For the past several years, I’ve been on a mission to experiment with the best ways to create sustainable online income and chase my dreams of self-employment. And while I’ve seen my fair share of success, things haven’t always been easy either.
You can test your market. If you have an idea, start blogging about it. Answer the common questions people might have and provide valuable content in your idea’s niche. Once you have an audience, you can pitch a product/service to them and effectively test that market before jumping into it.
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.
Bootstrap: This means you’ll be self-funding your business. While not everyone will have the funds to pay for everything they need to start a startup, bootstrapping means that you retain 100% control over your company. If you can bootstrap your company to an exit or IPO, you’ll most likely never have to work another day in your life.
Do you constantly come up with witty one-liners? Do you dream of the days of Mad Men-style advertising? If you’ve got some branding chops or just come up with imaginative copy, there are lots of opportunities to make money online through company naming and slogan contests. If you think you have a knack for names check out namingforce.com and squadhelp.com. If you dream of coming up with witty copy, try coming up with company slogans on Slogan Slingers and Get a Slogan.
Do you love the feeling of waiting for something in the mail? I know I do, and that’s why I tried out Something Store. A few years ago, I saw a piece in a popular magazine about an online store that sells mystery objects. I was intrigued. For $10 (no shipping cost), they send you a random item. It could be anything in the world. Since 2007, they’ve shipped over 50,000 “somethings” to customers who wait with anxious anticipation.
While there are certainly expensive services out there that you can use to create your ebook, you can actually do it yourself for free with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Canva. Armed with nothing but these tools, you can easily create a well-designed eBook lead magnet.
No matter what kind of industry you’re in, you’re going to have to learn how to use social media as part of your marketing. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, you’ll need to master at least one of these platforms.
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.
Online sites like Etsy and ArtFire are platforms that make it extremely easy for crafters who can produce a steady supply of quality handmade items, like crocheted blankets or unique painted glassware. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn around orders quickly, you’ll be making a profit in no time at all. It’s even possible to turn your store into a full-time gig.
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.
Teaching and tutoring English as a second language is a great way to make money online, not to mention open some doors for you to travel the world if you’d like. While full ESL (English as a Second Language) accreditation is recommended, as long as you’re a native speaker and have the ability to teach, there are people in countries such as Hong Kong or the UAE who are willing to pay upwards of $25/hr for you to tutor them English via Skype. Check out Indeed, Learn4Good and Remote.co for remote english tutoring jobs or sign up on a specialized site like VerbalPlanet or Chegg Tutors.
E-mail has made following up with your existing clients extremely easy and cost-effective, so there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of this source of easy extra income. Don’t be afraid to remind previous customers that you’re there.
The great thing is that creating your own professional-looking social media is incredibly easy with a tool like Canva, which you can use by signing up for free. Even with their free version, you have access to thousands of templates and images.
The sites that hold the most value on the web hold the most valuable content. Face Book holds information about what hundreds of millions of users. YouTube possess millions of funny, educational and controversial videos. If you can create a website that focuses on offering valuable resources, then you just might be onto a winner.
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.
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.
Instead, go with a self-hosted site (like my blog here is)—this means your blog will be hosted on your own server and you’ll have full control over it. There are tons of highly reputable, affordable companies you can choose to host your website, like Bluehost, Kinsta, or A2 Hosting.
The best entrepreneurs are always the most curious ones, and getting a library card, or the other free alternative of your choice, can open up a whole world of information for you. And if you make sure to actually return your books on time, then you don’t have to worry about late fees either!
Are you a web designer? You can make serious money designing websites for individuals. If the thought of having a one-on-one client is too limiting, you can also create website templates and sell them on sites like ThemeForest or CreativeMarket. You can also sell them on your own site.
Medium is an online community where anyone can post articles and essays and get them in front of their audience of millions of monthly readers. While it can be a great place to build your audience for your own blog or find customers for your consulting business, with Medium’s new Partner Program, you can now make money online whenever someone reads your articles. Register for free and you can choose whether your articles are freely available or only readable by those people paying $5/month for a premium Medium membership. You’ll make money based on the amount of people who read and engage with your posts each month.
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.
This was very helpful. 2 of my most recent ideas are in the top 3. I ‘ve let fear and just being overwhelmed keep me stagnant and now I am just at a point where I am ready to take action. I know I will be successful!
Here’s the secret sauce: If you can launch your book and get a few hundred sales in the first week, Amazon will take over and start promoting it for you. This way you can make some real money from it. It’s actually easier than it sounds, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
With over 3.2 billion people now actively using the internet, we’re well into a massive transformation in how the world does business. We’re living in an age where there’s no longer limitations on what you can achieve based on geographic location or lack of financial resources.
The second part of the equation is consistency, as you can’t build a strong social media following without consistency. While you can post onto your preferred social media platform manually, it can end up becoming a real chore.
For example, a site that sells a product like gift baskets might include some brief “About Us” information that gives details about who the website owners are, why they started their business and how long they’ve been online.
You could travel the world with ease, create a comfortable lifestyle for yourself and your family, and achieve financial freedom. You could finally escape the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle and own your time completely.
This site is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I am a fit and frisky 56 y.o. single dad working 2 jobs, with an unquenchable thirst for learning new things. I’ve been surreptitiously studying the New Thought writers (from Atkinson to Proctor right up to some of the really sharp, young people creating YouTube videos). I think I’m getting a grip on the self-motivation and metaphysics of the whole thing, but am too scattered to decide exactly what kind of business to start! many of your 27 ideas I have some familiarity with (one of my old army buddies got me in to Bombardier Transport in early 2011 for 3 months to help meet a deadline on some tech pubs…it was a lot of fun! I was told I’m a natural, but could not find any more jobs in that sector….Oy Gevalt). Anyway, thank you so much for this site! I can give you a progress report every few months or so (including showing you how any websites I may be creating are doing). Happy New Year!
Blogging is a viable business opportunity that allows you to choose a niche that really suits you. And you can make money through advertising, affiliate links, infoproducts or any number of other avenues.
Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
2. Take advantage of sites like eLance.com. Depending on the type of service you offer, professional services marketplaces like eLance.com , FreeLance.com and Daylo.com may be a great source of clients and leads. Post your qualifications and bid on posted jobs, using your website to help close the deal once you’ve entered into a one-on-one discussion with a potential client.
Similar to selling your freelance services, you can also start selling your knowledge and advice in an area you specialize in as a coach or consultant. If you can bill yourself as an expert, there are tons of people out there willing to pay for your time.
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).
Depending on what hosting service you decide to go with, the initial cost can potentially be as low as $5 a month. On average though, purchasing a single domain name and setting up a basic wordpress site shouldn’t cost you more than $10, leaving you with just enough to invest into your site’s design.
If you love to travel and find yourself randomly searching for airfare sales or browsing Lonely Planet, why not carve out a niche for yourself as a private travel agent? My friend, Mark Jackson did just that, making extra money online with his travel consulting side business. Start with word of mouth recommendations from friends who know they can count on you for the cheapest flights, and then move on and create a Facebook or LinkedIn group to invite people who want to stay on top of the latest deals. Eventually you could spin this into a full-time consultancy teaching people how to make their dream trip a reality.
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.
If you have a marketable skill—like writing, designing, web development, marketing, project management, or anything else—one of the easiest ways to make sustainable extra money online is to start freelancing.
For those who like to make handcrafted items, websites such as Etsy are ideal to make some money off of such hobbies. Dedicated handcrafters should check Etsy and similar sites to find the best fit for their products.
On the other hand, with our Facebook audience, we’ve found videos to be particularly powerful in terms of bringing in new followers and engaging our existing followers. It’s also a great platform for us to promote the latest post on the Foundr blog, and the occasional motivational quote as well.
Validate the book by giving a survey to friends, an email list, and/or survey sites like Pickfu. By validating your idea before you write the book, you’ll improve the odds of people willing to buy your book (and you’re not wasting your time by writing it.)
Of course, there’s a higher price per product and your margins are lower, but you’re able to start your online store with little more than a Shopify theme and some hosted images of your products. When a customer makes a purchase, you in turn buy the product from your supplier who then ships it directly to your customer.
Trustwerty on the other hand is where you can find the best of the best in online shopping. Use Fakespot to find fake reviews and if you want to research the best facial masks, baby products, or electronics, use Trustwerty. Their search engine displays and ranks products based on their review quality where the authenticity is judged by Trustwerty’s algorithm.
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!
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.
Founded in 2003, Small Business Trends is an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them. It is one of the most popular independent small business publications on the web.