There are different revenue streams you can use to move your online business forward and start earning money. However, the trick is to know which one to use at what time and for which business.
Typically you’re a coach, consultant, trainer or teacher. You have knowledge and experience, have gone through some life lessons and want to share what you’ve learned with others.
You decide to do this through an online business. But how are you going to share your services? In which format are you going to sell them?
Here are 14 ways most online entrepreneurs use to generate income, how each of them work, and when it’s time to move to the next one.
1. One-on-One Coaching
The most obvious revenue stream is one-on-one coaching. You might think this takes a lot of time and effort, and you’re right. But I firmly believe that you have to learn how to sell to one person before you start selling to many.
This doesn’t mean you have to sell each session separately. You can sell your sessions in packages to save yourself a lot of marketing effort and have more time to actually do coaching.
As you start to better understand the needs of your clients, you can raise the price of your packages and have them run longer, maybe even turn them into some sort of a retainer.
A retainer is a special form of one-on-one coaching where your client pays you a fixed fee for a pre-defined period of time in which you as a coach are available to that client, instead of having fixed hours.
You don’t have to do one-on-one coaching forever, but it’s definitely one of the best ways to start your business. Once you’ve reached a certain revenue limit or you’re fully booked with one-on-one sessions, you know it’s time to move to the next revenue stream.
2. Group Coaching
Now that you’ve worked with a number of one-on-one clients, you’re ready for group coaching.
You’ll want to reduce the time you spend coaching one-on-one and dedicate at least one day per week to coach groups. This way you can serve more clients in the same amount of time, basing your content on what you’ve learned serving your one-on-one clients.
Most group coaching programs start with six people in a group, but there’s no set rule on how small or big a group coaching program should be. However, it’s not really a group unless you have four people. They want the input from other members of the group, so keep an eye out on the size of the group.
3. Online Course
Once you’ve done group coaching for a while, you’ll be trying to figure out how you can reach the next level.
You can increase prices, or have larger groups. But what if you suddenly get sick, or want to go on an extended holiday? In these cases, you can’t run your group program.
This is where online courses come in. They provide a way to move from one-on-one to a group, and from a group to a large number of clients.
Online courses are typically up to 12 weeks long and consist of different modules in which content is being drip fed. This means that participants usually get access to one module a week.
The thing with online courses is that a lot of people sign up but then never finish the course. By drip feeding course material, guiding the participants and letting them know clearly what they should work on each week, many more people finish the course, instead of when all the content is just dropped on them.
4. Membership Site
Let’s imagine you work in an industry where you serve the general public. What you provide is nice to have, but there is no pressing need for it. In this case, your clients might profit more from a membership site instead of a signature online course.
People typically join a membership site for the content and for the community. So you have to think about how you’re going to match those two together in order for your future clients to sign up.
A mastermind is a group of people who are in similar situations who support each other. The coach’s role is more that of facilitating the group rather than actively teaching the people in the group. The main reason to join a Mastermind is to brainstorm, get feedback and discuss with the other members. Participants are looking to learn from each other.
If you’re thinking about creating your mastermind group, note that participants should be advanced in their field of business, as should you. There should be no need for accountability because everyone in the group already is accountable. A mastermind is all about bringing great minds together.
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Offering a retreat to your clients is not really a big money maker and it shouldn’t be the first thing you offer. It only makes sense when you already have a sustainable business that is growing and want to work on a deeper level with your best clients.
On retreats I’ve done, I’ve taken groups of my best clients to Iceland. We did some sightseeing and talked about our businesses. It’s the perfect way for your clients (and yourself!) to grow as business owners and come up with wonderful insights and ideas.
A retreat is meant to serve your top clients on a higher level, and you should price it accordingly.
7. Live events
Live events are a way of bringing your audience to the next level as well as market yourself. If you already have an online course or a group coaching program, having a live event brings everyone together who is interested in your program or course.
If you want to build a community, you can do so online. However, I found that after I started to run live events, my online community grew stronger because they met in the offline world too.
Books are a great way to distinguish yourself from other people. If you put your own book out there, you can reach a larger number of people and wake their interest in your online course or membership site.
I haven’t written my book yet, but I’m planning to within the next 12 months.
Don’t hold back on speaking. If someone invites you to speak and you think your ideal client could be sitting in the audience, you should do it even if you’re not getting paid. It brings you in front of a new audience, and that’s really important. Once you’ve built a brand and are successful, you can start charging for speaking.
Also think about doing a TEDx talk. They’re not paid, but they’re like a quality mark and help give you accountability.
10. Licensing and Certification
If you’ve already been in business for a few years and have created a recognised brand, it might be time to offer a coaching certification. You can do this by offering people to pay for a program and become certified to teach the specific method of your program. Or you can license out your online course by letting another person run it in their program.
Licensing and certification is typically something you do when you’re already in the higher stages of your business. It’s a good way to create a passive income revenue stream.
You can generate revenue by becoming an affiliate for another business. I have affiliates who are successful students of SOMBA and have a story to tell. They can earn a percentage by becoming an affiliate and promoting SOMBA.
Affiliate revenue typically comes from you promoting another business’s program and sharing their links. You can do this through Facebook live, a webinar or emails. This is how you collect leads for the person you’re trying to get the affiliate commission from.
Referrals are more hands on. You recommend a program or course and the person signing up for it then confirms your referral and you receive a referral fee.
You can create your own software. I ran a software company and have a Master’s degree in computer science. Now and again, I’m think about creating software to sell. However, it’s important that you would use the software for your own business. It’s always best to think about how you can solve your own problems and find clients out there with the same problems.
14. Magazines and Apps
I’ve had clients who have created their own magazines or apps. You can download them for free and if you want to use the service beyond what is offered in the initial version, it becomes subscription based.
If you’re thinking about using this as a revenue stream, be aware that much like with a membership site, it needs time to build up and you need a large community for it to pay off. People expect apps to be free, so you need to think about an add-on that will make people want to pay for the service.
Even if right now, you can’t imagine making money with some of the above mentioned revenue streams, it’s still good to know they exist. One day, you might want to use them for your online business.
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