Top 20 Online Business Ideas That You Can Start Now
As you look to enter the ranks of today’s successful entrepreneurs who are diligently serving millions of customers around the world, it is vital to find an online business idea that matches your skills or strengths. After all, you’re likely to connect better with your customers vis-a-vis meeting their needs in the best possible way.
Whether you’re looking to establish a full-blown operation or start a side hustle to your day job, launching an online business has never been easier. By creating a website, you’ll help your online business get more exposure, stand out from the pack and engage your audience.
Researching the right business idea for yourself may seem like a big time commitment, but don’t worry. There are some great examples already underway. To ensure you're in the know, we’ve compiled the top 20 online business ideas that you can start right away, with in-depth explanations of what each one entails.
The top 20 online business ideas
For writers and anyone with a passion or expertise to share, creating a blog might be the right fit. While the definition of what is a blog includes everything from travel journals to specialized industry ones, all blogs share some commonalities. Blogs are regularly updated websites that cover information, opinions or insights around a certain topic.
A successful blogger is someone who knows their niche, and is thus able to build a good blog with a clear focus. Blogs are low-investment spaces where you can foster a solid readership in a specific area, by providing critical content that keeps visitors coming back.
As a creator of high-quality content, you can begin thinking about how to monetize a blog, turning yours into a potential moneymaker. One way to make money as a blogger is through your ability to attract relevant advertisers with the help of your loyal fanbase. You can host an ad space, sponsored posts, offer products for sale and more - all of which would require minimal effort on your end.
Another option might be to offer paid services in the forms of personal consultation or coaching. One-on-one sessions can complement your blog and reaffirm your expert voice in the field. Additionally, you could consider repurposing your content into paid online courses, e-books or webinars (more on those below). After all, a successful blog should continually drive community engagement.
02. Web designer
Business owners are often looking to improve their online presence. If you’re a creative and technical person who enjoys building web pages and taking web design to the next level, then consider teaming up with clients whose sites need that professional touch.
Armed with a passion for fonts, color palettes and a seamless user experience, you can begin promoting yourself as a freelance web designer for small and local businesses. Whether you’re building a website from scratch or giving an existing one the ultimate makeover, every experience you gain will help raise your credibility and enrich your portfolio.
03. Affiliate marketer
If you’ve built a substantial online audience or following, you may want to look into affiliate marketing and how you can use it to monetize your content. As an affiliate marketer, you’d team up with a business to market their products or services by recommending or sharing them to your fans. Affiliate marketers earn a commission each time they convert any of their followers into purchasing the brand’s products through a unique referral link, known as an affiliate link.
When considering which affiliate program is right for you, look for one that suits both your interests and that of your target audience. Try to find a brand that you believe in or would be happy to endorse. In addition, double check that the product or service that they offer has a good enough demand. There are many affiliate programs out there, including Amazon Associates, ShareASale and the Wix Affiliate Program, so you might want to take a moment to research them before you reach out.
Once you’re signed up, you can begin promoting the affiliate content alongside your day-to-day materials which your followers have come to expect. There are different ways to promote your affiliate products to your readers without coming off as too spammy. One method is to try incorporating the product recommendations into a blog post, tutorial or video using relevant and engaging content. Be creative and think of new ways to adapt your marketing strategy to yield the most profit.
04. eCommerce retailer
Setting up an online store has many benefits. Running an eCommerce site allows you control over every aspect of your business, from accepting secure online payment, to managing order fulfillment, to advanced marketing tools and an optimized shopping experience.
With these many business capabilities, all that’s left is to ask yourself what you want to sell, since picking the right products for your online store will be the core of your business. When choosing which products to sell, let your skills and experience guide you. You can confirm your choice by conducting a thorough market research.
Knowing how to start an online business in your niche market means listening to your customers. On your site, it’s important to maintain clear communication with your customers in the form of live chat, a forum, email marketing, and more.
05. Dropshipping business owner
Some business owners may like the idea of running an online store, but don’t want or have the capacity to store inventory. For these cases, there’s an alternative way when considering how to start a business on a budget - dropshipping.
With dropshipping, you can sell products on your business website without managing your own inventory. Instead, you can send customers’ orders to a third-party retailer. This eliminates the risk of stocking up on pricey products, or finding out that the products in your inventory are no longer marketable.
Without needing to attend to a warehouse or a different physical location of your inventory, you can run your dropshipping business from wherever you have WiFi. This also allows you to expand your product offering, since you won’t be limited to what’s in an inventory.
Additionally, operating a dropshipping business frees you to adjust your merchandise by experimenting and testing with it, keeping your offering up with the latest trends. If something isn’t selling, you’ll be able to change your offerings on the spot.
06. App developer
Seeing that the number of apps downloaded in the last year hit an almost 200 billion, the app business is officially a tour de force. Perhaps it’s time to get your cool idea for an app set into motion.
On the other hand, even without a coding background, you can always collaborate with an experienced app developer on your idea.
It helps if your app idea is backed with thorough market research. Would your app offer something new to the competitive market, or are there others like it? This step is best taken before investing any money.
07. Facebook ad specialist
What individual hasn’t used Facebook already? In the small business sector, however, there are many veteran business owners who aren’t successfully tapping into the plethora of resources that the social media giant has to offer. The solution for many is to hire an expert on Facebook advertising.
Known as Facebook ad specialists, their goal is to collaborate with clients to help them plan, measure and execute paid marketing campaigns on Facebook. As a hired expert, you’ll be able to help your clients optimize their digital marketing and advertising, allowing them to reach their core audiences. Facebook ads are targeted to users based on location, demographics, and interests, making it easier to find the right niche.
You might want to start contacting businesses that already have a Facebook presence and offer your services to help create masterful Facebook ads.
08. SEO consultant
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the process of optimizing websites so that they rank better on search engine results, such as Google and Bing, which could ultimately drive more traffic to the site.
Becoming an SEO consultant includes learning highly profitable skills in online advertising platforms like Google Ads and Google Analytics, as well as the need to be at the cutting edge of Google’s algorithms.
As someone who is familiar with the number of ways to boost a site’s SEO, you will be an asset to any business looking to improve their online presence.
For some of us, starring in or directing our own videos is a dream come true. You may feel your best in front of the camera, have stories to tell or simply want to educate others about a specific topic using visual content. Whether you’re looking to start your own YouTube channel or simply like to vlog, there could be a great money making opportunity coming your way as your viewership grows.
There are several effective ways you can begin to make money on YouTube. They include becoming a YouTube Partner, selling merchandise, or venturing into affiliate marketing. You can experiment with any of these options to find the best fit for you and your audience.
10. Social media consultant
While corporations operate with full-time social media experts on their payroll, most small businesses not only lack this luxury, but may not even have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.
As many shoppers turn to these popular platforms for their consumer needs, business owners might want to seek the assistance of a social media consultant to help them determine the best social media marketing strategies. These experts will help create and schedule posts to target potential customers, and more.
As a social media consultant, you can help online businesses choose the right platform for their target audience. From Facebook, the world’s number one social media network, to Instagram, known for its visual storytelling features, and LinkedIn, where professionals go to network, each channel comes with different audiences and needs.
Podcasting is for those who can articulate a passion or certain topic they know well. In case you weren’t already familiar with the idea, a podcast is an episodic series of audio recordings around a certain topic or topics.
Though you can start a podcast with very little money using free recording and editing softwares, you might want to invest in a good-quality microphone. Your listenership will depend on the quality of your audio content and your ability to establish an expert voice in your area.
Bringing special guests to your podcast is one low-cost way to help promote your show. Once your show reaches more people and your subscribership grows, your podcast could have the potential to attract advertisers and ultimately become profitable.
12. Online course instructor
Is teaching a passion you’ve always wanted to pursue but never had the time to? Creating an online course is one way to share your knowledge while generating passive income, with little investment up front. In order to become an online course instructor, you’ll first need a website or platform from where you can host and stream your classes.
To get your online course started, you’ll want to focus on a specific topic that you know well. It can be anything, from women authors of the 19th-century to logo design. You’ll also need to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to build your course and plan each lesson.
If you already have a blog, website or video channel, then offering online courses as an added service may complement your published work and help you reaffirm your authority in your field.
13. Webinar guru
People often come to you for advice or tips, as you’ve become known by many as that person who has all the right answers. Although teaching an online course seems like a natural step to take, you may not have time to do it for an entire semester. Hence, one possible online business idea would be to create a webinar.
Webinars are online presentations often held in real-time, or simply put, an online event. The most direct way to make profit from your webinar is to charge a fee for attendance. You could also make money from a free webinar by offering a paid product at the end.
The shorter, the better: A webinar tends to run between 30-45 minutes, capitalizing on full engagement. In most cases, you can organize your webinar to best suit your schedule, as attendees are able to access your event from home.
A copywriter is someone who writes engaging text or “copy” for the purpose of marketing or advertisement to increase a client’s message or brand. A good copy is meant to motivate readers to spur into action. Those who share a passion for creating good and clear content know that to master copywriting takes a lot of practice and skills.
Start by searching the web for copywriting listings. There are many new opportunities arising each day. A freelance copywriter can determine their either rate per hour or per word count. The pay rate may also increase as your experience does too.
Small businesses looking to expand their web audience need quality online content, and would benefit greatly from employing the services of a skilled copywriter. A diverse writing portfolio, covering different types of content, would help you attract a wider range of clientele.
15. Technical writer
There are situations when content needs to sound technical rather than creative. Think about the importance of manuals at certain points in our lives, like when we need to assemble an Ikea bookshelf or when we start a new medication. A technical writer deals with this line of work clearly and eloquently.
Once you’ve decided what industry you’d like to pursue - health, engineering or technology - it will be easier for you to focus on building your specialization.
Potential clients of technical writers may be corporate and pharmaceutical companies. Although it might feel you have bigger fish to fry as a technical writer, there are fewer of your kind in the general writing sphere. The odds are in your favor.
16. Remote tech support
Sometimes a small business has to outsource technical assistance because of budgetary issues or space constraints. If you have a solid background in IT and enjoy working from home, you can set up a paid tech support service for your local businesses.
Aside from bringing in a nice stream of revenue, a remote tech support operation is a great home-based business idea. In fact, it can even be run using little more than a mobile device.
17. Virtual assistant
Businesses and individuals alike often require extra support in managing their emails, drafting templated responses for diverse inquiries, social media channels and daily schedules. A virtual assistant is someone who can fulfil these tasks and support them remotely, making it one of the most accessible online business ideas to start now.
Unlike an office assistant who performs administrative and clerical duties only, a virtual assistant will cover these traditional tasks while offering a multitude of other services, including everything from content creation to website or project management. In the role of virtual assistant, there is plenty of room for creativity and personal growth, allowing you to add or change your services depending on your availability, client demand or interests.
You can also choose your clients and area of industry. Take advantage of the number of online tools, from file sharing to virtual calendars, that are available to help you perform most assistant tasks without investing a lot upfront.
18. Subscription box curator
Have you ever been told that you give the best presents in your family? Creating that perfect gift-giving moment may be something important to you. Becoming a subscription box curator requires that same attention to detail and love for delivering smiles.
When curating a subscription box, you won’t necessarily have to create your own merchandise if you don’t choose to. There are so many unique and creative products you can find online and curate into your boxes. Most successful subscription boxes work around a certain theme, making them compatible with their target market. For example, adults may prefer wine and children can’t resist colorful candy.
Remember that subscription boxes are often purchased as gifts to others, so it’s worth changing or adding your offerings to reflect the times or trends.
19. Resume and cover letter writer
Writing resumes and cover letters is in-demand. Even though the typical word count for a professional resume or cover letter does not reach more than 400 words, the work of a resume and cover letter writer is essential and everlasting.
Your target audience is any individual looking for a job, leaving you free to work with any number of clients. Be sure to provide successful writing samples you’ve worked on in the past to potential customers, or share links to online resume websites that you’ve created. This allows you to show off your skills and rich industry jargon for any market or niche.
20. e-book author
While few writers manage to get published in their lifetime, many new authors are already making their e-book debut amid the digital book market boom.
Self-publishing your book has never been more affordable or effective, using a number of options including Apple Books, Smashwords and Amazon, which will help you with the post-production aspects of distribution and sales.
Consider investing in an editor or proofreader and an illustrator to make your book more marketable. As a writer, breaking into the category of e-book author is one online business idea that could help you succeed in your industry.
By Cecilia Lazzaro Blasbalg
Wix Blog Writer