Starting a business online opens the doors to a highly scalable company with potentially global reach. Between 2020 and 2021, mobile sales grew by more than 22%, and 80% of consumers in the United States do at least some of their shopping online.
It’s become easier than ever to start a solely-online business, thanks to eCommerce website builders like Shopify and online payment methods like PayPal. All you need is a winning idea to get started.
Because there are so many different types of online business ideas, we’ve broken our list down into the following categories to make it easier to find ones that interest you:
- Creative-Focused Online Business Ideas
- Professional Services Online Business Ideas
- Sales-Focused Online Business Ideas
- Tech-Focused Online Business Ideas
- Online Business Ideas for Experts
Creative-Focused Online Business Ideas
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- Author. Today’s authors no longer fall under the umbrella of “starving writer,” a term once coined to describe the unpredictability of an author’s income and success. Digital tools, like social media for promotion and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, have made it easier to publish and market books without a team of experts on your side.
- Artist. Create art in whatever form you love — paintings, home decor, sculptures, etc. — and sell it over the internet. Create a website on Shopify that will become your online shop or use marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, or Facebook to get sales. Or, try a place like Big Cartel, where you can open an online store specifically for artwork.
- Voiceover artist. Self-employed voiceover artists can lend their voices to YouTube creators, filmmakers, marketing agencies, and other individuals and teams who need them. Consider signing up for a freelance marketplace like Upwork to start getting some clients.
- Graphic artist/designer. Use your talents with digital tools to create contracted masterpieces for others. You could also design fonts, clip-art, vectors, and other digitized elements for marketplaces like Creative Market and Envato Elements.
- Photographer/photo editor. Sell your best photos in your online store or edit large batches of photographers’ photos. Stock photo sites, like Getty Images and Shutterstock, will also pay you royalties to sell your best photos.
- Blogger. Write about your interests, hobbies, or something you consider yourself an expert in on a blog. Bloggers earn money in various ways, including advertising, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. Learn how to create a blog to start earning.
- Interior designer. You don’t need to step inside a home to transform it with your interior design skills. Planning tools like SketchUp allow you to design from anywhere if you have a model of your client’s home interior.
- Event planner. Work with clients remotely to plan corporate events or personal events like retirement parties, birthdays, weddings, and other big events. Be sure to create a professional website for yourself so that future clients can find you on the web and book you.
- Travel planner. Travel planning is another similar idea that doesn’t require any in-person work if you have the right online tools. Keep in touch with clients by email or phone, and give them emailed copies of their itineraries. You can even become a full-fledged online travel agent with the right tools and preparation.
- Personal stylist. Suggest clothes and accessories to clients based on their fashion tastes and needs. Start your own stylist company by creating a website to market yourself or work with online styling companies like Stitch Fix to become an online stylist with a flexible schedule.
- Influencer. An influencer is a person who has enough of a following, trust, and authority for others to find importance in what they do and say. As an influencer on social media, a blog, or another online platform, you could work with brands on sponsored opportunities and partnerships that bring in regular income.
- Podcast host. Podcasters hop on the air to talk about true crime, relationships, pop culture, and tons of other topics that interest their viewers. But, this fun business can also pull in a lot of money with a large enough following through advertisements, sponsorships, affiliate sales, and premium content communities.
Professional Services Online Business Ideas
- Virtual assistant. A virtual assistant helps other business owners or individuals with various tasks, from writing blog posts to searching for leads to become potential customers. Market whatever virtual skills you have to find clients that are a good match for you. Set up a profile on Fiverr or Upwork to build a client base.
- Researcher. Offer your web researching skills to freelance writers or content marketing agencies to help them pull together research for articles, case studies, white papers, and other written content. You might also assist businesses with researching their competitors and customers.
- Editor. Edit articles for writers or marketing agencies, assist college students with their admissions essays or academic papers, or contract yourself with publishing companies to edit books or digital articles before they go live.
- Transcriptionist. Transcriptionists transcribe audio into text for various reasons. For instance, they might transcribe audio notes from health professionals into documents they can add to a patient’s medical file. They also transcribe spoken interviews into written interviews for journalists to use in articles. Transcription agencies like Rev make it easy to get started, but you can always transition into finding your own clients to work with.
- Translator. Many transcription agencies and businesses or individuals that work with transcriptionists also use translators to convert media into other languages. Look for video creators, marketing agencies, and publishing companies as potential clients.
- Branding expert. Assist new businesses with their branding for gear, websites, social media, and more as a branding expert. Create logos, messaging, taglines, and other branding components to differentiate them from competitors.
- Content writer. Today’s content writers take on many forms, but they can stick with fully digital content to work remotely if they choose. For instance, some content writers write and manage blogs for businesses, while others create product guides for businesses to print using a third-party service. Some content writers provide numerous types of writing services, from social media writing to grant writing.
- Bookkeeper/accountant. Use your financial skills to manage bookkeeping or accounting for multiple clients. Boost your marketability by becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or earning another accounting credential.
- Call center specialist. Operate a call center from your home as a receptionist for a busy company or specialist for multiple companies. Be aware that this business can be a bit more expensive than others because of the equipment you’ll need, like a quality computer, multi-line phone, and high-speed internet. Some businesses may require you to use specific call management software, too.
- Project manager. Project managers oversee the tasks and responsibilities of teams or departments. This role can shift to an online business using remote collaboration tools, like Asana, Zoom, and Basecamp, to help you communicate with your teams and assign tasks.
- Financial planner. Work with businesses on their financial management strategies from your home office as a financial planner. Or, work with individuals on their retirement or investment strategies. Business owners can connect by phone or use remote communication tools like Slack.
- Public relations expert. Help businesses scale as a PR specialist. Find influencers for your clients to partner with, search for interview opportunities, and write press releases and marketing emails to spread brand awareness. Read the journey of a former PR manager turned business owner to get some insight into the transition of employee to self-employed.
Sales-Focused Online Business Ideas
- Dropshipper. Dropshipping involves buying products from a third party to fulfill orders rather than holding the stock yourself. According to Fundera, this model makes up about 33% of today’s online stores. It can be a low-cost business to start up and keep moving because you can mostly operate it from your website. Start by building an ecommerce website on a platform like Shopify, which connects to retailers you can dropship from.
- Custom crafter. Make and sell handmade items, like jewelry, clothing, wall art, woodworking, or journals, on Etsy or your own website.
- Vintage/thrift reseller. Look for vintage items at your local thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops, or yard sales. Spruce them up or sell them as-is to people across the world.
- Marketplace reseller. Using online marketplaces like eBay, Facebook, Amazon, and Craigslist can be an excellent way to set up a fully online business. Take things you find and can buy for a small amount of money and flip them for a profit.
- Printable seller. Use digital tools like Photoshop to create printable files for others to buy and download. If you already have a blog, try to make printables that flow with its theme. For example, a food blog owner might sell printable recipe cards or meal plans.
- Subscription box seller. Subscription boxes are popping up everywhere, so there’s no better time than to create one of your own that could potentially become the next hit. When you’re ready to sell, you can do so easily using Amazon’s subscription box service, which provides step-by-step support and tools to set up your business and sell.
- Create your own brand. Have you always dreamed of selling a product of your own? Plenty of retailers start with just one successful product before growing their offerings and find lots of success selling online. Take Crocs, for example, which started with its original you-either-love-them-or-hate-them clog-like shoe and has since expanded into boots, sandals, and accessories. Take time deciding on the right product to sell.
- Print-on-demand. If you know how to make digital designs, you can start a business selling products with your designs without ever needing to hold inventory or open a brick-and-mortar store. Print-on-demand companies will print t-shirts, hats, bags, mugs, and other products with your designs as you need them and can even ship them directly to customers if you’d like.
Tech-Focused Online Business Ideas
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- Video editor. Work with videographers or content creators to edit their videos to make them ready for sharing on their websites or social media platforms.
- Bug tester. Use your tech knowledge to test bugs in video games, software, mobile apps, websites, etc. You might find freelance work with software development companies or web design agencies. You can also complete one-off testing tasks with Test.io.
- Remote tech support. Provide tech support from your computer to anyone in the world with the right tools that let you access other people’s devices securely from your own. It might be best to find businesses to work with that typically outsource at least some of their tech support needs to get a consistent income stream.
- Web/software/game developer. Write your own code for websites, apps, software, and games from wherever you feel like working. Then, submit your ideas to development companies for payment.
- Affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing that pays affiliates a commission when people buy from their links. You see this type of marketing frequently on blogs, where a blogger might link to a specific product using an affiliate link. Affiliate marketing doesn’t require in-depth technical knowledge, but computer and website skills can help you develop a website focused on affiliate marketing that people want to visit and read.
- Digital marketing. Contract with digital marketing agencies or start your own agency to provide digital marketing services to individuals or businesses. This highly popular industry has a projected compound annual growth rate of 9% from 2020-2026. Need to boost your skills before starting a full-fledged business? Try a free digital marketing course.
- SEO expert. Help businesses and website owners improve their SEO and search visibility with guidance using the most up-to-date SEO techniques.
- Advertising manager. Oversee advertising campaigns on social media, websites, paid searches, and more as an advertising manager. You could also focus on scaling your skills in one specific area, like Facebook Ads Manager.
- Website flipper. Website flippers can make a living off buying and reselling websites. Note that this could take a hefty upfront cash investment to get a decent website to start with and a time investment to build the website to the point that it’s ready to flip. However, once you have a couple of flips under your belt, you can begin to see the fruits of your labor.
Online Business Ideas for Experts
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- Social media consultant. Help others grow their social media accounts by guiding their strategies for content, scheduling, advertising, partnerships, and other necessities for establishing popular accounts.
- Business consultant. As a business consultant, you can share your knowledge of creating, managing, or growing a business with others. Some business consultants provide help for several facets of business, while others stick with one specific area, like marketing.
- Life/family/parenting/relationship coach. Help others achieve their goals in life, whether they want to have better relationships with their families or they need some direction with future goals. Services like Paperbell help you keep track of clients, invoicing, scheduling, and more.
- Career coach. You could also provide career coaching services to people looking for their ideal career or learning how to achieve their career goals. Meet with clients via video chats and use collaborative tools to schedule interviews or share resources.
- Online therapist. Online therapy is becoming more and more popular as people need to find convenient ways to schedule therapy that doesn’t interfere with work, family, and life. If you’re already licensed, you can move your practice online to meet with clients through text, video, and phone.
- Online course creator. Make your own digital courses to sell on platforms like Udemy, Teachable, or Skillshare. You can even use services like Thinkific to help you build a professional course to sell.
- Tutor/teacher. Spread your education to others by teaching or tutoring online. Several platforms exist to help teachers and tutors connect with the students who need them, like Outschool, VIPkid, and Cambly. Some platforms, like Outschool, let you set the prices you want, making it truly a flexible online business.
- Fitness coaching. Teach fitness classes online through your YouTube channel or live-streamed Zooms. Or, offer pre-recorded classes that people can access after paying for a subscription on your website.
- Membership business. Create a business that requires memberships for full access, ensuring that you make a steady income. For example, you might charge a monthly fee for lists of curated tech jobs or a Facebook subscription group where only members can access exclusive information.
The internet allows multiple paths for varied online business ideas that could help you live your dreams of financial freedom. When you’ve found your online niche and launched your business, you’ll need a prominent web presence to help potential clients or customers find you. Install ShareThis’ social media share buttons on your blog or website to make it easy for your visitors to spread the word about your business with their social media connections – with just a single click.