Revenue streams for online business.

If you’re tech-savvy and want to make some money with your website, you’ll be happy to learn that there are several lucrative revenue streams for online business owners that can boost your income.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at a few of them and explain how you can get in on the action with your online business or website. 🌐

What is a revenue stream?

A revenue stream is any source of income that a business has. It can be from selling products or services, advertising, subscriptions, or other forms of monetization. A large online retailer like Amazon has multiple revenue streams. They make money from selling products but also earn revenue from advertising, subscriptions (like Amazon Prime), and affiliate marketing.

There are several revenue streams for online business owners that brick-and-mortar stores don’t have. It’s because they can easily reach a global audience and sell products and services to customers all over the world. Online businesses can also take advantage of digital technologies to create new and innovative revenue streams, like subscriptions, licensing, paywalled content, and more.

Battle-tested revenue streams for online business owners in 2023

If you already have a business website, you can start earning money right away, whether you have a product to sell or not. You can monetize your content, add affiliate links, find a sponsor, or sell advertising. Let’s take a look at popular revenue streams for online business owners:

1. Subscriptions 🤝

Subscriptions are a popular revenue stream for online business owners, especially for software companies. In this model, customers pay a recurring fee (monthly, quarterly, or annually) to access a product or service.

Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, software companies like Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365, and subscription box companies like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club fall into this category. Another, more creative use is from a company called Pet Circle. They offer pet food subscriptions.

The Petcircle website is an example of an online revenue stream that uses the subscription model.

Subscriptions provide a steady stream of recurring revenue, which can help businesses predict their future cash flow and make better financial decisions. With subscriptions, you can offer your products and services at a lower price point, as the cost of the product or service is spread out over the course of the subscription.

On the downside, it can be difficult to find new subscribers, and you’ll need to invest in marketing and sales in order to grow your subscriber base.

2. Licensing 🔰

Licensing is another popular revenue stream for online business owners, especially for businesses that own intellectual property such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. In this model, you grant other businesses or individuals the right to use your intellectual property for a fee.

Licensing can be a relatively low-effort revenue stream because you don’t need to produce or deliver any products or services.

However, there are also some disadvantages to the licensing model. Businesses need to carefully protect their intellectual property in order to prevent others from using it without permission. You’ll probably spend a good amount of time negotiating licensing agreements with other businesses, which can lead to legal fees.

Software companies like Microsoft and Adobe, which license their software to other businesses and individuals, are good examples of companies that use the licensing model.

3. Product sales 🛒

Online business owners traditionally use product sales as a revenue stream, and businesses of all sizes sell physical goods this way. Retailers such as Walmart and Target and manufacturers like Apple and Samsung belong to this category. In this model, you sell products to customers for a one-time fee. It’s straightforward and simple, but you must invest in inventory and warehousing. Depending on what you sell, competition might be intense. For best results, seek out unique, quality products that you can sell at a mark-up.

If you’ve created a content-based business and already have a strong brand and social media following, you can sell merchandise with your logo.

4. Services and consulting 👨‍💼

Services and consulting is a revenue model where businesses offer their skills and expertise to customers for a fee. This model is often used by businesses that have specialized knowledge or expertise, such as law firms, accounting firms, and marketing agencies, but anyone can get in on the game. Blogger Desislava Todorova turned her online musings into a fully-fledged tech and shopping consultant career.

Todorovatodorova's website is an example of monetizing your expertise by offering consulting services.

As a consultancy, you can generate a high-profit margin on your services without investing in any inventory or warehousing. You can also scale quite easily without hiring more employees. On the downside, if you are the only consultant at your firm, it will really limit your growth and earning potential. A team of highly skilled and experienced employees will be needed in order to deliver high-quality services.

Still, if you manage it well, services and consulting are some of the most lucrative revenue streams for online business owners.

Featured listings are a revenue model where businesses pay to have their listings displayed more prominently on websites or in search results. It’s often used by marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon, as well as job boards and real estate websites.

Featured listings can be a great way for businesses to increase their visibility and generate more leads. However, it is important to make sure that your listings are high quality and that you are targeting the right audience so that you are able to justify the cost of featured listings. This is one of the simplest revenue streams for online business owners with successful sales platforms to implement and benefit from.

If you have a large email subscriber base, sponsored newsletters are the way to go. Sponsored newsletters are a revenue model where businesses pay to have their ads included in newsletters that are sent to a list of subscribers. Email marketing companies often use this model, as do businesses with their own email lists.

Sponsored newsletters can help you reach a targeted audience and promote your products or services. However, you should work only with reputable email marketing companies and target your ads to the right audience. Otherwise, recipients might ignore your ads or even mark them as spam.

7. Affiliate partnerships ✋

One of the most common revenue streams for online business owners and content creators to explore is the use of affiliate partnerships. Affiliate partnerships are a revenue model where businesses partner with other businesses to promote each other’s products or services. In this model, businesses pay affiliates a commission on any sales that they generate.

If you run a successful food blog, you can cloak affiliate links promoting kitchen gadgets or restaurants in your content and earn a passive income from any sales you might get. Commissions typically aren’t large, but they can add up, especially if you have a loyal following.

8. Paywalled content 💻

Speaking of successful blogs and content sites. If you are a successful content creator, you might be missing out on one of the simplest revenue streams for online business owners: paywalled content. A paywall restricts access to your online content through paid subscriptions or unique passwords. Newspapers and magazines like and The New Yorker use paywalls to monetize their content, and you can do the same. 💡 To get started, read our tutorial where we explain how to restrict content.

Wired Magazine's website paywall is an example of a revenue stream type you can use for your online business.

Conclusion on the top revenue streams for online business 💼

Hopefully, this list has given you insight into all of the revenue streams for online business owners you can implement on your own website, and you’re inspired to try it for yourself!

Subscriptions, licensing, product sales, sponsored newsletters, and affiliate partnerships will help you add extra income to your flourishing business with minimal effort. Want to know more? Check out our handy guide on making money with your website.

And, as always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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David Myth
January 13, 2024 2:46 pm

Thanks for the article! Will check out these revenue streams.

January 15, 2024 1:09 pm
Reply to  David Myth

I am glad you like the article, and let us know if you would have some questions afterwards.

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