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.
And don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If you’ve done a good job for someone, they’ll likely be more than happy to refer their friends and business associates to you. But if you don’t ask, they’ll rarely think to do it. Don’t leave this to chance.
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.
Many small businesses don’t have room in their budget for a full-time IT employee, so when their systems go on the fritz, they’ll usually call a computer-savvy friend or family member. If you have experience working on computers and networks, you can eliminate their need to call in a favor and offer immediate remote technical assistance.
My favorite online business idea is from a current client who is looking to create an online marketplace for new and/or gently used consignment items. It stems from the concept created by folks such as Thredup that allow consumers to gain some monetary return when they are done with their clothing that in many cases were quite expensive when first purchased.
You can learn the basics of coding on CodeAcademy and do specific online web design courses to build up your skill set. Sign up to freelance sites such as People Per Hour and start building up your portfolio! This portfolio might even lead you into a high paid job!
Instead, if you can find a solid product that’s already being manufactured at a reasonable price from a marketplace like AliExpress, LightInTheBox, or DinoDirect and market it to your audience, you’ll have the start of a money-making eCommerce machine.
If editing and advising college students on how to write compelling 500 word essays on topics such as “You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech,” seems like something you would want to do, you can make good money online.
Do you enjoy taking surveys? Some companies will pay people to take surveys so that they can gather valuable consumer and user data. It might not be the most interesting way to make a buck, but you can find websites like CashbackResearch.com that offer cash for your opinions.
Pitch, cold email, and sign your first clients: Now it’s time to go after clients. Mention them in your content. Reach out to them over email or LinkedIn. Tailor your pitch to show what kind of value you bring to the table. (You can even read my personal cold email templates).
And while building, launching, and marketing an online course does take a considerable amount of upfront effort, their earning potential is through the roof (especially compared to a lot of the other online ways to make money we’re talking about).
Again, CodeAcademy will give you good grounding in coding languages. Expect to train for 12 months before being able to build apps that are going to achieve lots of sales. There are a few options when it comes to building apps…
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.)
With drop shipping, you’re effectively partnering with a manufacturer or wholesaler to sell their products. This way, you don’t pay upfront costs to buy inventory, aren’t sitting on unsold items taking up expensive warehouse space, and don’t have to deal with shipping the products yourself. You simply create your site, fill it with drop shippable products, and drive in customers, with almost everything else done for you.
Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.
It’s also one of the quickest ways you can get set up and start generating revenue. All you really need is an account with one of the online coaching communities I mentioned above and expertise to share.
Join a startup accelerator: Another great option is to apply to a startup accelerator like Y Combinator, 500 startups, or TechStars, where a group of investors will help coach you, connect you with potential partners, and provide startup cash in return for a small stake in your company. The competition is tough to get into these, so don’t rely on them as your only path forward.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to getting a website to rank higher for certain “search terms” in search engines like Google. When a website ranks higher, it gets more relevant traffic and in turn, can make more revenue.
Consider building a Shopify store. Shopify is a system built for ecommerce. With some basic web knowledge, you can set up a good-looking store very quickly, with a low-cost investment and with no coding needed. Shopify has a 30-day free trial too, so you can get started without spending a dime.
With tens of thousands of new drones being purchased, and subsequently crashed or damaged, there is an opportunity to start an online drone blog, advice, and repair business. Here’s the clever part: use a 3D printer to print good quality spare parts cheaply and use those for repairs and spares. Customers with damaged parts can order them online, have them printed, and delivered. Alternatively, they can post the damaged drone to you to your workshop, have it repaired, and sent back.
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!
Do you love video? The bar for entry is much lower than it used to be. Now, you can create high quality videos from your smartphone. Upload those videos on a site like YouTube, and monetize it with advertisements. If you get popular enough, you can also benefit from company sponsorships.
To keep things simple, though, I’d recommend creating an ebook. You really can’t go wrong with the trusty ebook, as it’s a fantastic way to provide your audience with quality content, introduce them to your brand, and establish yourself as an expert in your space.
Is your closet bursting with clothes you’re simply not wearing anymore? Rather than take them to a local thrift or consignment store, you can make money online by renting to selling your clothes. Check out sites like Tradesy, SnapGoods.com, Loanables.com, and RentNotBuy.com.
If you’re a crazy-good writer, you can (and should) charge crazy-good prices. Proof is the pudding, though, right? Where has your work been published? If you haven’t been published, your “perceived value” will be less.
Or if you want to get more specific and help clients plan out their meals and nutrition, you can offer a meal planning service where you consult with clients online and then send them a plan based on your consultation.
As you start regularly putting out content, you’ll hopefully start to build a bit of an audience. But to start seeing real money from YouTube you need to market your videos elsewhere. Share your channel on Twitter and Facebook. Distribute videos anywhere else you can think of. Also, interact with comments and build a community around the videos you’re making so people will share it with their friends.
Starting a business these days is also surprisingly cheap. If you’re dying to get out there and start making money online, but you think that surely you’ll need thousands in the bank first, we’re about to prove you wrong.
The benefit here is that you don’t have to risk buying up stock in a product and losing money if it doesn’t sell. The entry barrier is lower and you don’t have to invest nearly as much to get started.
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.
Sites like SocialSpark offer bloggers cash for authoring and posting original copy about products or services to their sites. Just make sure to pay attention to FCC disclosure requirements when you’re getting paid to promote.