With $200 and his wits, Branson started an empire. That got me thinking—with all the technology within entrepreneurs’ grasps, what’s the minimum you’d need these days, realistically, to start an online business?
Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. It can range from anything to sales pages, to email marketing, to even quality blog content.
And while freelancing might not be as scalable as some of the other ideas we’ve spoken about, it’s not uncommon for solopreneurs to build healthy six-figure freelance businesses for themselves. (In fact, I’ve interviewed tons of them on my podcast!)
Larger companies can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but small businesses often have to handle their own social media marketing. With so many responsibilities, business owners are often too busy, overwhelmed or undereducated about the importance of social media to spend time developing and implementing a great social media strategy. As a consultant, you can help them determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower count grows, so will your business.
Selling your know-how can really pay off. Even if your know-how is super nerdy and small — I created an online course that teaches people how to start a business proofreading transcripts for court reporters. Lives have been changed in the process, including mine! The course has earned me over $166,000 in profit since its launch in February, exactly four months ago today.
It doesn’t pay much, but if you’re a healthy person and want to make a bit of extra money online, the AchieveMint app will reward you for doing things like walking, tracking your food, or taking health surveys. AchieveMint works by connecting to fitness apps you might already be using like Fitbit, RunKeeper, Healthkit, and MyFitnessPal and then giving you points for certain actions. For every 10,000 points, you earn $10 with no limit on your earnings.
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.
If you need some guidance on how to connect with influencers, download our free step-by-step guide, “How to Connect with Influencers & Land Interviews.” We even include the exact “copy & paste” emails we used to contact Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and many more A-players.
With North Pole Notes, subscribers sign up to send personalized and unique letters as Santa Claus, not just in the holiday season, but ALL year. Perfect for parents, Godparents, Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles, or just about any gift giver!
Content creators, marketers, publishers, attorneys, political groups, and probably a few college students—the potential client list is endless. Start with very competitive pricing, but as your project load builds, ramp up to charging more.
Being a new teacher can be nerve wracking. Which is why so many people are looking to buy your old teaching plans to help them feel more comfortable in front of their first class. If you’re a teacher, you can make money online through a site like Teachers Pay Teachers, which lets you buy and sell your original teaching materials.
Better yet, you can even upload your own book to one of the world’s largest book sellers: Amazon. With Amazon self-publishing, you set the price, retain the rights to your book, and get access to Amazon’s massive audience. For every sale, you keep 70% with Amazon taking the remainder as a fee. If you want to get started, check out Leslie Samuel’s great guide to selling eBooks online or follow Tara Gentile on CreativeLive as she shows you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Who knows, you might just write one of the best business books of this year!
If you’re a skilled worker in a specific niche, like marketing, design, or software development, there are specialty marketplaces that cater just to you. These are amazing places to make money online as you know that the people visiting them are looking specifically for the skills you have. Check out places like 99Designs or Dribbble for designers, Cloudpeeps for marketing and SEO professionals, and TopTal, Crew, or Gigster for high-level software developers. Once you’ve built up your development skills, you can begin building a brand for yourself as a higher-value consultant and start charging brands for larger projects like implementing an entire WordPress security overhaul or migrating a website from http to https.
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.
Ever see a Google result and say “How the heck did that get there?” While Google and other search engines use powerful algorithms to determine what pages to show for search results, there are real people making money online by making sure the machines are doing their job correctly.
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’re a person who loves leaving customer reviews on sites like Amazon, stop doing it for free. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a huge lead generator for many companies, and a lot of businesses are willing to share a portion of their profits with persuasive individuals who will promote their products to the public. If you have a personal website with a large following, this might be easier to accomplish (PR reps are always seeking out brand advocates they can send free samples to). Smart Passive Income breaks down three types of affiliate marketing and explains which one is most profitable.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you’re on call whenever you have a guest and you’ll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens’, Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local’s only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.
Blogging is not capital intensive, but there is a high potential for return. The best bloggers make 6 figures monthly. Even if you are just blogging as a hobby, it will teach you the basics that you need to know for an online business, such as web design, content creation, SEO, and advertising. These skills are essential for any other type of online business.
The idea behind a niche website is to target a specific niche (for example, a specific kind of photography), rank on Google for the keywords related to that niche, and then turn that traffic into earnings through affiliate offers or through selling your own products.
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.
But he managed to sell a necklace for $200, and with that $200, Branson finally had the money to call potential advertisers for his fledgling magazine. The rest, as they say, is history. That $200 would eventually grow into the Virgin Group, now a multibillion-dollar brand, operating in industries ranging from aerospace to communications.
While it often takes a significant amount of time and hard work to build up your affiliate income, if you have the ability to regularly publish high quality content that drives in targeted traffic to your website, this online revenue source can become quite substantial.
There are freelance sites, such as the popular oDesk, that often have jobs for virtual assistants. Just as with physical assistant positions, you will get paid for helping executives with a wide variety of tasks.
Identify target customers: Write down exactly who you want as your client and then start researching those companies and making your list. You’ll want your portfolio and cold emails to align with the companies you’re reaching out to
Not only will this multiply the money you’re bringing in in a serious way, but it protects you against any sudden changes in the market or in your business. Remember that old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket? A few hours a week committed to just one or two of the following opportunities will put you in a much stronger position to be financially safe and independent.
Shopify and Squarespace each offer a 14-day free trial of their services, which is more than enough time for you to get a basic version of your store up and running as a test. Other sites like Big Cartel allow you to use their service for free if you have fewer than five product listings.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
Also, stay in your lane. Proclaiming you’re an expert at everything will make people trust you less. Find your niche (health, finance, small business, marketing, etc) and become a 1%-er writer in that space.
You need to make it easy for your visitors to contact you. Provide an online form, your e-mail address, phone number, fax number, physical mailing address and any other relevant information (like the best times to call you). And make sure this information is highly visible and easily accessible from every page of your site. Why not invite a few honest friends to check out your site and time them to see how long it takes for them to find your contact information? What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to the rest of the world.
After that, you’ll need to be familiar with the other major players in the space who might be good partners or acquisition opportunities, as well as an intimate knowledge of how to raise funding, market your product, hire and manage the best talent, and keep yourself financially above water.