10 Creative Online Business Opportunities

December 12th 2013 | Small Business Tips

Maintaining a steady flow of revenues as a web worker is a major challenge. Whether you’re freelancing for an ever-changing group of clients or selling products to consumers, it can be tough to know whether you’re going to make ends meet month to month. Business comes in waves, so anything you can do to make your earnings more dependable will help you sleep better at night.

We’ve already shared lists of ways you can grow your income with creative online business opportunity ideas (check our posts from April and last January), and we’re happy to present a new list of ideas to help you on your journey for scoring more online gigs.

So much of what’s touted around the web as opportunities to make money online ends up with the opposite effect. We’ve done the hard part for you and checked out the reputations of these sites and business models for you. (We still recommend keeping your guard up and watching out for scammers interacting with users on these platforms, though.) Whether you want to offer your services using a niche online marketplace or monetize your existing assets, there’s plenty you can try!

1. Sell Your Own Swag

Are you an artist, designer, illustrator or doodler? Are you working with a brand that has a strong visual identity? Got ideas for clever imagery or witty words?

All you need is an image file with decent resolution, and you can easily make it available for purchase on the internet as a tee shirt, tote bag, mug, iPhone case or whatever else you can think of. CafePress is the most famous of the sites that’ll handle the printing, processing and shipping on your behalf, but there are plenty of others that have good reputations too, including MySoti, Printfection and Zazzle.

Cafe Press
You don’t need to pay any fees at all to the platform you choose, since they only print when there’s an order – and you’ll earn commissions on every sale. So you can get creative and promote your products on your website, with a dedicated microsite, with ads on other sites, on social media, or wherever else you think you can generate sales.

2. Menial Clicks During Spare Time

Do you enjoy mindlessly scrolling, finding images, clicking, evaluating data, dragging, writing five-word descriptions or copy-pasting in your spare time? Businesses often need help with these types of tasks, and sometimes it’s cheaper or easier to crowdsource than to write bits of code to do the work.

That’s where marketplaces like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and ShortTask come into play. Here you can take on nano-jobs that pay out a few cents each but are highly scalable and generally don’t require too much attention. Each marketplace has its own stipulations, culture and lingo, though, so be prepared for a bit of a learning curve.

Short Task

3. Virtual Tutelage

Are you an expert in a niche area of knowledge? Can you teach someone to play baroque concertos on the ukulele? If someone has questions about how to store their power tools, can you give good advice on the fly?

There are dedicated web platforms where you can offer your services as an authoritative coach or tutor in exchange for money. Google’s relatively new Helpouts is a full-on marketplace with video conferencing with customers, while Ether allows you to book paid appointments for phone consultations, with marketing handled by you offsite.


4. Drop Shipping for Risk-Free eCommerce

Drop shipping is a much-praised hybrid business model somewhere between eCommerce and affiliate marketing. Essentially, it allows you to sell other people’s products on websites that you manage, but with none of the risk. The vendor handles the billing, service and order fulfillment – all you need to do is drive the orders and you make commissions.

If you’ve built your website with Wix, you can easily add the 365 DropShip Product Catalog app to your website. There are zero costs involved, and you can earn commissions by hosting a full-on eCommerce-style shop on your site with products from several manufacturers and categories.

365 Dropship Wix App

5. Leverage Your Social Influence

If you’ve got lots of Twitter followers who click on links you post, you can leverage this asset to make money by sending out sponsored tweets.

There are now several marketplaces where advertisers can post offers, including TweetPeddler, ChurpChurp and SponsoredTweets. There’s a lot of volume in these directories, so you should be able to find offers to promote products that are relevant to your community of followers and won’t kill your social media credibility.
Paid per Tweet

6. Niche Tourist Services

If you live somewhere that tourists flock to, you might be able to profit from the greater economic ecosystem that comes along with a robust tourism industry. While most travelers purchase solutions for lodging, transportation, eats and guided tours from mainstream, big companies, there are growing numbers of them who prefer to do business with independent locals – it’s often cheaper and more authentic.

If you don’t need your car every day you can rent it out with RelayRides. If you do regularly use your car, then you can offer people rides for money using Sidecar. You can also rent out your home, or part of it, using Airbnb, or offer quirky special interest tours of your locale on Vayable.


7. Cook and Host Dinners

Along similar lines, there are plenty of people who are interested in eating out but have grown tired with the anonymous, polished corporate flavors of restaurants. If you can cook up delicious and friendly dining experiences in your own home, it’s easier than ever to reach customers interested in joining you.

Marketplaces for home-hosted meals include EatWith, Cookening and HomeDine.


8. Sell Your Collectibles

Are your baseball cards from the 80’s collecting dust in your attic in a box next to your childhood Star Wars action figures? Are you unlikely to ever play that Santana album you have on vinyl ever again? You may have a hard time letting go of this stuff, but your life will feel lighter once you do. You can make decent money selling it, too.

Just take some photos, determine fair asking prices, post on Craigslist or eBay, and the inquiries from interested shoppers ought to come pouring in.


9. Offline Tasks via Online Marketplaces

People are posting one-off jobs in droves on platforms like Redbeacon and TaskRabbit, which means you can make extra money by running errands or performing handyman tasks for people in your spare time.

To pick up these gigs, you’ll need to pass a background check, so get started with building your profile with plenty of notice.

Task Rabbit

10. Review People’s Apps

If you’re a gadget junkie, gamer, tech tool lover or an early adopter, you’re likely to get a kick out of SoftwareJudge. Here you can get paid to try out recently launched apps and write what you think of them.

Social proof is a powerful force when it comes to app marketing, so publishers are willing to pay top dollar for your opinions – a quality review can earn you up to $50.


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