Online business ideas can make it possible for people to transform their lives. And there’s no denying the positive impact the online economy’s had over the past few years.
According to a commerce department study, the digital economy continues to be a bright spot in the US. It’s grown over 4 times faster than the general economy. And there’s no shortage of online business ideas to pursue, even for beginners.
So if you’re looking to supplement your income or want to make a more permanent move to business ownership, here’s a list of online business ideas for you to consider.
These online business ideas are within reach of most beginners. And you can start them quickly from home.
15 Best online business ideas for beginners (easy, that you can start from home)
You’ve decided that it’s time to be your own boss, but you’re looking for ideas that are easy to start – we’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of online business ideas that you can start right away.
1. Become a well-paid freelance writer
The web is full of content creators who profit from their work every day, and you can be one of them too by becoming a freelance writer. Writing affords a ton of flexibility, and can help you make money from home.
If you’re a beginner, embarking on new online business ideas such as freelance writing might seem a little intimidating. How do you get started?
An effective approach to becoming a well-paid writer is learning directly from one. And having a successful mentor can help you reduce your learning curve and avoid missteps.
One such experienced and recognized freelance writer is Holly Johnson. She offers a free workshop that teaches you key steps to find success as a writer. So take that first (free) step today.
2. Start a profitable blog
If freelance writing has piqued your interest, why not start your own blog? Blogging can stand on its own as a business itself or complement any of the other online business ideas discussed here.
As a blogger, you’ll be able to build your own body of work and produce content that connects with your readers. And connecting with your readers is one of the keys to blogging success.
Once you build some traffic, you can monetize it by placing ads, offering digital products, or through affiliate marketing.
So where do you start? That’s actually the easy part. First, look for a platform-host pair that works well together.
The “platform” is where you’ll put your content to display it in your blog. And the “host” is the place where your blog lives on the web.
3. Freelance graphic design (for non-designers)
Not long ago, if you wanted to work in graphic design, you had to know Photoshop. But the world has changed, and new tools make starting a graphic design business accessible to more people.
If you’re creative and like to communicate visually, graphic design may be the field for you. As you look through this list of online business ideas, you can easily see how other businesses (eBook publishers, bloggers, and others) could use your services. Design, in fact, may be the next entrepreneurial gold rush.
One tool that can help you hit the ground running is Canva. Canva is a drag-and-drop online platform that makes it easy for you to create high quality designs. You’ll find it useful, whether you’re a non-designer or an experienced professional.
4. Make money with a virtual assistant service
Virtual assistants help their clients manage and track the various tasks that soak up their time. That’s time they could be using more productively elsewhere—if they could just hire someone to keep them organized.
And that’s where you and your virtual assistant business (or VA biz, for those in the know) would come in.
There’s no reason for you to work with just one client. In fact, you’ll want to add as many clients as your time allows. Once you have more clients than you can handle, pass them on to your own team and grow your income.
To profit from something, you need to know how to do it and do it well. Logical, right? This is a rule of thumb that applies to any of the online business ideas we discuss here, including a VA business.
Gina Horkey started this type of business as a side hustle a few years ago, and now she teaches others how to do it. Check out her site, Horkey Handbook and learn how to set up a VA business. You’ll get a free list of 150+ services you can offer as a VA.
5. Start a dropshipping business
Dropshipping has helped numerous would-be entrepreneurs make money by selling products online. It’s one of several online business ideas that has gained popularity over time.
A dropshipping business allows you to list and sell products online without ever actually owning them. So you don’t keep any inventory.
One popular site to create your online shop is Shopify. With Shopify, you can customize your store and manage your online business – you don’t need to hire developers to get up and running.
Finding products to sell online used to be time-consuming. But with dropshipping marketplaces such as Oberlo or Dropified, you can find thousands of products to sell online. Take the next step and make your online business a reality.
6. Make extra cash with a transcription service
Do you consider yourself an okay typist, perhaps even a better than average one? Here’s another online business idea you might’ve not considered: starting a transcription service.
Is transcription for you? This field requires attention to detail and quality work to develop your reputation and increase your rates. So it’s not for everyone. But if you have extra time, want to make money on the side and value working according to your own schedule, it can be a fit.
Having the proper training can save you time and effort. It can point you in the right direction and help you build the foundations of a successful business. You can find the resources you need at TranscribeAnywhere.
7. Buy low and sell high on Amazon
Selling products, dealing with inventory, and tracking shipments sounds “less online” than other online business ideas on this list. But it’s a business you can actually launch from your laptop.
You can do it by using Amazon’s fulfillment network and launching an Amazon FBA business. FBA stands for “Fulfillment By Amazon;” that is, Amazon will list and ship your products to your clients, so you can focus on growing your business.
So instead of you having to find warehouse space, packing products and providing customer service, Amazon’s fulfillment network does it for you.
To get started, research products that will make you money consistently, and look for reliable suppliers who can ship your products to Amazon. Create your product listings, and Amazon then takes it from there.
Finding and researching products that sell well on Amazon requires reliable information. And Jungle Scout provides this at the click of a button. Their platform is also geared at helping you find suppliers and managing your Amazon business with little effort.
8. Publish eBooks and earn royalties 24/7
Self-publishing eBooks can bring you passive income streams to complement other online business ideas discussed here. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) you can make money with your eBook 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Amazon offers millions of potential readers, and publishing your eBook with KDP is easy and free. Every time your book sells, you’ll get paid up to 70% in royalties, if priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
To get started, you’ll need a book cover, the books’ content and, of course, your title. Since readers use keywords to find your book, you’ll want to add those to your title, subtitle and book description.
Some authors choose to price their eBooks at $0.99 to get more sales initially and rank higher. As their sales increase, they’ll increase their price to get to the 70% royalty price point. It’s a valid strategy, especially if you’re starting out with shorter eBooks.
9. Set up a translation service
If you’re fluent in a second language, setting up a translation service is one of those online business ideas which seems like a natural fit.
While you can do the work yourself, you can scale your business faster by finding translators to subcontract on marketplaces like fiverr. You could then focus your time on making sure the work that comes out is well-edited. And keeping your clients happy, of course.
10. Pursue photography
Photography can be a lucrative business as your client base grows. And you can charge not only for your time, but also, you know, for the photos you take.
There are many specialties you can pursue: from kid’s photography, still life, architectural and business photography. There’s plenty of areas to choose from.
Anyone can work in photography, but you’ll want to master your craft. There are plenty of online courses you can take to improve your skills.
Intrigued? Here’s one way to start: Maybe you have a collection of high quality images sitting in your drive. You can start making money with them by signing up as a contributor to well-known stock photography sites such as Shutterstock.
And you’ll make money every time your images are downloaded by Shutterstock’s subscribers. You’ll be able to showcase your work to a global audience and sharpen your skills as a photographer.
11. Earn income with digital courses
Do you have a skill or knowledge your could teach to others, but don’t have the time (or interest) to coach people in person? Then consider selling courses online.
Once you put in the time and effort to create your course, you can sit back and enjoy passive income every time someone buys it. It’s an online business idea that can produce additional revenue streams on the side.
If you don’t have a website to sell your course, consider offering it in an online course platform with wide reach. Udemy, for example, has millions of potential students who can purchase your online course.
Udemy also offers free guidance on how to craft your own courses. And they have an instructor support team available around the clock to answer your questions.
12. Be a shop owner on Etsy
Do you have an eye for unique, original items? Or perhaps you enjoy making homemade goods or like to express your artistic side by making handmade crafts? If so, you can become an online shop owner and make extra money on the side by selling on Etsy.
Etsy is a marketplace focused on vintage, custom and handmade items, bringing together buyers and independent sellers. Think of it as an online craft fair where you can set up your own digital storefront.
What if you don’t make handmade goods? If so, you can easily find graphic designers and other creatives to do the work for you and then resell it.
If you have some products ready to sell, you can set up your Etsy shop by following these simple steps:
- Click sell on Etsy
- Click open your Etsy shop
- Choose a name for your shop
- Add product listings
- Choose how you’ll get paid
To get to your shop after you complete these steps, type its web address. It’ll be have the format of: etsy.com/shop/the-name-you-chose. The setup process is straightforward and relatively fast.
As you can see, you don’t need any ecommerce knowledge to open your shop. As far as online business ideas go, this one’s relatively easy.
13. Become an affiliate marketer
If you already blog, have a YouTube channel, or have a social media following, you can monetize it through affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketers, also known as influencers, make money by promoting someone else’s products or services to earn a commission. It’s an online business idea almost as old as the internet.
Most affiliate marketing involves 3 players:
- You (through your digital properties)
- The brand you promote
- The affiliate network
Affiliate networks work as trusted parties that connect you to brands. This way, brands only deal with one party instead of multiple affiliate marketers.
The largest affiliate network is Amazon Associates. By signing up, you can promote any product sold through Amazon’s platform and earn attractive commissions.
14. Flip internet domains
Domain buying and selling is a bit like flipping houses, except you don’t deal with physical property, and you can do it entirely online.
Flipping domains successfully is part skill and part instinct. You’ll want to hold a domain portfolio and be patient to find the right buyer. As you might expect, many obvious names are already taken, so you’ll need to tap your creative side too.
But getting your start as a domain flipper or “domainer,” doesn’t take much money. You can register a domain for less than $9 a year, and if it turns out to be a dud, you can drop it without renewing it.
Buying and selling domains can be profitable. In fact it has attracted the attention of big financial buyers looking to profit from it too.
Domain flipping is an online business idea worth exploring. Visit domain exchanges like Namepros and Sedo to learn more.
15. Produce videos
A few years back, I was looking for a videographer for my wedding. Many of the people I phoned had me meet them at their home, since most of them were home-based businesses.
I still recall vividly my first meeting: it was in the videogrpher’s beautiful patio next to a large indoor swimming pool. I knew right then and there that I couldn’t afford them!
But you get my point: shooting videos can make you very good money. As far as online business ideas go, this isn’t 100% online. But most of the work is home-based and many video editing tools are now available online.
To get started, you’ll need a good camera, a fairly decent PC and a video editing tool. So you’ll need to make an upfront investment. If you need funding to get started, don’t use credit card debt. Check this other way instead.
What are the steps to starting an online business?
As you contemplate starting your online business, take some time to examine the following considerations before going ahead.
- Will you like the business? Every online business is different. Some will have tight deadlines and require more attention than others. And some businesses take longer to payoff than others. Research your business idea before jumping in.
- Do you have the necessary skills? Patience and persistence are only part of the equation. You need to have the skills necessary to make your online business idea work. If you don’t, consider enrolling in a course to acquire them.
- What are the earnings potential? Research your business’ earnings potential and understand whether you’ll be earning income in steady or lumpy amounts.
How can I start an online business with no money?
Several of the online business ideas highlighted above require little investment. And some you can start with no investment at all.
If you need money to get started, look for a side hustle or try some ways to make money from home to build your cash reserves.
Another way to start without using your own money is using other people’s money, which we discuss in further detail here.
When should I quit my job to become an entrepreneur?
Any business worth pursuing takes a bit of time to mature and produce the kind of money you can live on. So it’s probably best to keep your job as you start your online business.
In the beginning it’ll be tougher, since you’ll be juggling your daily responsibilities at work while launching your business. But you’ll get better at it over time.
Wait until you turn a profit with some consistency before you decide to leave you job.
How do I raise money for my business?
Most of the online business ideas discussed above require little to no money to start. Others, however, may require some upfront capital if you need to buy equipment or inventory.
Ideally, you want to get off the ground without incurring any debt. Perhaps you can wait for your annual tax refund to get some funds or partner with friends to pool capital.
But if you don’t have the funds, and need to raise money for your business, a personal loan may be an option. Commercial banks don’t lend to startups, and the few non-bank financial institutions that do lend often charge steep rates.
If you’re considering credit card debt to fund your business, don’t. Credit card debt compounds daily and it can lead to more indebtedness quickly.