There you have it – a comprehensive guide to the best online businesses to start this year. We deliberately didn't cover ideas like app development or IT support because they require specialized skills. That's why we only provided you with businesses you can start with very little money. In fact, you can even start some of them with very little knowledge.
For example, if you are an affiliate marketer for Musician's Friend, an online musical instrument retailer, you can advertise their products on your site. If a person visits your site, and clicks on the link that takes them to the Musician's Friend website, and they purchase an instrument within a certain amount of time (24 hours or more, typically), you get a commission on the sale.
The internet is the great equalizer. In business specifically, it has leveled the playing field. Anyone can start a money-making online business—anyone with a computer, that is. But here’s the thing: no technical experience is needed. You don’t have to know how to build websites—no programming knowledge is required at all. You can also live anywhere you want, set your own schedule, and work as little or as much as you want, depending on how fast or big you want your business to grow. No business or marketing experience is needed either.
Double check yourself, before you double wreck yourself. Make sure everything you send to a company, whether a résumé, an email or a portfolio, is good to go. Double check your grammar and wording, and for God’s sake use spell check! This is especially important when it comes to the company’s name. Don’t spell their name wrong and be sure to type it how they type it (e.g. Problogger, not Pro Blogger).
The trend of healthy eating is here to say. Yet with so much contradictory advice online about what is good for us and what is not, more and more people turn to professional nutritionists for specialist tips and guidance. You can easily find free online courses to learn the fundamentals of this profession and start offering personalised nutrition plans online.
You make money with ad revenue. Your first step is to create a YouTube account and start uploading videos. Then you enable monetization on your YouTube settings. Basically, this gives Google the go-ahead to include short AdSense ads with your videos, which you've seen if you’ve watched a YouTube video. When viewers click on those ads, you get paid.
People with disabilities often face many challenges in their regular every day lives. The things we all take for granted the disabled struggle with everyday. One of the biggest obstacles the disabled job seeker faces is locating work from home jobs. Actually it's an obstacle we all have but the disabled are way more disadvantaged in this respect. So are there work at home options available to people with disabilities? We explored this very question and came up with some interesting findings.
I know that in the ecommerce and physical product world, there are a lot of costs up front, which vary depending on the product. Sometimes you’re going to have to spend a significant amount of money up front to pay for a mold, like Bret Miller did with his product Brik Book, which is a physical product with a specific shape that needs to be reproduced on a large scale. The mold itself could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. In this case, a crowdfunding campaign could be an excellent option to cover those costs. Listen to Bret talk about the story of Brik Book on SPI 217.
25. Products – You can create your own product, such as an ebook or computer software. You would then use your blog as a promotion tool to get people to buy your product. As long as you create a legitimate product with a whole lot of value, you should be able to get some buyers, but like everything else with a blog, you’ll need the traffic to get the sells.
Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).
If you have an eye for quirky stuff, maybe running a mystery object shop could help you combine the thirst for curious things with a steady source of income. TheSomethingStore and Muddy Creatures are nailing the concept of a surprise purchase that taps into the explorer instinct many of us possess. There’s no exact science or skill fueling this business idea – let your imagination go wild…
Many types of clients need translation services. You can be asked to translate marketing materials for businesses, the novel of an author who is looking to sell their work in another country or the personal documents of an individual such as applications for jobs abroad. Translation, therefore, requires some research and close attention to detail. It’s also important that you know how to set the tone correctly in the language that you are translating the text into. Translators also utilise software tools, eg., Babylon or Ginger.
Saving Money is Making Money. You may have heard the saying “You can’t “outwork a bad diet”; finances are similar. Before launching your side hustle, it makes sense to sit down and look for opportunities to reduce unnecessary expenses. Now, I’m not suggesting you give up the items you and your family value and enjoy, rather lets just trim the fat a bit.
You won’t be giving advice (that’s what a consultant does); instead, you’ll help people figure out how to do it themselves. To learn more, check out this Udemy course on becoming a business, marketing or life coach, and then read this article on how to become a successful business coach (hint: it’s all about how you package yourself or your services).
In multi-level marketing programs, the sales force is rewarded not only for the sales they close but also for sales by people they’ve recruited to the program, though always beware pyramid schemes that are discugised as multi-level marketing programs. Generally speaking if recruitment and intiation fees are better paid/rewarded than sales it’s likely a pyriamid scheme.
Take good pictures. Some of the options below don’t require you to actually take the picture and sell the product, but for the ones that do, make sure you take a clear picture that makes your product stand out from the others. If you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures, set up a small “studio-like” area in your home with a backdrop and proper lighting to really make your pictures come across as professional. And of course, you’ll want a good camera too.
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Make the most of your spare space by listing it for short term rentals with Airbnb. If you know how to be an Airbnb host that wows their guests, you have an amazing opportunity to make money fast. By creating a wonderful experience for your guests, you’re setting yourself up for great reviews and lots of repeat guests. Check out our complete guide on getting started as an Airbnb host.
If cooking is one of your personal passions, there are dozens of opportunities to turn it into a decent business venture. You can start by setting up a catering website, experimenting with pop-up food stalls and local food markets, or joining platforms like MenuNextDoor that encourage cooking enthusiasts to squeeze some money out of their passion. And if you’re not camera-shy, you can teach people how to cook special meals by selling online classes.
The German Economist Schumpeter once said that there are “no original ideas”, only new combinations of old ones. Curation of curiosity-fueling content is an intriguing and little-known business model. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. The subscription-based model and successful utilisation of affiliate links have turned the blog into a self-sustaining business.
Another option is to again set up a Shopify store. But instead you have customer orders drop-shipped to them by the manufacturer, or distributor. You know those super-cheap items you see on Facebook that seem too good to be true? The catch is always that it can take 30 – 45 days for your order to arrive – that's the drop-shipping model in operation right there.
6. IZEA – IZEA works in addition to a blog or on its own. You get paid to blog, tweet, take photos and take videos. The pay is mostly based on your following, so if you want to make money with your tweets, you’ll need to grow you Twitter following. Likewise, if you want to make money with blogs, you’ll need substantial blog traffic (more on blogging below).
This type of research involves finding out information about someone’s family history. A project in this area can focus on researching an entire family tree or focusing on a particular individual. To do this type of research you may want to try a freelancer website like Genealogy Freelancers as an alternative to setting up your own online platform.
Despite Instagram's growing popularity, not all brands know what they're doing on the app. If you have a background in social media and marketing and a passion for photography and Instagram, starting a consulting business that focuses on the popular photo app can be a great way to make money while helping other businesses improve their content and thrive.
This type of consultancy is about pitching new ideas for advertising campaigns to potential or existing clients. It also involves assisting with creating effective advertising campaigns. Other tasks in this area may include providing recommendations for companies on how to deal with various audiences. For example, the best approach to get the attention of innovative and curious buyers may be significantly different than the approach you would use to get the attention of an average user.
Best of all, unlike a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need a lot of startup capital. In fact, you can get many internet businesses up and running with no money at all because so many free services facilitate the possibility. For example, you can set up a website or blog for free using WordPress. Or you can leverage a third-party site like Amazon or eBay to sell goods. You use their selling platform in exchange for giving them a cut of your sales.
Be social. Whatever your business, whatever your venue, keeping your name in the air is key to internet success. Have a business account on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If your business is graphically oriented, have accounts on Flickr and Tumblr as well. Whenever there is news of any kind—a new contract, a new page, a new entry, a new photo—cross-post it to all your social media sites. Also make sure those sites link back to your main website, and that your website has links to all of them.
2. InboxDollars – InboxDollars is similar to Swagbucks, since you’re going to be taking surveys, shopping, etc., so if you want to maximize your return, sign up with both websites. They also offer a search engine that pays you (like Swagbucks) and you get $5 just for signing up. I won’t continue to list survey sites one after another down the list, but if you want to get paid to take surveys, also check out GlobalTestMarket, E-Poll Surveys and Survey Club.
Don't use jargon. If you are offering technical expertise, include descriptions that appeal to your client base, not your peers. For example, if you are showing that you can code with PHP and AJAX, don't say "in this case, if the input field is empty (str.length==0), the function clears the content of the txtHint placeholder and exits the function." The person who needs you to work on their site will just scratch their head and say "huh?" Say, instead, "Start entering text into this field, and it will auto-complete."
Converting files can be done manually or using file conversion software. Usually, you need to convert word, excel or powerpoint files to a PDF format. In the case of books, files are typically converted with a text editor program to an epub or kindle format – used for e-books. Some examples of file conversion software are NCH FIle Conversion Software and Zamzar.
As you likely know, Airbnb is a popular website where people can rent out a room or apartment from ordinary folks and bypass a hotel. So, if you’re comfortable with strangers and you live in fairly well visited place — a large city, college town, or tourist area, for example — you could make some money renting out a room in your home while you’re there, or renting out the entire place while you’re gone. You can expect to make less than whatever nearby hotels charge, but that can still top $100 a night pretty easily. In fact, Airbnb is the most lucrative of all the sharing economy gigs, according to one study.
One thing is clear – clothes and accessories will always be one of the super-profitable online business ideas for an ecommerce site. However, with so many boutiques and brands already online, rising above the noise is extremely difficult. Yet, one promising idea that savvy entrepreneurs have probably already noticed is the booming trend of “ethical fashion”. Brands, such as Pachacuti, People Tree, Sea Salt and Matt&Nat have successfully crafted their brands around the concept of organic, ethical production of fashion items and are riding the trend to the top of the strongest brands list.
This concept is similar to the ‘Daily deals’ sites. The difference is that daily-deal sites offer discounts on individual purchases, whereas with group-buying there is a need for several buyers to place an order to the deal. Once the deal goes live, the customers are sent discount vouchers via email. It’s also worth noting that group-buying is usually aimed at a local market. The best-known sites in this sector are Groupon and Wowcher UK.
Reduce monthly debt payments: Not all of us are in such a dire situation that we can just have our debt forgiven. However, you can cut your payments by up to 80% by refinancing. Most credit cards have interest rates above 25% and Even Financial’s listed loans are as low as 5%. It wont change the amount of your debt, but it can reduce your monthly payment significantly.
Nathan Barry on bootstrapping ConvertKit: I’m a huge proponent of ConvertKit (and now an affiliate and compensated advisor). It’s user friendly, powerful, and an all-around great product. But one cherry on top is its origin story, in which Nathan Barry took it upon himself to create ConvertKit without any venture funding or any upfront capital. It’s fascinating and awesome!
When you work in an office, you can ask your boss about the details of your upcoming presentation when you see her in the company kitchen. But if you telecommute, she’s just another email in your inbox. From letting her know if you’re going to miss a deadline or getting clarification on an email, you’ll have to be proactive about communicating all aspects of your job and any questions you might have with her.
If you’re a website or blog owner, you can sell a portion of your page space to advertisers and earn money passively each time the ads are clicked on by your target audience or visitors to your website. While the actual placing of the ads is completely free, the earning capacity of cost-per-click (CPC) advertising is based on the level of traffic to your site and the cost per click and click-through rate, or CTR. The most popular way to earn money today through advertising clicks is through Google AdSense or similar advertisers. Other ways of effective online advertising include RSS feeds and direct banners.
If you have an idea worth pursuing, crowdfunding can be a helpful way to find the money you need to get your idea off and running. For example, you can run a Kickstarter campaign. On SPI 223, I covered this with John Lee Dumas who launched a super successful campaign. Besides John, I know a lot of companies who have started on Kickstarter. I’ve been a backer of dozens of different projects, and a lot of those projects were just ideas when the campaign started. There are ways to get paid for your ideas up front. Using Kickstarter, you can validate those ideas and start to build community at the same time, which is a great way to get a boost at the beginning stages of your online business, especially if what you’re creating takes some money to get started.
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Consider day labor. You can post an ad online or on a bulletin board offering to do odd jobs. In addition, there are employment agencies that specialize in temporary work. An alternative way to find day labor is to go where other day laborers meet, if you know of any, and wait for employers (building contractors, landscapers, home owners and small business owners). Common odd jobs people need day laborers for include:
5. Fiverr – Fiverr is a great place to make a few bucks or spend a few bucks if you need some of the services people offer. Basically, everything is $5. You either pay $5 or charge $5. They call them “gigs.” You can offer your services however you choose. If you sell art and you’re fine selling pieces for $5 each, that’s a gig. If you’re a graphic designer and you want to offer your services for $10/hour, simply offer a 30 minute gig. If they need two hours of graphic design, they pay you $20, or $10/hour by buying four gigs.
The rise of the chatbot has been extraordinary to witness. Thanks to the ubiquity afforded to us by chat on platforms like Facebook, we've grown quite used to chatting with friends and family across all our social media networks. That's why AI-powered chatbots present a new digital frontier for businesses looking to automate and relinquish much of the man-power it takes to have a chat with its customers.
Seek a payday loan or title loan as a last resort. Companies that offer payday and title loan services are commonly available, and can be a way of making quick cash. However, these typically offer extremely high interest rates (sometimes with percentages in the hundreds). If you cannot pay the loan and any interest back within the stated timeline, you risk even higher interest costs or, in the case of a title loan, the loss of your car. Avoid these types of loans in all but the most dire circumstances, unless you are certain you will be able to pay the loan back.
However, if you do understand the mechanics of paid advertising, then you could easily launch an ad management business. Considering that ads are fueling the growth of tech giants like Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube, today, with loads of others coming into the mix, understanding and navigating the murky waters of paid advertising could poise you to reap massive riches. .
What It Is: Many companies pay online testers to make sure websites are intuitive and easy to navigate. "You basically follow the instructions you're given to check out the website," says Anna Thurman, founder of RealWaysToEarnMoneyOnline.com, a site that has reviewed more than 500 online work opportunities. "It usually only takes about 15 minutes per test." Thurman recommends registering with 10 to 12 different companies since the opportunities to test these sites are doled out first come, first served. "There are people who make $100 to $200 a month by staying on top of those tests," Thurman says.