How To Build A Sustainable Online Business

Making money online is hard, but building a sustainable online business is even harder. Is it true? Well, not quite, if you know the secrets.

Over the years, I have seen a couple of marketers who made quite a bit of money online and then quit internet marketing totally. Some of those whom I asked said they find it hard to maintain the income. Eventually, they got tired and gave up.

Like it or not, internet marketing is NOT a job. You can’t expect to be paid months after months, with increments every few years. If that’s what you are looking for, go get a JOB (a.k.a Just Over Broke).

Whether you are doing affiliate marketing, Adsense marketing or providing online services, internet marketing is a business, which means you need to keep on promoting your website or your income will drop. That’s where most ‘once successful’ marketers fail.

I started earning full-time income from the internet since 2006 and it’s been 4 years now. 4 years isn’t long, but I guess the fact that I’m still around and one of my flagship sites,, is still doing well after 3 years, I think I’m qualified to share with you some tips on how to build a sustainable online business.

The Secrets Of Building A Sustainable Online Business

Let’s keep it simple. To me, there are only 2 secrets. 1) Passive income. 2) Passive traffic.

1) Passive Income

I’m sure you are familiar with the term ‘Passive Income’.

Passive income can be built in 2 ways:

i) Selling something with recurring fee, such as MLM, membership program, subscription-based services, etc.

Study your business and ask yourself if it has a passive income model. If it doesn’t, the money you make is just as good as winning a lottery. And you should rethink your business model.

For example, if you are an affiliate marketer in the Forex market, instead of promoting a Forex ebook, you should focus on promoting Forex membership programs. If you are a Forex expert, instead of writing a Forex ebook, you should create a Forex trading system. I believe you get the idea.

ii) Selling a one-time-fee product, but with continuous flow of traffic to make this income recurring.

If you happen to be in an industry that is hard to create a membership program, you will need to have continuous flow of traffic to your website so that there are people buying your ebook or clicking your Adsense ads all the time.

The question is, with so many traffic strategies available, which one should you focus on in order to get this continuous flow of traffic? This is when you need to understand the concept of Passive Traffic.

2) Passive Traffic

Many marketers talk about passive income. But very few marketers talk about passive traffic. To me, passive traffic is more important than passive income. It is an extremely important key to building a sustainable online business.

Passive traffic refers to traffic that come to your website without your active involvement in promoting your website for a few months. If you have an effective passive traffic system for your website, you can at least take a few weeks of break to do something else, such as developing a new business, instead of having to worry about traffic every day.

Is List Traffic Passive?

Thanks to the hype of list building, many people thought if they have a list, they are going to be rich. But the truth is, most ‘once-successful’ marketers have got a huge list, yet they quit.

List traffic is not truly passive. It is what I call recycled traffic. Your list’s interest in you and the product you offer may die sooner than you think, depending on the niche you are in. Hence it’s a good habit not to count on your list as a form of passive traffic.

Passive Traffic You Should Focus On

The first passive traffic is referral traffic. Having a referral system in your website is essential, but not enough. Referral traffic has to be nurtured. You have to give enough reasons for your affiliates to promote your products and services, else you can assume they won’t!

The second passive traffic is search engine traffic. But there is a catch. As you know, the main thing about search engine traffic is link building. To get consistent search engine traffic, you need consistent growth of backlinks to your website. That will be a time-consuming task for many marketers.

Last but not least is advertising traffic. Advertising traffic is not truly passive, but once it’s set up and tested, it can work for some time without much involvement from you. You may have to monitor the conversion regularly, but it’s not an everyday task.

In Conclusion

The best thing that can happen is to build a ‘passive income system’ with a ‘passive traffic system’. This is what I strive to achieve in all my online businesses and probably the reason that they can do well for years.

In this post, I mentioned that referral traffic has to be nurtured. In my next post, I’m going to discuss some ways to nurture your referrals. Stay tuned!

32 thoughts to “How To Build A Sustainable Online Business”

  1. My wife and i have an online home based business and this post can help us with an issue that bother us for some time. I will show it to my wife and see if it resolve this problem.

  2. Hi Kenneth

    Passive traffic is definately the key – all that SEO work to get your blogs and sites in the right places.

    The rest is ensuring that your offers are as automated as possible.

    I use the formula of offer – traffic – conversion

    So you build the offering, do the hard SEO/Email marketing to get the traffic to it and some of that traffic becomes your customers.

    There are quite a few continuity programs out there nowadays, the trouble is many have high drop out rates but the ones that do stick are your monthly income.

    Its a tough game but given the right application and attitude is reachable for most people



  3. Well the problem with continuity sites are that most people don’t like to stay a member for long. Unless it’s a porn site or something that feeds on people addictions.

    I think I remember reading somewhere that if you can get someone to stay for 3 months you can do well.

    1. You are right, though 3 months seems too short to me. That’s where Passive Traffic comes in. That’s why I said Passive Traffic is very important.

  4. Excellent advice. Cut and dry. If your Just over Broke that can be fixed. If you’re P.O.O.R Pass Over Opportunities Regularly that has to be solved from within. Great article once again, looking forward to the referral suggestions and strategy.

  5. Another great post Ken.

    It seems to me that too many affiliate marketers lose out because they concentrate too much on making sales and not enough attention to relationship building and customer service. As you say “internet marketing is a business” (i.e. not just a sales job)

    We think that everyone needs an autoresponder so we promote our favourite service and wonder why people don’t “stick”. This is why it would actually be better to promote a system that actually shows people how to effectively set up and use an autoresponder.

    Promoting an autoresponder (or any ‘tool’) just because it has a nice commission plan is the fastest way to disappointment and frustration.

    I like the model that mixes (1) Instant Income, (2) Recurring/Multiple Sales and (3) Residual Sales.

    The Residual Traffic is something that I have recently begun to understand the benefit of. It is interesting how we have to get to that “Ah-Ha Moment” before we realize how much better off we would be if only we had listened the first time around.


  6. I think list building is over rated. You can’t keep selling the same stuffs to your list over and over again without providing value or great content. Even some of my friends who have a 10k+ list tell me that they have to keep building the list size in order to generate sales. The older subscribers either unsubscribed or stop buying in the long run.

  7. Exactly right. To sustain online income, referral traffic must be nurtured. I had a large list, but a few years ago, I stopped and shut down my internet business due to major surgery. It took about two years for the residual checks to dwindle to zero.

  8. Steve says that getting someone to stay a member for three months is required to do well. This is not long enough. One way to get people to stay longer is to charge a low monthly fee. I forget who but one guru has a membership fee of 5 dollars. He said that because it was so low his members rarely cancelled. I have been a member of a eBook club for several years at a cost of 13 dollars. I get four resale item per month which I consider good value.

  9. Yes I think that it’s more likely for people to stay longer if the price is low. Lot’s of people used to stay at GDI without even doing the business cause the price was so low. But eventually people will drop out if it’s not benefiting them somehow.

  10. Hi Ken,

    I would have to agree with some of the sentiments here. 3 Months is way to short for any start up business. You really need to build a relationship with your downline and continue to motivate them to stay the course with you. Providing your offering good value. No point in wasting their time and energy, with something that wont work.

    Here at leadsleap, i’m on my 5th month with building my referral downline and its growing each month with steady progress.

    I’s also promoting my other business here in leadsleap, with good success and soon hopefully earning a monthly income from leadsleap.

    Stay-The-Course !

    Ed :)

  11. I always knew that passive income was a way too go that is why I stayed away from trying to sell just one clickbank webste at a time. But when I’m ready I will build a passive traffic list too my blog after it is monetized and I have all the links I want on it.

    That is also why I’m a member of New Vision they believe in the same modo. And your right you hve too keep marketing your website or else the income will stop coming in.

    All the top busnesses in the world know this this is why busineses like Toyota, the NFL and any other huge business you can think of is still in business.

    Thanks for the great advice

  12. Kenneth, you are so right! I think most people fail to earn online for the simple reason that most people aren’t entrepreneurial – most people have the employee mentality. It’s like “Well I worked hard and didn’t get paid for my time so I gave up” whereas the winning strategy is – you put in the time and slowly your project gathers momentum and brings in a stream of visitors to your website and you constantly churn out projects and gradually learn to monetize the growing traffic stream. Quite simply if you are going to succeed online you are probably already self employed or a business owner: if you have the J.O.B. mindset then nothing is going to work for you online because you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t see the bigger picture. You need to understand that the piece you do today fits into a huge picture of many days and many steps taken. A journey is a series of many steps – where do you get to if you take a step or two and then give up? You get nowhere! So start and keep going. Easy! ;)

    1. Amen to that Adwello!

      For those who are willing to learn how to change their mindset and start heading in the right direction, I have a couple of recommendations:

      1. You Inc. – Discover the CEO Within!

      2. Rhinoceros Success

      3. The Cash-Flow Quadrant

      These books have changed my life for the better. Look them up on Amazon and get a used copy if you have to. Each of these books, in their own way, deal with this topic directly. If you are going to be successful you need to change how you look at money, business and success.

      1. Cash-Flow Quadrant changed my life too. The importance of cash flow is something everyone must understand and master.

        Haven’t read the other two though.

  13. Kenneth, great article. Passive traffic is definitely the true power of internet marketing. I truly believe one must master traffic generation first and foremost if they want to be a successful online business owner. Great value added here, thanks again.

  14. Great article,Kenneth.

    One thing I’m learning is there are so many ways to get traffic and in Internet Marketing,Search Engines change their ways,but generally once set up,it almost runs itself,ie: keep Bloggin and the Spiders will come back and hoepfully repeat viewers and new list joiners -while you’re working on that new product.

  15. thanks for the reminders, especially on passive traffic. One solution: build a user-generated news section, where members can write about their business and exchange. Not easy, since we have to have a community manager, and results take a long time.

    In the meantime, we’re focusing on our main revenues.

    Backlinks is a problem though.. if you have an article about that, I’m interested!

  16. I think website forgot to write a comment lol
    . Anyway with determination, patients and persistence after reading this article you just might be surprised what you can do. I know I’ve been very persistant and focused and I’m now starting to see the fruits of my labor. I loved the article though it gave me ideas of what to sell this year as an affiliate marketer.

    Thanks again Ken:

    PS Going to have a beer now :)

  17. I’m glad I read this article again at least I know I’m doing some things right and that is why my income keeps building slowly but surely. The part I got right which everyone says to do the opposite is passive traffic. I know because I have a list but seems like they always want to opt out. But when I use passive traffic I don’t have that problem and seems to make my job in marketing a 100 times easier thanks man appreciate the advice.

  18. Thank you very much for the post. Really like the fact that you are straight forward and come the the conclusion. I really like to start my own online business and this post will help allot to get started and what to keep in mind.

  19. A big shout out to Ken this Monday morning for giving such great info to all of us. Feelin good because I just deposited my second click bank paycheck wish I had more Monday mornings like this. And yes the info from this blog along with some other peoples advice has helped me get to where I am today even though I may not be there yet I know I can do it :)

  20. I just read your blog again and always find out something that I missed the second time around sort of like a movie. Anyway I totally agree with the second one (Passive Traffic) personally I think you should have talked about that first because without traffic there will be no sales and therefore no money :(

  21. Hi Kenneth,
    More than 5 years ago, I realized to have true business success, a business needs a system.
    It’s more important now in 2015 to use a system that works to produce a passive income and grow it, with the assistance of passive traffic which brings in a high flow of quality people.
    As more people look to secure their future, the system they use is more important than the product they sell.
    Leadsleap has the tools and know how to help many more people succeed.
    Thanks, Brett

    1. Thanks Brett. I am glad that you appreciate the system. We will continue to work hard to provide more tools and make LeadsLeap the must go place gor marketers.

  22. This is an informative post for every internet marketers, thinking that this is a business that works better, if you are doing regularly to promote and market your business. Now i am on my way checking the leadsleap webpage efficiency hope one day will be a pro member

  23. Thank you for sharing in this article. I generally want to peruse the quality substance and this thing I found in you post. Hope you keep on sharing a greater amount of your ideas. Thanks a lot for providing this marvelous information which i need so much

  24. The key things you NEED when building your own business. Are Persistence, Focus, Determination, Desire and the Unrelenting Will to Succeed?
    If you’re serious about making money then I highly recommend you use freelancing platform.

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