Maybe you've heard people talking about the internet lifestyle or seen ads promising to show you how to achieve it. What do entrepreneurs, authors, and self-development gurus mean when they use this term? Broadly speaking, it means a lifestyle that allows you the freedom and independence to earn all the money you need via the internet. It's a little more complicated than that, though. Let's look at some of the reasons and tactics to start an internet business.

Why an Internet Business is the Best Option for so Many People

Ever since the internet became a major force in society, people have dreamed of using this amazing resource to achieve personal and financial freedom. Although internet marketing has been around at least a couple of decades now, many recent changes have made the dream even more compelling and feasible for more people.

One of the main attractions of internet marketing is location independence. To some, this means the freedom to travel the world and work in a tropical paradise while sipping a cocktail. Tim Ferriss helped to popularize this idea in The 4-Hour Workweek. However, location independence also means the freedom to work at your local cafe or in your hotel room while away on a business trip or vacation.

Laptops were originally very expensive relative to desktops. As the cost of laptops dropped, more and more people could start and run their businesses wherever they wanted. In fact, another name for the internet lifestyle is the laptop lifestyle. MobileĀ devices such as smartphones and tablets took this principle to another level. Now iPhone and Android apps perform many marketing tasks. An important implication of this is that not only can you, the marketer, work from your mobile devices but your customers are easy to reach wherever they are.

Affordable and feature-rich portable devices made web-based businesses practical for more people. Widespread social media popularity is another important factor. As people communicate more and more on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms, marketing opportunities expand as well.

According to a survey by PriceWaterHouseCoopers, 45% of consumers consult social media feedback such as comments and reviews for purchasing decisions. More recently, social media platforms are adding buy buttons. On Pinterest, for example, Buyable Pins let customers buy directly from Pinterest. This trend is likely to spread to other sites in the future.

Most Popular Internet Business Models

While technology such as affordable laptops and smartphones certainly made is easier to start an internet business, you need more than a device and an internet connection to realize it. You need a business model. Let's look at some of the features, pros, and cons of some of the most popular methods for achieving financial independence online.

  • Freelancing - One of the easiest ways to make money on the internet is by offering services such as graphic design, writing, SEO, programming, or other skills. Advertise your services on your own website or on freelancing sites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, Workmarket, and many others. The downside to this approach is that it's labor intensive. As a freelancer, you have a certain amount of independence but your position is similar to that of an employee. This is, however, a viable path while you're working on other income-generating systems. There are also more lucrative types of freelancing, such as coaching and consulting.
  • Affiliate Marketing - Affiliate marketers sell products on behalf of companies in exchange for commissions. There are thousands of affiliate programs run by businesses of all sizes. The largest and best known are Amazon and eBay. There are also affiliate platforms such as Clickbank that specialize in digital products. Still another option is to promote CPA (cost-per-action) offers, where you earn commissions when people take actions such asĀ filling out surveys or ordering free samples. The benefit of affiliate marketing is that you don't need to make, stock, or ship products. The product owner handles all of this. On the other hand, the profit potential is always lower for affiliate marketers than product owners.
  • E-commerce - Another way to make money online is to sell physical products. Platforms such as Shopify and Bridgeline make this easier than ever. Possibilities include making your own products, purchasing them wholesale, or having them dropshipped. Drop shipping is probably the best choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the location independence of an internet lifestyle. You simply promote items and the drop shipping company handles shipping.
  • Creating Digital Products - Digital products include e-books, online courses, web and mobile apps, and programs that provide information your audience needs. The advantage of this method is that you're the owner and you can have affiliates selling on your behalf.

Tools to Help You Succeed

The above are a few of the most popular internet business models. Yet, for any type of business, you need practical tools to market your products or services. Let's look at a few of your options.

  • Advertising - There are many online advertising options, including Google AdWords, Facebook ads, remarketing, and solo ads, to name just a few.
  • Sales Funnels - A sales funnel starts with obtaining a prospect's email address. It often involves selling a low-cost product and eventually upselling customers to more costly products.
  • SEO -Search engine optimization requires you to rank your website in the search engines for popular keywords. This is effective but it takes time as well as expertise.
  • Social Media Marketing - Building up a targeted following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms gives you a good source of traffic to your business website or sales page.
  • Analytics - One of the benefits of online marketing is that, with the right analytics tools, it's fairly easy to get thorough and accurate data to help you make better decisions.

Choose the Right Type of Business for Your Needs

If you want to start your own internet business, it's certainly possible. There are many techniques to help you do this. You do need a great deal of focus and determination. You also have to decide which strategy is most suitable for your skills, goals, and budget. For example, paid advertising is the fastest way to drive traffic but it requires a certain investment.

Keep in mind that all of the above business models and strategies (as well as others we didn't have room to include) are not mutually exclusive. There's no reason you can't, for example, offer freelancing services and sell affiliate products while creating your own product. Similarly, many of the most successful online marketers simultaneously use SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Identify the path that's most appealing and practical for you. Then begin working towards achieving your own version of the internet lifestyle.