In the world of online business, getting started can be the hardest part. That initial traction—or lack thereof—is what projects entrepreneurs along a path of success or failure.
I'd been blogging consistently for about a year when I was ready to create a new business.
I looked at successful entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt, and thought,
They've got so much going on, and it all seems to work. I guess I'll just do everything at once!
Yup, you guessed it. That didn't last long.
I started by filling my blog with affiliate links and creating a tools page to feature the best. After about six months, I got my first payout of $11.59.
Next, I created speaking and coaching pages and waited (with bated breath) for the clients to pour in. In those first months, I had some success but only brought in $580 total.
That whole time, I was working on a half dozen products I had in mind—none of which I ended up selling.
That's no way to run a business.
The key to success is essentialism—what Greg McKeown defines as “the disciplined pursuit of less.”
It's tempting to pursue every opportunity at once, but all you'll likely end up doing is making marginal progress in each direction you choose.
If you want to succeed, you need to select one—at most two—revenue streams, and pour your energy and focus on those. Once you've established your primary revenue streams, it's okay to expand but not until your foundation is secure.
In the world of platform-building, there are thousands of products or services you have the option to create. Each of these, it turns out, leads to one of seven revenue stream opportunities.
1. Coaching Services
If you have the talent, this could be the quickest revenue stream to get off the ground.
Wherever you're at, you have your own set of strengths and experience that together form perspective that people will pay you to give.
Call it coaching, consulting, or counseling—the general framework is the same.
- My Strategic Business Advisor Services,
- Bryan Harris's Take Me Under Your Wing program, and
- Michael Hyatt's BusinessAccelerator Program.
Note that in each example, pricing is based on the value provided, rather than an hourly rate.
2. Digital Products
The options here alone are endless and require little capital to get off the ground.
Digital products can form revenue that is passive, as you continuously earn revenue once the product is done.
Note that digital products include software, as much as downloadable ebooks or apps.
- Notable Themes Products,
- CoSchedule's Editorial Calendar, and
- Jonathan Milligan's 15 Success Traits of Pro Bloggers ebook.
3. Affiliate Income
Affiliate income is attractive because you earn money off of recommending products other people have already made.
The trick is, affiliate income requires traffic—and tends to build slowly, as passive revenue that grows over time.
If you want to make this count, promote just one or two products like crazy on your site.
- Why You Need to Switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit Right Now,
- Pat Flynn's Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial, and
- Craig Jarrow's Weekly Blog Sponsor.
4. Physical Products
In addition to building revenue, physical products are a great way to establish authority in your field.
For this reason, most bloggers jump straight to writing books—which are powerful but take time to get off the ground.
There's a lot of opportunities here because many online businesses avoid physical products altogether.
- Michael Hyatt's Full Focus Planner,
- Dave Seah's Emergent Task Planner, and
- Evernote's Moleskine Business Notebook.
5. Public Speaking
Public speaking is like coaching for the masses, taking your perspective to a much larger audience.
Building a speaking business takes time and dedication, but can get you high-paying gigs if you play your cards right.
If you want to succeed here, gather stellar testimonials, and make every connection that you can.
- Jennifer McClure uses her experience to educate human resources teams,
- Michele Cushatt uses her talents to energize audiences as a Master of Ceremonies, and
- Ken Davis uses humor to inspire corporate and faith-based audiences around the world.
6. Membership Sites
Membership sites take a lot of work but can generate stable revenue if you plan your product right.
Again, you have a unique perspective to share—whether it's experience or knowledge you have that people crave.
You'll notice that there are two types of membership sites: those with monthly membership and those with a one-time fee.
- Michael Hyatt's Platform University,
- Jeff Goin's Tribe Writers course, and
- My upcoming video course The Get Noticed™ Theme Unlocked.
7. Live Events
A conference, webinar, or other live events can be an incredible opportunity to impact a large audience in a concentrated amount of time.
These take a lot of coordination to successfully pull off, but the income from a full-length conference can be huge.
- Chris Guillebeau's World Domination Summit,
- Ken Davis's SCORRE Conference, and
- Michael Stelzner's Social Media Marketing World.
These few examples of each revenue stream should inspire you with many ideas of your own. Now, remember—pick one or two. The other ideas will have to wait, and come in turn.
Very few businesses use every one of these revenue streams and perform them well.
It's better to focus on one or two revenue stream opportunities than to have a small measure of success in each one.
Since I've refocused, my business has gone through the roof. I've established my coaching services and built affiliate income—by putting all other projects aside.
With revenue stream clarity, you and your business could (and should) do the same.
Question: What revenue stream are you focusing on right now?