How The Pros Make Real Money Online (From Home)

Yet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q:

Can you describe your business model and income streams? How has it evolved since you started?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

steph123stephheadshot.jpgAs long as I can remember, I’ve relied on multiple streams of income to live. From the time I worked two jobs, one as a waitress and one as a bartender in the mid 80’s, or had a child care business plus a weekend flea marketing business in the late 80’s and early 90’s, until the time I started working from home using the Internet as my main means of making a living in the mid 1990’s. From my experience, it is dangerous to rely on one source of income. A really good example is how my own business has evolved.

From performing administrative tasks for local small nonprofits from my then living room office, to making HTML brochure websites, to making mini affiliate focused websites, to flipping websites, to now when my main source of income comes from ghost writing online content and helping online and offline business owners choose what type of content they need. I also get paid as an expert writer for online sites such as and, among others. The point is, how I earn the bulk of my income has changed over time as the need and technology changes.

But, even with all the change it hasn’t affected me much as far as having a monthly income coming in at all times, because it’s diversified. It has ebbed and flowed and there have been rich times and lean times, but overall it’s always been there. Today, I accept orders of up to 450 articles per month and 4 eBooks, approximately 250,000 to 450,000 words. That translates into about 15 to 30 clients a month most of whom are retainer clients, plus a couple one-off clients who just need an eBook. That means no one client is the bulk of my income. That qualifies, in my mind, as multiple streams of income. I do have one client currently, who comprises what would normally be taken by five clients which is the highest amount any one client has ever ordered from me on a regular, ongoing basis.

I also earn affiliate income from one blog, which has really suffered lately, to be honest. It’s gone from making about $750 a month to about $50, if I’m lucky. It’s my fault because all I have to do is blog regularly and the income automatically goes up. My heart just hasn’t been in it though as my writing business has increased. I’m like the mechanic whose customers have smooth running vehicles but who has none of their own working even though they have five cars in the drive way (true story).

I’m also working on a membership website, which I believe will bring in additional income. I have two Kindle books so far, which bring in about $50.00 a month. I had plans to write one a month, but have failed miserably on that task. I also have a few other side things that I do to earn income that have nothing to do with writing. I love writing, but I am always ready for the next big thing ever since the first big Google algorithm change and my income from Google AdSense went from $1500 a month from several mini sites to literally nothing overnight back in, I think 2005.

The point is, you have to be ready for change when working from home via the Internet. Technology moves super-fast and if you’re not paying attention it could cripple your business. If you have any type of business from passive income to service based, keep your eyes open and start learning and working on the next big thing. That’s the only way to stay alive and frankly, at least for me, to stay interested in your career over a long period of time and to ensure any type of future. Of course, it’s not just the Internet, in 2006 my husband was laid off from his job, so working at a regular job doesn’t insulate anyone from income fluctuations or issues with cash flow. Diversifying your income is important to do no matter how you earn the bulk of your income. My feeling is if I am not working 40 to 50 hours a week for my clients, then I need to be filling that time working for me.

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100My business model has always been based on providing services. I’ve been building websites since 1997 and have added other associated services such as graphic design and ghostwriting over the years. My other income streams include affiliate marketing, infoproducts, and some network marketing. Up until this year my business model hadn’t really changed all that much. The balance between streams might change, and the products might change, but otherwise it’s been the same model.

This year I took the plunge to add coaching and teaching into the mix. Even though I’ve always been open to teaching my clients how to do things, I’ve never considered myself a coach. It’s been an interesting journey making the switch and one that still pulls me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. I’ve always been one to say “Why don’t I do that for you,” and now I’m having to reframe and say “Let me show you how to do that.” I still catch myself wanting to be the doer instead of the teacher,  but it’s getting easier.

The other way my business is changing this year is I’m moving even more away from one-on-one graphic work and opening a graphics site. I will always do some custom work because it’s one of my favorite things to do, but I’m learning the power of leveraging and passive income and working at getting more of that into the mix too.

Alicia Jay from New VA Advice says:

AliciaJay100x100When I first started online in 2009, I had one business model and one income stream. It was simply to provide virtual assistant services and get paid for said services. I’ve learned so much since starting online. The first time that I heard about creating more passive income streams and affiliate marketing, I was on board!

I started out by making sure that I had email lists set up for clients and potential clients. I kept in touch with my lists and recommended some products as an affiliate that they would find helpful. The first time I made an affiliate sale, it was so exciting! It drove me to do more research and learn how to tap into these other income streams.

Now, I have two online businesses that both have different business models. I still have my service-based business where I sell my services but also make affiliate recommendations.

I also have another business with a business model that has many branches so that I’m not trading dollars for hours. In that business, I use affiliate marketing, coaching and selling my own products. This allows me to spend less time working but still bring in money for my businesses.

Cindy Bidar from The Educated VA says:

cindybidar-100x100My primary income is from a service-based business. As a virtual assistant, I manage websites, email marketing plans, shopping carts, and a host of other solutions my clients use in their businesses. With several clients and lots of projects, I make sure I have plenty of separate income streams so that I’m not dependent on any one person or projects for a paycheck. I also coach other VAs to help them build a stronger business.

My current business does not at all resemble where I started though! Back in 2008 when I first started thinking about working online, I had it in mind to earn a living as a blogger. That didn’t quite work out as planned (mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing!) so in an effort to earn a little cash to help pay for my hosting/autoresponder accounts, I started to take on writing gigs. Not long after that I was earning $500 to $1000 per month writing articles, blog posts and sales pages for other online business owners. Pretty soon I discovered these business owners also had a real need for technical support. Since tech comes easy for me, it was a natural progression in my business.

Today the majority of my work is in the technical arena, but I do still take on a few writing jobs as well. Being flexible and embracing the evolving nature of business keeps things interesting!

My Insights

lyzqa.pngWhen I first started researching starting a business online, I thought the only way people made money online was by selling physical products. So, I thought about the possibility of designing and selling socks for women. I even went as far as finding a manufacturer overseas who would produce the socks at a very reasonable price. Then I realized I had no clue on how to get people to the website to actually make sales. I purchased a domain name and worked out some of the other logistics but I needed to learn more.

As I was researching and learning about promoting my new site, I was opened up to a world of possibilities beyond physical products. First, I learned about advertising with Google AdSense.  I thought all I had to do was get as many people as possible to my site and boom – people would click and I make money. At the time Pat Flynn from The Smart Passive Income Blog was building out a niche website. I followed. But at the end of the day, I still couldn’t grasp the mechanism for getting traffic to a website. The SEO stuff just wasn’t meshing well with my tech adverse brain cells. Adsense was out – for that time period anyway.

0001-3518491As I was trying to maneuver my way around the web in a quest for more learning resources, I came across the immense promises about starting a business online and the financial lifestyle that goes along with it. I was never sold into the bigness of the financial super rewards but the idea of doing what I love, on my terms and living out my dreams in a way that can be helpful to other people sounded like my kind of thing. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on starting an internet home business.

The Sparkplugging panel shares so nicely their experience on selling services, products and beyond. Ironically, despite shutting out Google Adsense in the past, right now, it’s actually one of my revenue streams along with affiliate sales. As I iron out the plan for Sparkplugging, I do see myself offering coaching in some capacity in the future .

If you are newish or maybe want some ideas you may not have considered, and since I am shamefully an information hoarder (no pun intended), I figured I’d share some revenue stream ideas I’ve learned along the way (beyond these internet home-based business ideas):

  1. Hosting seminars and workshops in person and online like Dan Morris & Rachel Martin’s Blogging Concentrated and David Perdew’s NAMS.
  2. Hosting retreats and bootcamps like Kelly McCausey & Nicole Dean’s Beachprenuers Retreat and Johnathan Fields Summer Camp.
  3. Podcasting sponsorships like John Lee Dumas’s Entrepreneur on Fire.
  4. Ghost writing services like Alice Seba & Annette Elton’s All Custom Content.
  5. Private Label Products like Nicole Dean’s Easy PLR and Justin Papovic’s Best Quality PLR.
  6. Membership trade association sites like Sheree Keys teaches at Network Building Academy.
  7. Ecomerce and dropshipping stores like Steve Chou teaches at My Wife Quit Her Job.
  8.  Digital products and software discounted promotions like Noah Kagan’s AppSumo.

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Lyz has a passion for business, personal development and wellness. She hopes to help new and emerging home-based entrepreneurs discover both their personal and business strengths in order to develop a more productive, healthy and balanced life while rocking it in business from home.


  1. says

    Hi Lyz
    I think it all depends upon how you deal with clients and what level of service you provide to them.
    Once you get a few projects then you have an impressive profile with positive comments of your previous clients to get more business.
    The way here pros explained how they earn real money and inspired others can also make big money online is pretty awesome.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post which does have a lot of inspiration for struggling online marketers and freelancers.
    Mi Muba recently posted..10 mistakes you should commit to become a successful bloggerMy Profile

  2. says

    Really enjoyed reading your Post Lzn.

    So nice to hear what others are doing in their own home businesses. And often inspiring as well.

    I sure agree with Stephanie, if you want a stable business, you have to have multiple income streams.
    Ron Killian recently posted..Profitable Blogging BlueprintMy Profile