Starting an online business after 50 may sound intimidating but it can be a brilliant move to build wealth without capital. I have learned firsthand that this is true even if you’re not tech savvy or a millennial.
The reality is that it gets easier every day to build an online business given all of the new technology tools. While no one can deny that internet business competition has increased significantly over the past decade, creating an online business still offers a great opportunity for those who choose to pursue this innovative alternative investment with multiple income stream potential.
I call this an alternative investment because an online business requires at least some money to launch and run. It also requires an even more valuable resource: your time. An online business, however, can become one of your most valuable assets, one which can be sold eventually, as I explain below.
Here’s the real kicker: I know of several bloggers who have either sold their blogs for six and seven figures.
So online businesses are wildly popular for good reason. In addition to becoming a valuable asset, you can reach a global market for less than $500. Think of the magnitude of that paradigm, which has only developed over the past twenty years!
We’re still in the early stages of this huge opportunity for individual investors with an interest in creating online real estate, as we first were over twelve years ago.
In hindsight (where vision is super clear) starting an online business in late midlife was our best alternative investment decision, even though it seemed intimidating at the time and we made many mistakes before becoming profitable consistently online.
I’ll share some of our online business experiences below so you can see that this is a very doable, financially rewarding and fulfilling adventure. I was on my mid-late 40’s when I began blogging and Larry was in his 50’s, with neither of us being tech savvy. In short, if we can do it, you can you, too, if you have a desire to create a low cost asset that generates income while you’re the boss.
Additionally, we feel that having an asset that generates income that is not corrected to politicians, Federal Reserve interest rate decisions or stock market declines lowers our financial risk. (Click Here to read my post on Ways to Lower Investment Risk.)
Best Businesses to Start Over 50
The online business ideas I’ll cover in this post are referred to as “lifestyle businesses”, as opposed to a startup business.
Lifestyle businesses are the best type of online businesses to start over 50 if you want to ease into retirement while capitalizing on your valuable expertise. With a lifestyle business you have more potential flexibility and freedom to work on your own schedule, limited hours and from any locale.
In fact, I have written this post while traveling to visit my best friend and celebrate at her daughter’s engagement party. I’ll be honest: There are some aspects of online business that feel like work, but most aspects of creating and running a blog are fun to me.
Besides locale and time freedom, the other distinguishing factor with a lifestyle business model vs a startup business is that you don’t begin with the plan to raise funds for expansion from angel investors, venture capitalists or by going public, although this sometimes happens. Sometimes lifestyle businesses obtain crowdfunding capital early on, however.
Speaking firsthand, I can vouch that a lifestyle business model is perfect for retirees who want to work a limited number of hours, control their own business and have extreme flexibility with almost zero capital. You’re the boss, and you don’t have to answer to investors with a lifestyle business. I think this is important for people of our age who may have had to answer to bosses for decades.
Not only this, but lifestyle online businesses can be begun while you’re still employed since you have time and freedom flexibility. This will allow you to get established and begin generating income streams before you retire. Having plenty of income streams to cover your lifestyle spending is at the core of retiring certain. (Click Here to read my post Retirement Income Goal.)
Ideas for Starting a Business at 50 Years Old or Later
The first step is starting an online business is deciding what kind of business to start. This decision will primarily stem from the amount of time and money you want to put into the business, and whether you want cash flow from the beginning or you’re happy to delay cash flow for a potential capital gain later.
Choosing which type of online business to start keeps many people from ever launching an online business. I completely understand this; it was hard for us to decide. You feel like you can’t go back, but you can. Our personal experience has been that after we got established online, unexpected various opportunities began coming to us. This happens with most online entrepreneurs.
In other words, don’t spend years searching ideas and then in decision mode as most successful online businesses tweak their original plan.
For example, several years after launching a financial education for women blog, and an options education blog, I decided to open an Amazon store, one of the models covered below.
Don’t get stuck deciding.
[bctt tweet=”Set a deadline and get started with your best online business idea by that deadline.” username=”retirecertain1″]
Borrowing a line from a movie about a ball park, if you build it will they come? Well, sort of. “They” will come if you provide sought out services, if you expand online with a couple of strategic social media channels and use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website. (This is less complicated than it sounds!)
Click here to read my post with 115 Business Ideas to Start Later in Life.
Below are the different types of online businesses that are easy to start and potential income streams for each.
Ideas for Starting a Business After 50
The ideas for an online business are endless. Having been through this in midlife and beyond, I’ll share ideas and lifestyle business models below that are low cost and easy to start.
The Blogging Website Model
Blogging is my favorite type of online business because it allows you to share content around a topic you enjoy so others can learn about it, too. As humans, I think we naturally like to help others. And, after midlife, you have earned expertise in at least one area, if not several.
The popular blog website model is usually an individual or very small group publishing online content about one or more topics. Blogs are known to reflect the owner’s style and opinions. Often, however, writers can eventually be hired to create at least some of the content when the topic can be easily researched and represented without the owner’s voice.
Most people don’t see the potential income streams behind a successful blog. There are many ways to make money with a blog, which is referred to monetizing.
In this post I’ll focus on the potential income streams from the various online business models. You can read about the advantages and disadvantages of the blogging business model and other important factors in my post here.
♦ Wealth Building Tip – Think of your website as almost free real estate that reaches a global market.
Consulting Income Streams
Consulting is a natural byproduct of blogging should you choose to pursue it. Through your blog, people get to know you, and what you provide content about. Then your readers and viewers ask for your help, which leads to consulting revenue.
Here is an example. From unexpected sources, after I launched my first financial education website I was hired to help financial firms expand online and also to host financial education workshops for financial advisors.
This means that you can get paid helping others with both your blog topic, and, later, helping others with what you’ve learned from establishing yourself online. Consulting opportunities can surface from both businesses and consumers.
Income Streams from Sponsors
Companies often seek popular bloggers to attach their brand to so they can quickly reach more people online. This is a logical fit since most bloggers typically have a following both on their website and in social media.
The obligations that come with being sponsored vary based on what the sponsor wants. It’s a good idea to have a strong business mission statement from the start so that when tempting opportunities surface, it’s easier to choose the best opportunities that align with your values.
Saying no to the wrong opportunities leaves room for saying yes to the right opportunities.
If the thought of helping a company you believe in better serve their market, then this income stream probably appeals to you.
Advertising Income Streams
After you get a large amount of traffic to your website, companies will pay you to run ads on your site. At least 10,000 page views a month is the target number to get started to generate a small amount of ad revenue. With 100,000 page views and up per month, you can start making some worthwhile ad revenue.
The nice thing about ad revenue is that it is passive income.
Note two things about advertising revenue.
- Page views are the number of pages people visit on your website. You can see how bloggers can build an asset that increases in value as page views increase simply by building a website that serves others.
- Companies will advertise on websites that align with the interests of their primary market as well as being in their primary market space.
For example, a website about RV’s will attract financial firms that want to reach an affluent market. This is because people that can afford to buy RV’s have extra money since they are buying RV’s. This makes them an ideal market for financial firms.
Likewise, a medical company with a drug for Alzheimer’s may want to advertise on a website for people in retirement. Both medical and financial advertising is particularly lucrative. As the website owner, you can choose advertisers that you think would truly benefit your readers.
Now you can see how building a blog can become your own (almost free) real estate with a global reach for any market you choose. That is a valuable little asset which can be built by one person, with very little cost providing an exceptional opportunity for those over 50 wanting to catch up wealth building, create income streams or both.
Again, it’s important to note that a blog is a project that can generate income streams and later be sold for a nice fat capital gain when structured with that end goal in mind. (Click Here to read my post How to Build Wealth with more on selling an online business – see #5.)
Affiliate Income Streams
Blogs can generate mostly passive income from affiliate sales. This typically happens when a blogger posts articles about a recommended product or service with a link to it. When a website visitor clicks the link and purchases the product, the blog owner gets a commission. Affiliate commission can range from 1% to 50% or higher.
Amazon affiliate commissions have been a popular income stream for bloggers over the past decade, but the commissions have become very low for most categories. This means that you must have a huge amount of traffic to your website for this revenue stream to be worthwhile. (You’re probably starting to see a correlation here regarding traffic and revenue.)
Even though some revenue streams are small initially, I found that a small amount of revenue can pay for you to build a website at no out of pocket cost and with less work. For example, you can use small revenue streams to buy subscription based software that allows you to expand, hire writers or pay a virtual assistant for a few hours a week.
This strategy allows a rare financial opportunity for website owners to build an asset for almost nothing beyond at least some time and management. Now you’re probably seeing why starting an online business can be a real game changer for people over 50 who have not met their financial retirement goals.
One common source of affiliate income comes from online small business owners promoting each other’s educational products for affiliate sales. In this case, affiliate sales are often in the 30% to 50% range, as compared to under 8% for Amazon affiliate commissions.
Again, you’re the gatekeeper, so you can decide what you promote based on what’s best for your readers.
Income Streams from Online Courses and Programs
A blog easily becomes a virtual store from which you can sell the products you choose to sell. One of the best ways to generate online income is by developing your own courses and programs, especially if you write for your own website.
You’ll find that there is always more you need to share to best serve others through your work. As a blogger, this allows you to provide courses and programs naturally align perfectly with your own writing and give others the opportunity to see if what you offer is what your readers want and need. This is true for most bloggers.
Of course, you can also sell products developed by others. Remember, a website is your very own little store, with a global reach. By being the owner, you can choose to sell products and services that align with your mission and values, although not every website owner does this, unfortunately.
Courses can be digital or live via webinars. You can choose from many different formats and structures based on your schedule and what your audience needs.
Income Streams from Apps or Software
In addition to courses, blogs are the ideal place to sell software or tech tools you develop that your readers have requested or need. For example, Larry developed trading software at our options education website that make the trading model easier to implement.
You can offer simple tools, too. For example, some financial bloggers sell spreadsheets with formulas that they use. Other bloggers develop apps of all types that cater to their readers. Most bloggers truly resonate with the needs of their readers since they are doing, or have done, what they write about.
For example, after seeing a need, we created multiple income streams for an early retirement, hence Retire Certain was born. I write about what I am doing and have recently done. It’s very fulfilling getting to share this information with others who are interested in this same topic.
Larry traded professionally for over three decades, so he teaches other what he learned about options trading. He loves being able to do this.
After moving overseas I became the family investor after having grown up in the 1960’s so I began FinancialWoman.com to offer financial education for other women investors.
This is what we know. It’s very rewarding to write, teach, or coach about these topics, and develop tools that help others master them. If you’re reading at Retire Certain, I’ll bet you know a few areas inside and out. What are they, and does it interest you to help others master them?
You may have noticed that most of your friends and family don’t really want to hear about your expertise area every time they see you. This can feel frustrating, especially after you leave the work force and loose your tribe of fellow geeks around your area of expertise, whether that be technology, teaching or photography.
What is truly wonderful about online business is that there is an entire group of people who do eagerly want to hear about your area of expertise, and to learn more from you about it.
Income Streams from Products
Just like with courses, there is a good chance that there are physical products you can sell that will naturally align with your website visitors. This is because people tend to build websites that align with their areas of expertise, particularly with blogs and publishing websites.
As someone with expertise in a particular area, you’re going to naturally buy products related to the topic of your website. Therefore, you’ve probably already bought and tested various products in your niche.
Selling physical products related to your area of expertise is another potential income stream that naturally fits with your online business.
It’s simple to create a page on your website where you offer recommended products. The products can be sold from a link to your own product listing on Amazon. This was easy to set up on two of my websites. Alternatively, you can use software that allows you to sell directly to consumers from your website.
The Amazon Online Business Model
A popular and simple online business to start is an Amazon store. This is because you can gain immediate access to an enormous market of buyers who are searching for exactly what you sell. Not only are the customers searching for what you sell, Amazon probably already has all of their payment and shipping information stored to make checkout fast and easy. Amazon will even take care of shipping and customer service for you for a fee.
You can create and sell your own brand of products, as I did, or you can sell the products of other brands.
While there are many successful Amazon store owners, selling on Amazon is fiercely competitive for highly searched products. As someone who has both an Amazon store and several blog type of online businesses, I prefer to build my own assets where I set the rules. I also like to bring potential customers to my own online real estate, not someone else’s.
The Amazon model can work well for people who already have physical products, have patented products, or are not interested in creating content from writing, videos or courses.
A publishing website is very similar to a blog or may even begin as a blog. With a publishing website, also sometimes known as an authority website, various experts share content around a common theme or topic.
This style of online business is best for people who are well organized and somewhat extroverted since the business centers around finding experts to supply content.
Establishing and managing a publishing website, however, can be most almost completely outsourced, which is a huge advantage. Since the website owner doesn’t necessarily need to write any or all of the content, her time is free to run some of the other aspects of the business or work at an outside job.
The same income streams can be generated from the publishing website as from a blog. Because of the amount of content that can be generated at publishing websites, they can grow very quickly, especially when the right outsourcers are hired by the website owners.
This model can be ideal for people who don’t want to write but are passionate about helping others learn more about a topic.
The Brochure Online Business Model
If you already have an existing business that you want to keep, or grow, creating a brochure type of website can expand your reach and increase your revenue.
This online business model works for both local businesses, such as a dog trainer, that can only serve customers in their area or businesses can serve a national market, such as a CPA. This model works great for consultants, professionals, and anyone who can serve their clients over the phone or on a webinar (or Skype) with a screen share feature.
Many small business websites aren’t optimally set up for expanding customer reach. Most people hire website developers to build their websites, instead of hiring someone with a marketing focus to at least help design the website.
Every type of small business can benefit from a marketing focused website that naturally draws those customers they wish to serve. Such a website also lays the foundation for increasing the value of their business through a strong online presence, as well as increasing income from both existing and additional online offerings.
So if you are an existing small business owner that wants to have an online business, explore whether you can expand your existing business by reaching more customers online.
The YouTube Online Business Model
You may not think of YouTube as a potential online business model, but it is and here is why. YouTube is a way to attract your ideal customer by providing videos that share your expertise with those wishing to experience or learn more in your specific area of expertise. This works because YouTube is a search engine.
You can even craft your videos and content so that your videos appear on page one when people search for specific topics in which you are an expert. Not only this, but people go to YouTube to learn or to solve a problem. If you’re in the second half of life, you almost certainly have some answers to help solve those problems.
For example, I have gotten offers from financial firms who found me from YouTube searches, as well as being contacted by people seeking financial coaching.
Much like a properly set up blog, businesses and consumers can not only find you, but they can also easily see if you’re a good fit for what they are seeking by simply consuming your content.
This is because there is just not a lot of hiding behind a camera or your own written word. Others can easily see what you know. This leads to an authentic connection, the perfect foundation for successful business relationships.
You can also invite your YouTube viewers to come to your website for more information.
If this appeals to you, you can do the same thing. Most people either hate the thought of creating videos or they enjoy making them. Maybe like you, I find it’s easy to talk about what I know about since I talk better than I type.
Many YouTube channels have success with earning commissions from affiliate product sales or ad revenue. Again, you need a lot of traffic to your channel to make significant income from affiliate sales or YouTube ads. If, however, you can make a little money to cover the costs of video editing or a virtual assistant, these passive income streams can be worthwhile for the little effort it takes to implement them.
Much like a website, you can generate multiple income streams from your YouTube channel. YouTube has been a big contributor to our online businesses over the years from just talking about what we know in front of the camera.
Our son usually edits our videos but I have also hired students to edit videos, too. Many are eager to make some extra money and get some work experience on their resumes.
With the trend toward video viewing vs text, almost every business can benefit from an optimized YouTube online business strategy.
You may be wondering about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as online business models. While some online entrepreneurs have used each of these social media platforms to start an online business, I consider these platforms as a way to enhance a business model rather than build a business. (The best social media platform to use will vary based on who you want to serve.)
This is because none of these platforms are search based, and content flows through them very quickly.
Like YouTube and Amazon, however, the rules can change against you abruptly, but at least with YouTube and Amazon you have potential customers coming right to you based on what they are searching to solve or buy.
Here’s a video about the Pros and Cons of starting a business from my YouTube channel:
Your Next Step to Start an Online Business
If you’re still reading this long post, your heart is telling you to start an online business. Again, an online business still provides am amazing opportunity to reach a global market for almost no cost while doing both lucrative and fulfilling work.
If you’re not sure where or how to start, I’d love to help you. Click here to hire me. This is my favorite consulting because I have seen how an online business can create wealth without capital in my own life and the lives of others.