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31 Proven Revenue Models for Online Business

There are many options to earn money from website or mobile. Here we present a comprehensive list of revenue models you can choose from, if you are looking to earn money on-line.

Using Ad networks

This is the most common way to make money on internet. Most people, starting out with a blog or website, go with one of the advertising methods to monetize website.
  1. Block ads – This is the most common type of contextual advertising on content websites. In this type of advertising, you choose the size of block (e.g. 300*250). The ad network (e.g. AdSense) will generate a code. You will then need to paste the code in your website at a place where you want to display ads. That is it! Ad network will do the job of analysing the webpage, and display contextually relevant ads. You earn money when someone clicks on the ad.
  2. Search ads – Search ads are same as block ads, the only difference is that ads are displayed based on search term. As you would imagine, the ad network (e.g. Chitika) will show the ads to only search engine traffic. These will not be shown to direct visitors.
  3. Inline text – In these types of ads, the ad network (e.g. Infolinks) will convert some of your text into advertising links. When people click on these links, you make money.
  4. Recruitment ads – These are also same as block ads, the only difference is that ad network (e.g. JobThread) will show job offers in the block. If your readers are looking for jobs when they come to your blog, this could be a good revenue option. You make money when someone clicks on the job offer.
  5. Paid content – In this type of advertising, the ad network (e.g. outbrain) will show recommended reads to the readers. When someone clicks on the sponsored content link, you get paid.
  6. Video ads – If you like creating videos, then you can run videos ads in your videos and earn money. YouTube, for example, supports running ads in your videos.
  7. Affiliate sale – You can promote affiliate products (e.g. Amazon) on your site, and receive commission when someone buys these products using link from your site.

Direct Advertising

Once you grow a little bigger, or if you are looking to become a large business then you might want to deal with advertisers directly. Below are the common revenue models for direct advertising.
  1. Direct Banner ads – You can sell advertising space on your site directly to advertisers. This is usually done on pay per view (CPM) basis.
  2. Audio ads – You can run an audio or podcasts and include ads in the audio (e.g. Pandora).
  3. Email Newsletter -Send email newsletter to people who subscribe to your blog, and then include ads in the newsletter.
  4. Promoted content – This is used by many content aggregators (e.g. TechMeme). You create a go to site on a topic, and then include a section for sponsored content. You make money from sponsored content.
  5. Lead Generation –In this method, you create a platform that people will want to use. You then earn money by generating business for others (e.g. Priceline).
  6. Classified – You can run a classified website, and charge people for listing (e.g. Craigslist).
  7. Promoted Listing – You can create a go to site of business listings (e.g. restaurants), and then include sponsored listing to make money. (e.g. Yelp).

Direct Charge/Fermium model

In this model, you will charge your customers directly. You can include a basic version for free. You can also let people try your product or service for free for few days. But the goal is to have enough paying customers to generate profit.
  1. Content subscription – People pay for membership for your site. Your content will have to be really good, so people will want to pay for it (e.g. Economist). You might include a free content section and premium content section. People pay subscription fees for premium content.
  2. Software Licensing – You let people download the software (e.g. Norton antivirus) and charge people for each download/license. You can let people download basic version for free, and charge for advanced version also.
  3. Free to Try – You let people download a trial version for few days (say 30 days trial), and then you charge them if they want to continue to use it.
  4. SAAS – You can provide software as a service, and charge people periodic fee for usage (monthly or annually). You can let people try the service for few days (say 30 days) before you start charging. Another option is that basic version is free, but you charge people for advanced version (i.e. premium features). (e.g.
  5. IAAS – You can provide infrastructure as a service. Most web hosts fall in this category (e.g. Bluehost).
  6. Virtual Goods – Provide free access to something engaging such as Games and sell virtual goods (e.g. Zynga).
  7. Donations – This is the method used by many small and big websites. You don’t charge anything from anyone, and do not add advertisements to your site. You ask people to donate money (e.g. Wikipedia).


In this model, you sell your products or services on the web (own products or retail products).
  1. Retailing – This is common eCommerce model. You source products from suppliers and sell it thru your website (e.g. Zappos).
  2. Use an eCommerce platform – You use a platform (e.g. eBay) to sell products.
  3. Crowd-sourced marketplace – Build an engaging community, and let the community determine the price. (e.g. Threadless).
  4. C2C (Consumer to Consumer) selling – Use the extra capacity people might have to meet demand (e.g. airbnb).
  5. Deal aggregator – You collect coupons or deals and list them on your site. When people click from your site, you get commission (e.g. gilt groupe).
  6. Group buying – You get into deal with the businesses for sending them group of customers (e.g. Groupon).

Selling digital goods/services

You can sell digital goods or services online. You don’t have worry about shipping and handling in this model.
  1. Selling Digital goods – You can sell your digital content online (e.g. on iTunes) and get paid.
  2. Online Course – Create an online course on a platform (e.g. Udemy) and get paid when people subscribe to your course.
  3. Service marketplace – Sell your services on an online marketplace (e.g. elance).
  4. Selling Data - You earn revenue by collecting data, selling data or both. (e.g. due dil).
As you can see there are many revenue models for online business. So, pick up a method to earn money online and start building a business around it.


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