, making money by charging a membership fee


– helping people meet other real-life professionals (Odesk, Taskus) and charge membership fees and/or per project fees for real work carried out by providers


– same idea but free service (Facebook), making money by highly targeted ads based on large amount of user data that enables micro-targeting of ads, this can also be a specialised networking website for a highly targeted audience (plastic surgeons, MBA graduates from the London School of Economics)


5. Brokerage

– catalogue websites gathering/centralising information as a main services or on the side (collecting plane ticket offers from various companies,, hotel reservation sites or even Google search and ads), getting a commission fee when users click on these recommendations and/or buy services from these 3rd parties


– being the “middleman” in collecting ads and serving them out to other sites for a commission fee (Doubleclick), or brokering sales deals of websites, cars, various products (Ebay) – see also the related next item


6. Platform

– a central hub where people, online and digital products and sercives can “meet”: a web 2.0 site where users can upload content (Wikipedia, Scribd), products (Ebay) or services (Liveperson) that all others can see, use, buy or interact with


– similarly, users can download or buy digital products/services, so the site only provides the open platform but not the content or the products/services because these are created or offered by other users – the site makes money from donations, ads, membership fees or takes a commission from each transaction


Did I leave anything out? What do you think? Share this article with others and ask them too!



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Posted in E-business, Marketing

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