With the proliferation of online services, there are now a whole host of online business opportunities. Not all online businesses will be successful, but with due diligence, research and marketing, they can be incredibly profitable. Here’s a look at how to transform your idea into a profitable venture.

Choosing a business model

In looking at how to start an online business, one key step is selecting a ‘Revenue Generation’ business model that will determine how you generate money. For example:


Becoming an Amazon seller allows you to sell your products through its marketplace. With its fulfilment centre, Amazon can even package and dispatch the items, saving you time.


For this supply chain model, stock is shipped to your customer directly from the manufacturer’s warehouse. While you lose control of stock management and shipping control, you’ll save costs on storage and inventory holding.

Site advertising

This is typically pay-per-click by displaying adverts from an ad network, such as Google AdSense, on a website or blog.


Many apps will have a free version but will drive revenue from premium charged versions or in-app purchases.

Affiliate Marketing

Sign up for an affiliate scheme to promote products via a URL, and you’ll generate a commission-based percentage of revenue from each sale.

Membership Model

This involves content or a service supplied on an ongoing basis that members pay an ongoing fee to access, from coaching to webinars.


While similar to the membership model, this involves a subscription fee for the use of software, often on a recurring monthly basis.


The most straightforward and most common model is selling services or products.


Be your own boss as a contractor and you can work with a variety of clients, with web development, graphic design and marketing being particularly in demand.

Marketing your business

It’s important to prioritise search engine optimisation (SEO), for example through the creation of in-depth blog posts and articles, together with appealing images and video on a fast loading website. You can utilise search engine marketing (SEM) to promote your business via paid search while improving its ranking in natural (unpaid) search engine results in the longer term. Effective marketing methods include:

Email outreach

A 122% ROI puts email at the top of strategies to boost your business. Consider relevancy, frequency, discounts and updates to keep subscribers engaged.

Social media

Tailor which platforms you use for your business and use them to engage with your audience.

Influencer marketing

Collaborating with influencers allows you to reach their audience, which can involve a decent following on their blog and social media or email list.

Partner up

Join forces with another relevant business to split the responsibilities, double your reach and share the rewards.

Content marketing

Amalgamate all the methods of advertising, paid advertisements, influencers and SEO by producing engaging content that will accrue a loyal readership.

How to start an online business

Find your niche by assessing consumer needs, trends, and what you can offer. Decide on your revenue model then your marketing tactics and build traffic to your website by engaging, informing and persuading your audience. While paying attention to analytics, use the data and marketing techniques to convert readers and visitors into customers, transforming your idea into a successful, profitable online business.