2017’s Top Online Business Models: Who Were the Clever Ones This Year?

1.  E-mail marketing

Topping the list is the most profitable online tool for any business.  Historically, for every single dollar invested in e-mail marketing, the return is between $30 and $50.  That’s right, an average of 4000 percent profit because people want to buy tangible products, information, software, and advice online.  Brick and mortar stores are actually slowly on the decline.

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People go online to buy daily groceries, order pizzas, book a massage, or any other regular activity.  They use their Smartphones to order the ingredients for a gourmet meal delivered to their home, with precise instructions so that they can prepare it themselves with fresh ingredients.  They could even hire a skilled chef to come to their house and make a meal, clean up and vanish.

They go online to get financial advice and investment advice.  They hire gardeners, roofers, and tradespeople of all descriptions.  Look at yourself.  What did you purchase online recently?  Did you go to a website and buy an app; some music; concert ticket; a cruise vacation; an air-flight? People are prepared to buy whatever you have to sell through e-mail marketing, once you tap the right audience.  You’re evidence of that yourself.

It is so inexpensive and so easy to automate that anyone not doing it is desperately out of touch with modern marketing.  Don’t fight the future…you’ll lose.

2.  Membership websites

There are a great many people in this world who lack the inclination, time, or skill to do something themselves.  If you do something better than 50 percent of the population, you possess a marketable skill.  If you do something better than 90 percent of the population, then you may even be a millionaire who just hasn’t realized it yet.

It hardly matters whether you are a writer, a programmer, or that chef we mentioned earlier.  When a busy person needs something done, there are people who can provide that service.  They just have to be lucky enough to find someone who can properly present their ideas.  Maybe you are the skilled writer, programmer, or chef that they need.

Creating a website where you provide lots of valuable (but free) advice makes you a sought-after commodity.  Once you have established your value, you can instruct others how to do what you do.  But that is available only to Paid Members.  Maybe you provide e-books to train people in skills; perhaps it is access to lessons; it could be a gallery of graphic art they can use on their websites.  Perhaps it is access to discounted services, cheap web hosting, or customizable plug-ins for people running a WordPress website who need it to do something unusual or extraordinary.  There is only the limit of your imagination.

Having exclusive content makes people want access to it.  Even 100 members, at $49.99 per month, is still about $5,000 more than you had the previous month.  Perhaps it can be a one-time fee, an annual fee, or fee-free with a pay per use, or per block of downloads.  If you provide an add-on to your website that gives additional functionality, you can charge for that for whatever period the customer wants to use it.  There are many ways to go about it, and they all make money when you’re providing a quality product.

3.  E-commerce

Everybody selling something tangible needs an e-store.  If you’re making the product, you would just list it.  Let the software tell you when you’re running out of a product so you can make more.

Even better, connect with AlibabaBangGoodDHGateDealsMachine, or an overseas manufacturer that offers drop shipping.  All you must do is to advertise the product.  You don’t need to keep any inventory; just respond quickly to customer concerns and keep everyone happy and your store will get a good reputation and make cash for you.

When an order comes in, a decent e-shop will forward the order and payment details so that it can be processed and delivered by the manufacturer; then you get a cut, virtually untended.

4.  FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon

If you are a maker of tangible things, whether it’s weaving, e-books, slings for carrying your doggy around, or objects d’art that you have made yourself by hand, or with a 3D printer, just make a pile of them and send them to Amazon!

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is an excellent tool for selling merchandise where Amazon handles the shipping, warehousing, and customer complaints.  All you have to do is make a good product that won’t cause complaints and ship it off to them.  It is then cataloged and sold by Amazon, and you get your cut.

5.  3D Printing

Speaking of 3D printing, if you have acquired one — and they are getting downright cheap nowadays — consider offering to print people’s Physibles (designs or mathematical scaffolds for 3D printers) and shipping it to them.  That is certainly a niche that is likely to explode in the future.  People don’t always feel comfortable with new technology, but they’re willing to take advantage of its benefits.  If you’re competent and confident, then they can ask you to deal with the complexities of printing their objects for them, and you can make a nice profit.  Down from $6000 each, some models can now be had for $400 or even less.

Buy one, get familiar with it, and start your business.  When you start to get more orders, buy another one, and then another, and then another.  Pretty soon you could have some machines working 24 hours a day, and aside from a little cleaning and maintenance, all you have to do is supply them with filament material, and ship the results to your customers.  That’s a business model where you make the models!

6.  Mobile Apps

Creative your own original applications can lucrative if you have the right programming skills.  Programming for iPhone means that you get paid for every download.  Programming for Android is different in that you write a preliminary program to gauge interest, and it is distributed free.  Once you have evidence that people like it you can continue with more sophisticated development and release a “pro” version.  The fees for the pro edition can be anything you like.  Google takes its cut, and you get the balance.

If you’re making a dollar for each one, and you sell a million copies, you’re a millionaire.  If you’re making $10 for each one, but you only sell 100,000 copies, you’re still a millionaire.  Gauge the size of your audience and give value for money.  Some apps require a monthly fee; others require an annual fee at a discounted rate.  If someone doesn’t pay, it reverts to the free version with fewer features, which encourages re-subscription.

It’s required that you know something about programming, a skill you can learn online in just a few months and that you’re creative enough to produce something interesting.  The appetite for apps is ever growing.

7.  Travel Writer

Touring about the world (in a niche, such as a cuisine, or cruise ship travel) can be profitable.  You can make enough online to finance your trips, have a reasonably free, uncluttered lifestyle, and only have to plug into a Wi-Fi to collect money from subscribers, submit articles and photos, and make sure your automated e-mails and newsletter are functioning correctly.

8.  Concierge (virtual)

Are you good at getting reservations in popular restaurants, tickets for Broadway shows, tickets for sporting events?  Can you arrange Limousines, or get a day-office on demand?

You could be an Online Concierge.  Businesses like that charge members about $20,000 per year for membership.  The hitch is that you have to be able to deliver the services on request.  This could be something where you create a knowledgeable team just so you can take a day off once in a while because it’s a busy job, but very profitable.  A hundred clients would generate $2,000,000 per year!

9.  Cryptocurrencies

Do you want to make money online?  This is a somewhat surprising business model, but it seems to work.  Cryptocurrencies are uncontrolled by any institution.  They were invented with the sole purpose of taking control of the economy out of the hands of banks and governments and placing it in the hands of people.

In the past, many forms of Cryptocurrencies have done very well, while others have failed; but even at the best of times, it’s a roller-coaster ride.  Right now the most respected of the Cryptocurrencies, called Bitcoin, is at a record high.  Some people call it a bubble, like the economic bubble we experienced in 2008.  They may be right, and it may be due for a significant decline; conversely, it may be gaining significant traction on its way to replace all other currencies in the world, as has been predicted by some financial experts.

Irrespective of its long-term future, it is relatively easy to get involved with, requiring only the purchase of 10 high-powered graphics cards at the cost of about $4,500, and acquiring a little practical knowledge of the Internet.  A little 10-card rig like that can generate about $1700 per month in Bitcoin.  As you can see, electricity costs notwithstanding, it will take three months to recover the initial outlay.  Where you live determines when you make money, however.  Here’s why…

At 12¢ per kW/h, a Bitcoin costs $1,567.88 to mine. At 4¢ per kW/h, a Bitcoin costs $522.62 to mine.   At the beginning of the year when a Bitcoin was worth $1000, depending on the electricity rates, mining a Bitcoin could cost you $600 or make you $500.

With the current value floating around $15,000, it has become a little less problematic, though to maximize your profits there are still areas where it would be better to get your electricity.

That said, there are several choices for Cryptocurrencies, and they’re certainly not equal.  You could go online right now and create your very own Cryptocurrency in about half hour, but in all likelihood, it will never be worth anything.

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The Takeaway

If Cryptocurrency is too esoteric for you, stick with the earlier suggestions.  They are reliable and should serve you well.  It’s sort of hard to understand the mathematical complexities of Cryptocurrency, but there will only ever be 21,000,000 Bitcoins in the world, and that won’t occur until the year 2140.  Generating any more Bitcoins will be impossible.

Other Cryptocurrencies may supply an additional method of exchanging value, or by then we may have moved on to something completely different.  In the short term though, all of these ideas, including Cryptocurrencies, are going to generate wealth.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the world of tomorrow is significantly different than today or yesterday.  Don’t be a dinosaur… be extant, not extinct!

Fred Coon, CEO


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