Are you selling the right thing in your business to generate income? Are you building a business that you will enjoy a year or two from now?  What kind of business model are you trying to create?

2 women sitting on a couch talking

So often we jump into business focused on our idea for what we want to sell. But if we don’t actually understand where that fits into the overall landscape of online business, we can struggle, and may end up with a business we hate a few years from now.

In this episode I will walk you through HOW you sell something (the business models) and how to decide WHAT you are selling (the product or service), so you can move forward with clarity and confidence.

Overview of Online Business Models

We touched on this in episode 4 when we talked about whether you need an audience. I encourage you to go back and listen to that episode if you haven’t yet.

Service Provider Model

This model is just what it sounds like: providing a service in exchange for money. This could include website or graphic design, copywriting, social media management, podcast editing, virtual assistant services, management services, etc. In this model someone is paying you for a service and receiving a concrete “product” in exchange.

How this can look:

  • You could be a solopreneur, doing every aspect of the business yourself.
  • You could have a small team of support people helping you with certain aspects of the business.
  • You could run an agency, delegating the services your agency provides to your team members.

What do you need to pursue this model?

  • Some kind of marketable skill or experience
  • Willingness to learn and apply new skills

This model is the fastest way to earn an income online AND it requires the smallest audience. You don’t need a huge background or high level of expertise to pursue this model, however if you DO have an expertise or background that you can lean on, that can lead to higher rates. 


Coaching & Consulting Model

This can include life coaching, business coaching or consulting, fitness, wellness, or parenting coaching, etc. In this model, someone is paying you for your time and expertise, but they are not receiving a concrete product in exchange.

As my mentor Julie Stoain puts it: you’re selling your brains not your hands.

How this can look:

  • 1:1 coaching
  • Group coaching
  • Membership programs
  • Consulting (more of an advisory role that provides a plan for something, often without doing the actual work)

What do you need to pursue this model?

  • You do need a level of expertise or experience
  • A proven track record or portfolio you can point to showing results or how you have helped others

Side note about this model: it’s my take that coaches and consultants need to have expertise in what they are coaching or consulting about.

Course Creator Model

This model provides a digital product in exchange for money. Passive income! This is what so many people want, and it’s often what people look to first when they come into the online space.

How this can look:

  • Ebooks
  • Audio content
  • Courses
  • Memberships

A course creator or “info product” business can take longer to build up, but can end up being more profitable in the long run, since it requires less of your 1:1 time.

What do you need to pursue this model?

  • A skill, experience, or expertise that you want to teach others. It helps if you’ve already taught it in a 1:1 setting or have implemented it with clients.
  • Time to build an audience or money to invest in advertising to sell your digital products. 

This model will take either TIME or MONEY to build. If you have time, you can build your email list and social following organically and then sell to that audience. If you have MONEY you can build more quickly by advertising, growing a targeted email list and then selling your course or product to that audience.

Recommendation if you want to build a course creator business:

If you’re sure this is the model you want to pursue, I recommend checking out Launch Gorgeous. This program walks you through creating and launching your a digital product. Even though I had gone through other courses on the topic and had even launched my own products before, I followed the Launch Gorgeous process for launching my courses last year and it was absolutely incredible. (This is a higher priced program, so again, it’s going to make sense if you have funding to invest in learning how to do this the right way.)

Influencer Model

For someone who doesn’t want to do any of the above, AND they do not have an immediate income need, this model can sometimes work.

An influencer is someone who has a VERY large audience, and can attract sponsors and advertisers who want to sell to that audience. 

How this can look:

  • Gaining a following in the Instagram or YouTube space
  • Reaching a large audience through podcasting or other media
  • Often in a very niche area that can broaden over time

This is not a model that I would encourage anyone to pursue and it’s unlikely that you are interested in this model but I wanted to mention it because it can happen. 

What do you need to pursue this model?

  • Time flexibility (i.e. you don’t need to earn income now)
  • Focus on one particular topic or niche 
  • Ability to build a large community

Hybrid Models

There are a few models that combine different aspects of these main business models. 

How this can look:

  • VIP days – a “done with you” approach where you are not doing the work but you are there with the client; combining service provider and coaching/consulting models.
  • Certification – combines some aspects of the coaching and the course creator models. 
  • Masterminds or group coaching – can often be a combo of course creator and coaching models. Course creators might have a higher end “mastermind” that gives people access to them directly.

Factors to consider in choosing your business model from Episode 8:

  • Your personality
  • Your immediate financial needs
  • Your goals
  • Who you want to serve

Deciding What You Want to Sell

The three things you want to consider when deciding what service, product, or skillset to sell, are:

  • your area of expertise (your skills, experience, education; what you’re good at)
  • your passion (something you actually enjoy doing, and could do long term)
  • what others will pay for (if people won’t pay for it, it might be a hobby, but it’s not a viable income option)

Your ideal business - 3 circles image

“It’s okay to have hobbies; it’s ok to have things that you’re good at that you’re not in business for.” -Esther Littlefield

There are lots of other things I’m passionate about, and I have skills in many areas. But when I looked at all 3 of my circles, my ideal business really came down to coaching and courses for Christian women in business. 

I encourage you to take some time to assess your business model and reflect on the intersection of your 3 circles. Make sure you are in alignment with where you want to be and where God is asking you to go.

“If you go off course–if you need to pivot–it’s okay.” -Esther Littlefield

How to share with others about what you do:

Once you’re clear on your business model and have figured out how you want to generate income, the next thing to think about is making sure people know about it.

You need to feel good talking about what you do and how you help people so that you can start to gain clients and customers!

I know that this is one of the hardest things for us to do. We struggle with clearly articulating what we do … with marketing ourselves in a way that is not spammy or feels like we’re just self-promoting, right?

That’s why I’m putting together a FREE 5-day challenge for you coming up in just a couple weeks. In this challenge, you’re going to learn:

  • What to say when someone asks, “so, what do you do?”.
  • How to say it confidently… without confusing them.
  • Plus: the secret sauce that will help set you apart!

Finally figure out how to share your work and your message with clarity and confidence! Click here to join the challenge.

woman standing at desk - what type of online business is right for you