What Is The Best Internet Business Model?

Mike Hays asks: What do you think is the best internet business model? Focusing on building multiple affiliate sites - or focusing on one thing and building a brand or an Internet presence in one market?

This is a great question, Mike. The goal is to set up multiple streams of income - and passive income if possible - so most people assume this means they should create multiple niche affiliate sites to achieve that goal.

It's well known that I have around a dozen active sites in a variety of niches, so my answer to this question might surprise you...

One Internet Business Model - Multiple Streams of Income

Ideally you will stay focused on one project at a time, taking that project all the way from start to profit. This is quite possibly one of the most difficult things to achieve, given all of the ideas and distractions that come your way in the process.

I keep an idea journal so I can revisit new ideas at a later time, instead of allowing them to distract me from current projects, and work hard on staying focused. If you want to make money online... focus and persistence really pays off. ;)

Once you set up a website - whether it be an affiliate site, a blog, a sales page to sell your own product, or whatever your chosen internet business model - the next step is to create and implement your marketing plan.

The development phase is fun. The marketing phase is fun too - in the beginning at least. But most people start to lose steam when they don't see immediate results. And this is the point when they jump ship and dig into a new project, or a new niche.

What you end up with is multiple streams of junk. Hosting accounts, domain names, widgets, affiliate programs, info products on various business models, etc, etc, etc.

Not at all where you wanted to be. Right?

Sticking It Out

It doesn't make much sense to start a second online business project, if you didn't complete the first. And by complete, I mean taking it all the way to it's full profit potential. What makes you feel like you're going to get any further with a second project than you did with the last one? (ouch)

There's this invisible hurdle that most people never make it over. Just on the other side of that hurdle is profit. The key to getting over that hurdle is in persistence, and mindset. It's about working through the distraction, and being in it for the long haul - instead of getting discouraged that you didn't make $10k your first month.

Tapping One Niche For Full Profit Potential

The ideal internet business model is one where you have multiple streams of income in a single niche. You can focus your time and energy on that one market, build a strong brand, and position yourself as a market leader on your topic.

Let's say that you create an affiliate site to sell food processors. Your site consists of products organized by brand, price, features, etc plus reviews & comparisons. It's your typical product-based affiliate site.

You properly optimize the site, get quality inbound links, and get engaged with foodies through social media and blog networking. Your pages get indexed, they begin to rank well, and you're getting traffic and making affiliate sales.

Now it's time to look at other ways to monetize your niche, to create additional streams of income. The first and most obvious step is to start a mailing list if you haven't already. And if you have, it's time to step it up with a free report (a compelling incentive to opt-in) and a well-written autoresponder series.

In our example of selling food processors, your free report could be 10 Simple Recipes For Almost Any Food Processor. Since they're obviously shopping online for a food processor, they are either looking to replace theirs or purchase their first.

Consider their interests and their intent, and appeal to the things they want and need the most. Your 10th recipe in the report could be a real zinger (save the best for last), but one that (ideally) requires a specific food processor - which gives you an opportunity to link to the detailed review on your affiliate site from the report.

Look for ways to make your site sticky. Keeping with our example, you might start up a Recipe Swap Club. This gives you the opportunity to introduce other products of interest: grocery coupons, other small kitchen appliances, webinars or podcasts with experts who have affiliate programs for their own products, etc.

The point is: don't leave money on the table. Before you look to new niches for multiple streams of income, look at options in the niche you're already working.

Do I Contradict Myself?

As I mentioned earlier, I have multiple sites in multiple niches. So am I contradicting myself here? No. The cool thing is that once you take that one niche site all the way to max profit potential, and have it running as automated as possible, it will only require 5-20 hours a month total to maintain it. I say 5-20 because it varies by niche, by model, and sometimes by season.

At any rate, once you get to that point, that is when you can explore new niches if you like. Without focus and discipline, I'd probably have a gazillion half finished projects cluttering up the internet by now - especially considering I've been at this for more than a decade. :P

Create your income streams strategically, and treat it like a business.

Best,

p.s. If you need the how-to on Affiliate Marketing, see Rosalind Gardner's guide titled The Super Affiliate Handbook. This is the internet business model that I use myself, and that Rosalind also uses to make money online.

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Hi Lynn,

    Love the idea of a journal to put notes on things to look in to when you get the time. we waste so much time and energy on jumping at the latest goo gaw.

    Under your 'Sticking to it' I feel the 'ouch'.

    Great article, thanks.
    Rich

    • On the 'ouch' - I speak from a point of experience, so don't feel bad. ;) I've made all of these same mistakes myself over the years, and even still have to talk myself out of distractions and back into a mode of focus.

      I do love my idea journal!

  2. This is such great advice. Sometimes when I feel myself getting sidetracked, I can hear your voice (Tennessee accent and all!) saying "Take one thing from start to profit, Jen!". It is so tempting to try the newest, latest, and greatest things that come across my computer screen. But I am making a concerted effort to stay on track. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. It is so easy for people to think they can slap up a website and the money will come rolling in given all the stuff that is hyped on the internet. But your advice is the wisest -- stick with it until it makes a profit. I've seen so many people stop just short of that. (As a matter of fact, I've had to remind myself of it a time or two!)

    • It's frustrating to watch people start and stop, start and stop, and then wonder why they've spent months (or even years) without making money online.

      You make a good point about the expectations based on the hype. I suppose you see this in any industry - real estate, MLM, etc. Still, I like to think we're a little smarter than that...

    • Rahman Mehraby says:

      Denise,
      I've even seen some people saying spend two hours a day and you'll succeed. I doubt this. The proof is how they train you to become a successful blogger. What they teach you to do is impossible to accomplish in such short time.
      Besides, like anything else in life, valuable things won't be gained easily!

      • I agree that valuable things are not gained easily, but if you focus and work on priority tasks... you can accomplish a lot in just 2 hours a day. The problem is with distractions and allowing yourself to get sidetracked by new options and new ideas.

  4. Sharon McMillan says:

    Persistence is certainly key. It's scary the way so many of us can get distracted just at the point when the newness of a project has worn off and the potential for building something sustainable is closer than ever.

    There's also that "confidence" issue. "Maybe I've got the wrong business model," or "Maybe I chose the wrong niche," etc. If you've done your research and created a sound plan it takes confidence to believe in that strategy and see it through before jumping ship for the next "big" thing.

    I'm running out of space in my "keeper" file because of your fine posts :)

    • You hit on a big point - confidence. There is a lot of risk involved with stepping out on your own, versus just doing a job for a boss every week. Will your idea fly? Will it be as profitable as you need for it to be? All of these question come up, for every entrepreneur. It's natural for us to doubt ourselves somewhere in the process.

      But there's only one way to find out the answers ;)

  5. Great advice Lynn. It's easy to have a million great ideas for websites, much harder to see them through. I have some successful websites, but I've also started too many projects that I lost interest in.

    However, I recently decided that instead of starting any new projects I was going to go back to each of my old projects that were not finished and see each of them through.

  6. Life Change For You says:

    Advice I am trying hard to follow. What about if you wonder about your original choice altogether? Perhaps, in you inexperience, you picked a poor niche or a too competitive one.?

    • Scroll up and see Sharon's comment and my response. I think that's a natural phase and just needs to be worked through.

      You can calm your concerns by doing research and reassuring yourself about the numbers that are obviously there, and by getting proactive about reaching that profit point.

      You've really just started, and there's much to do yet. Would you honestly want to start over at square one in a brand new niche at this point??

  7. That Guy John says:

    I say go for multiple niches and MSI from each niche you tackle. YOu never know when one of your wells will run dry.

    • What is MSI? I definitely work in multiple niches myself, but you have to actually complete a project for it to be profitable. And most people get overwhelmed trying to work on multiple projects. It's easiest to work on one all the way to profit and automation, then start the next one once the first is in maintenance mode. There has to be a strategy to it...

  8. Great post Lynn, thanks!
    This is in a nutshell, exactly what has kept me from getting anywhere in the past two years (so the "ouch" is real).
    Just today I got tempted by some offer I received in an email, but ended up unsubscribing from that list instead ;)
    I think I will print a slogan and hang it above my computer: "Focus! From Start to Profit!" just to always keep it in mind.

  9. That is a fabulous idea, "Focus! Fom Start to Profit!" Love it! Thats something I striggle with daily, trying to stay on task with what I need to do. Over past five years I have bought 60 domains, and have about 10 of them up online, and only 2 of them really make money. The rest of them just sit thier waiting, and waiting. I am going to buy that ebook probably after Christmas. I hope to move forward with some of my ideas in the new year. One thing I will be doing to help me is hire a writer to write my articls for my site and distributing online. This is another area I am not that good to. English was not my favorite subject in school.

    It's also hard to think of other niches too, I seem to keep choosing the same type of niche. How do you get the mind set to move forward to something else?

  10. Great post Lynn. I think so many people do what you mentioned above - jump from one business project/niche/website to another without ever seeing real results. I know I did a great job of creating 'multiple streams of junk' (love that!).

    Finally I came to the realization that it just doesn't work and decided to cut out so much stuff. It literally took me about six months of cleaning house to get down to basically one website right now. (I have two niche sites I just couldn't delete but they are patiently waiting in the sidelines).

    I get real excited though when I start thinking about where this project will be in 10 years now that I have a clear vision of what I want to do with it and I'm determined to focus it out to maximum profits!

    • It won't take 10 years for you to be making a good living from it though ;) I know you know that, but it's also great to have that clear vision of the future - 5 months down the road, 5 years, 10 years, etc. Gives you a driving force!

  11. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch - Lynn!
    Sticking It Out
    It doesn’t make much sense to start a second online business project, if you didn’t complete the first. And by complete, I mean taking it all the way to it’s full profit potential. What makes you feel like you’re going to get any further with a second project than you did with the last one? (ouch)...
    OK - I'm heading right on over to the Elite Forum to post. How do you always know the right thing to say?
    Thanks
    Diana

  12. sticking to something until i see a profit has been a big issue for me, mainly because i've experimented with a few things and then realised a few months later that it's not something i'm passionate about or realising my limitations and seeing that for me to take it to the next level it's going to require a lot more time and money but hopefully i've found something worth sticking to this time!

    • I think the big problem for most is realizing the difference between "making money online"... and "starting an online business". Not the same things at all. Sounds like you're getting on track!

  13. Jeffery Wood says:

    How do you know when you've taken a project to it's full profit potential?

    - Jeffery

    • When you have tapped every possible keyword phrase, and every possible angle of serving that market - and have it as automated as possible.

      • Diane Dick says:

        Hi Lynn
        Thanks for a great post, I too have tried to find and set up in other niche areas, and I would have to say that all it really achieves is to split your time even thinner and you run around like a headless chook, thinking that you're going places, only to find months or years later, that you're no further ahead. Unless you are superman or woman!!

        I still have much work to go to automate my site and have discovered that there are many many good keywords in my market, so thanks Lynn for a great article. You really got me thinking!!

      • Lynn, This one sentence really hit me in the gut. I've just taped to my computer as a reminder of what it means to really go from start to profit. Thank you!

        Jeffery - thanks for asking the question!

  14. Lynn, thank you so much for this post! It came at a great time for me. When things don't happen in our timing (first affiliate sale), then it is easy to get discouraged and feel it is time to move onto the next thing because that one didn't work.

    If there is one thing I have been learning from you, it is patience (I've learned a ton from you, but this is a big one). I want results now, but it doesn't always happen the way I want it to.

    Thanks for sharing this. I needed this reminder today. I just have to tell myself to stay focused. Don't lose hope and know that I am following those who have gone before me and are now successful.

    So here goes...

    Thanks!
    Tyy

    • That's true. But after spending years analyzing websites and business models through my forum... I know firsthand that most people don't put very much marketing or effort into getting those first affiliate sales - before they give up. And so it pays to ask: what makes you think you'll make sales on the next project, if you didn't put all into the first one? Know what I mean?

      As an Elite Member yourself, you've seen other members discussing their first affiliate sales within the first month - a few short weeks even - which is what I always experience too. I like this project you're working on now... let's take it to profit! ;)

      • Thanks Lynn! I am totally about taking this new project to profit. I just need to stay focused and follow your teaching and the teaching of the others on the Elite board. Thank you for the encouragement.

  15. Best Online Deals says:

    Great post. I agree with most of what you said. However, how do you know that a niche isn't working for you and it is time to ditch it?
    You can't stick with it if it has no potential.

    • You should know that before you invest the time to create and market a website in that niche... Research is step one.

      • Jeffery Wood says:

        People who build models tell you they wish they had built their second model first because they made all their 'newbie' mistakes on the first one.

        A person new to I.M. may not know if they interpreted their research correctly...if they even learned how at all.

        I sure didn't, I went on the word of another, so far...not so good. What's the expression? "Cut my teeth on that first one"

        - Jeffery

        • Good point. I always say - you haven't learned the process until you've made a profit. So you can't start in on multiple sites until you've gone all the way with your first project.

          I like that saying. I've always said I should've had my grandchildren first. Would have made me an even better mother ;) LOL

  16. thanks for your info, very good work.

  17. Affiliate Kung Fu says:

    Interesting... Getting sidetracked and overwhelmed with projects and failing to concentrate your efforts on one is a big problem nowadays I guess. I've also learned the hard way about how just taking action is not the problem, but taking focused action is the thing. Thanks for a great post! :)

    However, the topic being about "What is the Best Internet Business Model", the article seems to be talking mainly about affiliate and niche marketing. Of course, there are many other online business models as well a side from that...

  18. Thanks for giving valuable information here. As you build your business online, you also tend to discover more ways of internet revenue which is passive.

  19. Excellent detailed advice.

  20. Diane Dick says:

    Hi Lynn

    Thanks for your great comments. I have a business in the gift industry which is a highly competitive business to be in, especially at this time of the year. After searching around on the internet I found a programme that allows me to find excellent keywords on my subject and this has made a big difference to the number of visitors to my site. I would love to share this programme with other readers with your permission. It is Moneyword Matrix Keyword Tool and can be found at https://imi.infusionsoft.com/go/npc/a3279.

    Your comments "When you have tapped every possible keyword phrase, and every possible angle of serving that market – and have it as automated as possible." makes it most interesting and challenging and I think that learning how to Think Outside the Box, is probably a great way to keep on exploring and growing your basic site. Mine comes down to lack of time, and at times being too lazy! (ouch)

    • The key is to make sure you are using your time as efficiently as possible, working very strategically towards your goals. I like the way you worded it: keep on exploring and growing your website. That's it!

  21. Having a measuring stick for the end is certainly helpful to knowing when you've really reached the end and are ready to start on the next "stream" -- when you said "once you take that one niche site all the way to max profit potential, and have it running as automated as possible, it will only require 5-20 hours a month total to maintain it." Whew! That sounds like a goal I can get behind! Knowing which is the best business model to start with is up to the individual...but I was asking myself where the 'end' was. Now I know! Thanks.

    • You definitely need a goal to work towards, and to know exactly what that goal looks like. The one thing you don't want to do is trade in a 9 to 5 job for a 24/7 "job" that makes you even less money and more bonkers ;)

  22. Hans Winkler says:

    Hi Lynn,
    I really enjoyed reading this article, especially the hope you give to those of us still being in the beginning stages of internet marketing. I was very much encouraged by your comments in the "Sticking It Out" section of your blog. I guess it takes patients and hard work, like most other things I do in life, in order to make them profitable.
    Thank you,
    Hans

    • Exactly - just like weight loss or anything else you want to achieve in life. It takes daily consistent action towards a specific goal ;)

      • Hans Winkler says:

        Since you mention weight loss, I am actually on a diet as we speak and have lost 15 pounds in just under two weeks. That is very exciting to me.
        Unfortunately this isn't my first time battling the weight issue, however I will try my best. Once I'm at my desired weight in this round of weight loss, I will keep it off!

        • I'm in it with you Hans - mainly a mission towards healthier living. I quit diet soda two weeks ago, and now have Scott T guest blogging this week on home office fitness. :D

          • Hans Winkler says:

            I doing something I haven't done before, and we are kind of doing it as a group of people to keep one another accountable. Accountability for me is a big part to success.
            I agree however, healthier living and exercise is definitely top priority.

          • Very cool. Scott has a group, which I'm going to join in on - sounds like fun!

  23. Phil Bartek says:

    Hi Lynn,
    You always seem to hit the nail right on the head! I get so distracted by all the shiny things that appear on the monitor that keeping focused can get hard. It's also a flaw that I have in complicating things by trying to do too much instead of staying 'on task' and keeping it simple.
    My problem is when a project is in the idea stage I get excited and lose interest in what I've already started. The new idea always sounds like more fun. I like the 'idea journal' approach to log new ideas as they come along while I continue to plug away at project A.

    Thanks again,
    Phil

    • Here's a good question, Phil:

      Which would excite you more - a fresh new idea to labor over, or a consistent profit and multiple streams of income coming in from taking an idea all the way? :D

  24. I can relate to most of the comments here and actually it's a morale booster. AM can become "I'm the only one" type deal and you become to think that you just can't make it work.
    I have made a couple of sells on my affiliate marketing and some "pennies' on the adsense side but can't seem to get things where I want them. So I not going to give up I will employ some suggestions "stay focus" and committed to the end to profit.

    • Glad to hear it, Jenet!

      One question - are you using Adsense on the same site where you're promoting affiliate products? If so, you're basically competing with yourself by doing that... you definitely want to keep the options limited and use a strong call to action on your pages.

      • Hi Lynn,

        Yes I do have some Adsense on my site with my AM product.

        I will take your suggestion and employ that strong call to action actually I had thought about that to redo my content in a way to get more sales.

        Again Thanks

  25. Great article Lynn,

    At first I bought a domain for every idea. Then I bought each "best internet Marketing" training available. Now I have lots of domains, am really smart about everything internet marketing and do not have a single web site that has been taken all the way to profit. Some of the training I bought was good yet too expensive and some of it was not what I needed at the time I took it. I am a perpetual student, yet also need to make a living.
    For me right now, I am going to buy "The Super Affiliate Handbook" and take one site all the way to profit.

    I also want to thank you so much for providing your forums. I have found it to be the best thing I have run across so far. Your weekly webinars and fellow members help me from buying stuff I do not need to move my businesss forward right now and to stay focused as well as provide insight and feedback on everything from ideas to websites.

  26. Phil Bartek says:

    Clay,
    Don't feel alone! I too have done close to the same thing as you and still haven't seen anything, nothing, nada. BUT, the information and knowledge I've learned along the way has been priceless. I agree with you about the SSWT forum. This is the best thing I've found in years and Lynn and the Elite have been great getting to know and interact with. I equate it to learning a new song on the guitar and having Eric Clapton & Jimmy Page sit in and help!
    I'm at the same crossroads with "Super Affiliate Handbook" and it will be my next investment.
    We should start our own group on the forum of people like us who need support and to initiate some kind of accountability.
    I'm open for any ideas you may have for this so feel free to email me.
    Keep the fire burning and good luck,
    Phil

  27. Appreciate the kind words, and love the enthusiasm! You guys are both on the right track, and I'm really glad you joined in with the SSWT group - it's been great fun getting to know you and brainstorming with you! ;)

  28. Christian Russell says:

    Couldn't agree more Lynn! I just did a video on this recently...it's so powerful to not give up on an idea until you know you've sucked every bit of value out of it.

    I believe in quitting when it's appropriate, but most marketers seem way too trigger happy when it comes to this. The magic doesn't come from finding some certain combination of niche and marketing tactic. The magic comes when you embrace the fact that there is no magic. The lessons worth learning are often hard won.

    I honestly believe it's QUICKER to do it the "hard" way...and just build a business slow and steady, instead of looking for short cuts.

    • You're absolutely right. At the end of the year it pays to ask yourself: where would I have been now if I had stuck with the project I started with? No magic- just consistent, daily action and ... *shocker* work! :D

  29. Diane Dick says:

    How true Lynn. This swopping and jumping around, and being tempted by every new "great" idea, takes lots of discipline not to keep hooking up with and "trying" to make work. This whole article and the feedback has been most interesting reading, thanks for raising such a good topic.

  30. How true "There’s this invisible hurdle that most people never make it over. Just on the other side of that hurdle is profit. The key to getting over that hurdle is in persistence, and mindset."
    My first 8 months or so were dreadful. I kept on persisting and I'm doing much better now.

  31. Wahey!

    Finish what you start or never finish anything!

    I like it thanks lynn

    Danny

  32. You are correct to a point. Sometimes you have to know when to say enough is enough... Not every site can be taken from start to profit and for that very reason a person needs to know when they must move on to the next project.

    When it comes to marketing, you need to be very careful not to spend your money in non-productive ways. Don't be fooled by companies that say they can get you millions of visitors to your site. You certainly can trick people to your site, but once tricked, they will never return.

    I agree focus is necessary, but knowing when to say when is the only way to keep from spending good money after bad. I have seen people spend their entire life savings on sites that will not return the profit they dream up, don't be a fool, you know that they and their money are soon parted.

    Most of the lessons learned in the real world will apply online. Good business practices and work ethics are not replaced by dreams or get rich quick ideas. People still want to know that when they do business with you online, that your business will be there to support the products and services sold. In short, there is nothing like being there for the long haul and that takes time to establish.

    The X factor of online companies like Groupon is very rare indeed. Most likely you will not be a Groupon, so count on it taking 3 to 5 years before your business gets enough traction to be taken seriously.

    The best thing that online business people can do is to write a good business plan and stick to it. This plan will include all the necessary factors to track your business and determine if it's meeting with success or needs to be adjusted...

    Time and profit are the only ways success can be measured.

    Good luck all!

  33. Great Post Lynn.

    I've applied most of the principle's you've mentioned here and I agree that this is one of the best business models online right now. I've spent (maybe wasted) too much time on non-product specific sites and am just now starting to look for a good opportunity to create some product driven niche sites.

    I'd also note it isn't good to rely on one revenue stream for your sites. I think your model satisfies this as you can use many different affiliate programs.

    I've recently had some problems with adsense and wish I had diversified my revenue more, but thankful I began doing that over a year ago.

    Thanks for the post.

  34. Hi Lynn! This post was very timely for me. I've been building my business for six months and though I'm getting some really exciting feedback - that hasn't yet translated into the profits I'd hoped for. I was just beginning to wonder if I should switch gears.

    So glad I stumbled onto this post! It helped me realize that seeing my current business through from start to profit is a little like getting an undergrad degree and what I learn through process is valuable to my future endeavors. Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] **A small warning:  Please understand that while you may try one of these options and then change your mind and try another – do NOT jump from business model to business model.  Do your research in the beginning so that you can maximize your time once you have decided.  Do not get caught in ‘information/option overload’ and waste your time going in circles.  No money has ever been made that way!  I’m not the only one to feel that ANY business model requires focus!   [...]

  2. [...] an earlier post where I answered a question on the best internet business model, you’ll find that I often use these combinations to take a project to max profit [...]

  3. [...] you decide on a topic or niche, you should sit down and map out a plan for your internet business model. What market are you targeting, and how can you best serve that market? This is the angle you want [...]

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