5 Thriving Online Businesses Inspired By Personal Passions

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One of the reasons I created a blog about starting an online business is because I am so intrigued about how modern technology opens infinite doors for those who have entrepreneurial ideas while removing old, outdated barriers of entry and reducing risk!

We now live in a time where we can build an online platform to get our personal message out there, attract those who are searching for our message and get compensated for work that's authentic to who we are.

But getting your mind around the opportunities now available requires you to suspend your old beliefs about what was required in the past to have a chance at success-- things like advanced educational degrees, knowing the right person, or a large sum of money. All of these are no longer necessary to achieve great success.

Today, you can "Choose Yourself," as well-known blogger James Altucher is famous for saying, instead of waiting or hoping someone will choose (hire) you.

Success in this new paradigm of business involves consistently providing value to solve your community's problems.

No doubt about it-- a shot at online entrepreneurship is yours for the taking, but because this is all so new and unless you've been keeping up with sources that educate how many are creating their own online businesses inspired by personal passions, you may not be aware of all the creative ways people are designing multiple-income-stream businesses.

What You Will Learn In This Post

Given the confusion and general lack of awareness about how people are building successful online businesses, in this post, I will share 5 examples of different ways it's being done. 

I hope these examples will not only show how people are doing it but also inspire you to consider the possibilities for how you might be able to create your personal online business.

But before I get into the examples, I'd like to stress how successful online entrepreneurship still requires massive levels of dedication, consistency, hard work, and learning. The good news is that by embracing these elements, it is doable, rewarding and enjoyable!

So, let's dive into the examples, shall we? I hope you feel surprised about what some have done and inspired about what you could possibly do!

5 Thriving Online Businesses Inspired By Personal Passions

Below are five examples of online businesses borne out of each blogger's personal passion or life story. All of these bloggers started from the ground and through hard work and consistency, have grown massive followings, paving the way for their blog to become a full-time income.

Keep in mind that in most of these cases, these bloggers did not necessarily envision where they would be today. They started, evolved as they learned from their communities and created products that meet their communities' needs or solve their biggest problems. Most of these blogs started with one person and now employ a team of people to operate.

Below is a brief overview of each blog and the income streams implemented to generate income:

1 | Vegan Lifestyle For Athletes Blog | No Meat Athlete | Matt Frazier | nomeatathlete.com

Blog Overview: No Meat Athlete was founded in 2009 by Matt Frazier, around the time he went vegan. No Meat Athlete is a blog for athletes (especially runners) who embrace a plant-based/vegan diet and lifestyle. Readers learn from Matt through his experience as a "no meat athlete," and Matt is more accountable to his vegan/runner lifestyle because he's blogging.

The blog informs, encourages and inspires others to embrace a plant-based diet and lifestyle by providing valuable information through blog posts and podcast (No Meat Athlete Radio) episodes. No Meat Athlete is a perfect example how a blog can be a creative combination of two interests and or passions. Chances are if a combination lives in your life, it lives in the lives of others, who are waiting to be led by you.

Income Streams: Some of the ways Matt Frazier is compensated for his effort in maintaining the blog are the following:

1) Sales from the proprietary digital training programs Matt sells on his Resources page. Matt has created several digital products like the No Meat Athlete Triathalon and Marathon Roadmaps to guide others through the processes of training for either.

The beauty of digital products is that the blogger puts in a limited amount of work to create the program, but it can be sold an unlimited number of times. The bigger the blogger's audience, the greater the sales "scale."

2) Matt also has a monthly subscription-based "No Meat Athlete Academy for those who want to delve a little deeper into issues concerning the plant-based-athletic lifestyle. Members of the Academy are billed $9.99 a month.

3) Matt is also the co-author of a cookbook entitled (you guessed it!) The No Meat Athlete Cookbook sold on Amazon (currently the #1 New Release in the Vegetarian Diets category.)

4) Matt also has a tab on his website called Gear, where he recommends various products related to cooking, running, fitness & learning. When readers happen to purchase a product as a result of clicking on one of Matt's link, Matt will receive a fee based on a percent of the total price of the product.

5) And finally, another stream of income for Matt is selling t-shirts with the No Meat Athlete logo.

Because Matt consistently provides valuable information and "walks his talk," concerning a vegan runner lifestyle, he builds credibility with his readers and they are more inclined to buy his products.

2 | How-To Lifestyle & Fashion Blog | Oh Joy! | Joy Cho | ohjoy.com

Blog Overview: Oh Joy was originally launched in 2005 as a graphic design studio and has grown into a daily blog with a massive following that covers topics like design, fashion, home, food and "joyful moments" of daily living. Oh Joy! is a very colorful, fun brand that can't help but spread inspiration and well, joy!

Income Streams: Some of the income streams for Joy Cho's Oh Joy! blog are:

1) Oh Joy! has several licensed product lines sold through Target, wallpaper sold through Hygge & West and photo books sold through Chatbooks. Her licensed products available through Target include items like upholstered furniture, a variety of pet items, home decor, baby nursery items and Band-Aid brand bandages.

2) Joy Cho is the author of three books: 1) Creative Inc. for design freelancers; 2) Blog Inc., a guide for bloggers and 3) Oh Joy!, a guide with tips, ideas and DIY projects to bring more food, fashion and decor-related joy into your life!

3) Every month Oh Joy! is featured in countless popular publications and media outlets like InStyle, Apartment Therapy, Allure, Dominoe, Real Simple, Time Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, The Today Show and Access Hollywood Live. This publicity surely brings more awareness to her brand and the sale of her products.

Through her strategy of daily blogging, Joy stays in front of her audience, wowing and inspiring them, creating more brand awareness and impacting the sales of her products.

3 | Food Blog | Pinch of Yum | Lindsay & Bjork Ostrum | pinchofyum.com

Blog Overview: Pinch of Yum is a husband-and-wife-run food blog. The blog was initially started by then 4th-grade teacher, Lindsay Ostrum. According to the blog, Lindsay was a teacher by day and a food blogger by night.

Eventually, Lindsay's husband, Bjork, got involved in helping out with tech and finances, and in 2014 Lindsay stepped away from teaching and pursued the blog full time.

The blog is about 6 years old now and since August 2011 Pinch of Yum has published their income reports. I took a peek at their October 2016 income totals and after subtracting expenses, the blog netted about $38,000 in income for the month. (As of June 7, 2017, however, Bjork shared here why the blog will no longer post income reports.)

Their income is so substantial because Pinch of Yum provides consistent, beautiful, inspiring and valuable content helping their readership grow, which drives more traffic to their website, which increases sales.

Income Streams: Pinch of Yum's main sources of income are the following: ads, sponsored content, speaking, and affiliate payouts for a wide variety of products-- from blogging tools they recommend to the best camera gear for food bloggers. They also developed an online course to teach people how to food blog.

Prior to writing this blog post, I wasn't too familiar with Pinch of Yum, but sadly, I learned while visiting the blog that Lindsay and Bjork tragically lost their first child, Afton, who was born prematurely at the end of 2016. Given the obvious close connection Lindsay has with her readers, she has been very open about sharing her heart-wrenching story with them. Her readers responded with open hearts and an outpouring of love on Instagram as they created a hashtag for Lindsay (#feedingabrokenheart). Readers began posting pictures of yummy comfort food as their way of comforting Lindsay and Bjork in their grief.

The more time I spent on Lindsay and Bjork's blog, the more impressed I grew. I have also been following them on Instagram @pinchofyum, and their short videos highlighting recipes are not only beautiful but inspire me to think different about food. I can't wait to try some of their recipes and tune into their podcast, Food Blogger Pro, for a listen in the near future.

4 | Simplifying Life Blog | Living Well Spending Less | Ruth Soukup | livingwellspendingless.com

Blog Overview: Living Well Spending Less (LWSL) was founded in 2010 by Ruth Soukup because her spending habits were out of control and her marriage was in "big trouble." Ruth blogged to help herself get better at budgeting and shared what she was learning along the way with her readers.

Ruth's blog has evolved over time and presently the blog's main focus is to eliminate overwhelm and make women's lives "just a little bit easier" by sharing tips to help her readers simplify food preparation, life in general, modern homemaking and personal finances/budgeting.

Income Streams:  Some of the income streams for Ruth Soukup's LWSL blog are:

1) Books: Ruth sells several books that she wrote covering topics that reflect her blog's focus-- living a clutter-free life, best spending/saving practices and how to blog and make money. Ruth also sells many of her favorite books by other authors, covering related topics, and it appears that (rather than providing a link to Amazon) she does keep these books in stock and ships them out directly.

2) Planner & Accessories: Because it has its own navigational tab and web page, one of the main sources of income (and the second biggest ticket item) for Ruth's blog is her Living Well Planner. The planner is $55 and it helps you get organized and prioritize many areas of life like personal growth, goals, health, fun, home improvements, meal planning, relationships and finances. According to Ruth, she created the planner she never could find. Ruth also sells accessories to use with the planner like stickers, sticky notes, and tear sheets.

3) Elite Blog Academy: Ruth also has a robust online course (currently priced at $797) and community that teaches her students how to make money blogging. The course opens for enrollment at least twice a year, and students are guided through various steps and exercises to become full-time bloggers.

It is suggested that students should spend between 5-10 hours a week going through the exercises for the first 4-6 months.

Ruth's blog is the perfect example of "when you need to learn something, blog about it." In other words, teach what you need to learn yourself. Ruth's spending habits were out of control and now she teaches and inspires others to reign theirs in and simplify their lives. Today, anyone can be a voice for something they care about or need to learn.

5 | Expert Photography | Josh Dunlop | expertphotography.com

Blog Overview: Expert Photography was started in April 2011 by England-based, Josh Dunlop. Josh is a self-taught photographer, and he created his blog to help others on their path as photographers. Frustrated by the lack of images needed to learn photography on other websites, Josh created the site he wished existed.

Income Streams: Some of the income streams for Josh Dunlop's Expert Photography blog are:

1) Online Courses that are generally $97. Topics include general photography for beginners, how to master landscape photography and mastering how to capture the milky way.

2) Sales from ebooks for beginner photographers

3) Website Building Service for Photographers. For $397 or 5 payments of $97 photographers can get access to a pre-designed Wordpress website template geared toward those who want to start getting compensated for their efforts in photography.

4) Recommended Products Sold On Amazon. Josh does recommend photography gear and links to Amazon for readers to purchase the products he recommends. In turn, Josh will be paid a percentage of each item's total cost.

Josh saw a need for the type of blog he created, so he built it! For the very beginner photographer, there is plenty of free info on Josh's site to get started. Then once you've gone through and mastered the very basics, you could move on to some of his products for more advanced photography. Another robust photography blog is Digital Photography School. It's definitely worth checking out in a time when the quality of photography should matter to every brand or business.

I hope you are inspired by what you just read and all that's possible with blogging.  

If you would love a little help figuring out your personal niche, click below to access my 7-page guide that will take you through a series of exercises to get your ideas flowing.

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