Does it seem like you could never create a profitable website among the millions of online businesses? And is it too late to start an online business?
About fifteen years ago I was wondering the same thing and exploring the best online business for midlife and beyond.
In this post, I’ll share why it’s not too late to start an online business, along with the best online business opportunities in this ever changing arena. After launching a financial blog over eleven years ago and running three online businesses that have provided generous monthly income for many years since then, I’d love to share what I’ve learned.
Internet Business Opportunities Abound
Think about this: The opportunity still exists to start a global business with less than $100. As recently as about twenty years ago this was impossible.
Consider the magnitude of this fact. It’s huge, especially for someone looking to generate income from home while being their own boss.
This means the risk reward ratio for online business is still insanely wonderful. You can risk $100 to generate millions of dollars of net income.
Think About Being of Service First
Do you know about something that could help people solve a problem? Those people are your desired audience.
Keep in mind that the only way a website serves its purpose is to get the desired audience to go to your website.
This is true whether that desired audience is someone seeking to hire a new financial adviser in their home town, ready to purchase financial advising services, buy an on online course on DIY home remodeling or purchase a new pair of shoes. All four of these markets generate millions, if not billions, of dollars, daily, from websites.
Can you carve out a little piece of revenue for yourself with something you source, create or write about? I think you can. Keep reading and see which type of online business resonates with you.
What Are Some Good Online Businesses to Start
Below are the best types of online businesses for solopreneurs, with the most common revenue streams from that business model.
Once you understand the different types of online businesses, you can pick the one that aligns you’re your desired lifestyle and financial goals.
The Blog Model
Don’t assume the blog business model is for the person with nothing better to do than to write about their daily uninspiring existence. I began as a blog over eleven years ago without having any idea of what I was doing but knowing that there were very low-cost online business opportunities. I knew this would get me started. I’m glad I did.
The reason many blogs still work is for the following reasons:
- A blog still a relatively easy way to reach a national or global market.
- Many platforms to create blogs are now free. Although I like to use paid template, the cost is very low.
- The reason blogs will likely continue to work well is because the world (along with Google) is starved for authentic, solid content in a very crowded world of popup ads, and content created by the lowest cost writer, who has often copied someone else’s content. (We have even found our very own unique words on other company’s websites, while they had no idea their hired writers were stealing our content verbatim.)
- When you read an article written by the blog owner, you can feel the sincerity in the content.
Simply put, a blog allows you to share your own experience about something you have learned with the world from your very own, unique perspective. No one else can do that.
- Corporate websites share content that is someone else’s opinion, based on research, and usually written biased to what the corporation wants to sell.
- This content strategy isn’t wrong, it just gives a blogger the unique opportunity to fill an unmet need online with authentic, good content.
- Not long ago, I read a New York Times quote that roughly said that anyone with decent writing skills could launch a website and make a lot of money.
Blog revenue can come from many sources. The most common sources are listed below.
The truth is that the revenue here is minimal until you have a lot of traffic on your website. Once you do, affiliate commissions will vary. Right now, the affiliate commissions paid by Amazon, for example, range from 0 to 10%. On average, they’re about 5%.
Online products may pay as much as 50% affiliate commission.
The revenue here is lower than affiliate income unless you have significant traffic to your website.
-Outsourcing Your Services
When people find you online, and see your expertise demonstrated through your written or video content, they will hire you to do work for them.
This work can be done remotely on a global scale, or locally. The type of work is wide open. Remote work could be writing, accounting, legal work, graphic design, video editing, or technical work, to name a few areas.
Local service based work could be any of the above plus things like landscaping, photography, private chef, or dog training.
-Consulting or Coaching
This income works the same as outsourcing with two major differences.
First, this is more intellectual property work, and outsourcing is more service based work.
Second, consulting or coaching is very easy to scale since you can create group and/or programs as soon as you get a few clients.
It’s beneficial that consulting can lead to residual income from many sources, including joint ventures, affiliate income, and programs.
-Courses and Programs
This seems to currently be the most rewarding, and lucrative, way to make money from an online business. This income stream lends itself perfectly to the expertise those in midlife and beyond have. I have found that creating online courses is fairly easy simply because I have invested my entire adult life.
Similarly, Larry traded oil and securities for almost his entire adult life. When you get a heart felt testimonial from a customer, it’s a very rewarding thing.
All of the above models can be scaled on some level. Even local outsourcing can be scaled, but it is harder to scale than the other revenue sources.
The advantages of the blog model are below.
- A blog is simple to start. Often, the biggest hurdle is in your mind.
- The blog model allows you to work completely on your own schedule, from anywhere, without interacting with anyone else. This can be heavenly for introverts.
- This type of online business is the perfect entry into the online world. From a blog, you can choose to become a publishing model, sell products, sell programs and courses, consult, or outsource your services, based on what you learn as you go.
- You can share what you know based on your own expertise.
- People feel the authenticity of bloggers can you have a natural advantage.
- Blogs are a creative process. I think of this website as a piece of art which I designed and built. Now I get to write here while building my own online property.
- Blogs are perfect for mid life people and retirees because we have so much experience to share.
- Blogging can lead to so many opportunities with only a few hours a week of work doing something you enjoy.
The disadvantages of the blog model are below.
It can take months, if not a year or more to get traffic to your website. If you can partner with someone within your same market, the traffic, however, can be immediate. (There are also other strategies to get traffic faster.)
You have to spend a good amount of time to see if your blog will work, but then you can easily tweak what you already have.
It can be hard to outsource writing on your own blog because of the uniqueness of your perspective which you bring to the table.
The Online Publishing Model
The online publishing model is similar to the blog model. There is still good, relevant content being created with the online publisher model, but it is written by a group of experts or content contributors based on their expertise.
In general, publishing websites are less expert focused and more topic or sector focused. They tend to be broader focused than blogs. This is because there is only so much one writer can write or know, while a publishing site provides content from many experts.
A great example of an online publisher is sixtyandme.com, created by Margaret Manning. Margaret has assembled an amazing group of writers serving an audience (sound familiar?) of women over sixty. It was only a short while ago that Margaret was more of a blogger.
Seekingalpha.com is another excellent example of a financial publishing site which has been around for over a decade. My article was even published there about that long ago! Seeking alpha is an excellent resource for investing advice with many financial writers who contribute content.
Revenue from online publishing can be significant from advertising and affiliates since there is a lot of traffic to the site based on the amount of content generated.
Online publishing can also easily lead to lucrative sponsors who pay you to simply name them as a sponsor.
Revenue from Online Publishing Websites
Income stream potential from the publishing model are the same as the blog model. However, as noted, the publishing model can generate significant ad and affiliate revenue simply because there is so much traffic on the website.
The advantages of the online publishing model are below.
- You can outsource the writing of your content, often for free.
- Beyond the leadership, the work can be outsourced. Your VA (Virtual Assistant) can find the writers and manage the publishing. A good writer can edit and post the articles on your website. A social media manager can market for you using some simple strategies. These are all student level skills.
- You can generate large amounts of traffic because you are providing good quality content.
- The biggest advantage is that you are building a global online property that you can sell, often for over a million dollars. Around thirty times monthly net income is a good rule of thumb for an estimated market value.
- The online publishing model can be built and run from anywhere on your own schedule. There are no consulting clients to schedule and meet with, for example.
- This type of online business can be very rewarding when the topic interests you.
The one disadvantage of the online publishing model is below.
- Even if you have an amazing VA to find and arrange the writers, you need to be something of a net worker, at least initially, so you can find writers. This means you’ll probably need to attend events in your industry, although more than ever, this can be arranged online. This is perfect for extroverts.
I honestly cannot think of another disadvantage to the online publishing business.
The Amazon Store Model
Just as the name implies, the Amazon store model involves creating your own store at Amazon. I have done this here.
You can set up an Amazon store to sell products that you private label with your own brand, as I have done with my brand, Joyaplenty. Or you can sell someone else’s brand. The revenue comes, of course, from Amazon sales.
The advantages of an Amazon store are below.
You have instant access to a market of over 300 million active customers! (1.)
Amazon manages the customer service, although we do extra, which y VA manages.
Amazon manages the fulfillment and shipping if you chose (which I did).
The income is relatively passive once you establish your product.
Many aspects of running an Amazon store can be outsourced. For example, my assistant manages my account. I hired an agent to help source my product.
It’s easy to run ads to your products inside of Amazon.
Amazon can be an excellent way to sell a patented product.
You can build another marketplace to sell your Amazon products with platforms such as Shopify.
You can create global Amazon stores in other countries to sell your existing products.
Your Amazon listing can be on page one of google for your product search. My product is.
The Disadvantages of an Amazon store below.
You are building a business for Amazon instead of building your own online property.
Amazon can and does change the rules.
Many of your expenses are completely out of your control. Thus, a price increase by Amazon can shift your store from profitable to unprofitable.
Amazon is highly, and somewhat ruthlessly, competitive.
The margins tend to be slim.
Amazon manages the website and draws the customers.
Since you must start with merchandise, the upfront cost is higher than the other models here.
Products with huge volume are extremely competitive. Low volume products may not generate enough sales to provide enough profit after paying Amazon fees.
Amazon recently raised their storage fees, making the model more challenging for solopreneurs.
The “middle man” model is at risk since an increased global marketplace makes it easy for manufacturers to sell directly to consumers.
Advantages of Online Businesses of Any Type
These are the advantages of having an online business of any type.
As mentioned above, the risk reward ratio is still fantastic.
You can cheaply test any online business idea.
The potential upside is much bigger than working for someone else both from an income and wealth generation basis since you can build an asset that you can sell.
The tools to create an online business have become much easier.
The technology to build an online business has gotten more competitive, making the needed software and training much cheaper than it was when we began.
It is much easier (and lower cost) than it used to be to hire people to help build an online business and run it with you because more outsourcers have become trained with the common tools. This marketplace is much more competitive now.
An online business keeps you relevant and marketable, no doubt.
You can work from anywhere, although I do find I work best in my home office.
You can work on any schedule. We head out for a walk with our Labrador in the middle of the day. This flexibility shapes the quality of our lives.
It’s rewarding to share what you know. (After years of parenting, the value of giving unsolicited but valued advice to someone is priceless!)
There can be tax advantages to owning your own small business, but very specific rules must be followed.
Income from online businesses can be diversified so that if one source performs poorly, another source can do well at the same time.
The Disadvantages of Online Businesses
Your friends and family won’t “get it”, especially if you quit your job or turn down a 9 to 5 job. Trust me on this:).
Technology changes often.
The learning curve is big at first.
Depending on your model, there can be a lot of moving parts. There can be planning, outsourcing, bookkeeping, taxes, content creation, website management and marketing.
Can You Sell Websites for Real?
As mentioned, a huge benefit of creating a website is that you can build it into a marketable online business. Recently, I spoke with an online business broker to get more information on the value of one of our websites.
There are brokers that specifically market online businesses. If your plan is to sell your website, begin with the end in mind. For example, don’t name the website your own name. Its okay to start out as the expert but leave room to remove yourself from the business eventually.
Online businesses, like most small businesses, sell at a multiple of earnings. The multiple will vary among industries. Financial and ecommerce, for example, are among the sectors with the highest multiples. For someone to want to buy your business, they’ll need to be able to continue the income streams. If you’re a well-known guru, expressing your unique voice, it will be harder to continue the income streams. On the other hand, if your revenue comes from ads or affiliate products, without a specific expert voice, it will be easy to continue revenue after a business changes owners.
If your goal is little or no additional income now, with a big capital gain from selling the website later, the model you choose will be based on this plan. This is an excellent wealth building strategy.
Which Online Business Makes the Most Money?
It’s hard to say which online business makes the most money. Like most things in life, the amount of income depends on the amount of effort you put into it initially. One fantastic thing about running an online business, however, is that much of the work can be outsourced once you establish it.
Among the online business models mentioned in this post, I would say the publishing model has the most potential if it succeeds. Again, a blog is a great way to sedge way into an online publishing business.
When it comes to making money, there are different ways to make money from an online business. There is income, and there is the eventual profit from selling an online business.
Ideally, your online business will generate income for several years while increasing online presence and value.
As your website visitors grow, your income grows, and the value of your business grows.
Best Online Business for Retirees
Our experience has been that online businesses are ideal for retirees. (We were early retirees.) Again, by the time you retire, you have acquired expertise in one or several areas. Online businesses offer the freedom and flexibility that retirees desire.
And online businesses provide mental stimulation and opportunities for retirees who don’t want to turn to crossword puzzles to stay sharp.
Any of the models here can work well for retirees, although the publishing or blog model allows retirees to really shine based on their acquired expertise.
How Do You Start an Online Business?
So, to start an online business, decide what you’ll provide, choose a business model based on that decision, research the competition, define a revenue plan, and build a simple WordPress website (or hire someone too build it for you).
Sometimes the biggest challenge in starting an online business is deciding what type of business to start. Often, the first online business you start is not the one that makes the most money in the end, but it serves as a learning ground. This was the case for me.
There is a concept in entrepreneurship, known as lean testing, that you should always test a business idea with the least amount of effort and money to see if it sticks. This is simple to do with online businesses.
Many people launching an online business fret for months over the business model domain name, or branding colors. The business model and branding can easily be changed. The domain name is important but shouldn’t hold you back.
I have seen many online businesses succeed with names that seem completely irrelevant. Take Apple, as a brand name, for example. Who would have ever thought the name of a common fruit would turn into one of the largest technology companies?
We began powercycletrading.com as optionsontheopen.com. Options on the open was a catchy name, but it was too limiting once the business took off. Put a name that is as broad as possible, but clearly lets others know what you’re about.
There is more to know about each of these steps which I can write in another post.
How to Run an Online Business
Running an online business can be done by you alone or with a team. We run our online businesses along with an outsourced team. This is ideal over a business model that requires you to trade time for money.
There are several online sources for finding outsourcers. I use these resources mostly, but I have also hired several students over the years from University hiring sites.
With a good team in place, running an online business can be a lot like juggling, with the balls being projects. You always keep the balls in action. When a ball lands in your hand, you toss it back up.
Starting a Business in Your 50’s and Beyond
Being the age that I was when I began blogging, and being a nontechie, I’ll admit that technology was a big challenge. Now, the tools are so much easier. Plus, technology is a part of everyone’s lives. Because you are used to technology, starting an online business in your 50’s or later in no longer an issue.
You likely know your way around one or more social media channels. There’s a good chance this same social media platform will be the driver of your website visitors. This means you’ve already overcome a big hurdle to getting website traffic.
When I began blogging, I was in my late forties. My husband was in his 50’s when we launched the trading education website based on his career. We both feel that the timing was ideal.
What’s the Best Online Business to Start?
The best online business to start depends on your personality, expertise, desired income and what you want to do. There is no one best online business model for everyone. Once you clarify the lifestyle and financial results you want from your efforts, you’ll be ready to choose the best online business model for you personally.
Hopefully, you have seen that it is not too late to start an online business!