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When I started my own business, I was extremely naive in the options out there. I consider myself a pretty smart and savvy person, but when it came down to the type of business I wanted, my only answer was: online?

In my rush to figure out what that meant and to start earning income, I started researching other “online” businesses and created an overall wireframe for my business. I focused on things like: logos, blog posts, guest posting strategy, coaching packages, and so on.

But I never really considered the type of business I wanted. I simply created what I saw as a typical online business, which was working for other bloggers. See, I didn’t actually think about my business type, but instead, mimicked in some regards, what was working for others.

And it was a mistake.

I didn’t want to be a blogger. I didn’t want to be a blogger turned author turned online business person.

I wanted a business, but created a blog.

It worked to some degree, but it never felt like it fit quite right. I was always struggling to figure out how it all “tied to together” or how I’d earn income or if my blog was more important than my clients. It was miserable… and I was unmotivated to blog or grow that business because really, it was just a blog.  And to add insult to injury, my blog followers were not my clients. I completely missed the boat.

It’s a mistake so many of my clients make – it’s incredibly easy to do. You see what’s out there, what you know is working, and decide not to reinvent the wheel. If that model doesn’t work for you, something must be wrong with you and your platform… right?  

There are so many different types of businesses you can start. I’m not even touching upon topics or niches or realms – that’s a whole other enchilada.

What do you want: paying clients or an audience?

I wish I had been smart enough to ask myself this question before I started. It will help you clear any ambiguity around what your online presence is for and about.

If paying clients is more important to you, then you are more interested in creating a business – and your focus should be on that, not your following or audience (more on this later).

If building an audience is more important to you, you would probably thrive in a blogger to business model.

Either answer is fine and can be profitable – but this should be the backbone of the type of business you create. It will be your guiding “how” as you go through the process and evolution of your business.

One important note: it’s probably “easier” in some regards to fall into the audience model. Not because getting a huge following is easy (it’s not), but because there are so many amazing examples of this type of business out there. This is likely one of the most common online business structures, with several successful examples out there. It can feel hard to choose something else, but there are other successful options out there.

How do you want to earn income?

The $64,000 question, right? Regardless of your structure or type, you need to earn income or this would just be a fun hobby. But how you want to earn money, can play a huge factor in determining the type of online business and structure you create.

For example, in my little corner on the internet, it’s mostly filled with coaches and consultants, with several blogger to business people. But when a friend of mine introduced me to his corner of the internet, I realized that there are so many more options and structures out there than I could ever imagine.

There are pure internet/online marketers – and a crazy ton of different structures for that kind of business; there are offline consulting businesses with a very sparse online presence; there are professional speakers without any other type of “business;” and so on.

Figure out what your income structure ideally looks like. Do you want to sell ads on your website? Do you want to create a library of products/information? Is it an information hub for people to get to know you better? Are you more into coaching and consulting?

Bottom line: where will your income be from?  

If you want to create an internet marketing business but do not plan on selling any advertising or marketing… there is a problem. If you want to create an audience so that they buy products and services, then simply creating a landing homepage won’t work either.

Dig beyond your corner of the internet, and find other structures that model what you want to do and sell. Then, and only then, can you start building the structure around your business.  

I want to reinforce, that one way is not better than another – even though it may feel that way to you. BOTH can be profitable; BOTH can create influence and following; BOTH can create authority and so on. It’s just a matter of priority and focus – and being clear from the start, what you are creating, so you don’t have to keep recreating it down the road.