Best Online Business Ideas
Best Online Business Ideas to Get You Started
Building a successful online business requires plenty of effort and time. Therefore, picking an idea that suits your skills and interests will increase your chances of success and make the journey worthwhile.
The following are the 30 profitable online businesses to consider pursuing.
1. Become a Freelancer
- Estimated income: around $33/hour, depending on the industry and location
- Requirements: skills and experience in a particular field
The rise of the gig economy makes freelancing a viable alternative to regular nine-to-five jobs. In fact, 75% of freelancers reported increased income compared to their previous full-time job.
Those with prior work experience can leverage their expertise and the network they’ve built to establish a professional brand.
You can work freelance in nearly any industry. However, web developers, graphic designers, and writers are some of the most in-demand jobs online.
To start this free online business idea, decide on a niche and a unique selling point to set yourself apart in the competitive market. For example, the freelance writer Elise Dopson focuses on creating journalistic-style content for B2B and SaaS companies.
Freelancers usually create a portfolio website to promote their services online. Signing up on freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and creating a LinkedIn profile can also improve your online presence.
2. Start a Blog
- Estimated income: $100-$10,000+/month, depending on blog operational expenses and monetization channels
- Requirements: writing, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) skills
Starting a blog is one of the most profitable online business ideas. Many six-figure entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn began by blogging about their skills and knowledge to a small audience.
A successful blogging business is more than just sharing thoughts on a subject. Remember to focus on the following elements before you start a blog:
- Niche. A website focusing on a specific theme is more effective than one that covers a wide range of topics. Explore our blog ideas article for inspiration.
- Content quality. Producing unique and high-quality content can turn visitors into loyal readers and rank your blog higher on search engine results pages.
- Traffic size. Bloggers with high visitor volumes usually have better chances of attracting potential business partners and selling their products or services.
- Monetization options. Popular methods to earn money with a blog include affiliate marketing, Google Ads, and sponsored content. Consider combining them to maximize profits.
3. Self-Publish an eBook
- Estimated income: 35-75% royalties from the eBook’s price, depending on the platform
- Requirements: creative writing and content marketing skills
Thanks to the internet, you don’t have to send a manuscript to a publisher to become an author. Anyone can sell eBooks through a personal website or self-publishing sites like Amazon KDP and Apple Books.
If you’re a blogger, eBooks are great for compiling existing content into a comprehensive guide. That’s what Elna Cain does with her long-form articles. She also includes printable worksheets in the eBooks to add more value to the product.
Self-publishing sites offer the benefit of an existing audience, saving you the hassle of starting from scratch. However, you can’t claim the eBook’s gross earnings. As such, many writers create a website to maximize their revenue.
If you decide to build one too, read our tutorial explaining how to create your own website from scratch.
Keep in mind that self-publishing a book costs between $150-$2,000. So to pursue this online venture, make sure to allocate a budget to cover the initial costs.
4. Start an Online Store
- Estimated income: $1,000-$100,000+/year, depending on the eCommerce business, its expenses, and the market size
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
Creating an eCommerce store to sell clothes or other items is one of the best small business ideas to pursue. Find online store ideas by researching trending products or tapping into a micro niche. Segmenting your niche may initially attract low traffic volumes, but it helps reduce competition and provide substantial growth potential.
Neuro, a caffeinated gum and mint company, is an excellent example of a successful micro niche business. The founders created the product to provide a healthier alternative to energy drinks and coffee.
Before starting your online store, calculate the startup costs carefully. A website’s development cost depends on many factors, including its features and platform.
A simple small business site may cost around $100-$500. But if the eCommerce site is huge and complex, the cost may amount to $10,000 or more.
Besides displaying products on your eCommerce website, consider selling on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Diversifying sales channels can widen your audience reach and increase revenue.
5. Start a Dropshipping Business
- Estimated income: $200-$3,000+/month, depending on the online store and market size
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
Dropshipping is one of the most simple businesses to start for beginners because it’s low-risk yet profitable.
This business model involves partnering with suppliers to sell their products on your platform. The vendor handles storing and shipping, while the seller focuses on marketing the goods to prospective customers.
There’s no need to manage inventory, so the startup costs are relatively low. The average cost of setting up a dropshipping business site is $150. This figure includes a web hosting service, a domain name, and a membership at a supplier directory membership like Spocket.
Since customers can’t inspect the products in person, the success of this small business model relies on customers’ trust. Evaluate suppliers before collaborating to avoid issues and provide excellent customer service to ensure their satisfaction.
6. Flip and Sell Thrifted Goods
- Estimated income: $50-$5,000+/month
- Requirements: business management and negotiation skills
If you’re looking for an affordable online business idea, sell secondhand goods online for a profit. Look for unused items of decent quality around your household or purchase pre-owned goods from secondhand marketplaces.
Then, determine their prices by looking up how much competitors sell their products. In some cases, repairing or recycling the item is necessary to increase its value. While it’s not a prerequisite, having basic handyman or crafting skills is beneficial in this industry.
For example, the fashion YouTuber bestdressed remodeled her thrifted outfits and sold them on the fashion marketplace Depop.
7. Sell Handmade Goods
- Estimated income: $30,000+/year, depending on the materials and the time spent making the product
- Requirements: artisanal or crafting skills
The internet has helped artisans’ craftsmanship appeal to the business world.
Unlike merchants who partner with suppliers, you can sell one-of-a-kind goods that customers can’t find anywhere else. Therefore, charging more for your creations is possible.
Bridget Bodenham is one among many artists who successfully make a living selling their crafts. She creates vase sets and sells them on an eCommerce website, giving her complete control over the brand’s business and marketing strategies.
An alternative is to sell online on Etsy. With 96 million+ buyers worldwide, Etsy helps you target ideal customers and build a following. That said, be prepared to compete with fellow merchants for buyers’ attention.
8. Sell Prints
- Estimated income: 10-20% commission/print
- Requirements: artistic skills, such as photography, graphic design, and fine arts
Selling prints is among the top business ideas for visual artists. You can make money and have fans promote your work by displaying them in their homes.
One of the easiest ways to sell prints is by creating an online store and signing up with an on-demand printing service like Printful.
This method allows you to make more artwork and concentrate on marketing the business. Meanwhile, the printing service takes care of the procurement and shipping.
Some successful businesses like A Beautiful Mess sell full-size digital files of their prints. This way, customers can print and frame your art themselves, eliminating shipping costs.
However, be wary of people duplicating said files. Always include a copyright notice with each piece of art and take action if infringement occurs.
- Estimated income: $6,000-$400,000+/month
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
A subscription box service is a business model that periodically delivers a product package to customers. One popular example is the Dollar Shave Club.
This business type has gained more traction in recent years. Over 50% of online shoppers subscribe to at least one subscription service to receive a convenient, personalized experience.
The main benefits of running a subscription box service are generating recurring income and fostering a long-term relationship with customers. That said, to succeed in this online business, you must sell a product that people are willing to pay for repeatedly.
A good example is Butcher Box. This subscription service delivers various kinds of meat. The brand’s unique selling point is that its meat is organically sourced.
10. Start a Consulting Business
- Estimated income: around $18-$30/hour, depending on the industry and skillset
- Requirements: skills and experience in a particular field
Consulting is the best business idea for people with advanced knowledge in a specific area. It helps companies across industries solve problems, including marketing, operations, and human resources.
One example of a successful consulting business is by Neil Patel. The SEO expert offers consulting services in content marketing, paid advertising, and social media. They have worked with 5,000+ companies.
Unfortunately, new small business owners offering consulting services may struggle to find clients. To start, focus on generating leads through LinkedIn and cold email pitches during the first six months to grow your pool of prospective clients.
Also, make sure you have a dedicated email for business. Sending letters from a professional email address will increase your chances of success.
11. Become an Affiliate Marketer
- Estimated income: around $50,000/year, depending on the affiliate program and niche
- Requirements: content marketing skills
Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable online business ideas. An affiliate marketer promotes a brand’s products or services by including links to them in their content. They’ll receive a commission based on the number of purchases made through the affiliate link.
To begin this web business, sign up for affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, Skimlinks, or Hostinger Affiliates.
Then, produce content, such as blog posts, that contain information relevant to the products you’re linking. The key is to create original content that resonates with the readers’ interests.
An excellent affiliate website example is Baby Gear Lab, a site dedicated to childcare essentials. It publishes comprehensive baby product recommendations and reviews.
The Baby Gear Lab blog also provides affiliate disclosures, letting readers know that the website’s owner will earn money if they use the links to purchase products.
12. Flip and Sell Websites
- Estimated income: $10,000-$100,000+/year
- Requirements: web development, web design, SEO, and digital marketing skills
Website flipping takes longer to generate a profit than other online business ideas on the list. However, many business owners like Yaro Starak make significant money with this type of business.
This online selling business starts with purchasing underperforming sites with growth potential. Marketplaces like Flippa may sell or auction them at relatively low prices.
Once the deal goes through, the work to increase the website’s value begins. You must ensure the site functions correctly and is optimized for search engines. Then, conduct market research on the most effective monetization methods for the site’s niche.
The website should generate significant traffic and revenue before being put up for sale. Buyers will be inclined to purchase if it’s profitable.
Website flippers usually price sites at two to three times their annual income. For instance, an online store making $1,200/year may be available for $2,400-$3,600.
13. Buy and Sell Domain Names
- Estimated income: $1,000-$10,000+/domain
- Requirements: digital marketing skills
Buying and selling domain names can be a successful business when executed right. In fact, high-demand domains can sell for up to millions of dollars. As such, the most popular domains are often unavailable.
Many domain flippers choose names with local keywords, like jobsinlondon.com. Besides being more affordable, these domains also have less competition.
Start by looking for prospective and affordable domains on domain checkers or auction websites like Sedo. Consider purchasing multiple names at once to increase the sales prospects.
Then, create a landing page for the domains you want to sell or send email pitches to potential customers. Keep in mind that persistent marketing is necessary to find the right buyer.
14. Design Website Themes
- Estimated income: $5-$200+/theme license
- Requirements: web design, front-end development, and CMS knowledge
Selling website themes is an excellent online business idea for web designers looking to earn extra money. As many people launch their own websites, the demand for beautiful and easy-to-use pre-made designs is increasing.
Test your theme using free web hosting. Then, sell its license on your own website or list it on a theme marketplace like TemplateMonster. Although the latter promises more exposure, most marketplaces charge a commission for each sale.
Consider including regular updates and priority support to boost the theme’s value and longevity. Alternatively, provide a custom theme service. Many businesses are willing to pay more for a one-of-a-kind web design.
15. Develop Apps
- Estimated income: $61-$80/hour
- Requirements: app development, UI/UX design, and product management skills
If you’re interested and skilled in app development, this idea is the best online business to start.
78% of digital buyers prefer mobile apps over websites to access online stores. As such, many eCommerce businesses apply a multi-channel strategy, and the demand for mobile developers has dramatically increased.
If you don’t have experience in app development, join relevant online courses on eLearning platforms like Treehouse. Alternatively, use code-free web development software like AppyPie to jumpstart your online business venture as an app developer.
Making money as an app developer comes from ads and in-app purchases. Alternatively, sell apps on marketplaces like Flippa. We recommend building a solid portfolio to find customers easier.
16. Offer Social Media Marketing Services
- Estimated income: $15-$80/hour, depending on the level of expertise
- Requirements: content marketing skills and familiarity with social media trends
This is a great online business idea for those with a strong knowledge of social media techniques, like content creation, social listening, and influencer marketing.
A social media marketer can use their personal account as a portfolio. Using the account, perform social marketing techniques to boost your brand’s visibility, attract clients, and increase audience engagement.
Besides self-promoting via your own social media profile, create a portfolio site or a blog to market your services. This is what Nadine of The Social Shells does to boost her brand’s online presence and credibility.
17. Work as a Virtual Recruiter
- Estimated income: $70,000/year on average, depending on the industry and job level.
- Requirements: communication and networking skills and an understanding of the hiring process
A virtual recruiter helps employers fill vacancies with talented candidates. However, unlike a traditional recruiter, a virtual one can work remotely or do it as a side hustle. Therefore, this job is perfect for those who want more flexibility.
There are generally no formal education requirements for this role. That said, some clients prefer virtual recruiters with a bachelor’s degree in business or human resources.
Find the best virtual recruiting jobs on a freelancing marketplace like Upwork or join HR outsourcing companies. Once you join, post the jobs on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to add the Hiring badge to your profile to attract potential applicants.
18. Become a Virtual Assistant
- Estimated income: around $23/hour
- Requirements: administration, communication, and digital marketing skills
A virtual assistant’s primary responsibility is to help business owners or entrepreneurs with clerical tasks, like scheduling appointments and replying to inquiries.
In some cases, virtual assistants also offer marketing support, such as formatting email newsletters and managing social media accounts. An assistant with these additional skills can earn up to $60/hour.
Start your own online business as a virtual assistant by looking for jobs on portals like Fiverr and Zirtual if you live in the US. Additionally, create a website to market your services. Check out Virtual Nina Creative‘s website for inspiration.
19. Launch a Data Entry Service
- Estimated income: around $17/hour
- Requirements: average typing speed of 60-90 words/minute and experience with data processing software
Data entry is one of the most excellent online businesses for anyone looking for a flexible side gig. Many businesses need professionals to document information from various sources in an organized digital format. This information may include daily sales reports and meeting notes.
The faster and more accurate your typing is, the more bargaining power you’ll have. As such, we recommend taking typing practice courses like Keybr before starting a business in this field.
Consider investing in a numeric keypad to increase your typing speed. Additionally, a good internet connection will further optimize your productivity.
20. Offer Transcription Services
- Estimated income: around $16/hour
- Requirements: good listening skills, fast typing speed, and proficiency with data processing software
This easy-to-start business idea involves transcribing audio files into text documents.
Besides typing speed and accuracy, your niche can also affect your earnings. Medical transcriptionists generally get paid the most, averaging $26/hour. If you want to set a higher hourly rate, familiarize yourself with the industry.
Consider taking typing lessons to increase your speed and accuracy. Once you have improved your typing skills, check out Rev and TranscribeMe for transcription jobs.
21. Create an Online Course
- Estimated income: $1,000-$50,000+/month, depending on the production expenses, online course platform, and number of students
- Requirements: teaching skills and subject matter expertise
This is one of the best online business ideas for anyone interested in sharing their knowledge online. Many people look for online courses to boost their job market value and gain new experiences.
Since the online learning market has become saturated, consider picking a unique subject that others haven’t covered. Then, conduct market research on whether the subject has a potential target audience.
Crystal Dawn‘s course on creating raw desserts is an excellent example of this line of work. The topic is specific and caters to a niche market of healthy plant-based food enthusiasts.
While there is a wide range of hosted course platforms, we recommend building a website with an LMS extension. This option offers complete control over your teaching and monetization methods.
22. Tutor Students Online
- Estimated income: around $15+/hour
- Requirements: expertise in school subjects or standardized tests and teaching skills
Starting an online tutoring business is suitable for people with teaching experience. With distance learning becoming the new normal, many parents and guardians need help with their kids’ education.
Sites like Skooli are excellent for finding tutoring jobs aligned with your specialties. They make connecting with students who need assistance easier.
After collecting a sizable pool of clients, create a full-fledged tutoring business on your own website. Check out how BMAT Crash Course built its site for inspiration.
23. Start a Podcast
- Estimated income: $500-$10,000+/month, depending on the monetization channels and the number of downloads
- Requirements: communication, audio editing, and social media management skills
The podcast has become a popular content type. As of June 2022, there are over 380 million podcast listeners worldwide. This is an excellent time to start a podcasting business.
We recommend adopting a micro-niche concept to make your podcast stand out. One great example is The Pen Addict, a podcast focusing on pen-related topics. While the scope seems limited, this program has attracted a loyal group of enthusiasts.
Create a site to host your podcasts and upload them on Spotify and Apple Music to expand your reach. Consider establishing a social media presence to bring more potential listeners.
First-time podcasters usually earn money via affiliate marketing. Once their audience has grown, they can get sponsors, set up a Patreon page for crowdfunding, or join an advertising network like Midroll.
Anyone can start a podcast. However, having proper recording equipment will improve the podcast’s quality. Make sure to allocate a production budget to upgrade your tools and software.
24. Launch a YouTube Channel
- Estimated income: $2,400-$4,000/month on average for channels with 100,000 subscribers
- Requirements: communication, video editing, and social media management skills
The rising popularity of content creators has made video creation a compelling business idea. With over 120 million daily active users, YouTube is the most popular platform for publishing video content.
You can create video content from home, from reaction commentaries to software tutorials and cooking demos.
If you launch a YouTube channel, focus on attracting 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours during the first few months. Surpassing those metrics will make you eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, allowing you to monetize the channel.
Other monetization methods include Patreon crowdfunding, affiliate marketing, and sponsored content.
25. Write Guest Posts
- Estimated income: $5-$2,000/blog post, depending on the length and quality
- Requirements: writing, content marketing, and SEO skills
This internet business idea is excellent for people who want to make money writing online without creating their own blogging site.
A guest post writer will earn money by submitting articles to other people’s blogs. The blog posts are often ghostwritten, meaning they’ll be under someone else’s name.
Many digital publishing platforms like Business2Community and Writer’s Digest are open to guest post submissions. Pick sites within a familiar niche to make the writing process more enjoyable.
26. Write Resumes and Cover Letters
- Estimated income: $50-$300/resume
- Requirements: writing proficiency, personal branding skills, and familiarity with the recruitment process and application tracking system
In a competitive job market, many job seekers need assistance writing the perfect application letter. This is an ideal opportunity if you have a knack for personal branding and writing cover letters.
Find clients seeking new employment on professional networks like LinkedIn and offer your resume and cover letter writing services. The key is to improve their application’s effectiveness to score better employment opportunities.
Start building your network and portfolio by providing pro bono services for your friends and family. Existing success stories showcasing your skills can attract clients to hire you.
Consider obtaining a professional certification like PARWCC to further increase your business’s credibility. This offers you more bargaining power in fee negotiations.
27. Sell NFTs
- Estimated income: $30/hour on average, based on skill level, location, and years of experience
- Requirements: Web3 design or game development skills, depending on the artwork you want to sell, and marketing
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) let artists sell their work and its ownership in a digital form to the open community. Digital artists can also earn royalties every time their work transfers to another owner. This business is highly profitable, with some art pieces selling for up to $91.8 million.
To make and sell NFTs, you’ll need to own cryptocurrency. Ethereum is the most commonly accepted form of payment. Then, set up a digital wallet using MetaMask and WalletConnect to receive payments.
The next step is to upload your work on NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible and set up an auction. Most marketplaces focus on digital artwork, but now more support game assets, videos, and music. Make sure to pick a suitable marketplace for your artwork type.
28. Offer Translation Services
- Estimated income: $21-$35+/hour, depending on the certification and years of experience
- Requirements: language and cultural knowledge, communication and research skills
This online business idea suits people proficient in two languages or more. Besides translating copy from one language to another, you’ll also be responsible for localizing the content to fit the target audience’s culture.
Browse translation gigs on job portals. Alternatively, search for translation agencies opening freelancing positions. Make sure to collect all your best work to build a portfolio.
Consider completing certification training for better, higher-paying opportunities. A certified translator possesses additional value as a service provider. They can take professional gigs from reputable clients, such as government offices and corporations.
29. Sell Stock Photos
- Estimated income: $0.1-$8,100/image, depending on the license, resolution, and distribution channel
- Requirements: photography, artistic, and SEO skills
Stock photographers produce licensed images for various purposes. For example, businesses often incorporate stock images in their marketing campaigns to make them more appealing.
To begin, invest in a decent camera and lighting equipment. Research various markets to see what’s currently in demand and optimize your images with relevant keywords.
We recommend focusing on a specific niche to strengthen your branding. For instance, consider how Tania Cervian produces and showcases its creative portraits.
Stock photography sites like Shutterstock and Getty Images are excellent places for new stock photographers to build a portfolio. Alternatively, create a photography website to independently manage your business and marketing strategy.
30. Become an Audiobook Narrator
- Estimated income: $25-$55/hour, depending on the skill level, years of experience, and location
- Requirements: narration and acting skills
The rising popularity of audiobooks has increased the demand for narrators. An audiobook narrator transforms print and digital writing into audio files. The job is to narrate the story while expressing its nuances.
Narrating audiobooks requires excellent voice clarity and tone control. Sometimes, you must do different voices for different characters. That’s why having acting skills will give you an advantage over your competitors.
Like starting a podcast, investing in recording and editing software will improve your work’s quality. Taking acting and vocal classes is also an excellent way to upgrade skills.
Newbies may have to settle for freelance projects in the beginning. Once you’ve gained enough experience, look for professional gigs from voice-over companies and job portal sites, such as Bunny Studio and ACX.
Why Start an Online Business
If you still have doubts about becoming a digital entrepreneur, here are some common reasons to start an online business:
- Flexible business hours and location. An online business owner can set their own schedule and working environment, leaving more time for personal activities.
- Low startup costs. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, growing an online business doesn’t require a physical storefront. You can often make money online with a laptop and a good internet connection.
- Wide audience reach. Online businesses’ scope isn’t limited to the local market. The internet lets companies sell products or services online to customers worldwide.
- Passive income streams. There are many monetization methods, including affiliate marketing and online ad displays. These make an online business a compelling side hustle.
I Have My Online Business Idea, What’s Next
Finding an online business idea is only the beginning of a long journey as an internet entrepreneur. Here are the next steps:
- Conduct market research to identify the target audience and the market’s demands.
- Decide on the niche you want to explore.
- Get a domain name and web hosting.
- Build a website that represents your brand.
- Promote your product or service on various online platforms.
There you have it ‒ the 30 small online business ideas to pursue in 2023. Since each is profitable in its own way, consider your skill set, experience, and income expectations when building your own business.
For example, those with writing experience can try blogging, freelancing, or publishing an eBook. Meanwhile, if you have sculpting, painting, or crafting skills, create and sell handmade items.
Becoming a successful digital entrepreneur requires hard work and dedication. Picking an online business idea that aligns with your interests and passion will make the journey less arduous and more rewarding.
We hope this article has helped you with starting a profitable business online. Best of luck!
Online Business Ideas FAQ
In this section, we’ll answer some common questions about online businesses.
How Long Does it Take to Begin Making Money Online?
A business generally takes two to three years to become profitable. However, the exact estimate varies depending on the type of business. Each business has different capital costs, operating expenses, and time investments.
How Much Money Can I Make Online?
A business’s revenue depends on various factors, including its type, marketing strategy, and scope of operations. For example, bloggers monetizing their site by selling ad spaces generate around $200-$2,500/month, whereas affiliate marketers average about $12,000/month.
How Much Time a Day Should I Dedicate to My Online Business?
Working on your online business part-time may take 3-4 hours daily. Full-time entrepreneurs can expect to work up to 60 hours/week or more. Establishing a business takes plenty of time and work, so be prepared to invest more time during the first year.
Will I Need to Hire Employees?
Hiring employees will reduce your workload and improve the workflow’s efficiency, but it comes with extra costs. So, ensure the company can afford the expenses first. Additionally, evaluate the return on investment of each candidate.
What Kind of Online Business Is the Most Profitable?
When done right, blogging is the most profitable online business. Reputable bloggers can diversify their income streams with other online business ideas, from affiliate marketing and selling ad space to consulting and launching an online course.