There are many ways to make money online these days. You can start a blog, create an e-commerce store, or even offer consulting services. If you’re looking for ideas on how to make money online, here are 20 online business ideas that you can start.
Before starting one of these online business ideas, it may be beneficial to read the following blog post covering these 16 common business mistakes to avoid.
One of the most popular online business ideas to make money online is with affiliate marketing as it is a simple business model to understand and is easy for a beginner to get started. Affiliate marketing is where you will promote a merchant’s product or service online to potential customers using referral links.
Your job is to target potential customers and channel them to the vendor via your unique affiliate referral link. If the visitor goes on to complete a purchase then you will receive a commission fee from this purchase.
There are lots of affiliate programs available to join, some are open to anybody so are a great choice such as Fiverr whereas others require you to have your own website before you can join such as ShareASale.
Whilst you can utilise paid ads to increase sales, there are many free ways you can promote including social media, classified ads, forums and blogs. You can view more in depth information in our post on how you can make passive income with affiliate marketing.
You could consider starting your own podcast. This is an online business idea that is becoming increasingly popular. Podcasting is a huge industry and is currently growing fast. According to Forbes, 100 million people listened to a podcast each month in 2020 and this figure is expected to grow to 125 million people each month by 2022. Podcast ad spend is also estimated to rise to $1.7 billion by 2024. This is up from $800 million in 2020, so now could be the ideal time to start podcasting.
How To Start A Podcast
If you are interest in starting a podcast then Transistor is a great, intuitive podcast hosting and distribution platform to use. They give you everything you need to get started including a customizable podcast website, embeddable audio player, unlimited storage and in depth analytics. Uploading your podcast to Transistor allows you to easily distribute to Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts and more.
Unless you already have equipment such as microphones then you will need a to purchase these in order to begin recording. You can purchase all the audio recording equipment you require cheaply online. You will also require editing software. There are many but one of the best free editing tools is Audacity.
Once you are set up you will want to find ways of monetizing your podcast. This can be done in several ways including paid memberships, Patreon donations and advertising.
It can take a while to build up your podcast enough to monetize it but can be very rewarding in the future. So if you are interested in podcasting you should be in it for the long haul.
Creating And Publishing eBooks Online
Creating and publishing eBooks is a pretty easy way to create a passive income stream. There are various ways you can sell eBooks including directly through your own website or via Amazon Kindle Publishing.
Selling your eBooks through the Amazon Kindle platform offers you great exposure. Amazon attracts millions of customers and you can earn up to 70% royalty fees on all your sales.
The great thing about eBooks is you don’t need to be a professional author and there is little cost involved. You also have many outlets online for publishing your work so don’t have to rely on a traditional print publisher.
For a quick and hassle free way of creating e-Books there is a powerful low cost software called Sqribble. It allows you to create professional and engaging eBooks in minutes. See this post for more information on how to turn Kindle into a daily cash cow.
Another benefit of eBooks is that no matter which platforms you sell on, once your content is created and published you don’t need to do anything else. Each time any sale is made you will receive royalty payments. There are no other costs involved such as production or shipping costs as there are with physical products. This could potentially set you up a quality passive income stream.
Start A YouTube Channel
Most of us have social media accounts on one platform or another. Have you considered ways you can monetize them? YouTube is a platform that can offer great earnings potential from growing a channel. However not everybody wants to appear in front of the camera or is cut out for making their own videos.
If you prefer not to show your face on screen then there are still ways of monetizing a channel without creating your own videos. You can view more information in this free Tube Mastery and Monetization webinar.
Create And Sell Stock Photos And Videos Online
You could shoot and sell your own photographs and videos. There are many websites that will purchase images directly or allow your images to be purchased by others to use as stock photography for a variety of uses such as websites and marketing materials.
One of the world’s largest marketplaces for stock photography is Shutterstock where images can be sold and purchased by users. They allow anybody to join for free so you don’t have to be a professional photographer. Your images will of course have to meet certain quality standards and be free from any copyright.
An alternative to Shutterstock is PhotoJobz, this company will purchase your photos that will then be used in books, magazines, and advertising.
Selling your photos is a great side hustle to earn some extra money. Or you can take it further and put in a lot of effort and turn it into a full time profitable online business by combining with other online business ideas, such as number 9 below – create online training courses.
The good thing is that it is accessible to pretty much anybody even if you only have a camera phone. You can read more information in this blog post; can you earn money from your photos?
If you have a large social media following and have built up credibility within an industry and have the ability to influence your audiences purchasing decisions then you could consider becoming a social media influencer. Some of the most popular social media platforms that influencers operate on include TikTok, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube.
There are specialist social media influencer marketing platforms you can join such as Influencer and Tribe. Even Amazon has their own influencer program that runs alongside their affiliate marketing program. You can see in more detail in our post on why you should join the Amazon Associates program.
These platforms connect influencers with brands that want you to promote their products to your followers. Generally speaking the more followers you have then the more you are likely to earn per post. However you don’t need millions of followers to get started. It can depend on what niche you operate in and the influence you have over your following. For example you can earn money on Tribe with as little as 3000 followers.
Online business ideas such as influencing are becoming very popular. There are ways to increase your followers quickly and hugely improve your channel monetization. You can learn how to build a massive following on Instagram with Instapreneur Academy.
Print On Demand e-Commerce Business
Print on demand marketplaces are a great way of operating an online store without any upfront cost. This makes it an ideal low risk business idea, especially if you are new to running an online business. It is a very simple business model to follow and there are many platforms top join.
How Does Print-On-Demand Work?
When you join one of these online platforms for free, you are provided with a storefront that you can brand and customize. The company carries a range of products including apparel, homeware, gifts and even digital products like eBooks. The range of products will differ between platforms but they all have broadly the same types of products.
You can then select as many of these products to add to your store as you wish, customizing them with your own designs. You can use the services of a freelancer on Fiverr to create product designs cheaply. All you really need to then do is market and promote your store and products. Whenever a customer purchases one of your products you receive a portion of the profits.
All the inventory, shipping and customer service is handled by the company so you never have to pay anything upfront for products and don’t have to physically receive, store or ship the products. When the customer pays, the company deducts a portion of this for their operating costs and the rest you keep as your profit.
A print on demand store may be one of the best online business ideas for a beginner. We have a more detailed guide on how you can profit from a free print on demand store with Etsy.
Dropshipping e-Commerce Business
Dropshipping is one of the most poular online business ideas. It allows you to operate an online e-commerce store without the hassle and cost of handling, storing and shipping the products yourself as this is done through a third party.
This saves costs as you are not required to pay for any inventory upfront, you only pay for the product once the customer pays you. This will allow you to focus your efforts on your marketing to drive customers to your store and complete purchases.
At first dropshipping may appear to have some similarities to operating one of the print on demand marketplace stores but with dropshipping you have complete control over your store and which products you sell. You also have full control over pricing and as the products are shipped direct from suppliers can make this business model much more profitable.
One of the most popular platforms that most people start with is Shopify. If you have never run a dropshipping or online store before then it is recommended to to research fully before you begin.
SaleHoo Educate have a comprehensive free guide to dropshipping and additional in depth training resources taught by e-commerce experts that will teach you all you need to know to build, launch and grow a successful online business with Shopify.
Create Online Training Courses
It doesn’t matter what type of skills, knowledge or interests you have, you can guarantee somebody else wants to learn it, and now you have the perfect online platform to monetize your passion. This could be anything you are good at from photography to coding to painting, the possibilities are endless.
You might not know it yet, but you have knowledge worth sharing. And by creating an online course, you have the opportunity to reach more people than ever (no geographical limits when your classroom is the internet) and make money doing it.
Teachable makes it easy to create and sell stunning online courses, even if you don’t have advanced tech skills. More than 150,000 creators have collectively made over $1 billion to date.
The best way to learn about Teachable and how to use it is with their free webinar: The Quickstart Guide to Selling Your Knowledge Online with Teachable. This 40-minute webinar is jam packed with need-to-know tips and strategies for creating a course on Teachable. You can find more information her about creating online courses.
Next on the list of best online business ideas is freelancing. As with creating courses, if you have any type of knowledge or skills to offer in almost any niche, you could be monetizing them by carrying out freelancing work online.
Anything you have to offer from creative and design skills to coding and web development to copy writing and translation services can be sold on these online marketplaces.
You might also like to see how anybody can earn extra money as a freelance writer.
We all know that the first step to landing a job starts with a great resume. However lots of people struggle to write one effectively. If you are good at writing then you could create your own online resume review and writing service.
This would be an especially good service to run if you have experience of recruiting or HR. Although anybody that is good at writing should be able to publish a well structured resume.
Many people are willing to pay for a resume if you can offer a genuine quality service. And there are lots of outlets online to sell your services such as Fiverr. Alternatively you could create your own website and promote it. Add webinars to your website covering resume writing tips to increase user engagement and build authority in your sector. See how to create a webinar.
There are many resume review and writing websites and you should aim to offer something better than your competitors to stand out. Take a look at this resume writing service to see how they work; free resume review.
Domain flipping is the process of purchasing domain names with the aim of selling them on quickly for a profit. If you choose the right domain names then it could prove extremely profitable. It is a simple business model to understand and doesn’t take a lot of cash to start.
A domain is the name of a website, for instance our domain is ‘allaboutthatmoney.com’. As you can imagine some domain names are more desirable to people and companies than others. And they can be willing to pay a high price for these domains.
Use a service such as NameCheap to research and purchase domains. They can be sold on digital marketplaces such as Flippa. These sites allow buying and selling of digital assets including domains and online businesses.
You also might like this post on how to make money online flipping websites.
Create & Sell Handmade Products Online
If you are any good at arts and crafts you could monetize your hobby by selling your unique homemade products online. There are many websites available for selling homemade goods with the most popular being Etsy. Some great alternatives to Etsy are Amazon Handmade, Bonanza and ArtFire.
It is important to note that there are selling fees for using these platforms which vary by provider. You can cut out the middle man by creating your very own eCommerce site and selling products directly to customers.
Of course there are still costs involved such as web hosting and payment processing fees. But these costs will be lower and you get full control over your site. A downside to creating your own site is the time it can take to create and promote it. Although you can always hire a professional to do this for you on Fiverr.
Blogging is something that anybody can easily do – you don’t have to be the world’s greatest writer. Pick a niche and write quality, helpful and informative posts that you publish online. You can then monetize your blog with advertising and affiliate marketing.
The niche you select will have bearing on how many posts you can create and how easy they are to monetize. If you choose a subject that’s too narrow then you won’t have much scope to write lots of content from it. You need to choose something that you can continuously write about and add value to your readers. So preferably something you have at least a passing interest in that you will be able to comfortably write about.
WordPress is the most popular blog and website builder and is very easy to use for a beginner. They also allow you to start a blog for free. As you grow you can upgrade your plan for extra features. Get started with a WordPress blog.
Monetize Your Blog
Posting quality long form content regularly with a focus on good SEO will help your posts rank higher on search engines and help drive more traffic to them.
Once you are receiving regular traffic you can monetize your blog. One way to do this is by displaying ads on your site. This can easily be done with Google AdSense. Once you sign up you can simply copy and paste a line of code into your site header to automatically display ads.
Another common monetization option is through affiliate marketing. This is where you promote a product or service in your post by including referral links. You then get paid a commission payment when a user takes action through your links. Most commonly this is when they complete a purchase.
Learn more about blogging in our guide; start blogging to make passive income.
Create & Sell Apps
Got an idea for an app and have development expertise? Then you could consider creating and selling your own apps. Thousands of apps are available covering everything from games to payment processing to shopping. There seems to be an app for almost everything these days although there is always room for more.
Some of the different options to pursue;
- Identify a process that could be improved through an app
- Find a better way of doing something than apps already available
- Have an idea for a new game
- An app for your own business such as an online store
There are several ways to monetize an app including through ads and/or in-app purchases and more. Learn more in this post on how to create your own app.
Even if you don’t currently have experience of app development it is quite easy to learn with quality online courses. You can even build an app in minutes with no coding experience with Appypie.
Become A Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant, sometimes referred to as a VA is one of the easiest ways to earn an income online. You would be offering your assistance to businesses online performing clerical services such as;
- Data entry
- Customer service
- Social media management
- And more
Many small businesses and entrepreneurs need to outsource lots of the day to day tasks in their business to save time. This provides plenty of opportunities for VAs to earn good money for relatively simple and straightforward administrative tasks. Although more work may be available to those with greater technical expertise.
By becoming a freelance VA you will have greater flexibility and freedom. There are many ways to offer your services including through platforms such as Fiverr or specialist VA and online jobs platforms like ClickEarners. Learn more about becoming a digital freelancer.
If you are a professional that has experience within a niche then you could earn great money offering consultancy services to businesses. Businesses across the world of all sizes are looking for the best expert advice to improve processes, strategies and profits.
It’s not just big businesses that hire consultants, there are many solo entrepreneurs and startups looking for advice on how to start and grow their businesses. People that are new to business can often feel overwhelmed and are willing to pay for anything that will genuinely help them such as setting up a Shopify store, registering a business or setting business objectives.
Consultancy work commonly covers areas such as finance, HR, management and business strategy. You would need to be qualified and experienced in your chosen industry field in order to provide expert advice. Get qualified with a business coach certification to add to your resume and prove to businesses you are fully qualified.
There are different ways to work as a consultant. You can find and apply for consultancy jobs through online job boards such as FlexJobs. Or you can offer your services as a freelancer on platforms such as Fiverr. How much you charge will depend on what type of services you are offering and how much value you are providing the customer. For those people with the right expertise in a chosen field, consultancy work can prove quite lucrative.
Create WordPress Plugins
If you run a site based on WordPress you’ll know there are thousands of plugins available. These cover everything from security to social media integration and sharing to eCommerce and site monetization. Anybody with an understanding or experience of PHP should consider creating their own plugins and monetizing them. Although PHP is a relatively easy to learn scripting language so you may wish to undertake introductory PHP training to gain the necessary skills.
WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder and has a huge plugin marketplace. So this offers the biggest audience to market your plugin to.
One of the top ways to monetize a plugin is by using the freemium model. This is where you would offer a free version of the plugin with basic or limited features. To get full functionality users would have to pay to upgrade to the premium version. An example of a freemium WordPress plugin is Advanced Ads which is an excellent ad management plugin. It has lots of features in the free version but greater features to help monetize your site come in the premium version.
Companies and individuals pay users to test out their new software before launch to identify bugs. Examples of services that require testing are websites, software, apps and games.
There are different sides to testing software including from a technical standpoint and front end functionality. So it isn’t just a job for programmers and technically skilled people.
As long as you possess basic digital skills like being able to navigate around an app or website then there are testing opportunities available. Sites such as uTest allow anybody to join their online testing community. These digital testing platforms allow you to gain access to new software and technologies before public release. They have paid projects available worldwide where users are asked to test different applications in order to identify bugs. Your job would be to record and write up your findings and get paid for it.
For qualified and experienced testers you can also offer your services as a freelancer using platforms such as Fiverr. Lots of people turn to Fiverr to get their products tested for issues and vulnerabilities. Test and review apps and websites for security, performance and usability etc.
Find more information read this post on how to make money online by testing software.
Become A Problem Solver
Last on the list of online business ideas is becoming a problem solver. Businesses and organisations all over the world encounter issues all the time that they cannot resolve themselves. So they turn to the public for help through online problem solving networks such as Ideaconnection.
Problems are wide ranging and could include how to improve production processes or integrate new technology. There are a lot of challenges centered around environmental and medical problems such as how to reduce the use of antibiotics.
Companies pay big money for successful solutions, with the average payout being $5000. Although it is possible to earn more depending on the complexity of the issue.
We must also stress here that it is not an easy task. A lot of problems are quite technical and you would need to put in the work. Some of these are open to everybody whereas some are only open to experts within a particular field. But achieve a breakthrough and it could prove extremely lucrative. For example there is currently a CO2 conversion open challenge with a reward of $1,000,000!
20 Online Business Ideas Conclusion
Lots of these online business ideas offer a great opportunity of becoming a freelancer. As a freelancer you can gain more freedom and flexibility, set your own pricing and create a better work/life balance. However before venturing out on your own for the first time you need to ensure you are prepared for this challenge.
See the different types of pricing strategies you can utilise.
When working for yourself you need to be disciplined and manage your time more effectively. You will also need to learn the art of marketing and self-promotion if you want to achieve success. Learn all the necessary skills for becoming a digital freelancer with Udacity. This course will teach you how to market yourself, manage your projects effectively and build a personal brand; learn more here.
These online business ideas allow anybody of all skill and experience levels to create an online income. Find more online business ideas on our blog and please join our newsletter to get the latest posts straight to your inbox.