Ways To Increase Your Small Business Income Online

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As a small business owner, you may be looking to increase your income and make more money online. You can turn to side hustles to make a little extra money, or elevate your small business and leverage it to increase your income. There are several ways to generate online sources of income, so here's how you can get started.

Key Takeaways

  • You can make money online for your small business by signing up for affiliate marketing programs, creating an e-commerce component to your business, and more.
  • If you have free time outside of running your business, you can also make money on your own by taking surveys or coaching others.
  • Some online income streams will take up more time than others, so be sure to consider the return on investment.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a low-cost and relatively easy way to make additional money online for your business. You don't need to have any of your own products or services to sell; affiliate marketing gives you a chance to earn commissions from large companies.

You promote the products or services of a company on your website, blog, or social media account, providing links to the company's offerings. These affiliate tracking links ensure you get the credit for having delivered a paying customer to the company's website, and you get a percentage of the sale as your reward.

The main work involved in affiliate marketing is giving people a reason to visit your website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account—and building up a large group of visitors and followers. To do that, you should provide content that is likely to attract people who are interested in purchasing the thing you're trying to get people to buy. For example, you might write and make videos about consumer electronics products—how to use them and/or which ones are the best—in a way that's optimized for search engines.

Start an E-Commerce Store on Your Website

A related way to make money online—but that perhaps requires a bit more work on your part—is by adding an e-commerce section to your website. You would sell products that relate to your small business on your website. For example, if you own a candle store, you could sell your candles on your website, as well as company products like T-shirts or tote bags.

One common and hassle-free way to fulfill orders for an e-commerce section of your site is via drop shipping. You get the customers and take their orders, but a third-party company warehouses and ships the products for you.

If you make your own products, you might want to start out selling them on both an established platform, like Etsy, and your own site. After you build up a base of customers, you could ultimately cut out that middleman.


You can further monetize your e-commerce website by hosting ads online, such as with Google AdSense or Facebook.

Online Publishing

Regardless of your current occupation, publishing e-books or how-to guides may be a good way to help establish yourself as an authority in your field while making passive income. Once you've written and published a book, guide, or something else, you don't have to actively do anything to take in revenue from it.

Alternatively, if you've written a novel that needs to be read—especially in a popular genre like romance, science fiction, fantasy, or mystery—publishing it as an e-book has the potential to get thousands of eyes on it.


Two companies that enable you to self-publish e-books are IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing.

You can sell e-books on Amazon, too. If you are able to make a name for yourself as an author, you can begin selling e-books directly from your own website and increase your profits. If you've been blogging for a long time about a certain topic, you should be able to edit and package your existing posts into a book without too much additional work.

Readers of self-published e-books expect a quality experience that's on par with the offerings of a traditional publisher. If you don't have all the skills to ensure a polished final product, you might consider hiring a copy editor to fine-tune your writing and a designer to create an enticing cover. And if you're having trouble transforming your ideas into paragraphs and chapters of prose, you could hire a developmental editor to help you with that beginning part of the process.

Take Online Surveys

Taking online surveys is an easy way to earn a little extra cash or prizes such as gift cards. Market research firms (MRFs) are behind many online survey sites. You can also sign up to take surveys using aggregators like IdeaShifters or Swagbucks, which partner with many different corporations and MRFs.

You shouldn't expect to make much more than $1 or so per survey. And you will most likely have to provide a good deal of information about yourself before you can take the first one.

When looking for survey-taking opportunities, stick with companies that have a proven track record of paying for survey responses and that are not scams designed to get your personal info. You should also keep in mind that you may not be eligible to take certain surveys because you don't match the demographics the company is looking for. You may be too old or too young, for example.

Freelance Services

If your small business has pushed you to be a great graphic designer or copywriter, you could offer those services to others. If you are able to find and accept enough gigs, you could end up generating a lot of income. And if you find you don't have that much time, you can always take on the occasional assignment or two to supplement the income from your main business.

You can find gigs using freelance-specific websites such as Freelancer and Upwork, as well as big job sites like Indeed. You should also consider joining an organization specifically for freelancers in your area of specialty. Such groups often let you post online information about yourself and the specific skills you can provide, and they may send out email alerts or have a jobs board with contact information for those seeking freelance help.


A freelancer organization can provide a social outlet, connecting you with people who do the same work you do and are interested in the same things as you.

Offer Business Coaching Services

If you've been successful in running your small business, then maybe it's time to help others. Coaching is another promising online income stream, particularly if you have solid communication skills and a desire to help others succeed. Many people need a nudge to get them past a mental roadblock that's standing in the way of personal happiness or career confidence. As an online coach, you can offer advice to help them change their mindset and improve their lives and businesses.


One of the hardest things about becoming a business coach is finding a client base. When you're just starting out, you might try advertising online and offering to speak to community groups.

Having a professional certification can make you a more credible choice when someone is seeking a business coach (you'll want to set yourself apart from others who may actually be running scams). Offering the testimonials of previous clients on your website also makes you a more attractive candidate.

Create Online Courses

Like e-books, online courses generate passive income after you've created them and made them available online. If you have a knack for teaching others, consider creating online courses as a way of making additional money.

The primary website where you could post your courses—and get paid for them—is Udemy. But as with other online businesses, if you are able to establish a reputation, you might have success offering your courses through your own site.

In addition to knowledge in a particular subject area, you will need to have an engaging presence in your videos. If you can't retain potential students' attention, they won't come back for more classes.

The Bottom Line

To make a go of most of these possibilities, you will have to stand out from the crowd and convince prospective clients and customers that you're the right person to buy from or hire. Becoming successful at any online occupation requires exceptional online marketing skills. If you can learn how to successfully sell yourself and gain followers and search engine hits, your business's success should follow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you make passive income online?

You can make passive income online by setting up some sort of business that runs on its own. For example, if you have a good strategy for starting a small e-commerce business, write it down in a document, and sell copies. Customers can buy it online without you needing to spend time and money, so it's a passive income stream.

How do you make money online as a teen?

As a teenager, you can start your own online business to make money, but you may need the help of someone 18 years and older. You could offer services online, such as copywriting or graphic design. Or you could start a blog and utilize affiliate marketing to generate income. Be mindful of the terms and service of the website and if there's any additional paperwork you may need to fill out in order to earn money online for your work as a teen.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Federal Trade Commission. "How Affiliate Marketing Works Infographic."

  2. New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. "Drop Shipments."

  3. Google Adsense Help. "How Adsense Works."

  4. Facebook. "Online Advertising on Facebook."

  5. Survey Junkie. "Frequently Asked Questions: How Much Money Can I Earn by Taking Surveys With Survey Junkie?"

  6. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice. "When a Business Offer or Coaching Program Is a Scam."

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