6 Figure Business Ideas You Can Start TODAY

Here’s how my first service business started…

Young Doug wants a CD player, then starts his first service business. Look at that thick mane of hair.

When I was 12 years old, I wanted a CD player so I asked my dad if I could get one.

“How will you buy the CDs if you get a player?” my dad asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.

My dad said, “Well come up with a plan, and we’ll see about getting a CD player.”

That night I sketched out some plans to cut grass around the neighborhood. I knew how to cut grass and people had lawns to cut.

My plan wasn’t good, but it was a plan, and at $20 per lawn I could cut ten lawns and make about $200.

The next day I walked up the street, pushing the family lawn mower, and starting ringing doorbells asking people if they needed their grass cut.

It was sloppy marketing, not targeted, and all my assumptions were wrong. Fast forward a few months, and I was passing out flyers and getting referrals from my existing customers.

I made tens of thousands of dollars over the years in middle and high school doing yard work and odd jobs.

If you want to make money faster, especially on the side, keep reading.

The Downside of Affiliate Marketing

I love affiliate marketing because it’s pretty much hands off once established, especially if you’re getting organic traffic from Google.

But it will take some time to build up your revenue if you’re getting traffic from Google. The first six months can be slow and may feel like you’re making progress like a turtle crossing a street.

So if you want to make money online faster, a service based business is a sure fire way to make it happen.

I’ll tell you about 7 ideas for services that you can get started with today. (Just like 12 year old Doug but with less manual labor…)

And they all have the potential to be 6 figure businesses, too.

Why don’t I go after these business ideas if they are so good?

  1. Limited time: I can only work on so many things, and I’ve found that if I work on fewer things at a time, I’m less stressed out.
  2. I like to spend time on mostly non-client work. I enjoy working on others things, not with clients. My personality is — hmmm, how do I say this diplomatically? Clients can beat you up, and you’re there to serve them, so you should work to keep them happy. So my personality is great for non-client work, so I don’t have to suppress my preferences.
  3. A service business requires a team to scale. I used to manage and build teams at my corporate job. It was fine, but I like the lone wolf approach with a lean team. Any of these ideas will work, and if you look to the future of what success is, you’ll probably need several people and some managers on the team. That’s fine, but I’d rather not have a team.

Examples

For each of the ideas, I’ll point out some examples of the business model. So you’ll see how other people do it in a real-life model.

Hitting $100k

I’ll also include some rough math for a price point and the number of customers you’d need to hit $100,000 of annual revenue. It’s going to be a wild ass guess with uninformed assumptions or mildly informed information.

And that’s how starting a business will be — make decisions with incomplete information. Over and over again.

When you see the estimates for the number of customers, you’ll understand my point above about needing a team. It’s a lot of work to provide value worth $100,000 per year.

Other Ideas

I’ll tell you about ways to come up with other ideas if these don’t match up with your skill set.

Doing the work

At the end, I’ll mention the general approach you can take if you’d like to outsource the work and service as the project manager, marketer, and account manager.


** Disclaimer: Some links on this page are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase. If you do, thanks! It doesn’t cost anything extra but helps support my effort to create helpful content.

Content Service

People struggle to publish enough content if they write it themselves.

Other people struggle to hire freelance writers and work with them effectively.

If you can serve as a project manager and hire a team of writers, then you’ll be able to find and manage your team via Upwork.

You can use templates here for finding and testing good writers. You can read how I built a content team here, step by step.

Want to go deeper and stand out from the crowd?

FOCUS on a market, and I recommend a premium market where quality matters. This can also help build some Expertise, Authority, and Trust for the site.

  • Fitness related content where you only hire certified trainers.
  • Heath related content where you only hire Registered Nurses or Family Nurse Practitioner. See more certifications here.
  • Outdoor related content where you only hire special forces veterans or national park rangers.

You get the idea, and you can be a market of one if you niche down and offer something that no other service can offer. It will be harder to find the writers, but definitely possible, and because of the credentials, expertise, and qualifications, you’ll be able to charge a much higher rate.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

Charge an average of $350 per month for the content service, and you need about 24 customers total.

Most services have multiple packages so some customers may want the cheapest option and others the most expensive.

Guest Posting Service

People struggle to build links for their sites. The gold standard is white hat guest posting, and it’s especially difficult when you are getting started with niche or authority sites.

I bet many people reading this post have struggled with outreach — maybe even thinking that no blogger would accept a guest post from you. I felt exactly the same way until I tried and it was less scary than I expected.

There are a lot of moving pieces in a guest posting campaign. You have the option of taking a shotgun approach — blasting out dozens of emails every day — or a surgical approach — taking time to build a relationship with a blogger before pitching them.

You can hire outreach managers to do the heavy lifting of sending emails. However, my most successful campaigns were not skilled SEOs with preconceived notations about how to get guest posts. They were writers and content managers that finished a content sprint and were interested in doing different work.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

Let’s assume each customer will be a repeat buyer and will buy 10 guest posts throughout a year.

If you charge about $200 on average per guest post, then you need to have 50 customers to hit  $100k.

Migrate to HTTPS

I get questions about using SSL for sites so that the little padlock shows up next to your URL. You may see this as migrating from http to https.

For a skilled admin, this is a fast process that has exact steps. It probably only takes a couple of hours to do, probably less.

To an inexperienced website owner, it’s a minefield of confusion with consequences that can kill your Google rankings and traffic.

I managed to migrate 2 of my sites without impacting the rankings at all and not trashing the whole site. Thank you ManageWP backups and restores! The first time took about 6 hours, but the second migration only took about two hours after I knew the pitfalls to avoid.

You can figure out the process, so you know it well, then find sites that aren’t using SSL.

Reminder: If you try this out, you should know what you’re doing and make a backup of the site so you can restore everything if needed.

Examples

There weren’t many services that I could find focused solely on migration to SSL, but check out all the results on Fiverr.

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

This is a faster job normally, and you could complete a couple per day. However, that means you can’t charge as much per job.

You could charge $100 per job, but you’d need to have 84 customers each month.

So I highly recommend upselling other work like the next idea…

Improve Site Speed

Site speed is a factor for Google ranking and a clear way to improve the user experience for your site. It’s a simple business model where you can find sites, test their speed, then reach out to the business or webmaster to let them know you can improve the site speed.

Side Idea: Most of the time upgrading the hosting can speed up the site. You can recommend a new hosting company and earn an affiliate commission. Unsure of the idea? Check out a couple of companies that solely focus on site speed — the have hosting recommendations on the navigation menu.

Here is an example from WP Speed Fix.

Reminder: If you try this out, you should know what you’re doing and make a backup of the site so you can restore everything if needed.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

If the average customer paid about $230, then you’d need to have about 37 customers each month.

But you could stand to make about $50-$100 more for each customer if you earned an affiliate commission. On the low end, you could make six figures with about 30 customers per month.

Keyword Research

Here’s another business need where I get emails each week asking if I can do keyword research. A lot of people ask about Keyword Golden Ratio research packages specifically.

And I have absolutely no interest in doing that for people. Zero.

I give the KGR Calculator Sheet right here for people for free. But some people have a little trouble finding keywords.

One downside with this business model is how you deal with reselling the same keywords over and over again. It’s unethical in my opinion and one of the main reasons I don’t even look at this business.

Some companies, like Humanproof Designs, have a good protocol — they resell some packages a certain number of times and tell you upfront. They mainly deal with custom packages which are one of a kind.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

If each customer order paid about $150, then you’d need about 56 orders per month.

You’d need a good way to find the keywords and sort through all the data, but that’s how you’d be able to offer so much value.

Podcast Editing

This a one of those “scratch-your-own-itch” situations. (Aside: I basically scratch all of my own itches. I do love a back scratch, though…)

Everyone seems to have a podcast these days. Even my wife and I yielded to the pull to publish a podcast — please check it out Survive The 9 to 5. My wife took up the editing to learn how to do it, but there are many services that do this work for you.

With more and more podcasts coming online, it’s a great industry that’s growing. You can get started with free software, like Garageband or Audacity.

Want to add more value? Include show notes, links, and show art for each episode. For someone that wants to focus on the podcast and production side, that can save a couple of hours of work.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

Most companies have a monthly package, so that’s what I recommend ideally. If each customer averaged about $600 per month, then you’d be able to hit six figures with 14 customers.

Video Editing

Another “itch-your-scratch” idea…

YouTube is also exploding with content. People want to get started on YouTube, but they know editing can be a beast.

I spent many hours doing horrible editing work for my YouTube Channel. Then I hired a far more qualified editor, and my life got better. She’s a grad student studying filmmaking and knows how to edit well.

If you can bring some expertise to the table as a video editor, then you can help someone get started on YouTube. Additionally, if you put together a description for YouTube, you could charge even more.

Home Movie Editing

My friends and family have been impressed with my vacation videos that I publish as VLOGs on YouTube. It’s great when I tell them that I have a trusty editor to put it all together for me. I compile all the content, and she edits the whole mess in a day!

You could target people that want to share their home movies but don’t have the time. I have so many friends with a lot more money than time, but they don’t know how to hire a freelance video editor. If you could make it easier for them, then you could charge a premium.

Examples

Clients and Rates to Hit SIX Figures in Revenue

Like the podcast editing, you could charge a monthly retainer. If the average customer paid $700 per month, then you’d need just 12 customers.

If you tried to edit home movies, then you could put together a similar package or charge by the length of the raw video on a project basis.


Want Other Ideas?

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg — ideas that are directly related to Affiliate Marketing and Niche Sites.

But you can head over to Upwork and Fiverr, then start browsing the categories to see what people are buying. You should be able to find a service that you have some skills with already.

The Gory Details

All these business ideas can be nurtured to a 6-Figure business, but not overnight.

The concepts and ideas are simple.

It’s all about the execution, not the complexity of the idea.

It’s not about having a new, novel idea. If you have a new idea, then it means you need to educate people on the idea.

I can’t get too deep into the gory details, but I should emphasize that you should get started slowly.

Don’t worry about figuring out how to scale until you need to. So that means don’t try to automate your process until you have an effective way to do things.

Remember these three tips:

  1. Start small. If you don’t have a platform, then develop your chops on a marketplace like Upwork and Fiverr. You can leverage your connections to get started.
  2. It will be harder than you expect.
  3. It will take longer than you think.

Outsourcing The Work

I mentioned that if you want to scale a service business, you’ll probably need to have a significant team.

Even starting from scratch, you could outsource most to all of the work. You’d need to handle the other work (marketing, hiring, managing, communicating with everyone), but you could outsource the work.

Here are two approaches to start:

  1. Recommended: You could sell the work, then do the work yourself as you’re getting started. It will give you first-hand experience in the process which is very important to understand how to optimize and improve the process. Then, hire freelancers to help you fulfill the work. Some of the jobs, like speeding up a WP site may require you to work with dozens of clients per month, so you have to have a team.
  2. You sell the work, then hire a freelancer to do the work. You could hire someone from Fiverr to do the actual work. The major downside is that you don’t have the understanding to improve the process effectively. This would be a good choice if you’re not skilled in the service (like speeding up the load time of a WP site), but you’re good at selling.

Over to YOU

Leave a comment and let me know:

  1. If you’re interested in starting a service business. If so, when are you going to go for it!
  2. If you’re like me and prefer not working on a service-based business.
  3. And if you have questions, ask away!

Want a Profitable Affiliate Site?

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Doug Cunnington, PMP

I show people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. I love creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but not at the same time).

Show 21 Comments
  • Zamir Ahmad December 3, 2018, 11:48 am

    Fiverr is no doubt one of the best platform for people (beginner to pro) to earn some decent bucks. One can simple use Canva to make some quick logos and banners too.

    Regards.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 3, 2018, 12:21 pm

      Zamir, thanks for the idea! I had that on my list too but didn’t include it here.
      You could definitely create custom banners and images for people.

  • Mason December 3, 2018, 12:09 pm

    Thanks for the detailed break down of each service with examples, Doug! I’ve been tossing around the idea of a service business for years. I should probably just bite the bullet and dive in now.

    I’m just curious if you, and other commenters, think that a KGR service can pull in $150? I’m working on a programming script to help speed up this process. If this is something people want this may just be the service I should offer.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to the next post!

    Mason

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 3, 2018, 12:25 pm

      Mason, I think a KGR service could charge $150, but it all depends on the offering.

      — How many Keywords?
      — Are you reselling the KWs?
      — What else is included with the package?

      The only way to understand the pricing is to try to sell it. 🙂

      • Mason December 5, 2018, 10:51 am

        Thanks for the response, Doug! I’ll keep messing with the script I’m building, which may take the human element out of the process, so I can lower the price significantly. And/or offer additional services, such as writing articles around the keywords they choose, for a higher fee.

        Do you happen to know of any good platforms to showcase the services you recommend, besides Upwork and Fiverr? Maybe launch on Product Hunt when you have a website dedicated to the service or something?

        Keep up the good work, thanks again!

    • Derek Marshall December 3, 2018, 10:44 pm

      Hey Mason,

      My apologies for “butting in” here!. You might want to revise the use of a script and the expense you go to create one. Just to mention it…I get my KGR keywords from Upwork, a lovely Pakistani guy that gets me 10 for $10!. Geo targeted to USA search volumes and not global search volumes.

      • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 5, 2018, 2:41 pm

        Derek – good to have your addition in here.
        Automation is great but sometimes the gains aren’t huge if you can find a manual workaround with geo-arbitrage. 🙂

      • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 5, 2018, 2:43 pm

        Additionally, if you’re starting a service, it’s probably better to do it manually first to test the market. Automate it later… There’s no need to do a bunch of work if you don’t have customers yet — you’re not building a brick and mortar store so you can do the work on demand.

      • Mason December 6, 2018, 4:58 pm

        Hey Derek,

        I’m happy you decided to “butt” in! I was not aware of how cheap one was able to get KGR keywords. I guess I need to do a little more due diligence.

        At the very least I can offer this for free on my site using the script I mentioned. Maybe it’ll bring some attention to my “skills” as a developer. Thanks again for letting me know about your arrangement on Upwork!

  • Ruan December 3, 2018, 1:32 pm

    Hey Doug!

    It’s been a while indeed. I am currently in the difficult position of having to dive into some service delivery position in order o get myself out of a huge financial challenge after a brick and mortar business of mine went South.

    I need to generate a sustainable income within the next 30 days in order to cover my financial obligations at the end of the month. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to do that.

    At the moment I am spinning my wheels between so many ideas, that in actual fact it’s causing me to get nothing done at all.

    I’d like to chat to you sometime if possible, Doug. This article has been a huge help, but I’d still like to get your opinion on a few things.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 3, 2018, 2:04 pm

      Ruan, what’s up man. It’s been a while.
      What are your questions? You can ask here…

  • Ruan December 3, 2018, 2:11 pm

    Well basically I need to generate between $4k and $5k within the next 30 days and sustain this level of income in order to cover my monthly obligations.

    Thus I need to find the quickest and most profitable way in order to do that. I need an idea, an I idea that’s not over and above my capabilities, something actionable I can start right away and follow through with, with the confidence that should I just keep focused on this one thing and stick it out, it will help me meet my obligations at the end of the month.

    That’s it really.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 3, 2018, 4:47 pm

      It’ll be hard to do in 30 days. (I give a shorter answer at the very end…)

      Only you know your skill set (the most important part), but I would take advantage of the list here as a starting point. I assume you already did that…

      I would leverage Upwork as a marketplace and then bid on projects.

      However, I’ll be the bad guy to break it to you… You’re asking for too many things:

      1. An Idea
      2. The idea needs to be something you can do
      3. Something actionable immediately
      4. Something exciting enough so you’ll be motivated to follow through
      5. And this is the impossible one…Confidence to stick it out

      Confidence for a new business venture has to be built over time. When you’re starting something, you need the naivety to not even realize it shouldn’t work. If you’re not naive, then you’ll have to figure out if you’re in a dip or if you’re pursuing a bad idea. It’s hard to tell.

      You’re asking for all those things and all within 30 days. It can be done but ramping up to $4-5k in 30 days will hard if you’re not able to leverage an existing asset. The could be a following on YouTube or Instagram, or the best would be an email list of people that know you already.

      Flipping items might be a whole other option if you have used or bargain products that you could resell.

      Short answer: Content Service. You can hire people on Upwork and manage the team in Upwork. You can have a PM that manages (hires, fires, assigns work, etc…) the writers, all within Upwork.

      10 clients paying $600 nets $6,000.
      Each client gets 4 articles of 1000 words.
      You need 40 articles. Have them written for $20 each, totaling $800
      Let’s tack on 50% more per article for Upwork’s cut and admin costs, so 40 articles cost you about $1,200.

      That little plan should net about $4,800, and many of the assumptions that I made will be wrong. But that’s okay. You don’t have to be 100% right, you just need to know enough to get to the next step.

      Hope that helps!

  • Alex December 3, 2018, 6:21 pm

    There are a lot of internet marketing tools and services I’ve never heard and used it. Thank you for your posting.

  • Ruan December 3, 2018, 7:38 pm

    Thanks Doug. It does help. I’m going to give it my best shot.

  • Derek Marshall December 3, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Thank you kindly for this article Doug, it is really appreciated!. You have helped me in a very different and indirect but direct way.

    My Vietnamese Girlfriend works at the local region wide radio station and currently a volunteer doing a variety of tasks including performing interviews and fully editing shows using some pretty powerful software and is very good at what she does.

    Talking broadcast quality here for a popular region wide radio station!.

    I have been trying to encourage her to take freelancing on Upwork or editing and processing folks Podcasts for them, even showing her the hourly rates! $40/hr and up! (darn good money when most here work for $5-$10 a day!). Seeing the section on podcasting and that she could pull in $600 per client might just give her that push that she needs…and not just keep on thinking that it is not possible or something from “Derek’s Wonderland”.

    Just for the record $600 is pretty much what a university lecturer would earn here!.

    Thanks in kind for that section on podcast editing and processing.

    Derek.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 5, 2018, 2:45 pm

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes.
      Huge market for podcasting since everyone is has a podcast now. 🙂

  • Jake December 7, 2018, 11:02 am

    Hey Doug,

    Great article! I wanted to see if you think offering social media services to those with affiliate sites would be profitable? Have you ever done this or saw it in action? I can’t seem to see anyone who is targeting affiliate owners specifically. My only worry is that people might be hesitant to want to give over their website url which would be seen on their social media sites.

    Secondly, do you have an article or advice for gaining email subscribers via a campaign built specifically for generating email leads?

    Thank you, my friend!
    Jake

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP December 7, 2018, 12:02 pm

      Jake, thank you!

      Social media management is pretty common and YES, it’s a great idea I should add on here. In fact, a friend of mine (on Instagram) does this and teaches others to do it. Elise Darma

      I don’t have an article specifically about list building, no. But if you go to Aweber here you can sign up for their free courses. It’s my affiliate link for Aweber so I get a commission if you buy anything…

      • Jake December 7, 2018, 12:11 pm

        Thanks Doug!

        Definitely! But targeting niche site owners specifically you think would be a good idea? I will definitely check her site out, thank you!

        I have Aweber and actually just canceled a few weeks ago. I really want to have a solid plan on generating leads via an ad campaign of some sort first, but I know things can be different in the niche world versus sites where you’re selling your own product so I was curious if there were any helpful tips for niche site specific.

        Thank you for replying!

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