A common mistake that many people make when it comes to validating their business idea is that they’ll need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars developing an MVP. You actually want to spend very little at this stage.
Every year, hundreds of millions of documents are notarized in the United States: wills, mortgages, citizenship forms, handgun applications. While for decades, this has all been done in person, there is a budding crop of sites that allow notaries to take their services online. If you’re already a notary, you can sell your services online. Or, if you want to get started, check out the National Notary’s checklist for becoming a certified notary.
While Etsy is fantastic for handmade goods that you’ve already created, if you’ve got killer designs that would look good on phone cases, t-shirts, or even wall hangings, pillows, and duvets, you can sell them on Society6 without paying anything to start. Society6 lets artists upload their designs and create their own shops where they choose what products their designs can be used on. That means one design can be used to make a whole range of awesome products that are printed and shipped on demand whenever someone buys from you. With top creators making thousands every month just from selling their designs.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn’t working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she’s writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn’t play it safe is when she’s writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.
If you’re willing to take the time to learn the development skills necessary to build high-quality software products (or even MVPs to help you get funding), there’s a growing roster of reputable online learning platforms like Treehouse, CodeAcademy, and Skillcrush to get you the skills you need.
The reason this is a great online business idea is because, while hundreds of thousands of people start their search for business insurance online, the majority still deal with a brick-and-mortar agent to buy and manage their policy. This takes a lot of time and can be a hassle (in both managing the physical paperwork as well as working around an agent’s schedule).
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
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One last quick thing to note before we dive in: I’m going to be talking a lot about your niche for every way of making money online that we cover here. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, all it means is your unique topic, angle, market, audience, or voice that will make people stand up and notice your business.
Let’s say I’m an Amazon affiliate for camping gear, and I want to write an exhaustive, in-depth blog post and review of the “50 Best Hiking Backpacks for Adventuring Outdoors.” By running a quick Keyword Planner check on the organic search volume I can see that there’s around 5,500 monthly searches for the keyword ‘hiking backpacks’ alone.
Learn from entrepreneurial experts. ($20) The average ticket price for your local entrepreneurial event is $15-$20, the knowledge and connections you get from it though? Priceless. Total cost so far: $127
TechCrunch is a popular Web 2.0 blog and makes a reported $200,000 per month. Originally started by Michael Arrington, it was eventually acquired by AOL for a reported $25,000,000. There is money to be made by blogging and it’s cheap one of the cheap and easy home based businesses to get started with.
Before you start selling, you need to find the right product with the potential for serious profitability. You’ll learn how to research different niches and even examine your own life to find problems that can be solved.
The dramatic growth and success of eBay has spawned many competitors featuring auctions or online marketplaces for diverse items. Whether you want to clean out your closet and sell your designer clothing online, or develop a high-volume online store, you can make extra money or big dollars on sites such as Amazon.com, Etsy.com and more.
Sure, the owner of a bed & breakfast in Seattle may be thrilled to be attracting clients from Australia’s Gold Coast. But is the landscaper in Seattle going to be equally receptive to securing a weekly hedge trimming and lawn-mowing client from Australia? Probably not.
If you have a fondness and talent for taking pictures you can make extra money online by becoming a stock photographer and selling your images to a stock photo company like ShutterStock or iStockPhoto. You’ll get royalties every time someone licenses an image you’ve submitted. To really be successful, build your own photography website to be able to showcase your portfolio and start getting higher-paid private corporate work.
So you must walk a fine line, making sure that you keep confidential client information confidential, while (1) proving that you’ve satisfied the needs of other clients like them with great results and (2) demonstrating your ability to customize your service to meet their personal, unique needs.
The key thing to remember is that at this point you’re not trying to build a fantastic, well-developed website just yet. All you’re trying to do is create an MVP website that you can start directing your customers and potential audience to.
Rather than making money through subscriptions, YouTube channels are based on a traditional advertising system. Meaning the more viewers you get, the more you make. Once you’re approved for the YouTube Partner Program and can start including ads on your videos, with every 1,000 views, you will make approximately $2-$4. Which might not seem like a lot, but if you have 100 videos with 5,000 views a month each, that would be $1,000–$2,000 already. Just imagine if your videos start hitting millions of views!
UK spend on online video has seen 13.5% year on year growth, and now exceeds spend on TV advertising. (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) Hundreds of statistics like this have meant that businesses have to produce videos. Well, they don’t have to, but if they don’t, they are going to be missing out. Video platforms are just another avenue to acquire potential consumers. You can offer video packages from £50-5,000 and beyond. Select your target market and market to them effectively.
Set up a website for your business. ($30 – $60) Go to a hosting service, purchase a domain, find a nice website theme or find a designer. Setting up your first landing page is quick, easy, and most importantly, cheap. Total cost so far: $77
Arteeni is an online gallery and marketplace for American artisans selling handmade and unique items. We curate both the artisans and their products to make sure we have the best quality items on the site. Products include fine art, jewelry, handbags, home goods, small batch foods, and much more. Also, a portion of each sale is donated to a charity chosen by the customer from our curated list, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, and the Alzheimer’s Association, among others.
Many major retailers will pay you for promoting their businesses on your websites and social media pages. They might pay you in cash or gift cards. For example, some restaurants might give you a gift card if you check in on Facebook or Yelp.
Whether it’s an important consumer application, a specialist app to solve a particular niche problem, or even a time-wasting game you can play on your phone, you can create a massively successful business if you build software that helps people. (Look at the rise of Slack—the team communication software that went from side project to billion-dollar company in just 2 years.)
You don’t need to invest in expensive video equipment. Just learn how to use your smartphone’s video capability to upload entertaining or informative videos, and opt to have ads play before your videos to get a bit of cash for each video view. YouTube star PewDiePie earned a total of $7.4 million in revenue, according to multiple media reports.
Strategy #1: Establish your credibility. When you sell a service, you’re typically selling a relationship with yourself. And this requires spending more time and effort establishing your credibility and developing a rapport with your visitors than is typically required on a site selling a physical product.
Instead of matching potential couples online, we match puppies to potential owners by helping to eliminate the x-factors that are often associated with buying a puppy, whether online or offline. PuppySpot.com is committed to helping responsible breeders place healthy puppies into happy homes across the country.
They’re shortcuts that don’t last forever—and many of the “opportunities” like network marketing giants Herbalife and others offer, often pan out to either be a scam or at the very least, damaging to your personal relationships. And I would never advocate for that.
You’ve heard of antique dealers and even car dealers, but what about dealing in domains? Domains are internet real estate and like real estate they could be considered as an investment. Don’t just buy any domains, spread your risk with a portfolio and make sure you hold out for the highest price possible.
The best way would be mention the idea to your friends and share on social media that you’re looking for a developer/partner, if you can find a friend of a friend or someone you can meet face to face with and give them your pitch then that already increases your odds of finding someone interested in an equal partnership.
The second (and cheaper) path assumes that you have the design and dev chops yourself to build your dream software. Naturally, it’ll take more time to get your product off the ground, but being able to bootstrap the development of your software lets you retain more ownership in your business and be more in control of your path.
Another way to utilize your talent and business skills is to run corporate workshops online. Businesses are always looking for unique ways to help educate their workforce, and if you can package your talents into a day or half-day long session, you can sell that to companies all over the world to make money online. Start by building a portfolio and then reaching out on LinkedIn to influencers at relevant companies to see if they would be interested in you teaching their team.
Every day, there is a huge fluctuation in FX markets. If you have a combination of technical and fundamental analytical skills and some cash flow, you can become an online currency trader. Places like www.forexfactory.com are great for learning the basics. Remember, this is leveraged cash, so if you make the right decisions, you have a chance to profit big! At the same time, the risks can be high if you don’t have a money management strategy in place.
Strategy #5: Get your site listed in local search directories. Current estimates say 40 percent of search engine queries are now for local businesses and services. When you combine this with research that indicates 92 percent of local searches convert later offline, you can start to see a pattern of consumer behavior.
My favorite online business idea is a service that solves a problem, gives back to the environment, and can financially assist any charity across the U.S. I started My Kid’s Threads, an online consignment service that features amazing high-end designer children’s clothing for purchase or consignment, after working 15 years in eCommerce for Fortune 500 companies. Busy families love the convenience of shopping online, saving money, and giving back to charities or earning some cash for their kids’ outgrown clothing.
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eGobie handles one of life’s more important, albeit time-consuming daily errands. The company specializes in mobile car wash/detailing services and mobile oil change service. With the use of a smartphone app, customers can order these services with a few clicks of a button. Customers can register for a free account, log in, tell eGobie what service they would like to receive, when to receive it, and where to receive it.
If you can consistently provide companies with successful social media campaigns and improve their profiles, they will pay. Clorox Bleach had some huge success with one of their recent social media campaigns.
Strategy #4: Make it easy for leads to contact you. Here’s another obvious one. But I bring it up because I’m continually shocked by how difficult some sites make it for visitors to contact them. If you’re selling a service over the web, then you’re generating leads–your goal is to compel visitors to contact you.
Once you hit the 1,000 subscriber/4,000 hour threshold, you can start monetizing your videos by selecting “Monetize with ads” under the Monetization tab of your channel. While it can take a while to build up a decent following for your YouTube channel, it can be a lot of fun to do as well as become a steady source of extra income.
Market your course: The beauty of using a course to make money online is that you can continue to sell it for as long as you’d like. Look for niche communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit that might benefit from your content. Guest post on relevant blogs and sites. Look for anywhere you might be able to get in front of the right people. With just a few hours a month you can continue to generate sales.
Here’s my online business idea: A website where you can enter in the name of your online date and the business will research the person for you. So let’s say you find someone on a site like Match.com that you want to set up a date with, but you want to learn more about them first. You can submit the name into this website and the business will research all of the social profiles and anything else they can find online about the potential match for a flat fee. There would also be an option for a background check.
A lead magnet can be anything from a YouTube video, to a cheatsheet, a webinar, or even an ebook. As long as it’s filled with information that your audience wants, you can promote your lead magnet anywhere in order to get more signups to your list.
The best online business idea is turning your genius, or your own personal know-how, into very sellable, super-valuable, high quality eBooks, online courses, and tutorials that help will people enhance or change their lives. I love this strategy because it is mutually beneficial. You get to share what you love and earn money from it, and others get to learn and benefit from it in the same way you have.
Businesses of all sizes are in constant need of bringing in more customers, which is where you come in with your business idea. Start by pitching creative small business marketing ideas to local businesses and you’ll be sure to impress the first set of clients you begin working with in your area.
Take a few ideas and run with them – by this time of the next year, you very well may have your own successful and profitable online business! Just be sure to report back here and let me know your results!