5 business models for the self-employed on the Internet

If you start a website as a self-employed person to earn money, you should first be aware of which business model you are following.

It depends not only on what measures you have to use for marketing, but also how to measure the success.

In this article I introduce 5 different business models that are primarily found on the Internet and suitable for the self-employed.

Why choose a business model?

Choosing a business model for your own website is an important decision.

You should not just wildly plan your own website and then hope that you earn money with it. The following things depend on the choice of one of the business models:

  • Selection of Marketing Measures (Online and Offline)
  • Finding and addressing the target groups
  • Required technology on the website (eg online payment systems)
  • Cost of creating and maintaining the website
  • Type of success measurement
  • and much more

Only if you have thought enough about your own business model for the website, you can use your own resources optimally.

The selection of a business model

The business models can roughly be divided into 5 different ways. However, one has to keep in mind that these are business models, ie monetization types, not website models. Different types of website models (eg classic website, blog, forum, community, etc.) can be linked to different business models.

That’s how eBay would have been able to decide at that time to offer the auction service free of charge and to advertise it for financing. The important thing is to analyze exactly the possibilities and the potential of your own website. As a rule, there will be a business model that works better in its own special case than the others.

However, it is also no problem to change the business model “on the move”. There are a number of websites that have changed their business model after a while. For example, AOL, which have mutated from a provider with a fixed customer base to a pure content provider. Paypal was not a payment service provider in the beginning, and Apple became the smartphone giant we know today through Steve Jobs.

Of course, there are other business models for websites, but the following ones are most common for sole proprietors.

5 business models on the Internet

Here is a brief overview of 5 business models on the Internet, which are interesting for entrepreneurs.

Advertising financed content
A common business model is still ad-supported content. These are websites or blogs that offer more or less high quality content for free. To earn money, advertisements are placed on these websites.

These can be classic banner ads or eg layers. Also popular are context-based ads, such as those offered by Google AdSense . Here in the blog I use advertising banners, which I rent to companies and earlier I also used Google AdSense.

To make money with free content, you should pay attention to a few things. These include:

  • good search engine optimization
  • many visitors, since online advertising only promises high revenue with high traffic
  • a homogeneous readership, which is interesting for companies
  • high-quality content that can not be found anywhere else
  • Several advertising partners, as it reduces the risk of default
  • various tested advertising spaces and types for optimal results

Ad-supported content is the most common business model on the Internet. This is also because it can be implemented with relatively little effort.

Affiliate Marketing
Sure, affiliate marketing is very similar to the previous business model. However, there are also a few fundamental differences.

Affiliate marketing actually works quite simply. You apply or recommend a specific paid product (virtual or physical) or service. If the website visitor is interested, then he will click on the link to this product provider or service provider.

And here is the big difference. You only earn money if the visitor has carried out a specific action on the website of the online shop / service. This can be a subscription to a newsletter, the download of a specific document or (the classic) the purchase of a product.

The difference to online advertising is very clear. You do not have everything in your own hands. One directs one’s own visitors “only” and has to hope that they will then carry out the desired action. This disadvantage is usually rewarded by higher commissions per visitor.

To be successful with affiliate marketing, one should consider the following points, among others:

  • supports the affiliate banners or links with editorial content that creates trust and interest
  • trying to be credible and does not praise everything about the green clover
  • Again, a lot of traffic is necessary, but also thematically fit and should include as possible a purchase interest
  • Testing, testing and retesting is important here to get the best results (clickthrough rate and conversion rate)

On the one hand, you can register directly with a company that operates affiliate marketing (in-house partner program), or you can use one of the numerous affiliate networks :

The affiliate networks offer many advantages. With a login you have access to many affiliate programs from various industries. The billing is done through a provider, so you do not have to deal with various individual Afiliate programs. The provision of links, banners etc. is standardized. So you can quickly and easily integrate a new affiliate program into your own website.

Meanwhile, affiliate marketing is my strongest source of income. There are many interesting affiliate programs and through the use of many affiliate programs you lower the risk and get a stable income.

paid content
To implement more difficult, but also more profitable, is the construction of a paid website. Especially in English-speaking countries, there are many paid websites, both from very large providers, as well as small niche websites .

It is important here to provide very high-quality information to a concrete target group. Often these are information that can also be used to earn money. That’s why many are willing to pay. But other useful information can also be found by users willing to pay.

Another trend here are permanent payments, eg by Patreon . For example, the content creators regularly publish new podcast episodes that are audible only to financial backers. That can be very worthwhile.

Payed content should pay particular attention to:

  • a clear presentation of what the paying reader gets for his money
  • exclusive content that you do not get anywhere else
  • short notice periods
  • positive customer opinions and recommendations
  • free or cheap trial period
  • Bonus offers

The threshold for Internet users to use a paid service is very high and you should as possible a nerve in the targeted target group. The target audience does not have to be as big as advertising-based business models. You can earn very good money with significantly fewer users here .

The administration of such an offer is however quite expensive. One must carry out the accounting, manage registered readers, admonish defaulting payer, ensure the privacy, etc .. Here you should not underestimate the effort and include this in the prices of the fee-based offer. Or you alternatively use an external provider.

What is important is that you can not break off such a project in between, when you no longer feel like it or the expected success does not occur. You have paying users and they have a contract with someone you have to fulfill. In this respect, it is worth considering whether to pay only monthly or quarterly and not one year in advance.

Online sales
Creating your own shop is a tempting idea for many self-employed. Whether one sells virtual products (eBooks, software, hosting, etc.) or physical products is relatively unimportant and only makes a difference when storing and shipping the products.

The actual effort to operate a shop is very high and should not be underestimated. One has to think of the following things, among other things:

  • You have to keep the shop on the current legal status, otherwise threaten warnings
  • A detailed merchandise management system is important
  • You need human resources to manage defaulting customers and returns
  • Shipping the goods takes time
  • Online and offline marketing of the shop are very important

Particularly interesting is an online shop for manufacturers of products. This offers an online shop the opportunity to bring their own products on another distribution channel to the man or the woman. However, I always see that many shop owners underestimate the effort. Both the creation, as well as the subsequent care (very important) of an online store is very complex. Here it is with “The online store is in, and now the money is flowing!” Not done.

An alternative is the use of a service provider. So I sell an eBook . The service handles the entire process and I do not have to worry about anything. But the sales fee is completely reasonable and I like to pay them.

Selling your own products is a great way to earn high revenue. In addition, one makes oneself independent from other sources of income. However, one should not underestimate the legal and logistical requirements.

Website with services
Indirect monetization of a website or blog is very interesting for service providers. In this case, you do not make money directly from your own website.

You use the website to market a service that you then provide in another way (online or in real life).

This business model can be very successful as it has a big advantage. You have no advertising etc. on your own website. It’s best not to step in the door, but to present yourself as an expert on specific issues and how to solve them with the content of the website. If you leave this impression with the visitors, then chances are very good that they want to use the service.

It is important to find the right visitors. Here class counts more than mass. This is all the more true since this business model is of particular interest to companies and service providers with limited regional activities.

That’s why you have to build trust with your own website. One should think of one’s own website as a sales representative who talks personally to potential customers and addresses their wishes and concerns. If one succeeds in arousing this confidence in one’s own abilities, then one will successfully bring services to the man or the woman.

What should you pay attention to?

To successfully equip your website with one of the business models, you should consider the following:

  • Plan the business model well and research a lot.
  • Installs a performance check, for example, to detect negative developments early on.
  • Check if your website is a mix of business models.
  • Much importance is placed on marketing, because only enough visitors will make the business models work.

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