Disclosure: WHSR is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.
The Big List of Online Business Ideas To Get You Started
Updated: Sep 08, 2021 / Article by: Jerry Low
The internet continues to be a growing market for anyone who wants to start an online business.
The fact that it’s a low-risk investment and that you won’t have to spend money on a brick-and-mortar store or an office makes starting an online business much easier.
If you’re one of those people who always wanted to start an online business but have no idea what business to start, then you’re in luck. We’ve got 50 online business ideas to get you started!
50 Best Ideas For Starting an Online Business
You’ve probably heard the success stories; blogs sold for tens of thousands of dollars, or parents making enough money to stay at home with their family. For those with a flair for writing, being a blogger is an absolutely viable business opportunity. All you have to do is choose a niche market that suits you and you make money through advertising, info products, affiliate links, or any other number of avenues.
Making money via blogging is the dream that many of us will have – but I don’t doubt that you have already heard the about the failures as well: maybe you heard of Myspace, or some of your friends have a blog that goes nowhere and doesn’t change and just sits there – dead weight on the Internet. How do you avoid the trap of a dead-weight blog? How do you turn up the enthusiasm when your energy is starting to flag? Where the heck do you start, anyway?
Well, you are at the right place to start. WHSR has published some of the quickest, easy-to-understand, and above all, effective solutions to your blogging problems – culled from Team WHSR's own experience and from the minds of other pro-bloggers who enjoy what they do.
Often times, big businesses and professionals are always in need of a good assistant to manage tasks such as emails and social platforms. Offer your services as a virtual assistant to help overlook and manage the tasks for clients online.
Even if you have little-to-no experience, it doesn't take much to be an online/virtual assistant. Ashlee Anderson's article does a great job of giving the rundown of what it takes to be a virtual assistant, even if you have no experience whatsoever!
3. Be a Social Media Manager
Social media is an important tool for any business. If you’re a social media savant, offer your services to brands or businesses who need help managing their social media accounts on a daily basis.
The rates for freelance marketers/managers generally fall in line with the cost of building a website and depending on how big or small the site is, the amount you earn can vary.
Based on our research from sites such as Upwork, the average rate for a freelance social media manager/marketer is about $25.25 per hour with the highest amount being $150 per hour and the lowest being $4 per month. The better you are, the higher your fee can be on these freelance platforms.
4. Be a Social Media Consultant
Conversely, you can also act as a consultant instead and offer your social media know-how to clients online instead of going in and managing the accounts for them.
5. Be an Influencer on Social Media
An influencer is a growing trend in social media platforms today. Becoming an influencer means growing your own social media account and using it to work with brands to promote their products and services.
If you're thinking of becoming an Instagram influencer, digital marketing consultant Shane Barker wrote a great article (read here) on how to become one and how to earn money from it.
6. Self-Publish a Book
Sarah Cooper left her day job in 2014 and got three book deals 9 months later. You might think publishing a book is goal way too difficult to achieve. But it's not. Publishing a book, via traditional publisher or self-publishing, is very do-able and profitable.
Books are an amazing marketing tool. They can be used to convert readers into email subscribers. Or, they can be used as another source of revenue for online businesses. We wrote a 5-series about getting into self-publishing business here – if you are into writing, we highly recommend you to give it a read.
If you’re a business owner with a fair amount of expertise, you can offer consultation or coaching services online and communicate via Skype or email.
9. Provide SEO Services / Tools
The SEO industry is huge, like $80 billion huge. Based on Glen Allsopp's research, SEO agencies are making tens of thousands dollars every month. So are you a good SEO? Perhaps it's time to start your own agency and provide search engine optimization services. Are you a developer? Perhaps you can develop an SEO tool for a specific group of users?
10. Be an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is a developed industry and has become a key source of online income for many entrepreneurs and individual bloggers.
In a nutshell, affiliate business is where you, the affiliate marketer, promote a product or service that can be tracked via links, codes, phone numbers, etc., that’s unique to you. You then earn a portion of the revenue when a sale happens through your unique link.
Generally, an affiliate network is often used by merchants to manage their affiliate program and also acts as a database for their products. Publishers can then choose the product that they want to promote, depending on their market. Commission Junction and Share a Sale are two of the most popular affiliate networks.
If you’re comfortable with being in front of a camera, you can try your hand at being a YouTuber or an online personality. All you have do is start your own YouTube channel and earn money through ad shares.
With the shift of content consumption, more and more people are flocking to sites such as YouTube for their daily video viewing. It's become a much more effective means of building a following compared to older media such as TVs or radio.
And starting a YouTube channel can be low-risk and low-cost. All you need is a good camera and you can start making content. Once you've gained enough followers, you can monetize your videos by activating Google Adsense, which puts ads on your videos.
A number of YouTubers have shown that it's possible to make a living through it. Personalities such as PewDiePie earns an annual revenue of over $12 million from his videos and through deals and sponsorships.
Of course, relying purely on YouTube as a money-making platform is not easy, which is why most YouTubers use it as a platform to promote other means of income generation. Sponsored videos or built-in advertising are some of the ways that YouTubers use to make money out of their content. Some might even promote their own Kickstarter or Patreon page to their fans to pay for their content.
Of course, finding success in YouTube is not easy, which is why a lot of personalities have used it as stepping stone into bigger forays. Comedian Bo Burham used YouTube as a platform to showcase his talents, which ultimately led to him being signed with Comedy Central Records.
Podcasting is another great avenue for entrepreneurs. You can start your own podcast and sell ad spots or include sponsors around your content.
13. Selling on eBay
Got a great product to sell? Set up an online store on platforms like eBay to sell all your of products.
14. Selling Handmade Products on Etsy
For those who want to sell handcrafted/handmade products, you can set up an online store on Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade items and craft supplies. These items fall under a wide range of categories, including bags, clothing, paintings, sculpture, home decoration and furniture, toys, and hand craft tools.
15. Be a Web Designer
According to WaveApp's study on web designer's salary – freelance web designers earn between $30 – $80 per hour. The rates are lower compare to a full-time senior web designers (which earns on average $60,000 – $90,000+, depending on region and niche expertise) in the United states, but is can still be a lucrative field to get in to.
While it is true that many people are using templates nowadays there are still many more who need customizations, even on templates they have chosen. Customization isn’t limited to just web templates, but you can also apply your skills to other areas such as newsletter. If you have some extra time on your hands you can also create your own templates for sale or even apply your skills to other graphics areas such as creating logos using tools like Logaster.
16. Be a Website Developer
Being a website developer is great for those with technical knowledge and/or are good at coding. You can help businesses by building and maintaining the backend of the website.
Similar to social media managers, the rate for freelance website developer can vary depending on the cost of the website itself. Generally, the bigger the site, the higher your fee can be. Based on the data we've collected, expect a freelance website developer to earn about $31.64 per hour on average with the highest being $160 per hour and the lowest at $5 per month.
17. Be a Graphic Designer
If you’re not so technical but can still offer design services, plenty of businesses are in need of graphic designers to create images and graphics.
Sites such as Twine offer a platform for freelance designers to make money by connecting them to businesses or brands who need help with creating designs. Since everything is conducted online via their website, you can basically work remotely from anywhere in the world.
18. Be an App Developer
Mobile is a big market and if you know how to create mobile apps, you can be an app developer. You can either offer your services to clients who need a mobile app or build one yourself to sell.
19. Be a Domainer
More often than not, businesses need to buy a premium domain that fits their brand and for better customer recognition (see real life examples here). You can earn money by purchasing premium domains and reselling them to other people.
For writers who want to start a business but don’t want to create a blog or a site, you can offer your writing services to other sites as a freelancer.
The great thing about being an online/freelance writer is that are plenty of companies/businesses who need help with their writing. If you have problems finding them, then check out this article that lists out 10 resources for finding freelance writing work.
Tips from the pro: David Trounce
Content writing and article writing services have become a mainstay for those looking to earn good money online.
As search engine’s reply more and more on quality content as a metric for ranking websites, content creation, and especially writing services have grown over the last three years and become one of the most lucrative – and easy – ways to make money online.
But where do you start?
If you are thinking of becoming an online author and want to earn money publishing content, one of the places you can start is by by networking with agencies who are providing content writing services.
Marketing agencies are constantly on the lookout for good quality written content.
In order to meet the growing demands of online business to maintain their presence and increase user engagement, content creators who are willing to meet deadlines, are reliable and capable of writing genuinely useful content are in high demand.
Rather than trolling the net, talking to those agencies that specialise content writing services is a great way to build a network and find employment as a writer.
If you decide to start approaching digital marketing and content management agencies, don’t turn up – or call or email – empty-handed. Have some content ready for publication, or, better yet, have a portfolio of content available for viewing. Showing these agencies what you have and what you can do is a great way to impress a busy editor.
– David Trounce, the founder of Mallee Blue Media
21. Design (and Sell) T-shirts Online
Free Webinar: Start a Profitable T-Shirt Store Learn how to quickly start a profitable T-shirt business online in this Shopify Free Webinar. This free workshop will teach you the basics of selling T-shirt online and connect with suppliers who print and ship your products on demand. Click here to watch webinar now
The great thing about the internet is that you can connect anywhere with anyone in the world. Be an online tutor and set up classes online with clients all over the globe.
23. Open an Online Store
Some of the ideas that we’ve listed can be started immediately without needing anything more than an email address. An online store, on the other hand, will require a few things.
Namely, you’ll need to have a website, a domain, and a good web hosting provider. Some platforms, such as Shopify or Weebly, will offer all services as part of a package though you’re limited to what they have to offer.
The problem with both options is that you still need to build an eCommerce website from scratch. Which is why the third option is what we recommend if you’re serious about starting an online start, and that is to use eCommerce platforms such as 3d Cart, EasyStore, and Shopify. These platforms offer all the essentials you’ll need to
start selling your own products and brand – from creating websites using their built-in themes to picking a custom domain name.
Real life examples
EasyStore, for example, offers a number of features that are useful for an eCommerce store, such as free SSL certificates, multiple currency checkout, a mobile version store, built-in SEO tools and more. They can also integrate with popular applications such as Lazada, EasyParcel, Mailchimp, Shopee, and more.
24. Be a Travel Consultant
People love to travel and have often look to travel agents for the best deals. Nowadays, you can be an online travel consultant to help customers to find deals on travels option or recommending the best travel packages.
25. Be a Proofreader
If you have a keen eye for proofreading, plenty of businesses, authors, and other clients are in need of proofreader/editor. You can work entirely online by having them sent you the documents via email.
26. Take Stock Photos/Be a Stock Photographer
Taking stock photos is a great way to earn money online for photographers. Places like Shutterstock or 123rf are great platforms to sell stock photos.
27. Copywriter for Websites
Another great avenue for writers, especially copywriters, is to help create the copy for businesses and their websites.
Tips from the pro: David Leonhardt
The top thing to understand is the different types of web pages. Some websites need all types; others need just one or a couple types. How you write will depend on the purpose of the pages. For example:
Landing page, whose goal is to create credibility and then funnel people off to a sales page or a lead generation form. This can take many forms, depending on how people arrive at the page and how “qualified” they are when they get there.
Sales page, whose goal is to make the sale. The less it sounds like selling, the better the page will be, But that’s pretty hard to do. Include features and benefits of the product. Testimonials will go a long way to making the sale. Focus first and foremost on solving customer problems. In other words, help them sell themselves on your client’s product.
Information page, such as how-to content. This builds credibility with your client’s target market. It also gives them content they can share with others. It could make the sale right away, or it might keep them coming back. It is critical to write this in plain English, even if your audience is a highly-educated niche. It’s too easy to lose impatient Internet users.
Understanding the goals of each web page will help you write the most effective copy. If what you write works well for the client, you’ll get plenty of repeat business and referrals. And that’s how to build a writing business.
Technical people or those who have a fair of knowledge in tech can offer to be a remote tech support for clients and businesses online.
29. Contract Customer Service
Some businesses often outsource their customer service communications. You can offer your services to be a contract customer service and working remotely online.
30. Be a Software Developer
Creating software can be a lucrative online business, especially if you’re good at it. You can either work as a freelance or project-by-project or create your own software programs and sell it.
31. Be a Marketing Consultant
Marketers have a great edge in the online world. If you’re an experienced marketer, offer your services to businesses who need help creating and executing their online marketing plans.
Tips from the pro: Gail Gardner
The key to making a good living as a freelancer [Marketing Consultant] is visibility and referrals. While some go the route of bidding gigs or listing themselves on sites like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, the best paid freelancers do neither of those. This is especially important for marketing consultants.
First, create your profile on LinkedIn. If you do not already have a portfolio, reviews, and recommendations, work on that first. Offer to provide your services at a discount to people you already know or local or online businesses in exchange for reviews and referrals. Video recommendations are particularly compelling.
Many consultants have difficulty handling potential and current clients calling them for free advice taking up their time. You can offer a free 15 or 30 minute one-time consultation and then make an excuse to disconnect. Or you can use a platform such as Clarity.fm or vCita.com to charge them by the minute.
Connect with others in your niche and ask if they would be interested in collaborating. Referrals from others who offer similar services are common. They may be too busy or just feel you are a better fit. Be sure to return the favor whenever you can.
Make it very clear exactly what you do on your site and in your profiles. Come up with a unique deliverable. I provide Trello boards with marketing strategies already saved on them and training how to use them.
Others might analyze a business and provide reports or graphs or an ebook. Wow even those who never hire you and give them something to remember and mention. For more tips, read How to Get Recommended.
A lot of people uses WordPress to create blogs and websites. Designing and selling WordPress themes that are pre-made and easy to use is a great way to start an online business.
33. Online Researcher
If you’re skilled at researching, you can offer your services to businesses, writers, and others, who are in need of people to research on specialized topics.
34. Be a Membership Site Operator
Have an idea for a niche website? Make a website and offer paid membership for those who want to join in order to receive exclusive benefits that are offered on your site.
35. Create an Advertising Network
You can also set up a network that aims at online businesses, website owners, and bloggers that are looking for advertisers or sponsors and the other way around.
36. Public Relations Services
Start an online public relations agency and work with businesses who need help with communicating with customers and clients on the internet.
37. Maintaining/Managing Websites
Some businesses that already have websites might need help maintaining or managing them. You can act as a website manager or offer your services as a maintenance provider.
38. Website Reviewer/Critique Services
If you have a keen eye for good website design, you can be a reviewer or specialize in critiquing websites for businesses who might need some changes to improve their user experience.
39. An Online Recruiter
For businesses or companies in need of people, you can offer your services as a recruiter to find and contact candidates online and connect them together.
40. Offer Resume Writing Services
Another way you can utilize your writing skill is to work with people who need help putting together resumes and cover letters. You can do this remotely and contact via email or Skype.
41. Be a Life Coach
A life coach is a great online business idea that you can do remotely and help clients deal with issues that they are facing.
42. Nutrition Consultant
For those who are knowledgeable about nutrition and dieting, you can offer your services to clients who need help planning out their meals and getting enough nutrition. You can conduct consultations online and send them meal plans via emails based on your consultation.
43. Custom Illustration Services
If you’re someone who’s skilled in the arts, set up a website to showcase your portfolio. Then, you can offer to do custom illustration services to clients who reach out to you.
44. Create Video Ads
YouTube Video ads is a platform that brands and companies often take advantage to market their products and services. Creating videos ads that catered to those platforms can be a lucrative business.
Those who are good at doing sales, you can offer your services to clients and companies to sell their products to customers online by reaching out to them directly.
46. Be a Financial Consultant
A lot of technopreneurs often lack the aptitude to handle the financial aspect of a business. If you’re good at finance, you can offer your services to them as either a consultant or on a project basis.
47. Offer Bookkeeping Service
If you’re good at bookkeeping, you can also offer bookkeeping services to various businesses. You can create a website or even just promote your services on social media.
48. Creating Online Newsletters
Create an online newsletter and build up a sizeable network with it. You can then use the list to sell your products and services or even earn revenue by working with other brands or businesses.
49. Offer Lead Generation Services
Companies and business are always looking to generate leads online. If you’re good at it, you can make money by offering your services to them.
50. Build and Flip
You can build sites and then flip them quickly for cash if that the way you prefer to go. The resale market for websites is booming and there are tons of places where you can list the sites you build for sale. For example, Flippa, which handles all types of websites and for prices that vary from as little as $100 to over $100,000. It's fast, clean, and if done well, can earn you good spending money.
Don't want to handle the logistics of starting an online store? Dropshipping lets you sell products to customers through your website but the manufacturer will handle the inventory and shipping.
Given the low barrier of entry, dropshipping has become a popular business model among entrepreneurs who wish to start an online business without the major costs. Of course, this also means that there is a lot of competition in the industry.
If you want to be successful in starting a dropshipping service, the following steps should cover all the basics that you need to get started:
Choose a dropshipping niche that's profitable
Search dropshipping suppliers that are reliable
Get a sales tax ID
Choose a selling platform that's right for your business
Launch your shop and start selling
Of course, there are a lot more details that go into it and if you're serious about it, Buildthis.io offers a comprehensive guide (click here) on how to start an online dropshipping business using Shopify, one of the biggest eCommerce platform online.
The guide goes into great detail about what you need to build a successful dropship store, such as setting up payment gateways and having a customer service/support team.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online Business
What are the most profitable online businesses?
There are many niches that can be profitable online and some of the most popular include health and wealth.
What can I sell online?
Anything can be sold online, from services to physical and digital goods. Simply choose a platform to sell on and market your product.
By its very nature, entrepreneurship requires individuals to have or learn multiple skills. This includes business management, marketing, and even some level of logistics. It is always good to choose a business that you're passionate and knowledgeable about.
How do I find startup ideas?
Here! Jokes aside, WHSR is a site where you can gain many useful skills and business ideas. All you need to do is look for them in our blog section. Our content is produced by experienced writers who often have direct knowledge of the industries and topics they cover.
Is blogging still a good way to make money online?
What is the easiest way to start an online business?
1. Find a need 2. Make a video or write a copy that sells 3. Build a simple website with that video / copy
Starting an online business is easy, but growing and reaching out to the right audience is challenging.
How can I create an online store and sell my products?
Shopify and BigCommerce provide easy ways to build an online store, handle inventory, and receive payment. They should be your best bets if you wish to create an online store and start selling quickly.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for anyone to start a business online. The key is to know what you're good at and find which avenues that you can use to sell what you do best.
Of course, if you need some help building your digital presence, it always helps to have a website ready.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.