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16 Best Online Business Models (2020)

Online businesses have completely disrupted the way people make passive income over the last two decades, becoming a realistic means of commerce and revenue today. Not only has the online business niche taken over, but the variety of models used to generate recurring revenue and grow traffic to a site has increased as well. 

Some online businesses are set up as a store and built around selling a product, while other online businesses can make money simply through posts, clicks, and affiliations. The internet has truly changed the way we look at making money remotely. 

Making money online is a realistic way to earn a passive income, and you have a variety of models to choose from. However, some of those will be slow, require more effort and resources, and take expertise to be successful. 

Despite this, building an online business is much easier than creating a brick and mortar store. The capital costs are significantly lower, working remotely allows for more flexibility, the barriers to start online are far less, and depending on which model you choose the the return on investment can be very high (depending on the time and effort put in).

But what are the models that exist and which one is going to make you the most money? 

Below, we will discuss each online business model in detail and explain the pros and cons of each. At the conclusion of this article, you should leave with an understanding of the best models and business ideas that will work for you. Here is an interesting quiz created by Chris at BigHappyProfits to help you understand which business model is right for you.

1. AdSense or Other Display Ads

What are display ads?

Display ads are seen on almost all websites. Display ads are ad units that you place on your website as a way of monetizing visits and clicks. You will usually see ads at the top or side of a sites page, however they can also show up as videos or pop-ups. 

AdSense and ad networks – How does it all work?

Display ads that are placed on your website will generate revenue when a user visits your website and clicks the advertisement. There are various display advertising avenues you can choose from. The display ad you choose may depend on the ad space available on your webpage, the niche of your site, or the host of your website. 

AdSense, which is owned and managed by Google, is one of the most popular ad networks to choose from when considering display ads. You control where the ad is displayed on your website, and Google handles the rest. As AdSense is a Google program, you have to sign up for the AdSense program to receive the HTML code to paste onto your website (this code allows the ad to be displayed on your site).

Once the code is applied to your website, Google does all the work and keeps track of page visits and ad clicks. You can view all of these analytics through a Google AdSense account. AdSense will add your revenue to your AdSense account, where it will need to meet a minimum requirement of $100 for you to receive a cheque from Google.

If you want to find out more on how to set up AdSense, including a step-by-step process,check out the Google AdSense Get Started page.

If your site is set up using a free WordPress account, you will have to use WordAds, a display ad program for free WordPress users. You have to have a WordPress account to sign up for WordAds and add it to your site. WordAds will share a portion of the earnings with you, while WordPress keeps a portion for themselves.

WordAds’ earnings are calculated by impressions only. This means that you earn a portion of the revenue when a user visits your website, rather than clicks on a link. WordAds are paid on a monthly basis when your balance is greater than $100. 

Depending on the niche of your site, there are a host of niche-specific ad networks available for site owners to earn revenue through. Most of them work in a similar fashion to Adsense and WordAds – you simply set up a code on your site and the network keeps track of all the analytics for you, paying you out monthly based on a certain threshold. 

How much money can I make?

Display ads can turn a substantial amount of impressions and clicks to money in your pocket, but it doesn’t happen immediately or even overnight. Especially if you have a new website that has yet to attract a large number of daily visitors. For this reason, generating substantial passive income with AdSense can be slow. However, there are ways to speed up the process.

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You will need to make sure that traffic is directed to your website so that you can get as many impressions, visitors, and page clicks as possible. The more impressions and clicks, the more AdSense will pay.

Alternatively, you can purchase a website with AdSense ads that has already begun to generate traffic. We’ll touch more on this below.

Monetizing your blog or website with Google AdSense on a site that is new and has just begun to create a following will only make around $100 monthly. And remember, you need to meet the minimum threshold of $100 for Google to send you a cheque. This means that it may take months to receive your first payment depending on the quantity and quality of traffic to your site. 

Websites with moderate followings and high volume traffic will likely make between $500 and $1,000 each month, if not more.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who has created an online empire and attracts millions of visitors each month, you can create a substantial income with Google AdSense and display ads. These websites can generate tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue per month.

Examples of websites that use display ads

The low-end potential for income by using display ads will be websites like personal blogs, niche websites, and topic-specific websites. These are websites that tally a few hundred visitors each month because of the specificity of the website.

The high-end potential for income by using display ads are websites like Daily Mail and eHow. These websites cover a variety of topics and have millions of daily page views.

Where can you buy these websites and how can you increase traffic to your website?

Display ads are only successful if there are visitors on your website to click the ads. This means you need people visiting your site. As we mentioned above, you can purchase websites that are already set up with display ads and have an established following. If you already have a site, then you will need to focus on getting more traffic to your site, which is best done by focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and various link building strategies like this one.

If you’re in the market to purchase a site, online vendors like Flippa, MotionInvest, EmpireFlippers, and FE International are constantly selling websites that specialize in monetization through display ads. You can search the many websites they have listed to find what works for you. These websites can be niche-specific, such as a website dedicated to recipes and cooking, or they can cover a broad range of topics, such as a website dedicated to reviewing various products.

If you have created your own website and need to increase the web traffic so that you can maximize the earnings of your display ads, you need to create content that will attract visitors and rank on the search engine results page through SEO.

SEO means creating content on your website through posts or landing pages that include keywords (long-tail and short-tail keywords) for the search engine to “read” and rank your website on the first page of the results.

Pros:

  • Easy to Use: Display ads are very user-friendly with the idea that you need to spend less time creating ads and more time creating content to bring visitors (and keep visitors) on your website. 
  • Free: With a Google or WordPress account, you can use AdSense or WordAds on your website or blog for free. 
  • Good income potential: If you have a site with high traffic volume, all you have to do is sit back and watch the revenue roll in. 
  • Analytics: You have the ability to view how well your display ads are doing by examining the analytics. You can see how many average impressions and clicks are calculated on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This allows you to make necessary adjustments as needed to maximize the monetization of the display ads. 

Cons:

  • Revenue Threshold: AdSense, WordAds and most other ad networks require you to reach a certain threshold before you can receive your money. Because monetization from display ads can be a slow process, it may take months to reach that threshold, especially if your website is in its infancy.
  • Low & Slow: Piggybacking on the idea above, the amount of revenue you receive in the beginning is not likely to provide a full-time passive income. This doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there. It is just a slow process with low levels of income in the beginning.

Who is this model right for?

Display ads (AdSense, WordAds) are best for websites and blogs that offer interesting content that will attract a large number of visitors each day. These can be niche websites, content-specific websites, or general blogs/sites that may have a little something for everyone.

2. Amazon Associate

What is the Amazon Associate program?

The Amazon associate program is also known as the Amazon affiliate program. When you post an Amazon link to a product, you can receive up to 10% in advertising fees when that product is purchased. 

How does the Amazon Associate program work?

When you sign up to be an Amazon associate, you have access to the many products that are sold on Amazon. Amazon will have a specific link that you will need to share on your website or blog. When a user clicks the link and makes a purchase, you receive a percentage in advertising fees. 

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How much money can you make as an Amazon Associate?

Your earnings depend on the product you have linked to sell. The maximum earning is 10% of the advertising price. You do not receive any earnings from gift cards, subscription products, alcoholic beverages, food preparations, or Prime wardrobe services.

To explain how it works, let’s use an example. Let’s say you have a niche-specific website that specializes in video games. As an Amazon associate, you can list products related to video games, such as video games and consoles themselves, or video game accessories, like gaming headsets and gaming chairs.

In this niche, the fee you would receive from Amazon for selling video games and video game consoles is only 1%. Video game accessories will likely receive the fee related to the product category (i.e. furniture is 8% and headphones are 6%).

This niche is specific to a certain audience and therefore you’ll have to target those types of people to increase your affiliate sales. Due to this niche being so specific and it’s affiliate marketing fees being low, the video game niche may fall on the low-end for potential income.

On the other hand, a website related to an online marketplace with a higher demand or a website that has a little bit of everything to offer visitors has the potential to make a larger amount of money.

Here is the Amazon fee schedule at a glimpse:

As you can see, the largest fee is for luxury beauty and Amazon coins, and the schedule tiers down from there.

How do you get started as an Amazon Associate?

You will need to set up a website or purchase an Amazon affiliate website that has already been created in order to host Amazon affiliate products. You will also have to create an account to become an Amazon affiliate. It is free, and you have access to over a million products that are offered on Amazon.

Once you have created an account and developed (or purchased) a website, you are ready to link products and earn money.

Where can you buy this type of business?

In addition to Flippa, you can also purchase Amazon affiliate websites at MotionInvest, EmpireFlippers, and FE International. These types of vendors allow you to search for sites, view their total monthly revenue, and offer a variety of different niches to choose from. There are many different sites to choose from, so it is important to keep in mind that the niche you choose may have an impact on your overall potential income.

Pros:

  • Free to start: There’s no fee to get started as an Amazon Associate. Just build your site, set up an account through Amazon, and get your links. 
  • Lots of products to choose from: Amazon is one of the largest online vendors and affiliate marketing programs in the world, so no matter what your niche is, you can probably find products related to it on Amazon. 
  • Reliable: Amazon is one of the largest ecommerce platforms in the world so there’s no need to worry about affiliate payments being made on time or links not working. 
  • Customizable ads: Banner, text, text and image, and social media sharing are all available through the Amazon Associate program.

Cons:

  • Affiliate links: Users must click the link you provide and make a purchase for you to get credit.
  • Reliant on traffic: Because the program is based on affiliate links, your revenue is tied to not only the amount of traffic you get to your site, but also the quality of the traffic. 
  • Low rates: While 10% is the most you can earn on specific items, the average rate for most Amazon Associates is between 2% and 6%.

Who is the Amazon Associate model right for?

The Amazon Associate program is best for bloggers and website owners that focus on a specific niche. When a visitor arrives to your site, they are likely interested in what your website is centered around. For example, if you have a website that is all about camping, you will attract visitors to your website who are interested in camping gear, equipment, and information. Linking an Amazon product related to your website will increase the chances that the product is purchased. 

3. Affiliate Programs

What is an affiliate program?

An affiliate marketing program is a reward (usually in the form of revenue) that you earn from the business you are marketing. Rewards will vary between businesses.

How does an affiliate program work?

The stipulations will vary between businesses, but the concept is the same. When a user purchases a product from an affiliate link you provided, you will receive a reward. As the reward will vary between businesses, you will need to familiarize yourself with the incentives that are offered from each business.

Each business will also offer a specific cookie duration with their affiliate links. When a user clicks the link you have provided, they have enabled a cookie on their browser. This cookie remains active for a period of time that the affiliate marketing program has allowed.

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For example, if a user clicks the link and does not make the purchase immediately, but returns to buy the product at a later time, you will still receive the reward as long as the cookie duration has not ended. You will need to know the cookie duration for the affiliate program you are interested in. 

What are some of the best affiliate programs?

There is an affiliate marketing program for every area of business. Shopping, traveling, sporting equipment, and web-building. Below are some examples of affiliate programs for all of these areas. 

Shopify store – Top and trusted e-commerce platform that makes buying easy for users. Earn 200% commission with 30-day cookies.

TripAdvisor – The world’s largest trusted travel company. Earn 50% commission with 14-day cookies.

Dick’s Sporting Goods – Top sporting goods retailer. Earn 5% commission with 10-day cookies.

Wix– The website builder for over 109 million users. Earn $100 per each sale with unlimited referrals. 

How much money can you make as an affiliate?

As you have seen in the section above, it depends on the business and its incentives. Some businesses offer larger commissions and rewards than others. For example, with TripAdvisor, you can earn 50% commission, whereas Dick’s Sporting Goods only offers a 5% commission. The more traffic you have on your website, the greater the opportunity you have to maximize your earnings.

However, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one affiliate program to link on your website. To maximize your earnings, you will want one website that will link to many different affiliate programs.

For example, a website dedicated to all things good might offer recipes and cooking tips for people to browse through. A site like this could use affiliate links to various cooking products and kitchenware in order to generate recurring revenue. The only problem is that it can take time to go business-to-business asking to become an affiliate or searching a site to find the appropriate affiliate program information. This is where affiliate programs like ClickBank come into play. ClickBank is a website dedicated to affiliate marketing websites and affiliate programs. In the ClickBank Marketplace, simply choose the category of your website and select which affiliates you want to feature on your website.

With a website that promotes many different affiliates, you can easily earn $300/day, and it will likely grow. This is the moderate to high-end potential for income, and the more traffic you generate to your website, the more this number will grow.

Where can you buy an affiliate website?

Websites like Flippa, MotionInvest, and FE International are great places to search for websites that are available to purchase immediately. Once purchased, you can take the website that has already been created and add additional affiliate links so that you can maximize your earnings.

Pros:

  • Free and easy to use: Affiliate programs are free to use and generally pretty easy to set up and get a link from. Affiliate programs are a great starting point for beginners.
  • Grab a link and go: Links are created by the business making it easy for you to just copy and paste to your website or blog.
  • Flexibility: Links may also be shared via social media for additional marketing.
  • High rates: Earnings will vary anywhere from 5% to 200% depending on the affiliate program.
  • High potential: One website can include many different affiliate links, maximizing your potential earnings.

Cons:

  • Cookie limits: Rewards are only issued through cookies. If the cookie expires, you are not rewarded.
  • Reliant on traffic: Affiliate programs, like most, rely on the quality of your traffic being good. If you’re just starting out as a new website, it can take some time to grow your traffic volume. 

Who are affiliate programs right for?

Anyone who has a website or blog can benefit from an affiliate program. Links are created by the affiliate program for easy copy-and-pasting to your website or blog. If you’re a beginner or just getting started with a new site or blog, setting up some affiliate links is an easy way to start generating revenue and dip your toes into the online business game. 

4. Lead Gen Sites

What are lead gen sites?

Lead gen is short for lead generation. Lead gen sites are websites that find quality leads for a specific business. These leads will need to have the potential and meet certain criteria in order to be acceptable. Businesses will want quality leads that they will likely be able to turn into a customer.

How do lead gen sites work?

A lead gen website will have a call-to-action (CTA) link that will ask users to provide their information when they click it. The CTA will obtain the user’s information and provide it to the business. The business will then take the lead and attempt to turn it into a new customer.

How do you make money with a lead gen site?

The company will need to purchase the leads from you in order for you to make money. Otherwise, you are gaining information on customers for no real reason. You may set up a website that is already linked to a business that will purchase your leads from you, or you may need to obtain leads in the hopes of finding a business that will buy them. Either way, the concept is the same. The business will have to buy the leads. 

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What are some examples of lead gen sites?

To give you an idea of what a lead gen site is and how it looks like, here are examples of some of the top performing lead gen sites: 

What are some examples of generating leads?

As we mentioned above, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) on your website that will ask users to give their information (name, email address, phone number), so it is important to know how to ask for this information.

1.   Subscribe/Email Updates: Asking users to provide their information so that they can be the first to receive the latest information on the product or service you are providing will increase the chances that a user provides their information. 

2.   Free Trials: If the business is selling a product or service, you can obtain information from leads by giving them a free trial if they provide you with their information.

3.   Social Media Ads: Integrating your website with a social media call-to-action ad can increase the number of leads you generate.

4.   Coupon/Promo/Discount Offer: Create a pop-up call-to-action that will offer the visitor a coupon, discount, or promotional code if they provide you with their information.

How much money can lead gen sites make?

The amount of money you can make from lead generation depends on how much you sell the leads for. Leads can be sold for anywhere between $5 and $50 each. The more leads you sell, the more money you will make.

Pros:

  • High potential: The potential to make large amounts of money is very high with a lead gen site, however requires a lot of work on the backend.
  • Multiple paths to success: There are various ways to obtain lead information
  • High demand: Many businesses’ sole purpose is to buy leads in order to generate recurring revenue, so the demand for in this niche is high. 

Cons:

  • Effort and expertise required: Some businesses may require you to have a phone conversation with the lead prior to purchasing leads from you. 
  • Inconsistent revenue: Income may be inconsistent ($5 per lead from one business up to $50 per lead from another business). Many businesses will use lead gen tools once or twice and then stop, so this model is reliant on a high churn rate. 
  • High quality leads: Because businesses are purchasing something from you, you’ll have to make sure that the leads you’re selling are high quality, otherwise your business will suffer. 

Where can you buy a lead gen site?

If you want to purchase a lead gen site that is specifically designed with a niche or market in mind, you can find what you’re looking for on websites such as Sir Links a Lot. Websites like Sir Links a Lot will create a lead gen website that’s SEO optimized, has a unique layout, and a personalized logo. 

5. Apps

What are apps and how are they related to online business models?

The world is ruled by smartphones, and businesses know this. That is why they have begun taking advantage of the convenience of smartphones by building and providing apps. Apps, short for applications, are programs that can be downloaded to electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and PC notebooks. 

When a user downloads your app, they have access to content that you have provided. You decide what content the user can view and how much control the user has within the app. 

How do apps make money?

Apps make money in a variety of ways. 

1.     In-app advertising. Your app makes money by running ads. Your app is free for users to download, but ads will run as it is used.

2.     Paid app. Your app is only available to download if users pay for it.

3.     In-app purchases. Your app is free, but there are purchases within the app that the user can make.

4.     Premium content. You offer both a free version and a premium version for users to download. The free version is free for users but does not include some of the added content and features that the premium (paid) version offers. 

How much money can apps make?

The possibilities are endless, so it is hard to nail down an exact figure you can expect to make from an app.

Is your app only available on Apple or Android devices? Will you offer a free app with advertisements? Will your app make money through paid downloads? Will you offer purchases for users to make within the app? Will there be free and premium versions for users to download?

All of these play a key role in determining just how much money your app can make. If you offer a free app that does not run advertisements or offer in-app purchases, your app will not make money. You will need to create an app that can generate recurring revenue based on paid content or advertisements that users will download from your app. 

For example, Candy Crush makes $800,000 per day through in-app purchases. This can be by purchasing an ad-free version or downloading advertisements within the app. 

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While your app may not make $800,000 per day, you can earn a few hundred or even thousand dollars per month if your app has a lot of downloads and users. Similar to the affiliate model, an app relies heavily on traffic and users. 

Pros:

  • Low maintenance: Create your app, set parameters for how it will earn money, and sit back and watch the revenue come in. 
  • High potential: Most people have smartphones, tablets, or smart TVs, which they can download and access at the click (or tap) of a button. The potential for downloads and success for an app is very high. 
  • Creativity: There’s no limits on what you can create with your app!  

Cons:

  • Requires expertise: Developing an app requires a highly skilled developer in order to create it from scratch. This can be outsourced but will cost you money and you may have to sacrifice quality. 
  • Money = downloads: The amount of revenue you generate is directly tied to how many downloads and users you have, so ensuring you have a popular app is important.
  • Competition: With the amount of apps available in today’s app store’s, creating the next big app is not an easy thing to do. 

Where can I buy apps?

If you want to purchase already-made apps, use a website like Flippa. Flippa allows you to look through thousands of apps that are for sale. On the flip side, if you are an app developer who wants to sell the app you have created, Flippa allows you to sell apps as well.

6. Web Browser Extensions

What is a web browser extension?

A web browser extension is also known as a browser plug-in. It is a feature you download to add to your current web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari) to perform different functions. 

How does a web browser extension work?

The web browser extension will be downloaded to your browser as an add-on. When you open your web browser, the extension will perform a function. For example, Grammarly is a tool that was developed to check spelling and grammar in a document. Grammarly then expanded and developed a web browser extension to check spelling and grammar within any tab that was open in the browser. When the Grammarly web browser extension is downloaded and added to your browser, it will continuously check all spelling and grammar that you are typing within the browser. 

How do web browser extensions make money?

Similar to an app, your extension will have to either be a paid extension or have some sort of paid model or purchases within it. The web browser you create the extension for will determine how you can make money. In this example, we are going to use Google Chrome.

Google Chrome allows you to provide web browser extensions to download for free or at a price. The free model means that the web browser extension is free to download, but there may be additional goods, services, or content they can purchase within the extension. 

The paid model means that users will have to pay for the web browser extension if they want to add it to their browser. 

How much money can you make with web browser extensions?

You will need to require some form of payment with the web browser for it to make money. You will advertise the web browser extension on the web browser store for users to download. 

How much you decide to charge is up to you. Naturally, if you offer a free web extension, you will need users to make purchases within the extension if you want to make money. 

Web browser extensions can make thousands in days if you have the right tools for the job. Users may not stumble upon your web extension by chance, so you need to come up with a way to reach potential customers.

Designing a call-to-action on your website where users will provide their email addresses will allow you to send out an email blast to promote your web browser extensions. The more people you reach, the more likely you are to convert those leads into customers.

Backlinking can be a great strategy to get more eyes on your extension. Backlinks occur when another website links to your business (in this case, web extension) on their website. Backlinks are a huge tool in SEO, because search engines read backlinks as part of ranking on the search engine results page. This means that if Google is backlinking your website or browser extension on their website, your ranking on search engine results pages immediately goes up.

How many times do you click past page 1 or 2 on the search engine results page? Typically, if the results aren’t in the first two pages, we assume we need to retype our keyword phrase. Your web extension may rank low without a website like Google backlinking to your website and Google Chrome web extension.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance: Browsers offer a low maintenance model for generating revenue. The initial process of creating an extension can be tedious but once you’re done, it’s much easier. 
  • Massive audience: There is an endless market of potential users as everyone uses some type of web browser.
  • Niche-targeted: Perfect for businesses that sell or specialize in providing a service-based business.

Cons:

  • Requires special skills: Requires developer skills and you will have to pay someone to create the extension if you can’t do it yourself.
  • Difficult to get started: You need a large following in order to maximize income so simply creating an app and putting it on an browser app store isn’t going to lead to instant success.

Who is the web browser extensions model right for?

If you have a large audience and hundreds of new visitors per day on your website or blog, you can capitalize on these numbers by creating a web browser extension they can download. Web browser extensions are ideal for businesses that provide a service.

As we mentioned, Grammarly offers a web browser extension that constantly scans your content and suggests corrections, as necessary. Users are willing to pay for a web browser extension that helps them achieve a goal, such as properly-written content. 

7. SAAS

What is SAAS?

SAAS stands for Software as a Service. SAAS is a subscription-based software that users can download directly from the web. SAAS is also known as web-based software because users gain access to the software through the web. SAAS software is commonly used for payroll, messaging, accounting, and many other office services. 

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How does SAAS work?

Software as a service works by giving users the ability to download the software from a website. The software is hosted online and requires no physical copy, disc, or file to possess. Simply download the software from the web-host and begin. 

How do you make money with SAAS?

You will need to incorporate some form of payment with a SAAS. This may be through in-software advertising, sponsored posts, web advertising, in-software purchases, or premium (paid) versions. The method you choose may depend on the type of SAAS you are offering or how big of an audience your software will target.

Regardless, your SAAS will need to create recurring revenue through ads or purchases. 

Should you buy a SAAS or create one myself?

Unless you are a skilled software developer or have a team of developers to create the software for you, you should buy a SAAS. Software is always changing and updating, so even if you develop the software yourself, you will need to dedicate time for troubleshooting, support, and updates. 

For this reason alone, we recommend buying SAAS if you don’t have the skills or team to create and manage it. You can find SAAS businesses for sale at Flippa, FE International and Biz Buy and Sell

How much money can you make with SAAS?

The downside to SAAS is that it may take a while for your investment to pay for itself. SAAS can be expensive to purchase or develop, and it may be a slow process to make money. 

The upside to SAAS is that if you have a product that’s in demand, growth and revenue can occur quickly. Some of the most popular SAAS companies are Microsoft Office 365 (cloud-based), Amazon Web Services, DocuSign, and DropBox. If you create a successful SAAS, people will spread the word and be more likely to download your software.

The most reliable means of income will be through recurring monthly subscriptions. The exact amount of money you will make with SAAS is determined by many factors. The investment to return ratio will be extremely low if the startup cost of the software is high.

It will take a few months, at best, to make your startup cost back. Keep this in mind when considering a SAAS online business model for your online business. The money will come; it just may take a while.

This is where you will need to know a couple of terms and what they mean so that you will know what to expect and how to navigate your way through the process.

Churn Rate – the rate that customers drop off each month.

LTV – lifetime value; the value that the SAAS accrues over time.

CAC – customer acquisition cost; the amount it will cost to acquire new customers

LTV to CAC Ratio – the lifetime value of your business divided by the cost to acquire the customers will give you this ratio; the higher the number, the larger the success

Remember: many factors will go into your total cost, such as development costs, payroll, operations, etc. So if you have a low customer acquisition cost, you can still lose money if you have hefty overhead costs.

Pros:

  • High Ceiling: SAAS businesses with a great idea behind them can be extremely successful.
  • ROI: Return on investment can be high if the software is in demand and if you have the team and resources behind you to grow the business.
  • Customer-friendly: The software can be downloaded directly from a web-host (no physical item to send a customer).

Cons:

  • High start-up costs: Start-up costs can be expensive due to the skill and effort required to develop the software and maintain it, along with the business. 
  • Resources required: You may need to offer support to customers along with other updates and development efforts.
  • Requires marketing: Will require marketing, advertising, and word-of-mouth for the greatest success.

Who is the SAAS business model right for?

Businesses that already have a large following and reliable reputation will be highly successful with SAAS. This is why Microsoft Office 365 online, DropBox, and DocuSign are so successful at SAAS. They are reputable companies with a large customer base. 

Keep in mind that there will be a period of time when your business hits a hyper-growth stage. You will be obtaining customers quicker than you can plan and it may make you feel like you need to alter the cost of the service you are selling.

We suggest that you don’t make any adjustments during this time, as hyper-growth will typically level out. Once you see business beginning to level out is when you should look at making any adjustments, if necessary.

Where can you buy a SAAS website?

SAAS websites are highly successful, especially if the CAC/LTV ratio is calculated correctly, so you may want to skip the stage of creating a website and get straight to work. You can do this by purchasing readily available SAAS websites from Flippa, Acquisition Station, and BizBuySell. These websites have SAAS sites that are built and ready to use once purchased.

8. Info Products

What are info products and what is the info products online business model?

Info products provide detailed information about a specific product, concept, business idea, or service. As an online business model, info products are designed to bring traffic to your website in order to sell customers something. 

Image result for too much information gif

How does an info product business make money?

To make money with an info product, you need to provide quality informational material to your audience in order to make them want to keep coming back for more. The possibilities are truly endless when you are selling an info product.

You can set up subscriptions, offer webinars, send weekly newsletters, or provide consultations and support, among many other things. 

You decide how much to charge for the product you are selling, as well as the method in which your paying customers will receive their content.

How much money can you make using the info products model?

The low-end of the income spectrum will be what you sell the product for. If you have a low ranking site with minimal traffic, chances are you aren’t making more than 1 or 2 sales a month and are likely still in the red. You will need to create a product that people will not only share, but that will rank on search engine results pages so that your product can be easily found.

When you have a product that users will want to purchase, your info products site can make well over $1,000 a day. Over time, this can turn into thousands, which is the high-end potential and ultimately the number you want to be aiming for (depending on what your profit margins are and what the product is you’re selling).

Who is the info product business model right for?

Anyone who has a website or blog can sell an info product to monetize their website. You decide the product you are selling, and how to sell it.

If you plan to move into the info product model, you will want to make sure you are knowledgeable about the product you are selling. If someone does not believe in the product you are selling, they likely won’t stick around to buy any additional information from you. 

For example, if you’re providing a paid webinar to your audience, you’ll need to be an expert on the topic you’re discussing. This is not only important during your webinar, but also when promoting it to your audience. People will only want to tune in if they know that the information being shared is coming from an expert or professional in that industry. 

Types of info products to sell

You can create an online business to sell website designs, search engine optimization resources, marketing advice, organize travel plans and itineraries, printables to download, or personal training videos, tips, tricks, and routines. 

If you have an area that you are passionate about and would like to turn that passion into money, the info product business model is the right one for you. 

Pros:

  • Variety of Options: When it comes to info products, the options to choose from are endless. As long as you’re an expert in that field and have knowledge to share, you can turn that information into a sellable product. 
  • High success rate: Providing an expert-level service/product to your audience is highly successful because people will keep coming back to purchase more. 
  • Low start-up costs: Because info products only require a website and your own knowledge/expertise, the cost to start selling your info product is fairly low-cost and easy to start. As your business grows, you’ll need to scale. 
  • Easy to maintain: Keep your website maintained, your audience/email list up-to-date with new info, and continue providing new products to your customers.  

Cons:

  • Requires creativity: With the vast amount of info products on the market today, you will need an info product that stands apart from the rest.
  • Relies on traffic: The more followers and traffic you have, the more successful your business will be. This will define your success or failure in this business model. 

Where can you buy an info product website?

You can purchase info product websites on platforms like Flippa, MotionInvest, EmpireFlippers, and FE International. Here, there will be ready-made websites for you to purchase and promote the info product the website has included. However, because this model requires your own knowledge and expertise, creating your own site and developing a business around your info product is your best bet to be successful. 

9. Membership Sites

What is a membership site?

In the section above, we described info products as creating a website that focuses on a product and sells information pertaining to that product in a variety of ways.

A membership site follows this same concept; the only difference is the way a customer receives their information, service, and content is through a membership.

A membership site is a business model that makes money by offering specialized content to users through a paid membership. 

How does a membership site work?

A membership site works by asking users to sign up and pay for the content or services they will be receiving. Your membership site may offer one plan for everyone, or you may break it up into tiers or categories. 

When a new member signs up, they will receive the information, content or service as specified in your membership agreement. This may be immediate access to an online community or social media group, personalized content, 24/7 support, or weekly email updates. 

How does a membership site make money?

Membership sites make money by offering users premium or specialized content in return for a paid membership. As we mentioned above, the membership can be a uniform membership plan that fits everyone, or you may want to break it up into tier or categories.

For example, let’s say you are offering a membership site for health and wellness. You may want to have a membership that offers different benefits depending on the membership a user chooses. For example:

Membership $19.99/monthMembership $29.99/monthMembership
$39.99/month
· Weekly workout routines and videos via email
· Meal planning ideas
· Access to Facebook group & online community
· Weekly workout routines and videos via email
· Meal planning ideas and recipes emailed weekly
· Access to Facebook group & online community
· 24/7 support 
·  Discounts to (gyms, retailers, etc.)
· Weekly workout routines and videos designed specifically for your goals
· Meal planning ideas and recipes emailed daily
· Access to Facebook group, online community, and online message boards
· 24/7 support
·  Discounts to (gyms, retailers, etc.)
· Personal trainer assigned to you

How much money can a membership site make?

How much money your membership site makes depends on the type of site you have created, what type of membership you are offering, and how many customers subscribe to the membership each month.

Similar to the info products business model, if you only sell one membership a month, your business will likely remain in the red. You want to ensure your membership site is selling multiple memberships a month, receiving renewals on a consistent basis, and your profit margins are high enough in order to have a profitable online business with this model. 

On the low-end of the income spectrum, you may only make $100/month, if that. To maximize your earnings and be profitable, you will need a membership site that will attract visitors and turn potential leads into customers. You can turn leads into customers by gathering email addresses and sending monthly emails reminding users to sign up for your membership site. With a large following, you can easily make thousands each month with a membership site.

Examples of membership sites

Peloton is one of the fastest growing membership sites for fitness and training. Members do not need a Peloton bike or treadmill to participate in a monthly digital membership. The digital membership is $12.99/month and includes live classes, personalized training sessions, and a music playlist.

Peloton has gained over a million members in just a few short years, with most of the attention coming in 2019. One million members at $12.99/month is $12.9 million in memberships alone.

Pros:

  • Reusable content: Once you create your content or service, you can reuse it and sell it to hundreds if not thousands or people. 
  • Automation potential: After your membership service is created, you can automate everything and watch the sales roll in without much work and minimal maintenance.
  • Wide variety: Depending on the knowledge or expertise in your industry, the potential for where you take your membership site allows for a lot of variety – health and wellness, cosmetics, web design, online training, etc.
  • Steady & predictable income: Once you’ve established your niche and built an audience, maintaining your memberships is pretty simple and ensures a stable income on a monthly basis.
  • Upselling is available: Once people are locked in to your membership, adding some upsell features allows for scale. Ex. “For just $5/more per month, you can receive XZY and have access to ABC”.

Cons: 

  • Renewals: You will need to keep members coming back each month or find ways to recruit new members to keep the income steady.
  • Creativity: You will need to come up with new, quality content each month for members.

Where to buy membership sites online?

Websites like Buy Website and Flippa offer readily made membership websites that you can purchase and put to use immediately. Otherwise, you can make a website of your own to offer a membership based on a product or expertise you already have in your industry.

10. Productized Service 

What is a productized service?

A productized service is when you offer a product that is centralized around providing a service or services. There will be a package of services that are offered as a product with many different elements that go into the productized service.

Some examples of a productized service:

  • Marketing/SEO services
  • Writing services
  • Graphic design services
  • Consultation/coaching services
  • Travel services
  • Website design and maintenance services
  • Health and Fitness services

How does a productized service work and how does it make money?

A productized service works by providing your audience with a specific list of services that you will perform when they purchase the product package. You provide a list of services that you will perform, your customers purchase the product, and you perform the services. 

A productized service makes money when a client purchases the product package. There is no guesswork that goes into what the client will receive and no guesswork for the amount of money you will make. The price is set, the productized service is set, and each side knows exactly what they will receive.

How much money can a productized service make?

This is similar to a membership site in that it depends on how much you are charging for a productized service and how many productized services you sell each month. A prime example of a productized service would be an online fitness instructor.

Image result for personal trainer simpsons gif

While personal trainers and fitness instructors may offer one-on-one training or small classes, an online fitness instructor can reach the masses that they may otherwise not be able to reach due to their location or the space available. With a productized service, an online fitness instructor can bundle their services into one product and sell the product to customers all across the globe.

The potential income on the low-end of a productized service will only make $100-$200/month, if that. With an online fitness instructor productized service website, like iBodyFit, you can make thousands each month through various monthly service plans you sell to your customers. Websites like iBodyFit fall on the high-end of potential income for a productized service website.

Pros:

  • No guesswork: The client receives what they order, and you receive the amount you advertise for the service. It’s as simple as that. 
  • Predictable income: Managing a successful productized service provides income that is steady and predictable to the site owner on a monthly basis with minimal work. 
  • Flexibility: Productized service sites allow you to design the package of services you want to provide to your customers and change those services as needed based on the demand. 
  • Scale and simplicity: the majority of your clients can receive the same product. For example, if you are offering consultation for a new startup business, you can design the same product for many clients, leaving you with more time and energy to spend on other business ventures

Cons:

  • Reliant on margins: Make sure the time and resources it takes to put into the productized service are properly assessed when the productized service is sold to a client
  • Tough competition: With the growing amount of services available today, creating your own productized service can be difficult to do in the current climate. On top of that, building and maintaining your audience requires a lot of effort and SEO management by the site owner. 

Who is the productized service business model right for? 

If your business is offering a list of services in order to make money, then you should use the productized service business model. The productized service business model means that you will offer a set list of services as one packaged product for a set price. 

The best types of businesses that will benefit from a productized service are any of the following:

  • Website designers
  • Graphic designers
  • Accountants
  • Writers
  • Coaches/consultants
  • Travel agents/event planners

Where can you buy a productized service website?

Bizbroker24, Flippa, and BuyWebsite are just a few of the websites you can search and find productized service websites to purchase and get started immediately.

11. Coaching and Consulting

What is online coaching and consulting?

Coaching and consulting is an online business model that helps a client achieve a particular goal they have created. While coaching and consulting are similar, they have specific definitions that distinguish them from one another, and we feel they are worth defining.

An online coach is someone who helps push a client to reach his or her goals. They will provide them with tips and tricks to help them achieve a goal, but they don’t pave the way for the client. An online coach puts the client in the driver’s seat and gives them most of the responsibility in achieving their goal.

An online consultant will give their client the exact tools they will need to achieve their goal. The consultant knows that they are only successful if their clients are successful, so they make sure their clients are equipped with everything they need to achieve their goal. 

How do online coaching and consulting business models work?

Online coaching and consulting works by providing a client with certain resources to help them reach a goal. Online coaching and consulting businesses will be specific to a niche or market so that the client knows which coach or consultant to choose for the goal they have set. 

How do online coaching and consulting businesses make money?

You will need to charge your clients for the services you are providing. This is rule #1 for making money as a coach or consultant. 

Here are some tips for maximizing your business as an online coach or consultant:

1.   Be positive: Clients do not want a coach or consultant who does not make them feel excited about the goals they have in mind.

2.   Be personable: Make your clients feel welcome and that you are easy to talk to about any concern or question they may have about their goals.

3.   Be an expert: A client will not recommend you to friends (and also will be unlikely to continue working with you) if you don’t know what you’re talking about. To be the best coach or consultant, you need to be an expert in the field you are coaching and consulting.

How much money can a coaching and consultant business make?

Ultimately, how much you charge is up to you, but there is a range of income that coaches and consultants make. On the low end, coaches and consultants make around $10/hour. With only a few clients, this means you may make only a few hundred each month.

On the flip side, the high end of the income spectrum coaches and consultants can make around $100/hour. This means that you can easily make $100,000 per year with the right amount of clients and pricing schedule.

Image result for nick nurse gif

Where can you buy an online coaching or consulting website?

The best website to buy online coaching and consulting sites is Flippa. The websites available for you to choose from include healthy living consulting/coaching, Amazon consulting, ecommerce and monetization consulting, and drop shipping consulting.

Pros:

  • Create your own schedule: You are in charge of your schedule, the content you create, and when to send the client their content.
  • Anyone can do it: An online consulting business is easy to start, maintain, and manage as long as you have a site and a plan. 
  • Client growth leads to revenue: Money can be steady with a constant stream of clients and revenue on a monthly basis because most consulting models are based on a monthly subscription.
  • Use social networks to grow: Online consultants rely on client revenue so growing their popularity through social media and network marketing will help increase your clientele and revenue on a monthly basis.

Cons:

  • No clients = no income: Consulting models are 100% reliant on building your client base and growing client revenue. If you aren’t able to create an offering for your consulting business, clients won’t purchase the product and you won’t make any money.
  • Resources are required: Depending on your niche, your business may require webchats, webinars, and/or phone calls with clients as well as be highly dependent on lead generation. 

Who is best suited to have an online coaching or consulting business?

If you are an expert in an area with services to offer that others cannot, then being an online coach or consultant is right for you. 

The best online coach or consultant is highly motivated and knowledgeable in the area they are offering help. They will be able to offer services that will help clients achieve goals quickly and efficiently. 

All you need to get started is knowledge, motivation, and a website to promote your business. 

12. Influencer (YouTube, Instagram, or Podcast)

What is an influencer?

An influencer, also referred to as a social media influencer, is someone with a large presence or following online who influences someone to purchase a product or service (hence the name influencer.) Influencers can be public figures, celebrities, athletes, bloggers, authors, fashionistas, or other content marketing creators.

Image result for influencer gif

What does it mean to be an influencer or work with an influencer?

Being an influencer means that you post products on your social media site that you endorse. It may be a brand of clothing, a dietary supplement, a cosmetics brand, a skin product, or any other service or product that is looking to grow their brand via social media marketing. 

Generally, influencers value and importance is determined by their content, engagement and the amount of followers they have. Mega influencers have over 1 million followers and are considered your “A-list” influencers. These influencers will make the most money.

Macro influencers have between 100,000 and 1 million followers.

Micro-influencers have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. 

Nano influencers have less than 1,000 followers and are considered typical everyday people on social media. 

Why is this important?

An influencer’s value is determined by their following, so as an influencer, you need to know where you rank on the list. Alternatively, as someone who will work with an influencer, you need to know what type of influencer you are looking to work with.

How to make money from influencing (and how much money can you make)?

If you are an influencer yourself, you can charge pretty steep amounts depending on your following.

  • Mega influencers charge nearly $200,000 for a YouTube video, around $75,000 for an Instagram post, and around $30,000 for a Twitter post
  • Macro and micro-influencers charge around $2,500 for a YouTube video, $1,000 for an Instagram post, and around $400 for a Twitter post
  • Nano influencers typically negotiate their rates between the company asking for the promotion and themselves

If you are going to use an influencer to promote your business, you will likely see your business gain followers, impressions, and a boost in sales. 

One thing that is important to keep in mind when choosing an influencer to promote your business is that micro-influencers have a following of real people who are genuinely interested in their content. Therefore, page clicks and sales are likely to be higher than if you use a macro or mega influencer for your post. While the number of followers is lower with micro-influencers, their followers are real people who are interested in the content that the influencer shares. 

Pros:

  • Easy marketing for businesses: Influencers are able to create quality and unique material for businesses to share to their social media platforms
  • Low start-up costs: As an influencer, all you need is a YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media account with followers to become an influencer. These are all free programs, so there are no upfront costs to get started
  • Popularity = revenue: As an influencer, the more products you promote, the more you will be recognized, and others may seek your services

Cons:

  • Judgemental business: As an influencer, followers may feel you are “hawking” a product just for money.
  • Know your morals: As an influencer there may be times that you are asked to promote a product you don’t believe in so knowing what your morals are and where your expertise is in the industry is important.  
  • Vetting process: As a business, you may have to vet your influencer to make sure there are no controversial issues in the social media community. 

Who is the influencer business model right for?

If you are a figure on social media who has thousands of followers, you should be an influencer. You can create material that can be shared on podcasts, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms of social media. 

Another consideration of this business model is if you have a product that you want someone reputable to promote, you can hire an influencer to advertise the product and bring traffic to your website.

Otherwise, you can create an influencer agency website for both influencers and brands to use your website to link up with one another. You can list influencers for brands to choose from, as well as list brands for influencers to choose from.

There are many options that the influencer business model has to offer. Think about where you fall in the influencer market; are you an influencer yourself, do you have a product you want an influencer to promote, or do you want to have an influencer agency website that will provide the link between the two? There are different options you can choose from with the influencer business model.

13. Dropshipping

What is dropshipping?

Let’s say you have an online shoe store where you sell hundreds of shoes for consumers to purchase. Instead of keeping all of this inventory at your house to package and ship to a consumer every time a purchase is made, you use a third-party that has the product and ships it to your customers when you tell them to. 

This is dropshipping.

You sell a product that you don’t physically have by purchasing the product from a third-party and sending it directly to the customer who bought it from you.

Image result for airdrop gif

How does dropshipping make money?

First of all, you are already in the green with drop shipping because you haven’t spent any money on inventory or paid any storage costs for holding the inventory. But we’re not here to tell you how to save money, we’re here to tell you how to make money.

Making money with drop shipping is an easy process, but you may have to finagle your way through some stipulations.

First, you will need to make sure you mark-up the product you are selling so that you make money. If your third-party vendor is selling a pair of shoes for $50, you will have to charge more than $50 to make a profit. On the flip side, an online customer is likely going to shop around before making a purchase, so they may find your vendor and order directly from them.

This is where you may need to find a wholesale distributor to provide a product at wholesale costs, but be careful – wholesale distributors often require a federal employer identification number to prove that you are a business and not an individual. Therefore, you may need to apply for a business license in your jurisdiction to be able to purchase goods.

How much money can a dropshipping site make?

The low-end of income potential may mean you only make $1,000 a month. But the cost, time, and energy to set up your drop shipping website is relatively low, so this is a realistic number you can expect to make in the beginning.

The middle ground of drop shipping income falls around $10,000 per month. With this kind of income, you’ll have likely had to hire additional employees to help with your business to keep up with the demand.

The highest income potential will be $100,000 per month, but this will require a lot more work. You will have to hire many employees to help run your business and manage the finances and day-to-day operations of drop shipping.

Pros:

  • Low startup costs: Once you’ve found a wholesaler and product to sell, drop shipping only requires a website and some SEO work to drive traffic to your product. 
  • High opportunity: The variety and amount of products you can sell are endless. Just make sure to do your research and find the right wholesalers before getting started. 
  • Easy concept and operation: Most of the work is done on the wholesalers end. All you need to do is make sure traffic is being driven to your site and the demand stays high. 
  • Can be done remotely: The beauty of online businesses means that you can create and build your drop shipping business from almost anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. 

Cons:

  • FEI requirement: May require a Federal Employer Identification number and/or business license in order to work with a wholesaler.
  • Price management: Products will need to be marked up in order to create a successful and profitable online business model.
  • Scaling can be expensive: As your drop shipping business grows, so will your employees and operations costs. 

Example of a dropshipping site

One of the most popular drop shipping sites is Amazon. Amazon allows users to buy items from third-party vendors that are not fulfilled by Amazon or Amazon Services. Essentially, Amazon will list the item for sale, but they do not hold the item in their fulfillment center, nor do they ship the item. They fill the order and submit the order to the third-party site for fulfillment and shipping. 

14. Ecommerce

What is ecommerce?

Have you ever purchased something online from an online retailer? That is ecommerce.

Image result for online shopping gif

ecommerce is selling a product or good that you physically keep in a warehouse that you have set up. ecommerce is similar to drop shipping, with the main difference being in the ownership of the product before it is sold. With ecommerce, you are the owner of the item, product, or inventory before you sell it to a buyer, whereas drop shipping uses a third-party vendor to hold the item and ship it when an order is placed.

How does ecommerce make money?

ecommerce makes money like any other brick-and-mortar retailer. The only difference is the buying and selling are done online rather than in person or at a store. This means you are responsible for finding the product, buying the product, holding the product, marking up the product to be profitable, selling the product, and shipping the product. 

In all of these elements, you make your money in the profit margin, so you need to remember to mark up the price of the product to make it larger than the cost you paid. 

Some of the more popular ecommerce sites are: 

Who is ecommerce right for?

Anyone who wants to sell a product online can create an ecommerce website. You will need to be organized and understand purchasing inventory, markups, and have a way to ship the items to your customers. 

Where can you buy ecommerce websites?

The good news is that out of all the websites there are to purchase, ecommerce may be the leader of the pack. Websites like Flippa, FE International, BuyWebsite, and BizBroker24 all have many ecommerce websites to purchase that are ready to go.

Pros:

  • High demand: Online shopping has become one of the fastest growing models in today’s society, making ecommerce a very popular platform for online business owners.
  • Online alternative: An ecommerce business allows you to sell your products with lower costs than starting a physical retail store and gives your customers 24/7 availability to shop online anytime from anywhere.
  • Become a brand: ecommerce platforms allow you to build a all-around business model, including products, branding, messaging, etc. While this sounds like a lot of work to some, creating your own brand is attractive to many. 

Cons:

  • Very tough competition: You are a little fish in a big pond with many well-established competitors so establishing yourself in this industry can be very tough. 
  • Scalability and start-up: ecommerce businesses require in-depth logistics and moving parts to build, including purchasing inventory, web development, fulfilling orders, marking up prices, and much more. 

15. Amazon FBA

What is Amazon FBA?

Amazon FBA stands for Amazon Fulfillment by Amazon. This means that you are the seller, and Amazon is who holds the item and fulfills the order when it is placed.

Things to know:

1.     You purchase a product from a factory/supplier

2.     The product ships to an Amazon Fulfillment Center

3.     You are the seller of the product and Amazon takes care of the rest

How does Amazon FBA make money in terms of being a business model?

Simple. As long as the product is in stock at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, the buyer purchases the product, and you get the profit. Amazon is simply there to fulfill the order and make sure it is shipped to the customer. 

How much money does the Amazon FBA business model make?

The low-end of the income potential spectrum will likely only make you about $1,000 month. The middle ground offers a little more per month at around $3,000 per month. The high-end of the income potential spectrum will pay between $8,000 and $10,000 per month.

Pros:

  • Amazon is reliable: As arguably the top ecommerce platform in the world, Amazon is always going to provide results and help when you need it. 
  • Easy set-up: Amazon provides you all the tools and information you need to get started once you have an idea and your site set up. 
  • Double up: Amazon FBA can be combined with the Amazon Affiliate program to double your exposure and revenue.

Cons:

  • Expertise required: Requires knowledge of finding a product and entering into an agreement to ship and store at an Amazon Fulfillment Center
  • Competitive market: You will need to find a product that sets yours apart from the rest as the Amazon FBA niche has become a lot more competitive in recent years. 

Who is the Amazon FBA business model best for?

Our opinion is that if you are an Amazon Affiliate or have linked up with an Amazon Affiliate, you can get more exposure, more traffic, and more interest in the product you are selling. 

16. Kindle Publishing Business

What is the Kindle publishing business model?

You write a book that is uploaded on Amazon Kindle, and you get paid.

Well, it’s a little more detailed than that, but you catch our drift. To be successful at Kindle Publishing, you will need to write a book, make the book appealing, and submit the book to Kindle to publish. You will earn money when the book is downloaded, but we will break that down below.

How does the Kindle publishing business model work?

First, you will need to write a book. Once the book is complete, you will need to create a visually-appealing cover for the book. Something that will catch a reader’s eye and intrigue them to read your book. 

Next, you will upload the book to the Kindle Publishing Business platform for approval. Approval usually takes up to 48 hours. Once approved, Kindle will release the book to be published on Amazon for immediate download. When the user buys your book, they will receive a digital copy to download directly onto their device. 

How does the Kindle publishing business model make money?

This is where a thing called royalties come in. Every time your book is purchased, Amazon takes a portion of the earnings and gives you the rest as royalties. Royalties are a designated sum of money that is paid to an author, composer, or performer of a work of art when their piece is sold. 

With the Kindle Publishing Business model, the royalty fee is applied in one of two ways:

1.   You can earn 70% royalties if your book is purchased in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and India.

2.   Otherwise, you earn the standard 35% royalties.

The only stipulation you need to know about 70% royalties is that your book must cost $9.99 or less to qualify.

How much money can I expect to make from Kindle publishing?

Once you have begun publishing books through Kindle Publishing, you can expect to make anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000. This is the low-end potential for income.

On the higher end, authors can make tens of thousands each month, with a year-end income into the millions. This will likely require multiple books to be published and it is common to see a spike in revenue when a new book is released. Keep the books coming, and you can easily become a well-known author on Amazon.

Who is the Kindle publishing business model right for?

The obvious answer is writers. If you enjoy writing in any capacity, you can publish a book using Kindle Publishing Business and automatically receive 35% royalties whenever the book is purchased and downloaded.

Pros:

  • Free to use: Unlike many of the other business models, getting set up on Kindle publishing is free and a lot of the initial start-up tasks are done for you.  
  • Generous royalty schedule: Kindle is trustworthy and offers a very fair and generous royalty schedule to all its publishers, making it easier for you to publish your content.
  • Multiple platforms: Available to users who use smartphones, tablets, Kindles, and e-readers giving publishers the opportunity to expand to multiple platforms. 
  • No website required: Do not need a website; just upload and go!

Cons:

  • Competitive: With digital e-readers becoming more and more popular, the demand is growing but so is the competition, so you’ll need to make sure you have a great concept before choosing this model. 
  • Thinner profit margins: Selling price is generally lower for e-books than physical books.

What are some examples of a Kindle publishing business?

You can take advantage of the Kindle Publishing Business one of two ways.

1.   You are the author. You create the content, publish the book, and make the money. This is ideal if writing is your passion, and you want to turn your passion into dollars.

2.   You hire the authors. You simply want to run a successful online business that will make you money, so you hire freelance writers to create the content, and you handle the rest.

With these two options, you decide how you want to make your money using Kindle Publishing.

Income Report Roundup – Feb 2020

We all know that it isn’t business as usual these days. In February, many businesses were not as affected, but were starting to see things take shape. This next while will surely test as business owners, as it will test everyone else. This income report is centered on February, where problems were not yet as prominent, but we surely will see some unexpected occurrences in next month’s report. 

#1 Takeaway – Follow Through – Many of the businesses on this list had yet to feel the effects of the coronavirus this month, although that will surely become an issue in the March and April roundups. For now, many of these businesses posted strong months, and this was largely by follow-through. Many of these business owners saw success in February because of plans they had set in motion months prior. There are a few key things to keep in mind to follow through to the best of your ability. : 

  • Trust Yourself – A key to following through is to trust your plans. If you have a specific, actionable plan, don’t be dissuaded if it doesn’t reap rewards immediately. After all, many successful plans are long-term, and require a significant investment up front. So trust your plan and see it through, you can’t fully benefit from the plan if you don’t follow it all the way through. 
  • Know When To Pivot – Of course, not every plan will be successful, and you have to know the point at which you pivot. If you are concerned about a goal, or are really not seeing the results you wanted, there is always the option to restructure or to start a new plan. Finding this balance is the difficult part, and is often learnt by doing. 

Quick February Update on my End:

  • Posts at AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com
  • LOTS of skiing this winter with the family
  • ContentSurge has been very well received… people are hungry for a content marketing solution that goes beyond just words to include strategy, great content and a link building strategy – Checkout ContentSurge here
  • A couple of projects made great progress towards their launch such as the free Amazon Affiliate Disclosure plugin and review.
  • MotionInvest is continuing to see very large demand for its services and in February has launched a giveaway…be sure to signup and potentially receive a FREE website!

My Reason for This Round Up:

When I started my online entrepreneurship journey I took a lot of inspiration from others that were sharing everything they did online. Seeing that people like me were making REAL money and that the opportunity to replace my day job was possible. 

It has been 3.5 years since I left my day job – https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/quit-my-job/

The more transparent the report the more I appreciated and was motivated by it. 

Over the years I have tried to be as transparent as possible sharing along the way my goals, business successes/failures and the ultimate results(profits). 

After years of sharing monthly income posts I decided that it made sense to stop these… a decision I actually regret as I wish I had found a way to keep sharing some of what I was doing. 

My reason for stopping was my online world and “real” worlds became more connected and it was becoming very odd to share these numbers.  

Looking at many of the people that originally had an income round up posts they have also stopped. Namely the most famous in the space Pat Flynn no longer does income round ups. 

In this post I will cover…

  1. List of inspiring income report posts and how they earned their profits
  2. Recognize motivating people showing not just telling people the results they are achieving
  3. Learn from others – What the key learning is from the people

Last Month Profit – $24,242.31

Name – Ron Stefanski

Website – onehourprofessor.com

Business Model – Authority Affiliate Site          

Income Report – https://www.onehourprofessor.com/february-2020-monthly-income-report/

Key Lesson(s):

  • Ron had an unexpectedly great month, despite taking a 10 day vacation! 
  • One of Ron’s websites went briefly viral, and his YouTube continues to grow. 
  • Ron is very happy with all the effort he has put into his YouTube channel. He published 12 videos this month. 
  • Ron was successful in finding new writers for two of his websites. 
  • Overall growth continues to be great, as evidenced by the graph below:

Checkout the video I did with Ron and be sure to read his gripping story here!

Last Month Profit – $5,437

Name – Lidiya

Website – letsreachsuccess.com

Business Model – Blogging

Income Report – https://letsreachsuccess.com/february-2020-blog-income-report/

Key Lesson(s):

  • Lidiya had a solid month. She had over 500 new subscribers to her email list, and the number is picking up speed. 
  • Lidiya worked on SEO this week, including creating silo pages for the major topics on her website. 
  • She has continued to offer sponsored posts on her blog, and are a major source of income for her. 

Last Month Profit – no update this month

Name – Spencer Haws

Website – NichePursuits.com

Business Model – Authority Affiliate Site

Income Report – https://www.nichepursuits.com/get-ready-niche-site-project-4/

Key Lesson(s):

  • No income report published this month.

Last Month Profit – $14,199.59

Name – Johnny FD

Website – johnnyfd.com

Business Model – Mixed – Dropshipping & Investing

Income Report – https://www.johnnyfd.com/2020/03/weligama-sri-lanka-travel-expenses-and.html

Key Lesson(s):

  • Johnny had a fun month, now living in Sri Lanka. 
  • Johnny had a rough month on the stock market, but also cashed some investments out for some great returns. 
  • Johnny made a good amount of dropshipping sales this month, but was also hit with many refunds from out-of-stocks. 
  • Johnny had a good month overall, which shows the results of diversifying income streams and making good investments. 

Last Month Profit – N/A

Name – Jon Dykstra

Website – fatstacksblog.com

Business Model – Authority Website (display ads)

Income Report – No Report Yet

Key Lesson(s):

Ryan Robinson

Last Month Profit – N/A

Name – Ryan Robinson

Website – ryrob.com

Business Model – Authority Website (affiliate earnings)

Income Report – No Report Yet

Key Lesson(s):

Create and Go

Last Month Profit – $116,676

Name – Alex & Lauren

Website – createandgo.com

Business Model – Affiliate Blog & Online Course

Income Report – https://createandgo.com/blog-income-report/

Key Lesson(s):

  • Alex and Lauren continue to travel full time and live remotely. 
  • Pinterest remains a huge part of their strategy for driving traffic toward their blog. 
  • Based on an algorithm change, they are now posting more new content on Pinterest because it is proven to result in a further reach. 
  • The majority of their blogging income continues to come from affiliate marketing and through selling digital products and services. 

Yeys

Last Month Profit – Negative $6374

Name – Anne

Website – www.yeys.com

Business Model – Web Publishing Blog

Income Report – https://yeys.com/traffic-revenue-report-2-20/

Key Lesson(s): 

  • The strategy of Yeys is simple. Find underserved niches, publish quality content, and monetize. Anne runs several niche blogs on topics such as travel, automotive, and home improvement. 
  • Anne works with many freelancers to publish over 150 articles a month. 
  • Since this is a new blog, the loss is actually expected, as she is investing aggressively in growth. 
  • The blogs have actually been doing quite well, with an increase of almost 10%
  • Anne, as many online entrepreneurs, is concerned about the effect of Covid-19 on the market.  

Honourable Mentions:

Although they don’t do exactly income reports, there are a few reports that are worth mentioning and when they publish new reports I will be sure to include.

Am I missing any I should include? Please drop a message in the comment section below with anyone I should include next month!

How to Sell a Website Fast

Buying and Selling websites has been a part of my life for more than a decade. In this guide I will share with you everything you need to know about how to sell a website.  

From small sites purchased for under $1k to multi six-figure deals, it has been a big part of my daily activity. Several well-timed sales were a big part of what gave me both the runway and confidence to pull the trigger on leaving my successful day job and pursuing online entrepreneurship full time

In this article you will learn:

  • How to sell your website fast!
  • Free tools – Listing Comparison Calculator
  • Should you sell?
  • How to prepare for the sale
  • Where to sell your site
  • Value of your website
  • How to negotiate a fair deal
  • How to protect yourself and transfer safely
  • Follow up like a boss

Plus, I will share some fun stories from the ten plus years I have been doing this, from calling a Monk at a monastery about a website sale, to dealing with the dark side of brokers and their clients and other interesting adventures I have had. 

Who is this article for?

If you are thinking about selling your website (specifically a content website or a blog monetized with display ads or affiliate links) this article will provide you with all the information you need to guide you through the process. 

This article is not focused on e-commerce or SAAS business models. However, if those businesses have content marketing with search traffic as one of their marketing channels and are looking to sell, this article will still be relevant. 

I Want to Sell My Website Fast (in Under 24hrs)

If you need to sell your website fast there are limited options out there. However, if you have all your information together and are prepared to sell at a slight discount there is one option. 

Best Option for Selling Your Website Fast – MotionInvest.com

MotionInvest.com was started by myself, Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits and Kelley Van Boxmeer. We buy and sell websites directly, allowing us to move MUCH faster and be the most efficient place to buy or sell your website. 

Benefits of Selling via MotionInvest:

  • Fast Sale – Ability to close in under 24hrs if you need it fast
  • Guaranteed Sale – You don’t need to hope it will sell … we buy it directly
  • Easy & Hands Off Transfer – No hand-holding or training after the sale
  • No Listing Fees or Success Fees – Sell your website for free
  • Fair Market Price – Fast sales are typically low ball offers but we offer a fair market price
  • Non Invasive Due Diligence – Simple due diligence – analytics & earnings proof only required. No 50 part questionnaire or calls required. 

If you don’t happen to get a fast enough response and need cash in your account today feel free to reach out to me directly at jon (at) authoritywebsiteincome (dot) com and I will be sure to move it along. 

Sell Your Website – https://www.motioninvest.com/sell-site/

Of course I am biased, but I do recommend checking out MotionInvest first if you are looking to sell your site. If you are not happy with our offer then by all means explore other options but remember, they will take more time and effort on your end. 

Resources to Help You Sell Your Website

To help you sell your website and guide you through the process, I have created several tools that show your options and which one is right for your given circumstances. 

Which Option Is Right For You – Free Calculator

When it comes to selling your site there are 4 variables that matter the most in determining how much money you should receive:

  • How much your site is making (profit / month)
  • How much you sell it for (multiple on that profit – ex 24x monthly)
  • How long it takes to sell / how much effort it takes
  • How much you pay in fees (what is your final take home)

This free calculator compares the 3 options available to you:

  • MotionInvest.com – No listing fee, No success fee, very fast but expect a lower multiple
  • Flippa.com – $50 non refundable listing fee, 10% success fee and takes 1-2 months
  • Brokers (such as Quiet Light Brokerage or EmpireFlippers) – Typically a $297 non refundable listing fee, 15% success fee but a higher multiple is likely achievable and it takes much longer, 2-8 months.

So depending on how you value your time, at some point, in terms of profit / month, it could make sense to list via a Broker compared to MotionInvest.com 

This calculator helps you visualize the difference between your options. Simply enter your monthly net profit and you can see the impact in terms of your take home. 

Click Here to Access the Free Calculator

How to Create a PnL – Free Template

What is a website’s PnL? A PnL is a profit and loss statement that shows the revenue, expenses and the resulting net profit for a business, in this case for a website. 

The template I have shared below is custom built for an income producing content website and is easy to update. It covers 3 main sections: 

  • Income – list all the sources of revenue the site is generating
  • Expenses – list all the expenses, generally for a content site there are very few
  • Add-Backs – any expenses that the new owner won’t need to incur (see more below explaining adbacks) 

What does TTM mean? TTM stands for the Last or Trailing 12 Months a business has been operating. It is often how a website is valued – what was the average profit for a website over the last 12 months. The alternative is to look at the last fiscal years books but in the world of income producing websites, with the speed at which things can change, you always want to be looking at the most recent information. 

What is an Add-Back? When selling a business there are expenses that will not be carried forward to the new owner. For example, the legal fees to set up the business in the first place and your salary are not going to be ongoing expenses for the new owner and therefore get “added back”. As an example, if you have a website making enough to clear $1k in net profit while also paying you a salary of $3k/month the effective net profit after add backs would be $4k/month. For larger more complex businesses the EBITA earnings before interest tax and amortization gets used. More info on add-backs and EBITA

Should content be considered an add back? If you have invested in content marketing, you need to consider whether this was a one time expense or should it be considered an ongoing expense. The beauty of content marketing is that when it works as planned you spend money on content creation now and reap the benefits for years to come. For this reason it is generally treated as an add-back. Of course if the business requires continual updating of the content, you should forecast that into your expected expenses moving forward. 

Click Here to Access the Free Website PnL

Making the Decision – Should You Sell Your Website?

One of the often not talked about but critical aspects of selling a website is making the decision to sell. Should you sell or hold? 

In this section I am going to go over the most common reasons for selling and reasons for holding. 

Plus I will go over some of my personal stories and why I decided to sell or not.

Personal Stories – Why did I decide to sell. 

  • Multi Six Figure 100% Ownership Sale – I had two metrics when I was wanting to leave my day job… 1st was to have a set monthly income and the 2nd was to have a certain runway in the bank (runway = x months of expenses in the bank). I had achieved the first but hadn’t yet achieved our family’s runway target, so I made the decision to trade some of the surplus profit (above my monthly target) for a lump sum that would push us past our runway target. This strategy allowed me to trade cash today for a lump sum that achieved my dual targets of monthly income and runway, triggering us to make the decision to leave my day job and make money online
  • Six Figure Minority Stake Sale – I sold a portion of one website to a strategic investor at a discount who would be in a position to help grow the business. Ultimately, increasing the overall value of the business with their involvement, was my reason for selling. 
  • Sub Six Figures 100% Ownership Sale of Content Sites – Why do I sell some of my smaller sites? Typically I will look to offload some of my smaller sites when they either no longer are a focus for my portfolio (and they require attention) or a strategic buyer becomes available. If I can sell a site to someone that can take it further because of some synergies with other properties, I am always happy to do so at a fair market price because I know other opportunities will present themselves down the road.

Why You Should Sell Your Website

Here are some of the most common reasons people list when selling websites, but in general it almost always comes back to two factors (Time & Money):

  1. Cash out – The simplest one… trade your site now for a lump sum of cash. 
  2. Free up time – If your site is taking up time to operate it then selling now to maximize the value might be the right decision.
  3. Passion has faded – If the site or blog was started as a passion project and you found success but that passion has faded it’s usually a good idea to sell. Often when the passion for a project has faded a gradual decline will start. Selling as soon as you lose that passion is critical.  
  4. Focus on another business – Has another project started to take up more of your resources (time and money)? If the opportunity on another project is greater then the return you can achieve with your current project, then it certainly makes sense to sell.  
  5. Unexpected bills – Has an unexpected tax, house or medical bill popped up? If so, selling an online income generating asset to cover that expense can be the right decision. 

Everyone’s situation is always unique but these seem to be the most common reasons someone decides to sell. 

Why You Should NOT Sell Your Website

Why would you potentially decide to NOT sell your website? Here are some of the most common reasons for myself personally and what I often hear other people say: 

  • Value Destruction – If a website’s value is reliant on your personal involvement, it can be hard to sell and you may be forced to accept a significant discount. For example, if I were to try and sell AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com it would not go for as high a multiple as a site in my portfolio that was not attached to me personally. Any site that requires YOU will generally see value destroyed when it is transferred to new owners. 
  • Rapidly growing – If a site is rapidly growing it can be a good reason to hold onto the site until you see where the meteoric growth will start to slow. 
  • Rapidly declining – If a site has recently been hit by a Google update or on a significant decline people will be very cautious about buying it and therefore require a significant risk-adjusted discount. It is almost always best to ride the decline until it stabilizes and then sell for a fair multiple at whatever the new normal is. Sometimes you will ride it all the way down to zero but even if that is the case, I would argue it is much better to not dump a potentially worthless asset onto someone. 
  • Potential growth – If you know there are some options to see significant growth and have the time/resources to execute on the plan then holding onto the site would likely make sense.  

Prepare for the Sale

Now that you made the decision to sell it is time to prepare for the sale.

If you are after a fast sale all you need is your earnings proof and analytics. You can submit that and get an offer quickly here.  

If you have some time (6-12 months before listing for sale and another 2-8 months for the sale) and are looking to maximize the value of your site, here are some activities to do. 

  1. Revenue opportunities maximized – Having a stable or growing revenue trajectory is one of the most important things to do when it comes to getting a good multiple for your site.
    1. Improve your display advertising CPM via either direct advertising deals or if you are only using adsense try mediavine or ezoic 
    2. Review your top 10 most visited pages and identify opportunities to maximize revenue on those pages. Doing some conversion rate optimization (CRO) split testing on those pages can make a big difference. For ideas, look at 21+ tips for improving CRO for affiliate sites
    3. Make sure all affiliate links are working and linking to relevant products. Over time, especially Amazon Affiliate websites, you may be linking to products that are no longer in stock. Ensure each link has the right tag and is linking to a product in stock.  
    4. Do you have an email list you have done nothing with? Time to start engaging. Lots of sites will have an email list that has not been engaged with.
  2. Clean up backlink profile – Should you consider disavowing some links to ensure your backlink profile is healthy. Using SEMRush or other tools you can disavow links that are “toxic” and put your site at risk. 
  3. Google Analytics installed – If it isn’t installed INSTALL IT, for better or worse it is the default in this industry and is needed to validate the authenticity of your traffic. 
  4. Diversify traffic sources – If you are completely dependent on a single traffic source it is time to consider other options like social, affiliate or paid. Here is an in depth article of other traffic sources to consider.
  5. Grow your traffic – If you aren’t upgrading your content or doing consistent content marketing, now would be a great time to start. 
  6. Website design – this sounds crazy but huge discounts get applied to ugly sites. But don’t make any drastic architecture changes that could impact your rankings. If you need some help with redesigning a website the team at BrandBuilders makes very good looking money making websites and can help. 
  7. Procedure and SOPs – For any activities that occur within your business make sure there is a procedure for it. Including any content marketing, monetization, team management or social media tasks
  8. Work On Your Business … Not In Your Business – The less involvement needed by you now, or the new owner when they take over, the more valuable your business will be to them. People want an income producing asset not a job. An amazing book on the topic is called Traction.
  9. Clean PnL – Make sure the PnL is clean and verifiable for all earnings and expenses. Make sure the affiliate tags are not a complete mess in Amazon and you have the ability to track each affiliate link directly. You can use this template I created for free. 
  10. Contracts – If there are key staff, affiliate or writer relationships that are critical to the value of the business then getting an affiliate MoU in place is a great step to maximize the value of the business.
  11. Do not get your account suspended – Whatever your monetization method is make sure you are staying compliant so there are no weird drops in earnings that you need to explain. If you are an Amazon Affiliate owner, check out this complete guide on Amazon affiliate requirements to be sure to not get your account suspended. 
  12. It is important to have a list of all the assets included in the sale and easy access to them in a secure location like a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password and not just in a Google Sheet. An example of accounts you should have listed and ensure access to could include domain names, hosting arrangements, social media accounts and email list.

Recommended Places to Sell Your Website

In my selling websites comparison table described earlier, I introduced the three basic options for where to sell your website but I will go into more depth in this section, including some of my personal experience at various locations.

Process for How to Sell a Website based on the Option:

Again, of course I am a little biased being a part owner of MotionInvest but will try and present an accurate description of the process.

MotionInvest

  1. Provide information (analytics access & earnings proof) here (and if you are looking to sell very fast make sure to mention that so your site is prioritized) 
  2. Answer any questions the due diligence team has (1 day up to 1 week)
  3. Receive a 100% cash offer (typically on the lower side of the fair market value range) in as little as 24hrs but definitely in under 1 week, sign an Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) and begin the transfer process with the experienced transfer team 

Flippa

  1. Create a profile here
  2. Fill out the list of information required to decide on how to structure the auction, with a buy it now, duration, reserve price, etc factors
  3. Pay your listing fee
  4. Promote your listing
  5. Communicate with seller through direct messages and in the chat
  6. Depending on the auction accept an offer below your reserve or move forward with someone who purchased
  7. Support the transfer process with a potentially inexperienced buyer

Brokers

  1. Submit your information
  2. Pay the listing fee
  3. Work with their listing team to get all information accurate
  4. Complete an intense seller questionnaire or seller interview or both 
  5. Review the prospectus or listing page and provide feedback
  6. Listing goes live
  7. Take calls with potential buyers and provide answers to any questions they have
  8. Negotiate a deal if any offers come in
  9. Accept an offer and agree on paperwork to sign (whose asset purchase agreement APA to use – yours, the brokers or the buyers)? 
  10. Transfer site and assets with the buyer transferring the funds to escrow (either escrow.com or similar or the broker holds) 
  11. Once income is verified by the buyer then funds are released  

6 Considerations When Choosing Where to Sell Your Website:

Ultimately it comes down to time (how much will it take), money (how much will you walk away with) and probability of success (what is the chance it will sell). Here are the six considerations you should think about on where to list your website for sale.  

  1. Multiple – What is your website going to be sold for? It’s one thing what you or a broker decide to list it for but it can be a very different thing depending on what it gets sold for. Don’t let unrealistic multiple expectations or promises get in the way of getting a deal done.
  2. Time – How long does it take to go from providing information to money in your pocket? This can range widely from as little as 24hrs to over half a year (1 month to prepare to list, 6 month exclusive listing period, 1 month transfer and sending of funds). 
  3. Listing Fees – Listing fees are non refundable and are designed to ensure only serious sellers submit information. It can be a significant percentage of the overall sale price, especially if it is a small site. 
  4. Success Rate – Not every location has the same chance of success. I have certainly had experiences with brokers over-promising on this front claiming to have  a 97.4% success rate and then knowing that myself and a handful of others whose business did not sell. 
  5. Brokerage Fees or Success Fees – If your site sells there is usually a success fee attached that can typically range from 8%-15%, depending on the size of the deal. 
  6. Contract – If the location you are looking to sell your website with requires you to sign a contract make sure you understand how restrictive it is? Does it require six months of exclusivity with penalties if you don’t accept a deal that comes your way? 

To help you with this decision I have created a free calculator that tries to estimate what your take home amount will be given various options for selling your site. 

You can access it here for free and can adjust the numbers to suit your situation. 

Below is a more detailed breakdown and review of the various options you have to sell your website. 

Flippa – The Last Resort

Flippa is a marketplace that focuses on the ability to list an incredible number of sites for sale. It has earned a reputation as being an efficient place to buy and sell websites BUT also one that is filled with potential scams. 

In general, I have never felt good suggesting someone who is either looking to buy or sell a site to go to Flippa, unless they are very experienced and understand the pitfalls of the open marketplace. 

Pro – You can list your site without a gatekeeper. 

Con – Lots of sites listed, MANY of which are potentially mis-representing information (aka scams) and it can be tough to be accused of being a scammer in the questions. 

  • Multiple – 18x-26x monthly
  • Time – 1-2 months and 1-2hrs/week
  • Listing Fees – $50
  • Brokerage Fees – 10% of final sale price

Flippa is good for someone who has a smaller site that was not the right fit for MotionInvest. 

MotionInvest – Efficient and Best for $50/month to $2,500/month Sites

MotionInvest is unique in that it purchases the websites directly and then sells them. 

This makes MotionInvest not a broker but a partner in the process of selling your site with real skin in the game. 

Pro – It is the most efficient place to get a fair price quickly and with minimal time wasted. No listing fees, a guaranteed sale and a smooth experienced transfer team makes it the best place to start when looking to sell your website making under $2.5k/month. 

Con – There are a couple of downsides to MotionInvest. First, if your site doesn’t meet the due diligence criteria it won’t be purchased. Only about 10%-20% of sites submitted for sale pass due diligence and get purchased. Second, the multiple you will receive on your site will be lower than some other options but make sure to calculate your take home amount and time considerations (your time and length of time until your money is received). MotionInvest ONLY focuses on Content websites right now and not e-commerce (Shopify or Woocommerce) or Amazon FBA. 

  • Multiple – ~20x monthly (but varies based on the site)
  • Time – 1 week (but can do as little as 24hrs)
  • Listing Fees – $0
  • Brokerage Fees – $0

MotionInvest is the right place to start to see if the price you receive makes sense.

Empire Flippers – Recommended for $2,500 – $25,000 per month in earnings websites

EmpireFlippers and Joe & Justin have been around the industry for a long time. Empire Flippers has grown from selling their own smaller sites to being the largest broker in the sub $1M range. 

They have a solid inventory and clearly are able to move a large number of sites. 

Their industry reports, podcast and transparent dashboard are all great content to review when you are considering selling your website. 

EmpireFlippers is a website brokerage that sells a large range of profitable websites including any website or blog, online store, e-commerce sites on almost any ecommerce platform and SAAS. 

Pro – Respected broker in the space with a large list of buyers. Established team that does a reasonably large volume in deals so transfers should be reasonably smooth.

Con – Like any broker there are a few critical downsides. The listing fee and amount of time to make the sale happen makes it a less than ideal option for content sites making under $2.5k/month. During the transfer process funds are held until the seller confirms they are receiving money from the site, and if dealing with an inexperienced buyer, this can drag the process out. The total amount of time from submitting your site for sale until receiving money can be up to 8 months with no guarantee of success that the site will sell. 

  • Multiple – 26x monthly
  • Time – 2 months – 8 months (1 month to get a listing live + 6 month exclusive + 1-2 months until funds are released) 
  • Listing Fees – $297
  • Brokerage Fees – ~15%

Quiet Light Brokerage – Recommended for Over $1M Content Sites 

I have less personal experience with QLB (have worked with all other options mentioned above) but have several contacts who have sold larger business with QLB. All feedback from the sellers via QLB has been very positive and would be a great option to explore if you have a larger content site making $30k/month+. 

Pro – Seasoned entrepreneurs as brokers who really understand the typical seller and not brokers who come from the finance world. Very positive reviews from sellers of over $1M deals I have spoken with.  

Con – Same problem as all brokers in terms of length of time and lack of certainty on if a deal will get done. However, when you are over $1M in deal size, maximizing the deal value certainly is going to be worth the extra time (for almost everyone). 

Be sure to check out their MASSIVE guide on website valuation.

Other Content Website Brokers

For a complete review of each check out this guide for buying websites.

How Much is My Website Worth?

How much is my website worth? To determine your website’s value it comes down to the amount the site makes every month and then there are factors that are used to adjust that valuation. 

(Average Monthly Income Trailing Twelve Months TTM) x (Multiple – market value adjusted based on the factors listed below) = Value of Your Website

Don’t be Unrealistic – These income producing websites are beautiful assets that require minimal SOPs to operate and have very low overhead. However, they are not tech startups with insane growth potential and DO NOT deserve crazy valuations. Your sale will not be featured on TechCrunch!  

Profit of the website (this is the MAIN factor that matters) – All other metrics adjust the value but the average monthly profit for the trailing twelve months is what sets anchor for the value. 

The 14 Factors That Influence The Multiple Applied to your Websites TTM Profit:

  1. Domain – If the domain name is valuable on its own it can increase the valuation applied to the site. For example a one word .com will have a significant premium applied to its value. However, other than a premium domain the domain name will not matter much, there is a difference in valuation between a GREAT domain and a decent domain but essentially no difference in valuation between a decent domain and a crap domain. 
  2. Type of income – Recurring revenue is always the best but rare for a content site. If you have some form of recurring revenue with favourable metrics this can make a big difference in the multiple applied to your website. 
  3. Age of the website – The older the site the lower risk that it will disappear soon. According to the Lindy Effect the length of time of some non-perishable thing (like a website) will continue to be around is proportional to its current age. Read Skin in the Game for more ways the Lindy Effect is applied in the world. 
  4. Trajectory of the income and traffic – Although income and traffic are not necessarily perfectly correlated I have included them together here. The point is that a declining site (traffic & earnings) will have a penalty applied to its multiple while a growing site (traffic & earnings) will receive a premium multiple. 
  5. Stability of the income and traffic – Does the traffic and earnings spike at the start of the school year and then is minimal for the rest of the year? Or any other similar pattern that could impact the value you receive when selling your website. The more stable the income and traffic the better. Some seasonality almost always exists but extreme seasonality (Black Friday deal website) will typically have a significant discount applied to its valuation. 
  6. Backlink Profile – Is the backlink profile filled with real and relevant links or spammy crap? Not all purchased links are immediate reasons for buyers to not consider your website. The goal of a purchaser is generally to try to estimate the risk profile of the backlink profile and adjust the multiple accordingly. 
  7. Email List – If your site has an active email list with a reasonable % of income being generated by it that can be a great risk mitigating factor and increase the value of your site.
  8. Social Media Following – Similar to your email list, if there is a strong presence on other platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram with those accounts being included in the sale, that can increase the multiple applied to your site. 
  9. Technical Complexity & Transferability – You might think your custom coded website is awesome… but the reality is people want a simple to operate site that doesn’t require complex/expensive support. A WordPress site with a straightforward build/tech stack is always preferred for a content website sale. 
  10. Certainty of Numbers – If there is any uncertainty or your PnL is not clean that can quickly either tank a deal or reduce the multiple you will receive. Clean, verifiable numbers help ensure you receive a fair deal and a smooth due diligence process. 
  11. Industry Trend – Is it a fad (fidget spinners) or a multi year trend that will likely continue to grow (electric vehicles)? Fads will have a steep discount applied.  
  12. Concentration of Customers or Vendors – Customer concentration is not typically a concern with content sites. However, if you think of vendors as your monetization source it can impact your earnings. If you are solely dependent on a single monetization source it will decrease the multiple you can ultimately receive for selling your website. 
  13. Transferability of Critical Contracts – If there is a team member, writer or affiliate relationship that is critical to the ongoing success of the site then the stronger the relationship the better. For example, if you have a critical relationship for the success of the business then your multiple will be adjusted down. You should try and mitigate this by having a contract in place that communicates how that relationship will continue after you sell your site to the buyer. 
  14. Ethical or Legal Uncertainty – If you are in a niche that has uncertainty from either an ethical (guns, anti-vaccine blog etc) or legal (cryptocurrency, cannabis) standpoint you can expect it to either take a lot longer to sell or require a reduced multiple. 

All of these factors can make the range around the fair value vary widely. 

For example, a site making the same per month may sell for as low 1x the TTM profit while another may sell for 3x+.   

Typical Website Deal Structures 

Here I will try to explain and help you understand the various deal structures so you can see which one is a good fit for you to get a deal done. 

The deal terms can be more important than sale price when it comes down to getting a deal finalized. 

There are many ways that website deals get structured in order to help the buyer reduce their risk, and add additional leverage to the deal in order to acquire a larger site. 

Types of Deals:

  1. 100% Cash – Simplest and best for the seller.
  2. Earnout – You the seller agrees to receive a set amount or set % of the profits over a period of time. Often there are performance minimums to be achieved in order to trigger the earnout. 
    • Example Deal – 70% of purchase price paid in cash with a 30% earnout to be paid out over 2 years at 6 month intervals if the business achieves at least 50% of the TTM profit.  
  3. Seller Financing – There can be a scenario where the right buyer for your business does not have enough funds to purchase the deal outright. However, you know they are the right person to take over your business and are confident it will be a success in their hands. You can help them by essentially loaning them part of the purchase price with a fair interest rate. 
    • Example Deal – $100k purchase price with $75k paid upon close and a $25k seller financing note with an 8% interest rate and a 5yr term. 
  4. Equity Retained – If you think you can efficiently continue to add value and believe in the growth of the website under the new buyer there may be a win-win with you retaining some equity. This can reduce the total amount of money needed by the buyer and help ensure the website’s success with you staying involved. There are legal risks and considerations to this that may not be worth working through for smaller deals. 

Typically deals don’t get creative until they are over $100k. 

There are other creative deal options but those seem to be the most common. 

Negotiate and the Types 

When you are looking to negotiate the sale of your site here are some things to keep in mind. 

Be Trustworthy and Friendly – The seller is evaluating if this is the type of person I believe I can work with to transfer the business. If the answer is no then the deal won’t get done. 

  • Personal Story – I was selling a business and the potential buyer was a two person team, the more senior individual with the money and a younger operator. The younger operator hadn’t prepared for the meeting and I believe was intending to play “bad cop” by insulting the business. It was an incredibly unproductive discussion and I refused to entertain any offer from them other than a 100% cash offer. A deal never got done. 
  • Personal Story – When I was looking to purchase a site from someone who had once listed their site for sale but had since taken it down, I tracked down their cell phone number via a Whois lookup. When I cold called them he informed me that he had recently moved to become a monk (I thought a monk with a cell phone?). Initially he was going to let the site expire but after a couple conversations he was happy to see his site carry on for a small donation to charity I made. Definitely the strangest purchase I have ever made!  

Dig to Understand What They Value and Don’t Value – Using some of the strategies from the great book Never Split the Difference, ask open ended questions to try and discover what they are after. What do they REALLY care about and which of those requirements do you care about less and can provide to them to find a win-win? 

  • Personal Story – I was selling a relatively new business and the buyer was looking to both de-risk their situation and set themselves up to earn. As a result, and understanding that my motivation was not to receive a significant lump sum of cash but to maximize value, we were able to create a deal that involved both a performance based earnout and some retained equity. 

Getting to Yes, 7 Habits and the Great Courses The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal are excellent at explaining concepts like BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), win-win but Never Split the Difference is the most significant mind set shifter when it comes to negotiating. I highly recommend it! Reading these books or summaries of them will be better than any summary I can provide. 

How to Protect Yourself

Now that you have a deal in place how do you go about ensuring your interests are protected?

Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer & this is not legal advice… 

In general, I find it comes down to two things to keep yourself protected. 

  1. Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) and Know Your Customer (KYC) – You should have an APA that you are comfortable with or is prepared/reviewed by an attorney looking out for your interests. Plus, it is important to have enough information to be sure you know who you are doing business with (name, phone number, address etc). With the APA and knowing who you are doing business with in place, you should have a solid foundation for a deal and be protected. 
  2. Secure Transfer Method – The next and very important step is the balancing act of safely transferring the assets in exchange for funds. The most commonly referenced option is Escrow such as escrow.com. However, I have used it and it always seems to have some challenges that delay the process. Many brokers or marketplaces offer some buyer/seller protection by overseeing the transfer and the release of funds. When I have been a buyer or seller I have generally used the recommended method at the location where I was doing the deal. 

A few other things to note…

  • Make sure to transfer passwords securely – Don’t share via email or a Google Sheet
  • Transfer quickly and smoothly – Ripping the bandaid off fast with a quick/smooth transfer is much less painful than a dragged out transfer and everyone involved (buyer etc) appreciates it. 

Follow up like a boss

This is so important it is worth being its own section! 

You have sold your website, received a pile of money and now the new buyer is running the site. 

There are things they don’t know about the site that you will… keyword ideas, how some new news impacts your site etc. 

The way that you can stand out as being one of the best website sellers is to follow up with the buyer and provide suggestions well after the sale is done! 

It can take only a few minutes and add a ton of value. Knowing you as the seller cares about the buyer and can provide help, goes a LONG way to helping you build a reputation as a great seller. 

Summary

My hope is that this giant guide has provided you valuable direction on what your options are when selling your website. 

Resources:

  • Compare Website Selling Options – Here
  • PnL Template – Here
  • Sell Your Website Fast – Here
  • Buying Websites complete guide – Here

If there are any other resources I can reference that will make this article more complete please let me know. 

Covid-19 Impact on Online Business

In what are uncertain times, how can you adapt your online business to the impact of COVID-19?

It goes without saying that the current world climate is in an extraordinary situation. In what is an anxious, ever-changing environment, non-essential businesses have had to close down around the world and a majority of people have been urged (or forced) to work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all permanently, and suddenly. 

There are immediate negative impacts… Healthcare systems are overwhelmed, jobs are lost, businesses are shut down (some forever), the economy is in a state of uncertainty, and many other aspects of society will be affected by this pandemic. One thing is for certain: things will change after this, making way for a new future. And it’s closer than we think. 

We’ve Bounced Back From This Before

The quote from Darwin is as applicable today as ever. No advice I have heard on how we as a people or as a business should handle these times is better than this quote. Identify and adapt to change while we live within our means and co-operatively work together to overcome both the health and economic threat!

It’s easy to worry about the current state of things and that worry is valid. But there is the potential to change things. Let’s quickly examine the state of business about 12 years ago: during the financial crisis of ‘08/’09, Bitcoin, Uber and AirBnB had all just begun and had yet to gain value. They were merely start-ups that hadn’t fully come to fruition. Now, AirBnb and Uber are both valued at over $33 billion and Bitcoin is worth around $106 billion. 

Twelve years ago, most of the well-known online companies that are now household names, were just ideas or start-ups at the time. Even back in 2003, Alibaba and JD.com grew in value after the SARS crisis. 

In times of crisis, we adapt to the state of things. Businesses are created, they change and grow, and can thrive if they change to the times. Newsletters like thehustle.co updated daily on the latest in tech business, highlighting those who are evolving to the times. It’s corners on the internet like this that are keen on showcasing the change-makers who are putting a positive impact on their industry. 

So what has been the impact to online business and where should we be looking for how to adapt…

Internet Traffic Has Had a Huge Change

Since self-isolation and quarantines have begun around the world, peak traffic has increased on average. With more people at home using the internet, traffic is like never before. 

However, some are noting that globally, internet traffic for certain industries have decreased, and competition for ad revenues decreased. 

Instead, a lot of internet traffic is geared to the current pandemic. In the last month, web searching has skyrocketed for key terms like “corona,” “lockdown,” and “social distancing,” all things that have only recently entered our daily vocabulary. In the US, the key trending search terms involve protective equipment like face masks and hand sanitizer. Pandemic has become the zeitgeist, but what is the impact of this? 

For the short term, major spikes in traffic will mainly revolve around COVID-19-related things, purchasing items, and media articles, as people mainly look for up-to-date info regarding the pandemic. 

However, in the long-term, certain industries will see trends in their internet traffic. E-commerce stores selling to customers online have the potential to continue staying open, even while working from home. Many brick and mortar stores have actually made the switch online as well, even selling on WeChat to those who were quarantined in China. This signals a change towards consumers making online their go-to method. 

Of course, the airline and travel industries will have one of the largest impacts, as airports and borders close down and general interest in travel comes to a halt. 

This begs the question, how has ecommerce and marketing reacted to this sudden change?

Display Advertising Needs to Go Where the Traffic Will Be

In what’s an unsure time, advertising has taken a hit even before the pandemic hit the Western hemisphere. 

On March 2, Publicis Groupe’s Zenith said it would lower its December prediction of a 4.3% rise in global ad spending this year due to COVID-19, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

That same day, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said the Times “is seeing a slowdown in international and domestic advertising bookings, which we associate with uncertainty and anxiety about the virus,” and that the publisher now expects first-quarter digital advertising revenue to drop 10%. 

Ad revenue is changing from its typical industries and in response to this, marketing can make a shift to where consumers are going to go, moving to digital platforms. But there are significant winners and losers by industry. 

Think of where major internet traffic is going to go in the coming weeks, months other than general work: to online education, video streaming, various at-home hobbies like crafting, job search sites, discount retailers, at-home exercise. The activities people normally engage in offline will be making shifts to the web. 

And the ones who will struggle covers those that require a location or crowds, like traveling, luxury goods, sports, music, and live entertainment, to name a few. 

Marketing teams need to adapt to this and shift their content accordingly to regain revenue. Staying online is key. No one will be able to see the billboard outside, anyway. 

Website Buying & Selling

The general demand seems to be staying strong at the lower price. At MotionInvest.com, a business I own with partners that buys/sells websites, websites are still sold in hours and demand is staying steady. 

I had the opportunity speak with Emilia on this topic which she put on her YouTube channel…

This signifies that people are still looking to buy sites and grow in the online space.  And we’re not the only ones. EmpireFlippers saw record number of new weekly site listings earlier this month. 

Interest rates are going to be at or near zero. so-far a functioning financial system and significant stimulus packages issues by governments. Will all of that mean that money is easier to get than before, the search for yield and stock market volatility will mean there is a boom in debt financing at all price points in the website buying and selling industry?

My prediction is that the smaller and cheaper websites will increase in demand as more people rush to get into the online space. And the demand for larger sites that sell their products for higher prices might go down as less money becomes available to spend (but I could be 100% incorrect and it could be the complete opposite). More people will shift their focus on building sites to grow their value, rather than investing in larger sites. Whether this is a short-term or long-term change is unknown, but a strategy is key to surviving.

With these changes, multiples will be highly dependant on the availability of debt financing and if I had to bet with the data we have now I suspect will decrease in line with the rest of the stock market for the over $100k range and sub $100k will stay flat (but again I could be totally wrong!).

The Impact on E-commerce

This is e-commerce’s chance to prove just how fundamental it is in our society when we need it most. And companies have stepped up. One of the biggest, Amazon, recently hired 100,000 new workers and are temporarily pausing unloading of all non-essential products to keep up with the demand for goods. 

Online businesses will have a chance to thrive and are already seeing a huge spike in the countries most affected. 31% of Italian and 50% of Chinese consumers say they’re using e-commerce more frequently, in a poll by Ipsos MORI. 

Lockdowns disrupt the supply chain but that only puts more pressure on manufacturers and e-commerce to get the essentials out there. More people are shopping online but only for the essentials. E-commerce is affected by the supply chain now because it is becoming the core provider. 

Find A Problem Worth Solving!!! 

The key is to always keep moving and not be that guy who’s bulk-buying and reselling sanitizing wipes providing no additional utility in the world. Anyone trying to exploit the current economic situation will suffer because they’re prioritizing the short-term of benefiting themselves and not considering others during an incredibly sensitive time. Google and Facebook are already cracking down on this by banning resales and providing credible info linked on their homepages. 

So what will be some of the changes that we can look at…

High quality writers will become more available and interested in remote work.

Our knowledge on how to manage work remotely will become more of the norm and companies will be led to create working from home procedures and policies which will stay in place after the pandemic is over. I have always thought that the next recession would accelerate remote work, companies would ask why do we have an office. With a recession triggered by a pandemic that has forced remote work it will only accelerate that trend.

Specific industries could see a spike in demand after this, like the cleaning, food, and manufacturing of essential goods, as consumers go back to core values and realize these are what is needed and relied on when all else fails. 

And in an effort to keep things low-cost, marketing teams will have to come up with solutions to deliver a low-cost-efficient product to clients. For instance, ContentRefined is focusing on this strategy with its new offering from ContentLever (4 posts and social media management for $199/month). Online marketing will increase, and if we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that the internet is the essential medium we need to run industries and stay connected. 

At no point in most of our lives has the rate of problem creation been soo extreme. With so much mental capacity freed up due to layoffs, I am optimistic about the businesses that will be created to solve real problems and help the world.

The world needs entrepreneurs now more than any moment in recent history to identify and solve real problems!

Internally we have paused the development on one project to shift focus on a solution (that likely won’t make anything) but will help people – more on that soon.

Further Reading

COVID-19 And Its Effect On Bloggers And Web Publishers

With uncertainty the new norm, the coronavirus rattles the media industry

The economic effects of a pandemic

Google Trends: Coronavirus

Treasury Secretary Warns 20% Unemployment Rate Possible Without Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Amazon warehouses will stop accepting non-essential items amid COVID-19 outbreak

Amazon hiring 100,000 new distribution workers to keep up with online shopping surge caused by coronavirus

Coronavirus: Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown

Unprecedented Uncertainty: How the Coronavirus Is Disrupting the Global Advertising Industry

What does the coronavirus mean for business?

How A Recession (might) Affect The Website Investing Space

https://www.wefunder.com/virus

Amazon Affiliate Requirements – Disclosure and other Rules

A few years ago I shared my story about my Amazon Affiliate Account getting closed and costing me a painful $100k in affiliate advertising program earnings! 

Today I'm sharing a detailed analysis of the Amazon Affiliate Requirements and what you need to do to stay compliant so that your Associates Program account doesn’t get closed. 

Most importantly, I'm sharing a completely free new WordPress Plugin that helps you get your site compliant with Amazon in seconds!

Specifically, I'm going to go over the updated disclosure recommendations for 2020, how the free plugin makes it easier then ever to be compliant, and a detailed audit process that we can execute as affiliate marketers. 

If you have had your Amazon Associate account closed we will get into how to appeal to get it re-opened, and if all else fails, the critical steps to open a brand new one. 

Think about this post as covering 2 parts… 

  • First: Prevention (what to do to not get your account closed) 
  • Second: Recovery (how to get your account re-opened or create a new one) 

Prevention Sections:

  1. 7 Most Common Reasons for Getting Banned by Amazon Associates
  2. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template
  3. Complete Amazon Affiliate Requirements (including checklist) updated for 2020

Recovery Section:

  1. Appeal and Reopen Your Closed Amazon Affiliate Account
  2. How to Start a “New” Amazon Associate Account

To read the Amazon Associates Program details (highly recommended - but tough read), here are the 2 links:

My $100k Loss Backstory & Why I Care So Much About This Topic

Very shortly after I left my day job and had planned (in part) on my Amazon Associate earnings as being one of my main sources of income to support my family, I received the dreaded email saying I was no longer welcome to participate in the Amazon Associate program. Yikes!!! I had just made the entrepreneurial jump and then immediately took a HUGE hit. No longer being able to run my Amazon Affiliate websites was going to be an issue for my business. I needed to figure out a way to fix this.

The reason... myself and a partner had just purchased an Amazon Affiliate niche site and one of his other partners was doing some sketchy things with Amazon. 

This impact was PAINFUL and wiped out well over six figures in value very shortly after I left my day job. The silver lining is I'm now able to help other Amazon Affiliate store owners by sharing details about the process on this blog post.

This is what Amazon said in both their emails ...

During our research, we have determined that an account belonging to you (or a person affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Associates Programs operated by our affiliates.

Based on the analysis I was able to identify that the bad actor was a partner of one of my partners resulting in 3 accounts I was associated with (and all connected) getting suspended.  

From that, the process and tools shared in this post were born.

This post, as well as additional research, has led us to create this list of the 7 most common mistakes that people are making with their Amazon Affiliate sites that could lead to their accounts getting suspended or closed! 

But what I am most proud of is the best, fastest and completely free wordpress plugin dedicated to helping ensure you stay compliant with Amazon - check it out!

7 Most Common Reasons an Amazon Associate Account is Closed

In this post I have tried to stay on the conservative side, however, I fully realize people may choose to dial up the risk in order to generate more clicks/sales since this is affiliate marketing. I understand the need to try and find the right balance between risk and reward, and in this post have tried to present the “ideal” low risk plan.

Now that we’ve had the Amazon audit process up and running for a little while, we are able to analyze the data and see the biggest problems with our sites and the sites we have reviewed. I hope this post provides you with 7 actionable items to consider regarding your Amazon Affiliate website and the Amazon associates program.

See below for the 7 most frequently failed Amazon Audit questions that could result in your associate account being suspended.

ONE - Use of Logo at all or Trademark without Disclosure Statement

Update - Thanks to Matt Allen AMALinksPro for providing feedback and based on his research and interpretation of the Operating Agreement this section has been updated. 

Everyone knows to include an earnings disclosure but what about a trademark ownership disclaimer? 

Amazon Logo and Trademark Disclosure Template:

The correct disclosure to use on every page of your site that has Amazon or an Amazon.com logo is “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”

Your Amazon Affiliate Account can get shut down pretty fast if Amazon thinks you’re violating their Trademark and Logo policy. The tricky thing with Amazon is that they actually own the rights to other Trademarks and logos, such as Kindle. 

This question comes from probably the most clear requirement on the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules and Trademark Guidelines. You can find them here, or see the snapshot below.

So basically if you have anything that looks like this on your site then Amazon could shut you down:

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates

  • TIP – Most people have the earnings disclaimer on their site but people (myself included) usually miss having the trademark disclaimer on the required pages.

  • TIP – Although it looks ugly, if you want to be on the very safe side don't include images and do include the Amazon trademark disclaimer on every page and not just the disclaimer page! This free affiliate plugin gets you setup properly in seconds!

So to answer the question ...

Can I use Amazon logo on my affiliate website?

No, although the operating agreement contradicts itself and there is an argument for being able to use it. I would recommend to NOT use any image for Amazon OTHER than the ones provided and only if you are using an Affiliate link. So what are the images provided by Amazon? Just these beautiful ones from 1994 when Amazon got founded 🙂 ...

Buy from Amazon buttons

To read a much deeper analysis of this and an interesting chat transcript with an Amazon customer support checkout this great post...

https://amalinkspro.com/can-i-use-the-amazon-logo-or-the-amazon-prime-logo-on-my-website/

TWO - Incentives

The second most common issue is the following question:

“Does the site offer affiliate advertising incentives (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?”

Many of the niche website affiliate marketing tricks need to be dialled back when it comes to staying compliant with the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules.

 

We have been finding that some of the sites that we have audited provide incentives, especially in the form of money rebates for using their link. Most of the offers we found were clearly only to incentivize the click and had no substance to people looking to claim the “rebate” or “save an additional x%”.

The clean and simple rule is DON’T do it! Incentivizing people to click on a link to Amazon is a slippery slope and a very easy way to get your account shut down. Including text like “ Click here to get 10 dollars off this product” are no good.

Here are some images of what NOT to do (not images from any sites we have reviewed):

THREE - Incorrect Use of Pricing or Product Images

The third most common issue that people have with their sites is incorrectly using product images and/or prices.

 

Here is the general rule of thumb – don’t include images from Amazon or pricing UNLESS you are pulling them with the Amazon API.

Comparison tables are great but don’t include the price on your site because Amazon products change their prices all the time. Including an old promotion price without realizing that the promotion has expired could also be seen as “inaccurate or misleading advertising” which will also get your account shut down.

Tools such as AMALinks Pro and AAWP will use the Amazon Associates API to automatically pull the price and images.

Below are a couple examples of what not to do ...

Example: You still have this on your site after the promotion ends

Remember: ONLY pull the price or product image using the Amazon API. 

FOUR - Link Cloaking

You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) or the user agent of the application in which Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.

– Program Participation Requirements, Section 6. (v) “Content on your Site"

The fourth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Are any links on the site using a link shortener in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site?”. This is listed as 4th but is certainly the most debated issue when it comes to Amazon.

A lot of people do this! I’ve done it. Basically, Amazon doesn’t want you to make it unclear that you are sending a user to Amazon so they have words in their TOC’s that make it questionable to use link shortening/cloaking services.

So can you use Bitly, PrettyLinkPro or Geni.us Link? The truth is it is not 100% clear! Many many people do and Amazon knows they do so it is likely a lower risk (if you take some additional steps), but still not 100% compliant with Amazon. 

If you do use one of these URL shorteners you need to take an extra step to ensure that it is clear the link will direct people to Amazon.  Here & here is how Geni.us links discusses the use of its tool to stay compliant with Amazon Associates.

The short version is DO NOT use link shorteners like Bitly and PrettyLinksPro. If you are going to use tools like Geni.us links, then use your judgement based on how they recommend you use it.

FIVE - Off Page Promotion (social, email, print, etc)

The fifth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, Facebook Ads, Youtube videos, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?”.

This one gets a lot of people flagged because it is very easy for Amazon to check! It is tricky because this essentially makes it impossible to do any kind of email marketing with a link in it.

Even if you are emailing just one friend, be sure to not include an affiliate link in that email.

One solution if you want to make money from Amazon Associates from your email list is to funnel them through a squeeze page (for example a review post for the product on your site).

  • TIP – If you send out the content of your post in an email newsletter automatically, make sure links are turned off just in case you have an affiliate link in the first paragraph of the article.

“Are any amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook?”.

This is a tough one because there are some instances where you CAN share your links on social pages and some where you cannot.

Personally, I recommend just to stay away from all of it.

Many bloggers and influencers get this one wrong trying to generate passive income from their audience. 

If you really want to do it, I would go here to learn more about what is acceptable and what isn’t in terms of social sharing.

SIX - Use Star Rating and Reviews

The sixth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon’s customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?”.

This is something we see A LOT (and did a lot!).

We see many people using reviews as testimonials, which makes a lot of sense since it gives honest and accurate reviews on a particular product. It also seems tempting because it can add really valuable content to your site which helps your reader.

Another thing that people like to do is use “Star Ratings’. Using star ratings on your site that look like Amazons can be perceived by Amazon as using “their” star ratings and yet another way to get your account closed.

SEVEN - Associate Yourself With Someone Whose Account was Banned

Another tough one to avoid and one we see a lot of sites doing. People will be added as a user to an account and then when that account gets banned, so does theirs. 

Here is what the email from Amazon will say:

An account belonging to you (or a person or entity connected or affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Amazon marketing programs.

The best way to avoid this is simple: DON'T associate yourself with anyone who has had their account banned. If you associate yourself with someone who has had their account banned, it can result in you becoming banned.

 

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template and How to Install

The simplest and fastest way to get the correct disclosure in the proper spot on your website is this free Amazon plugin I had created. 

The most commonly discussed topic in terms of staying compliant with the Amazon Associates Agreement is the need for showing you are part of the Amazon Associates program.  

It is a critical part of staying compliant and therefore I would not be doing you justice if I did not include the current thoughts on how to maintain compliance. 

For an in depth analysis on what Amazon Associate Disclaimer to use, check out Doug form NicheSiteProjects' post here or what Dom Wells wrote at Onfolio here.

There is a surprising amount of debate on how best to handle the Amazon Disclosure requirements.

The Amazon Agreement States:

You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” (Section 5).

Most people therefore include some version of this in the footer or a disclaimer page and think they are good. 

Then… Amazon shared an email in 2019 stating:

This is a reminder of your disclosure obligations under the Operating Agreement. Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience. They will trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why. To meet the Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.


To comply with Federal Trade Commission FTC regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:


  1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
  2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.

In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.

(Amazon email Oct 2019)

Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines. For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.

 

So what are you to do now? Where do you place the FTC and Amazon required affiliate earnings disclosure?

The options on where to include the disclosure are shown below along with our recommendation. 

  • Footer Only - Not enough since it won't be above the first affiliate link

  • Top of Sidebar - Not enough since it won't be above your first affiliate link on mobile

  • Hello Bar - One solution, but likely overkill as again, it may not show on all mobile and impact user experience.

  • Identify Each Link - This seems to be what they are after but I would think this HAS to be overkill. Anytime you link to Amazon you include “Commissions Earned”... seems excessive!

  • Top of Each Page - Safest, but be careful to not end up with your search result showing the disclaimer text instead of your first paragraph or meta description. 

How to include your affiliate disclosure but not have Google index it?

Over the last few months I have seen several search results with the top part of the page indexed with the affiliate disclosure. This hurts SEO and provides a poor user experience. The solution to this is to use Google On/Off flags

<!--googleoff: all-->As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.<!--googleon: all-->

To learn more about google on/off flags, check out this Google Search Help article.

Make sure to not end up with this as your search result:

Below is the tool I had created to install the affiliate disclaimer as well as the trademark disclaimer.

Option 1 - Install Disclosure for Amazon Affiliate Plugin

Under 30 seconds to be compliant (free plugin)

This plugin was developed to help us ensure all of our Amazon Affiliate sites are 100% compliant with the FTC disclosure and Amazon earnings disclosure requirements.

The Amazon Associate Disclosure plugin is the fastest and easiest way to get your Amazon Affiliate site fully compliant with both the:

  • FTC and Amazon required Affiliate Disclosure
  • Amazon Trademark disclaimer

It places the pre-loaded disclosure text from Amazon in the right locations on your website with the bonus of tagging it so search engines will ignore the disclaimer and rank your content. 

Benefits of the Amazon Associate Disclosure Plugin

ONE - Simple Fast and No Setting Changes Required

It is rare that you can use a tool that achieves everything you need it to with so little effort on your end. 

With this wordpress plugin in seconds you can have a compliant disclosure properly setup on your site. Simply...

  1. Install
  2. Activate
  3. Done - You are compliant

TWO - Proper Google On Off Tags

Many people have recently and correctly moved their affiliate disclosure to the top of their articles. This affiliate disclosure text is incorrectly now being picked up by Google as the page description. This is a large problem for both search rankings and click through rate. 

The solution is that using this plugin the Google Off / On tags are properly placed so that the disclosure text will be ignored by Google and your great content will be why they rank your page. 

THREE - Fully Editable Text and Customizable Appearance

Although it is not needed and comes installed following your sites design with the text provided by Amazon you can both…

  • Change the text to add additional disclosures or modify the words however you see fit
  • Fully customize the section however you see fit  

FOUR - Control Globally or on the Page/Post Level

Not every one of your posts/pages likely need the disclosure and you may not want them on every website. 

You can easily and efficiently control which of the posts & pages see the disclosure text blocks. 

Both global and local level controls are available.

Option 2 - How To Easily Install Affiliate Disclosure on Your WordPress Site with Ad Inserter

Another popular option to ensure each page has the right disclaimer, which takes a little more work but gives you more flexibility, is shown below. This process uses one of the most popular WordPress plugins Ad Inserter. Like the method above it should work with any existing plugins like Yoast SEO, RankMath or Woocomerce plugins. 

Ad Inserter plugin is originally developed to inject ads to any pages/posts on WordPress sites. It can also be used to automatically add affiliate disclosures to every post. That's what I am going to walk you through belwo.

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New and search for "Ad Inserter" then click the "Install Now" button.

Step 2: Click the "Activate" button.

You will be directly taken to your Installed Plugins page

Step 3: Click "Settings"

The Ad Inserter settings page will be opened

Step 4:  Copy the following HTML code and paste it in the block editor

TIP: a lot of sites are currently having their Amazon Associate disclosure appear in the description within search results. The Google Off/Google On tag solves this problem.

<!--googleoff: all-->
<p>As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.</p>
<!--googleon: all-->

NOTES:

 

  • The two Google off and Google on tags are to prevent Google from indexing the text or the code in between.
  • Optional: If you would like to change the space around the disclaimer text or to change the font size. So it looks different from the post content. You can select "Custom CSS" from the "Alignment" dropdown box, then click the "Show" button and scroll down until you see the CSS box. Then paste the following CSS code:
margin: -10px 0px 20px 0px; font-size: 80%;

Step 5: Click "Save Settings"

That's it!

Adding text in the site footer

We can also use the Ad Inserter plugin to add this text to be compliant with Amazon trademark terms.

Step 1: In the Ad Inserter plugin settings page, click on a new Tab. In our case here, Tab #2

Step 2: Paste the following code in the block editor:

<!--googleoff: all-->
<p>Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates</p>
<!--googleon: all-->

Step 3: Select all checkboxes here to display the text in ALL site pages. Then select "Footer" and in alignment dropdown list select "Center"

Step 4: Click "Save Settings"

Complete 35 Question Amazon Affiliate Requirements List (Updated 2020)

Now that you have some context on what Amazon is looking for in terms of compliance, here is a step-by-step procedure you can use to ensure you are staying compliant with Amazon.

If you want to go deeper than the most common issues and be as fully compliant as possible, here is our attempt at turning the Amazon Associates agreements into an actionable list.  

To make this process even easier I have had my team turn this into a 100% free to use Google Sheet that you can make a copy of and edit. 

After reading every word several times and having my team update the procedure we have been using for the last few years to ensure our sites are staying compliant with the amazon associate program, we were able to come up with some actionable steps.  

Here is the complete list of 35 questions to turn the Amazon Associates Operating agreement into an actionable questions list. 

  1. Are there any affiliate disclaimer links that do not include this disclaimer: “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates"? 
  2. Has the site displayed or used any trademark or logo of any third party seller on the Amazon Site in connection with any of our Affiliate Links without permission from the seller? 
  3. Have any privacy links/affiliates’ trademarks or logos that are included in a Special Link been removed, obscured, altered, or made invisible, illegible, or indecipherable to visitors of the site?
  4. As the user of this site, will you be linked or redirected to any other forms of monetization that include Amazon Affiliate Links other than the Amazon site? 
  5. Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?
  6. Does this site display content that requires us (the website owners) to sublicense or otherwise give any rights in or to any content to any other person or entity?
  7. Do any pages on the site get redirected to a different URL that are not an Amazon Associate IDs or Tags? 
  8. Are any Amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook? 
  9. Within the site’s content, are there any names used within that content, in a manner that implies a person’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product, service? 
  10. Have any keywords, search terms, or other identifiers that include the word “Amazon,” or “Kindle,” or any other trademark of Amazon or its affiliates been purchased or registered or used in domain or subdomain, Associate ID’s or Tags?
  11. Does the site offer incentives to increase the conversion rate (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?
  12. Is the operation of any buttons, links, or other features of the Amazon Site modified, redirected, suppressed, or substituted?
  13. Are there any Affiliate Links used to link to the Amazon Site from references to items on the site that are not products?
  14. Does the site take any action that could reasonably cause any customer confusion as to our relationship with Amazon or as to the site on which any transactions (e.g., search, browse, or order) are occurring?
  15. Are any Affiliate Links or content used in connection with any spyware, malware, virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other malicious or harmful code, or any software application not expressly and knowingly authorized by users?
  16. Does the site frame the Amazon Site, or any part of it, including by display within an integrated web browser (e.g., WebView) within a Mobile Application?
  17. Does the site post any Affiliate Links or other content promoting the Amazon Site within any pop-up or pop-under windows, transitional page ads, or layer ads around or with the display of any site that does not belong to us? 
  18. Does the site include any Affiliate Links in any content that you place on the Amazon Site?  
  19. Does the site contain functions that might artificially increase advertising fees? 
  20. Does the site request, collect, obtain, store, cache, or otherwise use any account information used by customers in connection with any Amazon Site (including any usernames or passwords of Amazon Site customers)?
  21. Does the site have functions that will attempt to intercept or redirect traffic from or on, or divert advertising fees from, any site that participates in the Program.
  22. Does the site artificially generate clicks or impressions or create sessions on the Amazon Site, whether by way of a robot or software program or otherwise?
  23. Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon's customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?
  24. Does your site hide, cloak, spoof or otherwise obscure the URL of your site containing Affiliate Links (including by use of a redirecting page)?
  25. Does your site knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age.
  26. Is the link used on the site missing an Associate ID or “tag”?
  27. Are any links on the site using a shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site? 
  28. Are there any links on the site that are related to limited time promotions that are now expired? 
  29. Is there any content that could be perceived as overly promotional or inaccurate advertising?
  30. Do you clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”?
  31. Does the site have any content relating to products offered on any site other than the Amazon Site, in accordance with the Associates Program Policies? 
  32. Within the site’s content, are there any names used in a manner that implies a persona’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product or service?
  33. Does the site state any testimonials from Amazon or third-parties?
  34. Does the site contain functions that cause any page of the Amazon site to open in a customer’s browser other than as a result of the customer clicking on an affiliate link on the site?
  35. Does the site disclose accurately and adequately, either through a privacy policy or otherwise, how they collect, use, store, and disclose data collected from visitors, including, where applicable, that third parties (including Amazon and other advertisers) may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers, and providing information on the visitor’s choices with respect to opting-out from online advertising where required by applicable law?

How to Recover Your Account

Sometimes despite your best efforts, there is a misunderstanding with Amazon. In those cases, here is an approach to re-open your Amazon affiliate account. 

 

Below is a story shared with me by a reader (and with permission sharing). It is the most in-depth process I have seen. 

Make sure to check out his site with more details shared on the steps he took here.

Great post Matjaz and congrats on getting your account re-opened

  • 13.2.2020: email from Amazon that my account was terminated. Reason: -The sources of your traffic are obscured in such a way that we cannot reasonably determine on what Site(s) your Special Links are displayed.

  • 13.2.2020: my first email to [email protected] with the list of my affiliate ids and websites where I’m using them plus my findings of noreferrer attribute.13.2.2020: my second email to [email protected] with two screen recordings showing my two biggest websites and data of clicks/traffic from Google Analytics plus how I’ve fixed noreferrer attribute.

  • 13.2.2020: combined these two emails in an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page

  • 17.2.2020: got an email from Amazon: We received your appeal regarding the termination of your Associates account. A specialist has reviewed your account, and the decision to terminate your account was found to be correct. As stated previously, under the terms of the Operating Agreement (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement), we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This termination is final and not subject to appeal.

  • 17.2.2020: been on the phone with Amazon Customer Support regarding my problem. No help at all. We don’t have details, and the team that does works only through email. Write to them or appeal again.

  • 17.2.2020: tried to send an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page only to find out that the Subject option of “Associates account terminated option” now returns not valid or something similar when you want to submit the form

  • 17.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss himself 🙂 [email protected] … with the subject “Not an appeal, but additional information, please read”

  • 18.2.2020: reapplied to Amazon associates with the same email and data as before, fixed links to new affiliate ids on my biggest website only to find my account closed with no email a few hours later

  • 18.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss again 🙂

  • 19.2.2020: got a reply with the subject “Your E-mail to Jeff Bezos BC – Re: Not an appeal, but additional information, please read” and message: Thank you for reaching out regarding your concern. We’re currently looking into this issue to make sure the matter is taken care of properly. Please expect a response within two business days.

  • 19.2.2020: got an email from Amazon Associates 1 hour later: This message is to advise you that your Associate account and your previous Advertising Fees have been reinstated. Please accept our apologies for the closure error.  We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

  • To see each step broken down in more detail checkout his post

How to Start a New Amazon Associate Account

So you tried your best not to get banned, you got the nasty letter from Amazon, and even after attempting to plead your innocence, you still are not able to get back into the advertising program. 

So time for the last resort … start a new account!

This is not what you need to do if you are opening an Amazon Affiliate account for the first time. It's only something you want to consider if you are starting a new one after your account got closed.

 

Here are the recommended steps when all else fails:

1. New Computer

  • Tracking the Mac address of a computer that logs in to Amazon Associates is possible. Having a dedicated Chromebook ONLY for logging into Amazon is a reasonable risk mitigation step.

2. New Internet Connection & VPN using the Incognito/Privacy Browser Tab 

  • A dedicated internet connection for checking your affiliate account is a great option. Instead of needing to “buy” another internet connection, use a coffee shop wifi that is not one of your usual work locations.

3. New Entity, Email, Address, Name, Bank Details

  • Having all new details when you sign up is obviously critical. Having a new entity, email, address, name, phone number and bank details along with any other information is critical.

4. New Websites and Cross Domain Rel=Canonical Link (don’t 301 redirect)

  • Sometimes people choose to dial up the risk and 301 redirect a website that has been burned to a new website. Obviously, the 301 redirect can be followed, but isn’t ideal. To be safer and still get the traffic benefit of the old site I recommend a safer approach of using rel=canonical cross domain linking. This process tells the search engine the page that should be ranked is on the new domains BUT if (I think unlikely) someone from Amazon were to visit the burned/banned website it would still appear as normal since it was still live. Here's a great tutorial on cross domain rel=canonical link by Moz here.

This is a last resort ... the recommended path is to be compliant, appeal if you have an issue, and then as a very last resort create a new account for a new entity with new URLs. 

Summary

This post was written to provide you with some tips and knowledge about the most common Amazon Affiliate site compliance offences. Have a look at your site and see if you’re in violation of any of these! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

Other resources:

  • AMALinksPro & a breakdown of what 7 successful affiliate sites are doing wrong. Special thanks to Matt Allen from AMALinksPro for reviewing this guide and providing some recommended changes to stay safer. He has definitely thought A LOT about the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement! His level of knowledge definitely gives me more confidence using AMALinksPro! 
  • Free Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Plugin

If you have any thoughts or comments on the plugin we would love to hear your thoughts.