Best Online Business Ideas to Make Money

FT Contributor  | 

Thinking about starting your own business? Starting a successful online business can have a high profit potential and gives you the opportunity to be your own boss and work on a product or service you believe in. Making money online also gives you the freedom and flexibility to work from home and set your own hours.

There are a wide variety of niches when it comes to starting a business online, from tech companies like Imgur, to fashion companies like ShoeDazzle, to e-commerce businesses selling everything from stationery to loose leaf tea. Whether you already have a product in mind or are still brainstorming, there’s a roll in the online marketplace for anyone with diverse interests and skills. This guide will help you explore your options and chart your way to online business success.

Business Ideas That Are Easy to Start

The internet presents countless new avenues for earning money — many of which are accessible and relatively easy to start. Even if you’re not ready to launch a business that will support you full time, you could invest in a variety of side projects to earn some extra cash. You can also build up a freelance side hustle that gives you the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself along with a steady stream of clients and new projects.

When researching potential online business ideas, be sure to avoid “easy money” scams that promise immediate returns — most business endeavors take a lot of time and effort before they turn a profit.

Start a Blog and Sell Ad Space

Ever thought about starting a blog? Blogs are easy to set up and monetize and can be a great way to start a small business on the side, especially if you like writing or are passionate about a particular topic. The upside to launching a blog is that there are minimal startup costs, and once you’ve paid for a domain name and web hosting you’re pretty much good to go.

While a blog might not make that much money right away, selling ad space on your site means that your revenue will increase as you gain additional visitors. Blogs can also be a great source of passive income once you’ve built up a steady stream of traffic.

Creating Online Content

In the digital age, we all consume a ton of content on a daily basis, from how-to videos to podcasts to articles and more. If you’re looking to start your own business, one way to do so is to start creating online content.

This can take a wide variety of forms, so feel free to play to your strengths — you could start a podcast if you love talking and sharing your thoughts, or write in-depth articles about a topic you’re interested in. Creating online content is also a great springboard to other business endeavors and freelance gigs, as it builds up your credibility and shows that you know what you’re talking about.

Copywriting

Have a way with words and want to make money online? You might want to consider starting a business as a copywriter. Copywriters provide written text, or “copy” to clients in a wide variety of industries, from tech to healthcare to finance to e-commerce and everywhere in between.

You might spend a day writing blog posts, articles, landing pages, product descriptions, and other copy. A copywriting business is a great fit if you enjoy writing and want to be your own boss.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a unique type of online business that has become increasingly popular in the age of Amazon and other online retail giants. Basically, a drop shipping company advertises and sells products, which are then managed and fulfilled by a third party.

Dropshipping might be a good fit for your online business if you’re looking for a business idea that has low overhead, is easy to start, and doesn’t involve handling physical merchandise on your end. However, the margins can sometimes be pretty thin when it comes to making a profit, so be sure to do your research and choose items that will allow you to make a decent amount of money per purchase.

Self-Publishing an E-Book

Self-publishing e-books is another great idea for a small business you can manage entirely online. Self-publishing platforms like Amazon make it easier than ever to get your words out there. Over time, you might build up a following and make a decent amount of cash on the side from your self-published books.

While this online business probably won’t allow you to quit your day job right away, it’s a great way to get your ideas in front of new people. E-books are also a valuable asset when it comes to marketing your brand or generating engagement with potential customers.

Online Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer

If you have a passion for fitness and enjoy helping others meet their training goals, you might want to consider starting a business as an online fitness instructor or personal trainer. Especially in the age of coronavirus, more people are working out from home. However, they still need guidance when it comes to exercise routines, training, diets, and more. You could start an online coaching business with minimal initial costs, and can start helping new clients right away.

Domain Flipping

Domain flipping is another online business idea that is beginner-friendly and easy to experiment with on the side. Domain flipping essentially involves buying inexpensive domains that are for sale and holding onto them until you find an e-commerce seller willing to pay more for the domain.

Online Tutoring or Coaching

If you have expertise in a certain area, you could start an online tutoring or online coaching business. This may include anything from language instruction to test prep to business coaching. Tutoring and coaching can involve a lot of video and phone conferencing, so this is a good fit if you enjoy talking to people and helping them with their problems.

Best Business Ideas to Make Money

While these strategies may require a larger investment of time, energy, and money, they can also result in far greater profits. You should consider these business ideas if you’re serious about starting an online business and are willing to commit a significant amount of time and energy to help your business grow.

Becoming a YouTuber

Top-tier YouTubers can earn exorbitant amounts of money each year, but it takes a lot of time and effort (and a little bit of luck) to build up a massively successful channel. If you enjoy making videos, are interested in a particular niche, and don’t mind spending a significant amount of time filming and editing videos, this might be a good business idea for you.

Your YouTube channel can be dedicated to anything from makeup to videogames, so there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to what topics you choose to cover and what audience you want to target.

Start a Box Subscription Service

Box subscription services are becoming more popular than ever, with monthly subscription boxes for everything from activewear to razors. If you have a neat idea for a product that could be sold on a monthly basis, a subscription box might be a good idea. Subscription box businesses require time and money investment, and you’ll have to set up a website, design a product, and deal with managing orders and shipping physical merchandise.

Start a Software-as-a-Service Company

Software-as-a-service companies focus on solving the problems that businesses and individuals face on a daily basis. Some well-known SaaS examples include companies such as Dropbox, Mailchimp, and Asana. If you have the technical acumen to create a SaaS product (or are willing to hire someone who does) it has the potential to be a very lucrative business venture. SaaS companies can also help to disrupt industries and provide unique solutions for previously unaddressed problems.

Start a Consulting Business

If you have a lot of business expertise or experience in a particular industry, you might want to consider starting a consulting business. Consulting businesses help other businesses solve problems and provide expert advice. This business idea is a good strategy if you’re already well-established in your field, and work in an industry where businesses are eager to hire consultants to help them out.

Sell Clothes or Jewelry Online

Are you a fashion expert? If so, you might want to consider launching a business selling clothes online or selling jewelry online. To start an online business selling clothes or jewelry, you should set up a stylish website where people can buy your products. You may want to design your own products, or source them from a variety of wholesalers.

Become an Expert in Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of optimizing websites so that they rank higher in organic search. SEO experts help websites rank by creating great content, optimizing pages so that they’re SEO-friendly, and performing technical audits to ensure that websites are poised for success when it comes to organic search.

If you’re willing to teach yourself all there is to know about SEO, there are a variety of free resources online, and it can be a rewarding and lucrative business once you get the hang of things.

Creating Apps

Apps are another ubiquitous product in the age of smartphones, but many people don’t stop to think about how they’re made. If you’re a skilled programmer, you can use your technical knowledge to learn how to code apps and then upload them to iPhone and Android app stores.

You could also work on a freelance basis developing apps for other companies. While it can be challenging learning the basics required to code an app from scratch, there are a variety of inexpensive resources online that make app development accessible to anyone, even without coding knowledge.

Which Business Idea Is Right for You?

Choosing a business idea that’s a good fit for you depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Your skillset and background;
  • The time and resources you can invest;
  • New career opportunities that these ideas may provide;
  • What you’re interested in and would enjoy doing.

If you’re planning to launch a new business, you should be sure to come up with a plan for success. This might include things such as what you want your business to look like, what you’ll need to get started, and what your initial goals are for the first year. You should invest in software and hardware that will help you succeed, including a good computer and a professional website.

You should also invest in accounting software that will help you keep track of your expenses and make things easier come tax time. Many businesses use Quickbooks and other forms of computerized accounting. You may also want to consider seeking out a professional accountant or tax professional to help you set up your business legally and make sure you’re aware of all your tax obligations.


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