The Ultimate Revenue Stream List

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Without revenue you have no business. 

How do you get money for your business? You create revenue streams.

But what’s a revenue stream you say? Put simply, it’s a way for a product to make money. Without revenue streams, a product can’t monetize. And without money, you don’t have a business.

It’s important to consider different revenue streams at the start of your product’s life. It impacts what you build. For example you want a SaaS that charges per use? (eg. Turbotax). That will look different than a freemium model.

But which revenue stream to use? Well, there’s a bunch. And a great way of deciding is to consider each. That way you’ll know you checked all your bases.

For your benefit we created a list of every revenue stream possible. As well as companies that are using them. 🙂

Note: most of these methods can be placed into multiple categories. For example an Ecommerce store can monetize through direct sales and also ads. But we left them in the category they’re most often associated with.

Ecommerce

man shopping on internet

Direct Selling

You have a product to sell. Someone has money and desire to buy it. All you need is a link for someone to click to buy. Doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Example: All the Ecommerce stores on Shopify.

Membership Fee

A platform charges a membership for access to information, a community, etc. It can also give access to cheaper fees.

Example: Amazon Prime. With a membership you get access to Amazon Prime video, as well as faster and cheaper shipping.

Transaction Fee

Every time a transaction takes place, the platform takes a cut.

Example: RedBubble. They make it easy for designers to open a store with their designs. If merchandise is bought they take a cut.

Fun fact: this is also how most blockchains collect money.

Crowdfunding

Why build before seeing if there’s interest? That’s the idea behind crowdfunding. Raise money before building. Or, sell equity in your existing company using equity crowdfunding.

Example: Kickstarter

SaaS

girl working on saas project

Freemium

The basic features are free. But to use the more advanced stuff you have to pay.

Example: Mailchimp. You can send 1,000 emails a month for free, but any more you have to pay.

Subscription

The OG way for SaaS products to make money. They have software you’d like to use, you want to use it. So you pay a monthly amount to access.

Example: Server hosting sites like Render or AWS. Pay per month to host your code on their servers.

Pay for credits

The user purchases credits. They then use those credits to take actions on the platform.

Example: ahrefs. You pay a monthly fee, or pay for credits. And then use those credits to do stuff like check on your competitor’s website 😈

Pay per use

You pay for each time you use a service.

Example: Turbotax. Each year you pay for their service to do your taxes. And cross your fingers and pray to the tax gods you get a nice return.

Lifetime Access

Pay one time, often a large chunk of cash. And get lifetime access.

Example: Many online courses have started using lifetime access instead of subscriptions. For example many of the courses on Udemy.

Licensing

Similar to lifetime access. Except if the software changes, you have to buy another license to get the upgraded software.

Example: Sublime. A popular IDE for software developers. I love you Sublime, never change.

Dynamic Pricing

A more complex pricing model, and generally not used by smaller sized businesses due to their complexity. But can be very lucrative.

Example: Uber. You pay a surcharge if demand is high. But when you’re drunk on a Saturday night it’s all monopoly money anyways right?

Media / Publishing

people working for media company

Sponsorships / Partnerships

Companies will pay you to put their name on your blog, newsletter, podcast etc. The more views you get, the higher you can charge.

Example: Every blog with lots of readers. Often you’ll see a “sponsored by” section, which gives a company paying to put their name there.

Affiliate Marketing

You put a link to a company’s product in your content. If someone clicks it and purchases the product then you get a cut.

Example: NerdWallet. They rake in $600 Million a year mostly from this revenue stream. Crazy.

Advertising

You know when you go to a website and you’re just flooded with annoying ads? Ya that’s this.

Example: Every one of those niche blogs with annoying popup ads.

Paid By Platform

Social media platforms have started paying users with high followers to encourage more activity. And people are making bank, like this guy who claims he made $25k from tweeting to his 750k followers.

Example: Twitter and Youtube.

Selling Data

Platform collects data on you while you’re using. And then makes that data accessible to other companies for a price. This was behind the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Example: Facebook. They know you better than you know you.

Events

If a digital product has a large enough community, they can organize events and make significant revenue from it.

Example: CES technology show. One of the biggest tech conferences in the world.

Investing

girl watering plants growing money

Flipping

Buy low, sell high. Thanks to the internet it’s never been easier.

Example: NastyGal store. Now they create their own products. But it started as the founder buying cheap clothes at vintage stores and selling them on eBay. She also went dumpster diving to make ends meet early in her career, crazy.

Investing

With enough capital a company can make money through investing.

Example: Venmo. Did you know they’re investing all that money you leave in your wallet?

Other

Tipping / Donating

Not the most lucrative way to make money, but you’d be surprised how many projects rely on tipping or donations alone.

Example: Open source software projects. A lot of these survive purely on tipping only. And are the backbone of the software industry. Thank you for your service good sirs. 🫡

Franchising

A company will pay you to use your brand. McDonalds made this business model famous. But internet companies are doing the same thing.

Example: WSI (We Simplify The Internet). You can pay to be trained by WSI as a digital marketer. And then open your own firm under the WSI brand and start gathering clients.

White Labeling

A company makes a product with no brand or label. And then sells it to others who stick their brand on it and sell it. Not a bad deal.

Example: Shopify. The heart and soul of Ecommerce.

What Next?

As you can see there are many revenue streams to choose from. Picking the right one can be a game changer.

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