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7 Online Business Models

Part 2: 3 More Ways to Make Money Online

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How to start an online business and make money online.

An online business can be the best business.

Image (c) Hugh Sitton / Getty Images

So how else could you make money online? You could use one of these online business models:

5) Service Business Website

The typical service business website, properly done, combines a portfolio with persuasive copy. To make money online, a good service business website has to answer the question "Why should you hire this person to do that?"

Often, what's being sold is the talents and skills of an individual, but these are difficult to show online so the mainstays of service business websites are biographies and testimonials. (Photo) samples of a person's work may be included if possible. If you're starting an online business of this type, I recommend soliciting testimonials from satisfied customers as a first step.

It's become almost standard for those seeking to sell their services online to offer prospective customers free content, such as a newsletter, email tips or ebook. These are, of course, great ways to get to collect customer data and stay in touch.

Some service business websites also sell products, typically the books and/or tapes of the individual involved, but sometimes other things.

Tricks to Success: powerful testimonials, personalization and professionalism

6) Info-Site

The info-site, as I've dubbed it, is a website that focuses on presenting information, often on a specific topic. The various sites on the About network, such as my About Small Business Canada website, are examples of this online business model. So are portal sites such as Yahoo and Excite that serve as directories to the 'Net and online magazines.

Info-sites are predicated on the theory that enough people will be interested in the information to seek it out, visit the website and support it by clicking on or buying something.

While some info-sites make money online by selling their content, through subscription or syndication, others make money through advertising and/or affiliate programs. Some info-sites also include an ecommerce component, directly selling products related to the information the site provides. A gardening info-site, for example, may also sell gardening tools.

If the info-site business model interests you as a way to make money online, don't be discouraged by the size of some of the sites that I've used as examples. An info-site doesn't have to be huge to be successful.

Tricks to Success: strong, engaging content

7) Brochure Site

The brochure site is basically an online business card. It presents the name of the business, some information about the products or services the business provides and contact information. People interested in learning more are asked to call, visit and/or sometimes to fill out an online form.

The brochure site is the online business model least likely to make money online in and of itself. Such a site is best suited as an adjunct to a business with a strong offline presence. Many small businesses use this kind of website as a Internet billboard for their customers, providing yet another way for their customers to get basic information about their business such as phone numbers or directions to their premises. The website is actually part of the business's customer service rather than a money making venture in itself.

As an online business model, the brochure site does excel as an event registration site. Businesses and government agencies often create separate brochure sites for specific conferences or trade shows.

Tricks to Success: having other sites and/or channels set up to direct traffic to the brochure site

You Don't Need to Stick to Just One Online Business Model

While I've presented each of these online business models as distinct, they don't have to be. When you're putting your online business plan together, you need to be aware that you don't have to stick to just one online business model at a time - and you may make more money online if you don't.

For instance, incorporating a blog on your ecommerce or service business website can help you build traffic and increase your sales by giving your business a personalized voice.

Another approach when starting an online business is to have several different sites operating which may use different online business models. You could have, for example, an ecommerce site, a separate stand-alone blog site and a sales letter ecommerce site, all selling the same products and driving traffic to one another, which could really boost your online income.

The bottom line, though, is that any of the online business models I've outlined above can make money online if executed well. Here’s to the success of your new online business!

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