When I discuss different ways to increase cash flow with my coaching clients, I very often see just question marks in their eyes. Especially when I tell them that it doesn’t need to take much effort and time.
But in many cases, we have our head too deep in our business and can’t see the wood for the tree.
In that case, it can be valuable to use another person’s perspective and let them point out what you simply can’t see at the moment.
Within the growth hacking process, there is the strategy to leverage current resources as much as possible. So, what do I mean by that?
Usually there is something in the business that hasn’t been utilized yet, especially not in the most efficient way. It can be special skills of the founder team, traffic, marketing materials, personal networks etc. All of it can be converted into fresh cash inflows when you know how to use and convert them effectively.
But every business and market is different. Therefore, there is no general approach to find your hidden cash flow in every business.
However, there are some certain sources of income you might not have considered yet.
If you run an online business and get a decent amount of traffic to your website (organic or paid), you should know all of the strategies to generate as much income from that traffic as possible.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that you should strafe your visitors/users with thousands of different possibilities to purchase or pave your website with so many ads that it’s hard to find the content.
Focus is important here! Pick the income sources that suit you best and provide more value to your customer or users.
24 Ways To Create Multiple Streams of Income For Your Startup
The following list of monetization strategies can help you to choose the right for your business:
1. Digital Information Products
In the process of building your startup you probably became pretty good at solving your customer’s needs. But maybe you also picked up some other skills, which are pretty valuable in order to run your business effectively.
Why don’t you share your knowledge in a digital information product? This can be an ebook, audiobook or video online course.
Next to the added income stream, you can establish yourself as a real authority in your niche and gain more influence.
To provide the course, you can use platforms like Udemy or build your own landing page and sell it on your website.
Even if you don’t want to charge something for the course, it can be a great marketing tactic to attract new customers for your business.
2. Donation/User Suggested Pricing
It’s probably a more unorthodox way of generating revenue, but it can be an effective one. A good example is betterplace.org. A team from Berlin that built a donation platform which let the donator decide how much money the platform receives from that donation.
I use the platform for all of my donations, simply because I have the peace of mind that my money doesn’t disappear behind the overheads of big charity organizations.
This business model is very suitable for social businesses or businesses that provide open source products in any form, such as Wikipedia.
To make that business model work, you need to create a reputation of trust. Your users must feel as part of a group and feel obligated to help get the product or service they enjoy and find useful.
Most startup founders probably won’t think about podcasting as an additional revenue stream at this point in time. Even though it can be very effectively used as a content marketing tool to promote your product, you can use it to create online talk shows. iTunes is the major source for downloadable podcast products.
To get this to make money for you, you can have sponsors like in the old days of the soap opera or old time radio. Think about companies that provide complementary products or services your customer could benefit from.
Build partnerships with other startups or even bigger corporations so you can use their authority and credibility to establish your business as a trustworthy one.
Just make sure that they don’t compete with you in the market place.
If you follow this model and put on a quality, entertaining podcast, then this is a viable way to generate additional revenue.
4. Create Software
If you do not have a SaaS product business already, you could maybe consider thinking about this idea.
However, this is not an easy or quick process. As with every other product, you have to identify a customer need/problem or something that people want before you spend all your money building a software product.
But even without strong technical skills, you can outsource the whole process and have your software running within weeks, depending on the complexity of your wants.
Appsumo is a good example of a startup that started by selling digital products for group discounts. Today, they have multiple software products like SumoMe.
5. Lead Generation
Lead generation, if they are actually viable, is an excellent way to monetize your website.
Even if it’s not your main business model, there might be a customer need that you can’t solve by yourself. Instead of extending your portfolio, you can build a network of service providers and charge money for every warm lead that you pass on to them.
Make sure you create a separate landing page and focus only on lead generation on this side. You can use tools like boberdoo to automate the process of lead distribution.
To make use of this revenue potential, ask your customers what they also would like to know/use/buy or you possibly even already receive questions about complementary services.
So be aware of new revenue potentials and focus on increasing the value of your business for your ideal customer.
6. Physical Books
In this age of ebooks and Kindle, the real book is often forgotten. However, it can be a very powerful marketing tool for your website and your products or services.
A great example is the bestselling book Rework from the founders of 37signals, the company behind Basecamp.
Think of the book as a super business card. If someone asks you what you do, you hand them a copy of your book and simply say, “Everything I do is in there”. This has an effect that can generate you thousands of dollars in products or service revenues.
There are many Publish On Demand small presses on the net that can create small lots of single copies of books as needed.
7. Affiliate Products
Affiliate marketing is almost as old as the Internet and is still very profitable.
It’s basically a referral program where you get paid by referring other people’s products through your affiliate link.
To find suitable products, you can join a network like Commission Junction or Clickbank.
However, make sure that the advertisers you promote have quality products and don’t use shady marketing tactics, as this will reflect on you and all the hard work you put into building up your startup’s reputation and following.
8. Recurring Subscription Services
This can cover the gamut from newsletters, software usage, a membership site and a whole host of other products and services.
Most software companies provide their product (or only software service) as a subscription service, which might also entail updates and patches to fix bugs that are talked about on related newsletters.
You can take the same approach for your products and services, and turn it into a revenue stream that may actually turn a healthy profit for your business without the pain of acquiring any new customers.
9. Display Advertising
I could divide this revenue stream example into various different sub sections like video, text, flash or image advertising. But all of them are just different formats of display advertising that you can see on all of the big media sites.
This business model can be very profitable when you get high traffic on your website. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to generate a good cash flow.
Take into account that you might overthink your side structure. Maybe you noticed that many media sites are cluttered and are not really clear.
The reason for that is simple. It keeps you on their side for longer because you have a tendency to discover what else is interesting on this side and finally click on one of the many ads which suit the content.
Display advertising is now not as profitable as it was a few years ago. However, it can still generate revenue if it is designed properly, combining video, image and flash targeting your niche.
10. Sponsored Tweets or Social Posts
Have you heard about that guy who makes $500,000 a year through his Twitter channel?
If you have a big and engaging followership on your social media sites, you can easily monetize this asset through product recommendations.
Of course, the material you are advertising is something that actually fills a need that resonates with your followers. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing them, which contradicts the whole purpose of marketing to your social circles.
Trends and fads in social marketing often change each day as word of mouth spreads like wildfire throughout the web.
As a growth hacker, you are always interested in automating the processes in your business. Use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to do so.
11. Sponsored Articles
If you run a media site or a company blog and have sufficient web traffic, you can let other companies publish sponsored articles on your site.
Some experts say that native advertising is the next big trend on the web and is a very effective way to advertise your products. There are different forms of native ads, but it is basically an ad hidden in an informing article.
If you want to use it as an additional revenue stream for your business, you should always take care of the quality of the content you receive.
Only because someone uses a article to promote a product or service doesn’t mean that it can’t be informative and entertaining.
12. Kindle Marketplace Sales
The Kindle marketplace gives you access to millions of people who own a Kindle reading device. The Kindle is one of the bestselling products on Amazon ever and you can get your product or service to many more people than your website alone can.
Instead of writing a physical book with 300 pages, you can create a short guide to solve an important problem that your potential customers face and make some bucks along the way.
Even if you price your kindle book inexpensively or give it away for free, this has the potential of generating massive sales on follow-up products.
13. Conferences, Workshops and Paid Webinars
Events are a great way to increase sales and position your business as a market leader. A good example is Digitalmarketer.com with their Traffic & Conversion Summit.
To finance the event, you can again work with partner companies which want to sponsor the event.
Maybe a conference is too big for you, so perhaps you can arrange meetups to help your customers network and receive the latest news in your niche.
That is probably not the quickest method to generate more cash flow, as there is more work involved to organise an event, but it can be profitable when you know how to market it.
14. Mobile – In App Purchases
If your business provides a mobile app, you can allow your users to make purchases inside the app to get premium modules or features. This can done be as a subscription payment like Elevate or as a one-time payment like Freeletics.
In most cases, you need to offer your app as a free download and if the user wishes to unlock or gain additional features of the product and assuming your app meets with their approval, they are usually happy to pay to acquire the premium product.
15. Mobile – Advertising
Mobile advertising may become more and more important as most users are using their smartphone to access the internet. However, by embedding your advertising in your mobile app, you can sell advertising space to sponsors.
Use mobile advertising networks like admob and Millennial Media to hack the process of finding advertisers and augment your cash flow.
16. Consulting, Mentoring and Masterminds
This is a potentially lucrative business to get into. You can build your online reputation and create a continuous revenue stream. By offering consulting services, you share your skills and knowledge about a particular subject in a niche market.
You may also mentor and instruct people who wish to get into this field by helping them study and pass certification exams such as CFA, MBA or any other hundreds of fields today that now require certification.
Providing consulting requires that you have (or have access) to more knowledge about a particular topic; more than most of your prospects have, and are willing to share it for a fee.
By the way,
Maybe the hype about deal websites like Groupon and LivingSocial is over, but scarcity as an emotional trigger is still working to drive revenue.
To make use of this income stream, you can bundle or discount your own products and services or you can partner with other businesses that provide great value.
You should already have a significant amount of traffic and subscribers to motivate your joint venture partners to give their product away for a discount price.
Otherwise, you need to persuade them with an impressive marketing budget you want to invest to drive traffic to the deal.
18. Seller Marketplaces
That is a great way to increase cash flow in a business that only provides one software product.
Optimizepress is a WordPress plugin that allows you to build beautiful mobile responsive landing pages for your WordPress site. With a one-time payment of $97 to $297, you have access to over 30 templates and the possibility of building as many pages as you want.
The problem with this business model is that after you make the first sale, you can’t make additional sales with the same customer.
And we know that it is much cheaper to sell something to current customers than it is to acquire new ones.
In order to increase the company’s revenue, Optimizepress developed a marketplace where designers can offer their templates and keep 70% of the selling price.
A marketplace is a great way to let customers purchase additional features or add-ons to your product and you can even outsource the development.
19. Advertising Network
Maybe you think that building an advertising network is only useful for very big sites like Google or Facebook, and you might be right.
But you should keep that in mind that you never know how big your startup will become. ;)
Instead of selling the adspace through third party networks, you can instead create your own and keep the middle man out of the game.
Higher margin = higher cash flow!
20. Physical eCommerce
Many people have overlooked this potentially lucrative market for fear of the high costs involved in its implementation.
Many startups only think of digital products and miss the opportunity to sell physical ones.
Especially when you run a successful blog with a lot of engaging readers, you can transform this blog to a brand and sell physical products that are aligned closely with your blog topics.
Have a look on Art of Manliness as an example of a successful blog, which has built an additional income stream through an online shop.
Use drop shipping and tools like Shopify to get your shop running as soon as possible.
21. Transactional Commerce
In this model, you handle no product at all; you merely handle the transactions between buyer and seller. This is the stepping stone that many Internet entrepreneurs have used to become millionaires.
You make your money in listing fees and transaction fees themselves and providing support to both to customer and seller.
Merchandising may not make you rich, but you can break even and create a brand following, whom may be open to purchase products with your company logo or graphics which represents the values of your startup and customers.
Perhaps you haven’t thought about this revenue stream, but when you think about big companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Evernote, you will see how common it is to sell products with company logos.
There are a lot of providers where you can purchase on demand, so just test if your customers are interested and then go for it.
23. Content and Data Syndication
Ok, of course, this strategy is not for every business, but if you get lots of traffic to your blog or media site, then you can recommend other people’s content and get paid every time someone clicks on the content recommendation.
This form of advertising has its own advantages and disadvantages, as you might lose your readers and the chance to sell your own products; however, your site can appear as more valuable with a high quantity of blog posts.
Otherwise you might want to consider promoting your own content and driving traffic to your blog.
24. Flipping Websites
After a while, you may feel that your MVP is not paying off as you would like or you just want to move on to other projects. Then selling your site is an ideal way to make one last profit from your it. In fact, there are people that only do that.
They create niche sites and when they get the traffic or/and revenue to a certain sized, they flip the site. Much like people in real estate buy and flip houses.
Creating an additional stream of income is a very good strategy to boost cash flow in your startup and lower the risk of the business itself.
Naturally, you won’t be able to use all of the suggestions made in this blog post, but I hope you gained some valuable insights about income potentials you have missed so far.
Of course, some are easy to implement while others require some time and forethought. But all of them are proven to generate cash flow. So go for it!
Please leave a comment below if this article is helpful for you or if I should add anything else.