Many aspiring entrepreneurs dream of starting a business, but finding a viable idea can be challenging. In the digital age, selling products and services online presents a vast array of unique, affordable startup options. The key is to match your interests, strengths and skills to an online business idea that can help fill a need in the market and grow into a profitable endeavor.
We’ve researched 50 online business ideas you can start quickly and affordably. With some hard work and diligent planning, you could soon own and maintain an online business that gives you the freedom to make money anywhere in the world.
Whether you want to become a full-time entrepreneur or start a part-time online business to generate side income, your product or service should fulfill a specific consumer need. We’ve compiled a list of potentially profitable online businesses that have minimal startup costs and are easy to get up and running quickly.
Consultants advise businesses and individuals on various issues and business aspects. An online consultancy offers a limitless client reach, and you can get started quickly and easily.
In particular, small business consultants use their skills to help new business owners avoid typical startup mistakes and help experienced entrepreneurs grow their businesses and overcome obstacles. Your chances of success as a small business consultant are greater if you focus your strategy on a niche aspect of business consulting.
If you know the ins and outs of search engines and have technical skills in platforms such as Google Ads and Google Analytics, becoming a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant may be a lucrative option. Many small business owners don’t realize how much of an impact SEO can have on their business.
Start your online SEO consulting business by educating clients on the power of SEO to help transform their websites and increase conversion rates. Then, use your marketing skills to show business owners the benefits of analytics data, strategic keywords and content structure to gain more organic web traffic.
Social media consultants are in top demand as social media for business becomes more crucial. Larger enterprises can hire an agency or a full-time staff member to run their social media accounts, but small businesses must often handle their social media marketing.
As a social media consultant, you can help small businesses devise tactics, create content calendars and develop an overall content strategy to reach their target audience. As their follower counts grow, so will your business.
There’s an audience for everything, even if it’s as specific as dollhouse furniture or organic dog food. With a niche e-commerce site, you can reach customers seeking your specific products. Finding a business niche can help you differentiate yourself from other brands and build credibility and expertise. Look to social media and evaluate consumer needs to develop a product to sell in your online store.
To get your e-commerce business up and running, you need a web hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or e-commerce software. To simplify the shipping process, you can work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf. This can reduce the amount of inventory you need to keep on-site.
Check out our reviews of the best web hosting services to find one that fits your e-commerce store’s needs and budget.
If you’re a creative digital professional who thrives on forming a website’s layout, visual theme, font set and color palette, freelance website design may be a good path for you. If you have little or no experience in this field, you can learn the basics of web design and master the tools you’ll need for success.
Put your technical and creative skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build a comprehensive portfolio and create your own website to show it off and attract a steady stream of clients.
If you love writing or have helpful information to share, blogging may be a profitable business.
Starting a business blog is straightforward with website builders such as Weebly and WordPress. However, consistency and quality are key to success. To gain a steady following, you must continually write and produce high-quality content that provides value to your readers. Content that educates, informs or entertains your readers gives them a reason to follow you.
Once you’ve mastered consistent content creation, you can make money through your blog by selling products such as online courses, digital coaching, e-books or webinars. You can also sell ad space or sponsored posts. This business strategy may take a little more time and effort to monetize, but it can be very profitable.
Do you have impeccable organizational skills and task management abilities? Maybe it’s time to put those skills to good use by becoming a virtual assistant (VA). VA services typically involve basic administrative tasks, like entering data, making travel arrangements and answering phone calls. Previous experience in this field is ideal but not required.
Platforms such as TaskRabbit and Zirtual make it easy for VA professionals to find jobs. These sites allow you to create an online profile, sign up for tasks you want to complete — such as data research, virtual assistance or basic errands — and begin building clientele.
If you love leaving customer reviews on sites like Amazon, consider looking into affiliate marketing as an income source. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a powerful lead generator for many companies. Many businesses are willing to share a portion of their profits with persuasive individuals who will promote their products to the public.
Affiliate programs break down into different involvement levels:
If you have a personal website or social media presence with a large following, affiliate programs may be a profitable approach for you. PR reps always seek out brand ambassadors and influencers so they can send free samples.
Many small businesses don’t have room in their budgets to hire a full-time IT employee. When their systems go on the fritz, they usually call a computer-literate friend or family member. If you’re tech-savvy and have experience working on computers and networks, you can eliminate their need to call in a favor by offering immediate technical assistance via remote desktop software.
Although some businesses may prefer you to have a technical degree, many will look to your experience and knowledge instead. You can build your remote tech support business by contacting friends, family and local business owners to inquire about their tech support needs. Use job boards such as Upwork as another source for freelance tech support gigs.
Online marketplaces for handmade goods, like Etsy and its competitors, make it extremely easy for artisans to sell their wares online. This is an option if you can produce a steady supply of quality handmade products, such as crocheted blankets or painted glassware, to sell online. If you have a unique craft, selling your products on an e-commerce site is a good way to earn income while you’re at home, doing what you love.
Startup costs for this business idea are extremely low if you purchase your creative materials in bulk from a craft supplier. If you can create and sell your artwork quickly in an online store, you’ll make a profit in no time. Local artisans find higher success when they promote their businesses on social media.
Mobile applications are more popular than ever, with people willing to pay good money for ways to manage their lives from their smartphones. If you have a great new idea for an app and know how to code, consider creating an app. You can also become a mobile app developer for businesses that must create proprietary apps.
If you have an app idea but don’t know the ins and outs of coding, look to collaborate with software developers on app creation. Depending on your situation and know-how, you may be able to make a lucrative business out of app development.
Google and Bing are ubiquitous, but they don’t necessarily address all users’ needs. If you’re an expert in a specific field, build your own search engine that helps people with less knowledge find what they’re seeking. Your chances of success might be higher if your search engine allows users to insert parameters, such as subtopics and source types, instead of just conducting a general search.
If you want to run an e-commerce site, you might be worried about inventory management and storage. With dropshipping, you can take customer orders in an online store and send them directly to a third-party retailer for fulfillment. As long as your business model involves selling items at a price that’s higher than the third-party retailer’s, your dropshipping business will be set for success.
Just because someone takes classes in a subject doesn’t mean they understand the material well. If you’re great at explaining things in a one-on-one setting and have ample experience and knowledge in a subject, consider starting an online tutoring business in that field. You can use video chat tools such as Zoom or Skype to conduct tutoring sessions remotely and offer your knowledge to anybody, anytime, anywhere. Consider incorporating an ad budget into your business model.
As with tutoring, you can share your expertise to benefit people worldwide. Starting an online business that offers digital courses to anybody who’s interested in the topic can easily earn you money; you can sell prepared written materials or other downloadable content for a fee.
YouTube makes it especially easy to start an online education business. Upload videos of yourself educating viewers on any subject, and use social media to spread the word about your channel. As your number of viewers grows, you’ll be able to monetize your videos and profit from them.
For a more personalized, one-on-one experience, consider telecoaching. Some people looking for one-on-one help might want something more than lessons. People who are seeking to advance their careers, improve their nutrition or find more meaning in their lives, for example, could benefit from your coaching through video chat software such as Zoom or Skype.
Instead of giving exercises and grades as you might as an online educator, your goal as a telecoach is to offer your clients advice, guidelines and support. If you run a blog for your business or regularly post to LinkedIn about your coaching topics, you’ll appear more trustworthy and knowledgeable.
The number of people starting podcasts and listening to their favorites have skyrocketed in recent years. Capitalize on this trend by starting your own podcast network. You can populate the network with any podcasts you record, but if you give other people — whether friends or strangers — opportunities to contribute their podcasts, you’ll likely build your network more quickly. As your network grows, you can increase the price per podcast download.
The internet is full of copywriters for hire. Still, only a few have the technical background to properly write an instruction manual for a large machine or to accurately convey scientific results. If you have a background in science and can write about it, start an online business that offers your technical writing services. Advertise yourself on LinkedIn, Fiverr and other platforms to draw customers.
Almost everyone has sought help from others when writing resumes or cover letters. Offer your expertise in crafting compelling resumes and cover letters to job seekers. Provide examples of other people’s resumes and cover letters you’ve helped with, and share your own successful resumes and cover letters to demonstrate your expertise.
Corporations need lawyers to protect them in legal matters and educate them on what they can and can’t do. If you start an online corporate counsel consulting firm, you can offer corporate workers a way to keep their legal affairs in order without the exorbitant fees and extensive in-person commitments of traditional lawyers.
To build your client base, you’ll need to show proof that you’ve passed the bar exam. You should also make it clear that your business is entirely online. If your client must go to court, they’ll need to hire a lawyer in their region who can represent them in front of a judge or jury.
Many of the world’s most prominent tech companies began as small startups that figured out the right business model for success. As a startup advisor, you can counsel tomorrow’s companies today. Use your expertise in corporate finance, software development and other relevant fields to provide new businesses with the knowledge they need to succeed. As these startups succeed, so will your business.
All businesses can benefit from digital marketing. If you’re experienced in content marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing and other forms of digital marketing, consider capitalizing on these skills to provide a service to other businesses. As a digital marketing agency, you can sell online marketing packages and services to small business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to outsource their marketing efforts.
If you have a unique perspective or information to offer a niche audience — whether related to business, self-help or another topic — consider selling your knowledge by writing and publishing e-books. Additionally, you can offer e-book writing services to other business owners who are interested in publishing books but don’t have your expertise. Ghostwriting e-books can earn you a significant profit.
Many professionals and businesses need graphic design help for marketing and advertising materials and web design. However, not everyone has this talent. Many business owners outsource their graphic design needs to agencies or individuals with experience in the industry. If that sounds like you, consider launching your own graphic design services.
Freelance writing is a great avenue for people looking to work independently and entirely online. Although AI tools such as ChatGPT may be shifting the industry, many digital publications are interested in keeping their content high-quality and human-generated and are seeking talented and seasoned writers to contribute.
There are various types of freelance writing opportunities, including copywriting, news reporting and ghostwriting. Choose a niche that best suits your interests and talents, and create a brand that reflects your expertise so you can begin selling your services.
You can create an entire business by offering proofreading services. If you pay close attention to details and have a profound understanding of grammar and different style guidelines, consider marketing yourself as a proofreader. Many business owners and professionals request proofreading services; you can also browse sites such as LinkedIn, Upwork and other platforms to build your clientele.
You’ve likely heard of flipping houses for a profit, but what about website domains? Domain flipping involves purchasing a domain and reselling it. Many pursue domain flipping as a side hustle to earn some extra cash, but with the right expertise, you can turn the service into a full-fledged business. In fact, full-time domain flippers can earn six figures if they’re dedicated to the practice.
Many customers opt in to monthly boxes from their favorite brands; there are countless book subscription boxes, organic food subscription boxes, makeup subscription boxes and many others.
If you create products from your home (such as crafts, baked goods or something else), consider whether you can sell them online via monthly subscription boxes. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in buying such services. Once you build and market your brand, more people will reach out to request your goods.
Finding customers can be challenging, especially when you’re first starting a business. That’s why many business owners outsource lead generation to professionals. By starting a lead generation business, you can gather potential customers and clients for other businesses and earn a sustainable profit.
Social media influencer marketing has become a popular and profitable career path. This line of work involves marketing the products and services of different brands to your audience and earning money from such sponsorships.
If you have a niche following on social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok, you can work with brands in your demographic and earn money via sponsored posts, brand partnerships, monetization programs, affiliate marketing and more.
A voiceover business provides voice recordings to clients or companies for educational videos, audiobooks, advertisements and other projects. You can offer voiceover services online to various clients until your business is profitable and well known in its space.
Although we already covered the idea of starting a podcast network, you can also start your own niche podcast in your chosen demographic. This is especially beneficial if you have unique experience (perhaps from your previous jobs) in a specific industry and you’d like to share that knowledge with your audience.
Successful podcasters can make money through sponsorships and advertisements, allowing them to pursue the venue full time. Choose a topic, outline a few ideas to get started, plan your marketing efforts, invest in the right tech and start recording.
You can earn a decent profit by offering audio editing services. Many businesses and individuals need help editing projects such as audiobooks, voiceovers, podcasts and educational videos. If you have experience in this industry, consider starting your own business and offering your professional services.
Today, self-publishing is easier than ever. If you have the talent and passion for writing, you can begin self-publishing your work on platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and earn a decent profit. Consider whether you want to write fiction, self-help, educational e-books or other books; choosing a niche will help your audience recognize and anticipate your work.
It might take some time to get started, and your first book or two might not gain immediate traction. However, if you stick with it, you can turn this endeavor into a full-time gig.
Grant writing involves filling out applications for businesses or individuals applying for financial grants. This type of writing typically earns more than other forms of writing because it requires specific expertise and precision. Depending on your experience with grant writing, you can charge between $25 and $100 per hour for your services. Consider working as a freelance grant writer for various clients and expanding your experience in the industry.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from working with a public relations agency or agent. PR representatives help businesses and individuals establish and maintain a positive public image. Customers love working with brands they can trust, and PR professionals ensure companies exude credibility and professionalism. This career involves drafting press releases, handling potential controversies, finding PR solutions to problems, setting up interviews, securing media opportunities and more.
If you’re into fashion and design and have a professional background in the industry, consider launching a clothing line and selling and marketing it online. You can create your own digital store, source your material, create your designs and sell your products. Just be sure to put your own twist on the clothing line so you stand out from competitors. For instance, perhaps you want to use sustainable material, or maybe you’d like to donate some of your proceeds to a cause such as mental health or ocean conservation. This fashion-related business idea can prove hugely successful for talented individuals.
Software developers are constantly looking for software testers to try out their tech before launching it. If you have experience, you can launch your own software testing business and become a go-to tester for different developers. To start, develop a solid software testing strategy to share with developers to demonstrate your expertise, and choose the appropriate test environment to conduct your testing. There are even opportunities to test video games, adding a fun twist to this online business idea.
If you have something unique to offer a specific audience, consider launching your own membership site. Countless membership site builders allow you to seamlessly offer subscriptions to visitors. Decide what you’d like to sell (e.g., fitness videos, digital courses, video content, etc.), and choose the membership tiers you want to offer (e.g., monthly or annual subscriptions, beginner or intermediate level). There are countless membership site ideas out there, so do your research and decide which best suits your passions.
Email marketing has long been an effective marketing tactic, and many businesses outsource their needs to agencies. By starting your own email marketing agency, you can sell your services to multiple clients and spend your days developing email marketing strategies and drafting impactful email copy.
If you have a passion for or experience with cryptocurrency trading, turn the hobby into a profitable business by pursuing it full time. Many experts earn a sustainable living from cryptocurrency exchanges. However, this field often requires extensive research and patience, so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to see profitable results.
Art consultants commission artists to create art for different sectors. These professionals typically have extensive backgrounds in art education and can anticipate their clients’ needs to match them with the right artists. As an art consultant, you can conduct business entirely online, especially if your clients need digital art instead of physical artwork, which is often the case in today’s business world.
If you’re equipped with the proper financial and accounting education and experience, consider starting your own bookkeeping business to help other business owners manage their finances. Bookkeepers help their clients keep records of and organize their finances to ensure they’re on top of their cash flow.
As with bookkeeping, you should have a solid background in finance and knowledge of taxes if you want to launch a tax prep business. Many business owners are great at their craft yet dread the financial burden of tax season because they’re unsure of how to handle all the paperwork, filing and other tasks. As a tax expert, you can help clients get the most out of their money, claim the right credits and deductions, and more.
Financial planning businesses operate like bookkeeping and tax prep businesses in that they help clients manage their finances. However, financial planners tend to cover all the bases by assessing their clients’ financial health and offering knowledge to help them achieve financial goals.
Do you have a passion for flowers and aesthetics? Consider starting a floral arrangement business by opening an online flower shop. While you’ll need to work with local growers or wholesalers, most of your business can be done from the comfort of your own home with sales made online.
Event planning is an exciting business endeavor you can launch virtually. Virtual event planning typically involves corporate meetings, celebrations and other company events. However, you can also offer planning services for in-person events, like weddings and parties, without having to make an appearance. You’ll handle tasks such as contacting vendors, designing invitations and scheduling activities.
If you have the talent and passion, consider baking treats in the comfort of your own kitchen and selling them online. Create a digital store, start marketing your baked goods to potential customers, and ship the treats yourself.
It helps to choose a niche that will set your bakery apart from others. For example, consider offering dairy-free or gluten-free options, or perhaps make your desserts into personalized designs for customers.
You can earn a decent salary by offering stock photography to customers online. If you’re a seasoned photographer, consider selling your stock photos on popular platforms to earn some extra cash. Be sure to use the proper keywords to drive traffic.
Starting an online business is exciting yet challenging. You must take several legal steps, including choosing your business name, acquiring a federal employer identification number, determining your business’s legal structure, and insuring your business.
While every business is unique, you can follow these essential steps to maximize your chances of starting a successful online business:
The growth in online business in the U.S. and globally has been exponential. This trajectory is predicted to continue as consumers turn more frequently to the digital environment to connect with business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) providers.
The pandemic pushed and popularized the idea of working remotely, thus fostering the proliferation of online businesses. Recent Census Bureau data showed that e-commerce made up 14.8 percent of total sales in the second quarter of 2022.
This isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon; digital technology means businesses can sell to consumers anywhere in the world. According to the International Trade Administration, retail consumer goods sold via e-commerce are expected to reach a 22 percent share of global retail sales by 2024. This growth represents ample opportunity for many online businesses to prosper and grow.
Budding entrepreneurs can leverage many potentially lucrative online businesses to replace or augment their other work. However, in addition to an interest in and aptitude for their online niche, successful business owners must master various administrative tasks to ensure their companies’ success. For example, online business owners must select one of the best credit card processors to ensure they can accept multiple payment forms online and meet their customers’ needs.
Consumer demand continues to grow for many types of online retail and service offerings. For those with an interest, aptitude and passion for online entrepreneurship, myriad opportunities are worth exploring.
Sammi Caramela contributed to this article.