Everyone wants a satisfying career that affords them a high quality of life. That’s why online businesses are so attractive. You can work from anywhere, easily scale, and watch the money roll in. Yep, it’s easier than ever to make money on the internet. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to build a sustainable business. No matter what type of business you decide to start, you have to dive headfirst into the industry. Being an entrepreneur is a challenging rollercoaster ride. It’s not for the faint of heart. You won’t have the stability provided by a traditional 9-5, but you will gain a ton of freedom. If you’re set on building an internet business, you’re in luck. We’re sharing 15+ fantastic internet business ideas for inspiring entrepreneurs.
No matter the business, do it right
- Connect with others who are running the same kind of business
- Choose a business because it jives with your skillset, not just because you think it’s exciting
- Understand that it can take a while for an internet business to get off the ground. Results won’t come overnight
1. Sell gorgeous goods on Etsy
Etsy’s marketplace connects artisans and shop owners with customers who care about quality products. Almost all of the merchandise on Etsy is vintage or handmade. The site is home to more than a million sellers from all over the world. In order to thrive as an internet entrepreneur on Etsy, you have to sell products that people actually want. If you’re artistic yourself, you can sell handmade jewelry or printed greeting cards. You can also partner with an artist or local shop and help them market their goods using the site. Costs associated On Etsy, you’ll have to pay a listing fee, a transaction fee, and a payment processing fee. It costs $0.20 to publish a listing to the marketplace, and when an item sells you’ll pay a 3.5% transaction fee. These fees are minimal compared to other sites, and you can think of them as part of your marketing budget.
2. Become a freelance writer
Look around the internet. There’s writing everywhere. Companies hire freelance writers for all kinds of tasks. If you’re a good writer with some industry expertise, you can make a career out of freelance writing. To start, you can use sites like Upwork, Skyword, and Contently. FreshBooks compiled a list of 71 great websites to find freelance writing jobs. Most freelance writing businesses are run through referrals from clients, so eventually you can build a business where clients are coming to you. Note that not everyone is equipped to start a freelance writing business. You have to be a very good writer, and be able to write relatively quickly, for business to take off. Costs associated Most freelance platforms, such as Upwork, charge processing fees, as do invoicing services like FreshBooks and Wave. Successful freelancers have their own websites, so they’ll have to pay costs associated with hosting.
3. Be a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants are just like regular assistants, only they help people out over a computer. Some VAs are generalists, while others specialize in a certain industry or field, such as event planning, scheduling, or travel booking. Many virtual assistant agencies are popping up, and are looking for people like you to staff them. Others, like Kiri Mohan, Founder of DependableVA.com are starting their own virtual assistant businesses. If you’re looking to become a virtual assistant, check out Zirtual and the virtual assistant listings on Upwork. The best virtual assistants are tech savvy and well-organized. Costs associated: Costs are minimal, but the platform you’re working for will take a cut.
4. Build an online store
You can sell wares using a site like Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay but if you use one of these third-party platforms, you won’t have nearly as much control. If the third-party site changes how they operate, your business could be in jeopardy. That’s why many online entrepreneurs are creating eCommerce shops of their own. They sell handmade goods, imported items, t-shirts, temporary tattoos, specialty office supplies, and virtually anything else you can think of. You don’t need to be a professional web developer to create an online store. Tools like Weebly make it easy to build an online store to showcase your goods. Costs associated: Weebly plans start at $11 per month.
5. Self-publish eBooks
Many writers are bypassing traditional publishers and self-publishing their own books. Many authors have become extremely famous and wealthy from their eBooks. For example, Andy Stein, author of the bestseller The Martian, which has seen been made into a film, self-published the book before it was picked up by Crown Publishing. Much like being a freelance writer, the eBook entrepreneurship strategy won’t work unless you’re a killer writer who can not only write a great story, but also market yourself. Costs associated: The biggest cost associated with writing eBooks is your own time. It can take a long time to write an eBook, and even when you’ve finished, that eBook might not generate much profit.
6. Create and sell an online course
Those wanting to incur passive income should consider creating and selling an online course. The key to success with this strategy is to create a course on something you’re an absolute expert in. The course does not have to be business-related-- it can be about how to make earrings, how to get work as an American in France, or how to become an online entrepreneur. Teachable makes it easy to create and sell your own course. Using Teachable, you can build a beautiful course website and control your branding, student data, and pricing all from one place. Costs associated: You can build a course with Teachable for free, but will pay transaction fees for paid courses. Teachable has more robust plans starting at $39 per month.
7. Handle random tasks
Become a professional jack-of-all-trades, and handle whatever random tasks come your way. You can sign up for work on sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Fiverr, and Upwork to see what tasks are available. You could get hired to do data entry, research, or a number of other one-off tasks that people-- and companies-- need done. Being an online entrepreneur who handles random tasks isn’t particularly glamorous, but it can offer a flexible schedule, and a fair amount of control. Costs associated: It’s free to create profiles on these websites, and you won’t pay anything to apply for different jobs. You may pay transaction fees when it’s time to get paid.
8. Work as a freelance web designer
Freelance web developers and designers can make well into six figures, provided they’re good at what they do. Companies around the world need top notch designers to help with marketing assets, new websites, and a host of other design materials. If you’re good with computers, have an artistic bend, and have any experience in Adobe Photoshop, you might consider work as a freelance web designer. When it comes to web design, you need more than a good eye. You need to be able to code, and you also need experience. If you want to take this path, you should take a course in web design or development. Udemy offers a course called “Web Design From The Ground Up” which is highly reviewed by students who have participated. Costs associated: There aren’t many costs associated with web development, though it costs $50 for the Udemy course, and much more for other high quality courses.
9. Become a life coach
People need help with various areas of their lives. The internet has made people feel disconnected, and many are seeking happiness and a new start. Life coaches help people through tough times. A life coach is sort of like a therapist without the formal training. Costs associated: Web hosting, and any training you seek on becoming a coach.
10. Become a business coach
A business coach is much like a life coach, except they specialize in business. Often business coaches lead online courses and workshops, but others go directly into companies in their area to offer guidance to executive teams. If you want to be an internet business coach, you should:
- Narrow down a niche based on your expertise (a general business coach isn’t particularly compelling)
- Decide what services you’re going to offer (online workshops, in-person coaching)
- Figure out who you’re going to market to (executives, entry-level employees)
Costs associated: Web hosting, and any training you seek on becoming a coach.
11. Specialize in an area of online marketing
If you want to be an internet entrepreneur, you might consider doing a deep dive into an area of online marketing. Businesses of all sizes hire people to manage Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, paid advertising, social media, search marketing, and content marketing. You can become well-versed in one area, and market your specialty. In order to be successful, you should make sure that whatever you offer is something businesses need. It helps to get an in-house job in a certain area to train yourself. After working for a while, you can cut bait and freelance your way to the top. Costs associated: Any courses you take to learn about a given area of marketing
12. Check out affiliate marketing
In affiliate marketing, you own commission by promoting other people’s products. Essentially, you act as a salesperson. When someone buys something through you, you get a referral fee. You have to promote a number of companies to be successful with this type of business, and you must be an extremely talented salesperson and marketer yourself. Affiliate marketing works best if you’re able to build your own audience, let’s say through a blog, and then promote products to them. Costs associated: Web hosting
13. Start a podcast
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. People are listening to them on the way to work, while traveling, and before they go to bed every night. Podcasts are often sponsored by companies who want to advertise. If your podcast gains traction, you can start asking relevant companies to sponsor you. In this way, you can build a business around your podcast. Just like anything else, you have to create a podcast that people want to listen to. Not only will you need to invest in high quality equipment, but you’ll also need to think carefully about what stories you’re going to tell, and what topics you’re going to focus on. Costs associated: Equipment costs (see this blog by Pat Flynn to get started)
14. Write resumes and cover letters
If you have good communication and career skills, you may have a future as an internet entrepreneur who offers support writing resumes and cover letters. At one time or another, nearly everyone seeks to find a new job. But not everyone is particularly savvy when it comes to writing documents to help them get the job. Because of this, many people are willing to pay upwards of $100 for help with these tasks. Costs associated: Web hosting
15. Use existing talents to freelance
If you already have a degree, don’t throw it away to become an online entrepreneur. You can actually use whatever expertise and talent you already have, and sell them online. Many internet entrepreneurs are professionals who’ve gone freelance. These people specialize in:
- Web design
Costs associated: Web hosting
16. Work as a translator
Parlez-vous francais? If you speak another language, you may be able to find work as an online translator. Businesses around the world need translators, as do individuals. Certain languages are particularly attractive to American businesses, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. If you set up a website, and search sites like Upwork for client, you may be well on your way to becoming a career translator. Costs associated: Web hosting Ready to buy a domain and hosting for your website? Set everything up today using A Small Orange. Use promo code entrepreneur20 to redeem a special offer available only to readers of this blog post!