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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork.Inc, co-founder of Notable, and host of the Thrive School podcast.

15 thoughts on “The 7 Revenue Streams Entrepreneurs Should Know and Love

  1. I’m tapping into Affiliate Marketing right now and looking to be more of a brand ambassador. I just got my first brand ambassador gig and wow, if I could get 1 a month that would be awesome! Anyway, I love the way you break each revenue stream down and provide examples.

  2. John,
    Out of all the folks I have interacted with on the Platform University forum you seemed to be the most active. I like the content you are producing and would love to model your online presence.

    Your Daily Life Navigation ebook was incredible, the professionalism of your content is what stands out!

    Great work my young friend!

    1. Thanks Ronnie! I appreciate the kind words, and look forward to seeing what exciting things you accomplish in the upcoming year.

  3. Thanks John! Timing is perfect! I’ve been working on the coaching stream – and now as I try to put a book together, I have felt like needed other products, courses, etc. I’ve caught myself running in circles.
    I needed the reminder to stay coaching and add only the book. Then add the other things – but not till I’m done.
    I am breathing better already.

  4. Hi John
    I ran a blog for two years without considering any of these revenue streams. Now I am focused on two i am optimistic of better results. Thanks for anither brilliant post.

    1. Glad to help, Wole! I know it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of blogging while forgetting these options.

  5. Hi, John,

    I did the same mistake when I started out. Now I just concentrate on coaching and affiliate programs. Up next will be a course as a product.

    Doing one thing at a time and getting good at it worked so much better than my initial effort of “everything at once”.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. That’s encouraging to hear I’m not alone in starting out scattered, Sue Anne! I think you’re onto something with that coaching and affiliate program focus at first, I’m finding those are the easiest to get off the ground.

      1. It’s what I tell my clients (that are in a niche that they can do coaching in)- always start with coaching. In fact, Jon Morrow recommends doing nothing but coaching till you get to $100,000 since it’s the easiest to start with.


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