Have you ever had one of those “Eureka!” moments where you came up with a business idea but didn’t quite reach the take-off stage? One amazing thing about living in the digital age is that we have countless opportunities for making money without getting stuck in a 9-to-5 routine. For example, if you are a digital nomad, you can do an online job, or launch an online business.
There is room for everybody under the internet sun, but we first need to get one crucial thing right: coming up with the right online business idea. By “right,” I mean the one that will work for the aspiring digital entrepreneur. I found myself in the same predicament some years ago, so I did extensive research on the most effective online business ideas.
In sharing the results here, I hope to spare you the trouble of going through the whole trial-and-error process. Instead of combing through a myriad of websites that say the same thing without offering much substance, you can use your precious time to set up your online business and start earning sooner.
See also: 25 Best Online Jobs You Could Do
Best Online Business Ideas to Start
Here is a collection of online business ideas you can explore to choose the one you feel suits you best.
1. Create a blog and monetize it
If you have a knack for writing, this idea should intrigue you. Nowadays, it has become so much easier to start a blog.
Choose a subject and aim for content that is entertaining and informative. In other words, your blog should hold its readers’ attention but also provide credible information that ideally educates too. Thus, people will keep coming back.
You can monetize your blog by selling something or renting out space for ads. The sky’s the limit when you have a blog: some established bloggers earn as much as $50,000 monthly because they put work into it. Here is some information on how to start a blog.
To secure a steady stream of visitors, you need to write about something you are good at or thoroughly familiar with. Readers can tell when they are reading material written by an expert.
If you want to get started with blogging, first you need to purchase a domain name and get a hosting service. My favorite and also one of the best ones is Bluehost. By the way, if you use this link, you can get a free domain name for the first year.
2. Become a blog flipper
Since we’re on the topic of blogs, let me tell you can also flip them. In business, it will always be a numbers game, regardless if it’s offline or online. Blog flipping involves creating a blog, building a following, and then selling it someone who needs the “numbers.”
Because you have the fan base, your blog becomes highly valuable. What’s good about this method is that it costs very little, but the pay-off could be huge. You may initially earn just $10-$30 a month, but once you get your traffic up, you could be pocketing $10,000 every month or even more.
Here’s a number to give you an idea of the potential blog flipping has: ViralNova was sold for $100 million!
To get started with creating a blog, click here.
3. Coaching on Skype
Welcome to the digital world, where everything is a mouse click away! Is there something you are extremely good at and can teach to others? Well then, why not consider Skype?
People teach various things on Skype. You have health coaches, life coaches, meditation instructors, dating experts, to mention just some trending ones. You can set an hourly rate and get paid online.
Of course, you will need a Skype account to get started, as well as a stable internet connection. It’s best to have an accompanying blog to host all your services and a go-to platform where you can promote them and provide people with additional information about your offerings.
4. Create a digital course
Like the previous idea, this implies dealing with something you are really good at. However, instead of giving face-to-face lessons, you can pre-record courses that users can purchase or subscribe to.
This is a more viable method for earning because it is replicable and doesn’t require you to be physically present. You can make ten times more than from Skype coaching and earn hundreds of dollars per training session if you have a large number of subscribers.
To get started, you will need a website to host your content – downloadable documents, pdf files, video streams, and everything else that goes with the course.
5. Become a YouTube vlogger
Research has shown that video is a firm favorite of the online community. When you need instructions for something or want entertainment, you search for videos. That is why being a vlogger has become one of the most successful online business ideas in the last decade.
Hosting your videos on YouTube automatically includes you in the YouTube network, where advertisers pay loads of money to get eyeballs on their ads. This gig has the potential to replace your day job. A YouTuber who got his start at the age of 4 was able to earn almost $20 million in his first year!
What you need is a great subject that will keep people watching. With today’s mobile technology, it’s even recommended that you use your smartphone to shoot clips. Here’s a link to information that can help you get started: …
6. Launch a podcast
This is the new radio, and starting a podcast is one good online business idea. It’s another way to build a following, and just as in traditional radio, you can sell ad space on your programs to advertisers seeking to promote their products or services.
When this becomes a regular thing, it can turn into a project that generates enough income to support your lifestyle. Follow this link to get started: ….
7. Try graphic design
Not everyone can be a natural at graphic design, but anyone can learn. You need to put some time into developing a method that works for you.
Many businesses prefer to outsource graphic design work on a regular basis. What you need to do is build a credible portfolio so that potential clients can see what you can do. Graphic designers can earn from $5 to as much as $1,000 per piece.
One of the best platforms to get started is FlexJobs.
8. Sell email and media kit templates
A lot of companies find it a burden to effectively reach their audience through email campaigns. This is something you can do for them.
An appealing thing about this method is that you can come up with only a few templates but sell them to as many customers as you can. This is another business where you need some design talent as well as tech knowledge, but once you can get past this, creating templates should be easy and even fun!
One way to quickly build up your customer base is to increase your exposure. Use online ads and social media to advertise your templates.
Sign up on Fiverr to get started with this method.
9. Design and sell website themes
Not only businesses but also many people want to build their websites but face the challenge of having to design them. Luckily, themes come to the rescue.
You can help people by creating website themes and uploading them to frequently visited databases, for example, Themeforest. You can earn anything from $19 to $200 depending on how popular and well-rated your theme is.
To get downloads and attract users, you need to constantly update your theme to include functionalities that make the website easier to access, mobile compatibility being an example.
10. Sell online stock photos
If you have an aptitude for photography, you should definitely capitalize on it. A lot of platforms sell stock photos, and you can earn as much as $200 per picture. The more you submit, the higher the probability of getting your photo featured.
One good tip is to think of concepts that most businesses will want to have on their websites or even offline materials. That’s where you can make the most money.
Shutterstock is an excellent place to make money online as a photographer. See the screenshot below which one of my friends sent me.
11. Do affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is an online business idea that never goes out of style. This method involves getting commissions by promoting other people’s products.
There are two ways to become an affiliate marketer. The first is promoting products online, earning 50% more in commissions. The second is becoming an Amazon partner. As the name suggests, you will promote products sold on Amazon. To learn more, follow this link.
You may need to read up on the fundamentals of SEO and learn how to construct a material best in terms of copy.
12. Build niche sites
This is one of those online business ideas that will definitely get you a loyal following once you can zero in on your target audience. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about trying to find your audience: build the website and they will come. Just make sure you provide content they really want to see.
On top of your usual earnings, a niche site can add a lot to your monthly income. It’s very easy to build a site which earns $1000 per month, but to get over 5-6 figures is challenging and hard – only few will make it.
If you want to get started, you need to buy a web hosting and domain name. Bluehost is one of the best hosting companies out there, and they offer a free domain name for the first year.
13. Set up an e-commerce website
Another classic is the e-commerce website. Aside from selling what you are an expert on, you can read up on what’s trending or could trend and explore whether it’s viable to sell it online.
Here’s some information on how to build an online store. You can also check out Shopify as it offers extremely user-friendly ways for launching an online store.
14. Sell products on eBay
eBay is the OG when it comes to online sales. You can easily turn your unwanted goods into cash. This is a good place to find relics and items that people simply can’t get in any walk-in store.
Since eBay sales are bid-based, you can make far more than you initially targeted as long as people want to buy your item.
15. Get into drop-shipping
Drop-shipping is a fairly new concept, but it has proved to be an effective online business idea. It involves becoming a product reseller, collecting a commission for every sale.
This is a good business model because you don’t need to purchase anything – the investment cost is low to none.
I recommend learning at first how to set up an e-commerce store, and then probably the best place to start with is Shopify – it’s cheap and easy for starting also.
16. Self-publish a book on Amazon
This is something I saw from a former boss of mine. This guy is smart and knows his craft inside out. It was even smarter to write down everything he knew, package it into an e-book, and sell it online. Several years later, he still receives orders.
Of course, you need to be an expert at something. Moreover, if you are not very adept at writing, you may need to hire someone to ghostwrite it for you.
Here’s some good news: if you can sell a few hundred books within the first week of launch, Amazon will promote your work as a “best seller.” To get things started, check out this link for advice on the book format.
Once you create an outline, get some friends or people within your circle to validate your idea. When you release the book, price it at $0.99 and run it on sites such as Robin Reads. If you have a mailing list, this is one of the best times to use it.
You could earn as much as $10,000 from copies priced at $0.99 during the first wave of launch. Get some inspiration from this case study of an e-book that used this method: ….
17. Become a copywriter
This is an online business idea which does not call for any niche skills – you can learn with a little bit of effort. After that, you can work at your own pace and earn handsomely.
The great thing is that many online freelancer platforms have heaps of copywriting jobs. Industries and topics vary, so you have plenty of choices. Once you’ve built your portfolio and proven your skills, you can charge serious money. Copywriters in great demand can earn as much as $2,500 for a 500-word article.
18. Do technical writing
Writing can be especially lucrative with specialized content. If you are proficient in a technical or a scientific field, you won’t lack work, and you’ll make lots of money. Clients pay generously because they recognize that few people can write about these topics in a credible manner.
You can sharpen your writing skills and learn how to perform well as a freelance writer by taking this great course on earnmorewriting.com.
You can also explore resume or cover letter writing. This is essentially a marketing task where you get to condense and sell one person in a single page. Check out Freelancer and Upwork for job offers in this niche.
19. Perform research
Another thing you can do on Upwork and other freelancing sites is conduct research on products about to launch. This is a more taxing job, but it also pays more. For a single research task coupled with a report and recommendations, you can charge from $300 to $1,500.
When you submit a proposal, try to send in some sample work or a portfolio to help an employer visualize how you will do the job.
20. Become a virtual assistant
Becoming a virtual assistant is fairly easy to do. All you need is a good internet connection and organizational skills. You will have tasks such as encoding, proofreading, sending emails, and carrying out other activities that support business owners.
Read more: How to Become a Virtual Assistant
21. Provide tech support
One online business idea growing in popularity is offering technical support. Most companies already outsource this service. It can take the form of voice calls, emails, or chat support.
Whichever it is, you are provided with training materials and resources. Check out Upwork for various tech support jobs available.
22. Assist with lead generation
If you are good at sales, this could be perfect for you. It works like sales commissions. You will use different online methods to help your clients get prospects and sell their products or services.
Like affiliate marketing, this idea has great earnings potential. Lead generation jobs can be found on freelancer sites.
23. Offer SEO consulting services
If your skills lie in branding and digital, you can offer SEO consulting services. A lot of businesses consider this mandatory when they set up their websites.
Once you establish your client base and your credibility, you can charge by the hour and offer consultations packaged with maintenance services to optimize people’s websites. Here’s one resource to check out if you are interested in this method: …
24. Engage in online advertising
This online business idea can be realized in various forms, such as social media advertising (Facebook or Instagram) and Google ads, or PPC, as marketers usually call it.
In essence, you are buying the best digital properties to put up your client’s ads to ensure maximum exposure, increasing the potential for sales. It’s basically matching the product to the target market, finding where that market is, and coming up with the right message to capture it.
For Google ads, the standard profit model is 10% to 15% of the monthly ads budget. In the case of social media, it’s usually a retainer depending on the hours invested in the job.
There is a section for such jobs on Upwork and Freelancer.
With so many methods to choose from, there is bound to be a perfect online business idea for you. The good thing is that all of them offer the convenience of working from anywhere you want, doing something you enjoy and earning good money from it.
If you are interested in learning more about creativity, productivity, and leadership, I recommend subscribing to a Bryan Collins’ newsletter.
See also: How to Make Money Online